The story goes that Amar Bose, founder of the audio company that bears his name, got the idea for noise-canceling headphones one day in 1978 when he couldn’t hear his music over the roar of a plane engine. Whether or not you buy the company lore, in the 40 years since noise-canceling headphones have gone from niche and luxury products to a must-have for many consumers.

Not only have their performance and sound quality improved but also the prices of noise-canceling headphones have come down, and today a few competitors rival Bose for the top spot in the category.

Top 10 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Bestseller No. 1
QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II, Noise-Cancelling, with Alexa voice control, enabled with...
2456 Reviews
QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II, Noise-Cancelling, with Alexa voice control, enabled with...
  • Three levels of world-class noise cancellation for better listening experience in any environment
  • Alexa-enabled for voice access to music, information, and more
Bestseller No. 2
COWIN E7 PRO [2018 Upgraded] Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Bluetooth Headphones with Microphone...
2950 Reviews
COWIN E7 PRO [2018 Upgraded] Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Bluetooth Headphones with Microphone...
  • Professional Active Noise Cancelling Technology. Significant noise reduction for travel, work and anywhere in...
  • Much Better Sound. Proprietary 45mm large-aperture drivers provide you with deep, accurate bass response. From...
Bestseller No. 3
COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Bluetooth Headphones with Mic Deep Bass Wireless...
8972 Reviews
COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Bluetooth Headphones with Mic Deep Bass Wireless...
  • Active Noise Cancelling technology. Significant noise reduction for travel, work and anywhere in between....
  • Proprietary 40mm large-aperture drivers. Deep, accurate bass response. The Active Noise Cancelling around-ear...
Bestseller No. 4
Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, Boltune Bluetooth 5.0 Over Ear Wireless Headphones with Mic Deep...
203 Reviews
Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, Boltune Bluetooth 5.0 Over Ear Wireless Headphones with Mic Deep...
  • 【Latest AMS AS3435 Noise Cancelling Technology】 Cancelling the noises in just one second no matter when...
  • 【30-Hour playtime in less than 1 hour charging】 Qualcomm cVc audio technology QCC3003 is designed for...
Bestseller No. 5
Sony MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling Headphones
1721 Reviews
Sony MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling Headphones
  • Over-ear, Noise-isolating Headphones. Connectivity Technology: Wired
  • 30mm Neodymium Driver. 110 dB/mW - Power off, 115 dB/mW - Power on
Bestseller No. 6
TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones [2019 Upgrade] Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear...
583 Reviews
TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones [2019 Upgrade] Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear...
  • Music On, World Off: Improved Active Noise Cancellation will drown out the noise of the streets or annoying...
  • Hi-Fi Sound & Captivating Bass: 40mm large-aperture drivers deliver riveting sound and a thumping bass
Bestseller No. 7
Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM3: Wireless Bluetooth Over the Ear Headphones with Mic and...
858 Reviews
Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM3: Wireless Bluetooth Over the Ear Headphones with Mic and...
  • DIGITAL NOISE CANCELLING: Industry leading ANC lends a personalized, virtually soundproof experience
  • VOICE ASSISTANT: Alexa-enabled for hands-free voice access to music, information, and more
Bestseller No. 8
Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones for Apple devices - Black (wired, 3.5mm)
4188 Reviews
Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones for Apple devices - Black (wired, 3.5mm)
  • Apple compatible devices Applies to: QC 25 noise cancelling headphones - Apple devices The remote and...
  • Deep, powerful sound for the music you love
Bestseller No. 9
Mpow H7 Wireless Headphones Safe Rechargeable & Ultra-Long 18 Hours w/Bag, Comfortable Bluetooth...
734 Reviews
Mpow H7 Wireless Headphones Safe Rechargeable & Ultra-Long 18 Hours w/Bag, Comfortable Bluetooth...
  • Almost One Week Of Use With Hifi Sound: Mpow professional 40mm drivers offer you incredible listening clarity....
  • 3-Button Easy Control on Music, Calls, Audio Books & FM Without Buying An Extra SD Card: Quickly connecting...
Bestseller No. 10
TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, Wired Earbuds in Ear Stereo Awareness Monitor...
404 Reviews
TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, Wired Earbuds in Ear Stereo Awareness Monitor...
  • Active Noise Cancelling Functionality: Reduces environmental noise and distractions by up to 25dB for an...
  • Increase Awareness with Monitoring Mode: Clearly hear airline or subway announcements and what's around you...

Over-Ear, Bluetooth, and Budget-Friendly

The best noise-canceling headphones don’t come cheap, but you do have some great budget options. Chief among them is the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC. It delivers fantastic noise-canceling capability, can be used via a wired or Bluetooth connection and can be found selling for as little as $150.

It has high-quality sound as well, though it doesn’t match the best headphones in our ratings. The HD 4.50 BTNC has integrated volume, playback, and call controls that work with paired Bluetooth devices. With Bluetooth and noise-cancellation turned on, the headphones boast a 19-hour battery life, says the manufacturer.

Outstanding Quality at a Great Price—With Strings Attached

If you don’t mind connecting to your music source via wire, the Audio-Technica SonicPro ATH-MSR7NC is one of the best values in noise-canceling headphone models on the market right now. This over-ear model usually costs around $280—already a good deal—but we’ve seen it dip below $200, which is impressive given the SonicPro’s exceptional audio quality and noise-canceling ability. The headphones have an integrated button for calling and music playback, plus a detachable audio cable, so you can unplug them from the music player and still enjoy the noise-cancellation. There’s no volume control though, so you’ll need for reach for your device to turn up the sound. According to the manufacturer, the battery life is 30 hours.

Uncompromising Performance on the Go

The in-ear Bose QuietControl 30 performs almost as well as the company’s over-ear model, with superb scores for sound and noise-cancellation in a portable, wireless package.

The earphones employ a hybrid ear insert/earbud design, which seals the ear canal without extending deep inside it. A cable connecting the earpieces is housed in a collar you wear around your neck, which our testers note is typically comfortable, unless it interferes with clothing. The QuietControl 30 is rated for 10 hours of operating time and features controls for playback, calls, volume, and an ambient sound-monitoring mode that pushes the earphones into the variable noise-canceling category.

Active Noise-Cancelling

Noise-canceling headphones use microphones that listen to outside noise and special circuitry that analyzes it and generates a counter-signal. This signal does more than simply block out noise, like thick earpads on headphones (that is called noise isolation); it actively cancels out the noise to generate a quiet that’s unaffected by what’s going on around you. The best noise-canceling headphones work so well, many owners will put them on, turn on the power, and not listen to anything through them—just to enjoy the silence.

Noise Isolation (Passive Noise-Cancelling)

Even without the electronics, good over-ear headphones can still block out most outside noise with the aforementioned noise isolation, which is sometimes referred to as passive noise-canceling. You just need good-fitting earcups that form a strong seal around your ears. This list focuses on active noise-canceling headphones, but our list of The Best Headphones has some very good alternatives for purists.

Headphones or Earphones

Early noise-canceling headphones had to be big, over-ear cans to properly block out sound, but the technology has shrunk a lot in the last decade. Now in-canal earphones can hold the same microphones and circuitry needed to block out sound, providing even better noise cancellation than a good-fitting silicone or foam eartip will provide. Bose is at the front of the pack, with both wired and wireless earphones that feature some of the best noise-cancellation technology we’ve experienced.

Wired or Wireless

Now that a number of popular phones have abandoned the headphone jack, you might want to think about going the wireless route. A few years ago, the idea of wireless noise-canceling headphones was laughable due to technical constraints like battery life and miniaturizing circuity. Those problems have been solved, and now you can get wireless headphones that offer solid noise cancellation

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