Best noise-cancelling headphones –

Noise-cancelling headphones are one of the most popular types of cans, and for good reason. They block out ambient noise that can distract from you enjoying your favorite tunes. While they’re particularly useful for air travel and daily commutes—especially via mass transit—they’re also great at isolating you from at-home noise pollution, whether that be the whoosh of your HVAC system, the whir of your computer’s cooling fans, or your neighbor’s lawn mower.

Updated May 2, 2022 to add a link to our Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX noise-cancelling headphone review. These true wireless headphones look, fit, and sound so fantastic that you might not care they don’t offer best-in-class noise cancellation.

Headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) identify sound waves associated with noise and electronically generate an inverse sound wave that cancels it out. Here’s what we mean: A sound wave is similar to the ripples in a pond. Toss a pebble in the pond, then introduce ripples of the opposite pattern, and you’ll smooth the pond’s surface. Active noise cancellation (ANC) works in a similar manner. Microphones mounted on the headphone analyze ambient sound waves and then produce inverse sound waves that will cancel them out. 

Most ANC headphone manufacturers, including Sony, provide a mobile app that lets you tailor their headphone’s noise cancellation to your preferences.

As you might expect, the ANC technologies from some manufacturers are incredibly effective; others, less so. We’ve tested models from AKG, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, JBL, Libratone, and Sony and found them to be very good.

Adaptive noise cancellation is the most sophisticated type of ANC. It operates on the same principles, but adapts to your surroundings to apply more or less of the effect and to even bring in sounds from the outside world.

There’s more than one way to block ambient noise, closed-back over-ear headphones and in-ear headphones like the iMore Triple Driver shown here, can perform the task without introducing inverse soundwaves. And in many cases, without batteries.

Some adaptive noise-cancelling solutions even take into account how fast you’re moving, the air pressure around you, and whether you’re likely in a plane, taking a walk, or holding a conversation. Many operate in conjunction with a mobile app on your smartphone.

Some individuals find that ANC headphones exert pressure on their ears, creating a similar sensation to being under water. If you find ANC headphones to be uncomfortable, you’ll prefer a model with good passive noise cancellation. That type of headphone deliver other benefits, too: They’re the least likely to color the music you’re listening to, and they don’t need batteries. On the other hand, not all headphones with passive noise cancellation are wireless.

Best active noise-cancelling headphone

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony didn’t do a lot to change its approach to noise-cancelling headphones—because it didn’t need to. Its earlier WH-1000XM3 headphones are fantastic, and these next-generation can are even better. If noise cancellation is an important feature for you, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is the absolute best headphone you can buy.

Runner-up

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition


MSRP:


$400

Best Prices Today:


$399.00 at Amazon

Bowers & Wilkins introduced its PX7 noise-cancelling headphone in 2019, but this Carbon Edition is brand new this year and features a new finish and an even prettier design. Sonically accurate active noise-cancelling headphones might sound like an oxymoron, but leave it to the engineers at B&W to pull it off. All that said, plenty of buyers will stick with Sony’s WH-1000XM4—and not just because they cost less.

Best budget noise-cancelling headphone

Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones


MSRP:


$59.99

Best Prices Today:


$59.99 at Wyze Labs

It’s hard to believe how inexpensive these noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones are, but that’s par for the course for Wyze Labs, a company that never seems to fail to package the most bang for the buck in every product they make. While their audio quality doesn’t compete with the higher-end models, and they might not be as durable as some of the more expensive brands, you won’t be too upset if they break and need to be replaced after a few years.

Best noise-cancelling headphone for gamers

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay Portal


MSRP:


$499.00

Best Prices Today:


$449.00 at Newegg |
$499.00 at Best Buy

Sony and Bose might win in terms of their active noise cancelling tech, but Bang & Olufsen comes close while blending stupendous audio performance with technology that gamers—especially Xbox and Windows gamers—won’t find anywhere else. And they wrap it all in an exquisite package of leather, lambskin, and aluminum.

Best true wireless noise-cancelling headphone

Sony WF-1000XM4


MSRP:


$279.99

Sony’s true wireless headphones are a phenomenal choice for anyone looking for active noise-cancellation from a high-end in-ear headphone. Boasting exceptional performance with music and phone calls, an impeccable fit, and–of course–best-in-class active and adaptive noise cancellation, no other manufacturer can beat Sony’s effort today. Let’s see how long that situation lasts. You can read TechHive’s very in-depth Sony WF-1000XM4 review at the preceding link.

Our latest active noise-cancelling headphone reviews

We’ll update this list as new models arrive for evaluation.

JVC HA-S100N

MSRP:



$299.95

Best Prices Today:


$219.92 at Amazon |
$299.95 at JVC

Read our full
JVC HA-S100N review

Anker Soundcore Life Q35 ANC Bluetooth headphone




Best Prices Today:


$97.49 at Amazon

Read our full
Anker Soundcore Life Q35 ANC Bluetooth headphone review

Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II




Best Prices Today:


$329.99 at Amazon

Read our full
Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II review

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition

MSRP:



$400

Best Prices Today:


$399.00 at Amazon

Read our full
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition review

Sony WH-1000XM4

Read our full
Sony WH-1000XM4 review

Anker SoundCore Life Q20

MSRP:



$59.99

Best Prices Today:


$56.99 at Amazon

Read our full
Anker SoundCore Life Q20 review

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

MSRP:



$399.00

Best Prices Today:


$329.00 at Amazon

Read our full
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review

Klipsch T5II McLaren Edition




Best Prices Today:


$199.00 at Amazon

Read our full
Klipsch T5II McLaren Edition review

Marshall Motif ANC true wireless headphone




Best Prices Today:


$199.99 at Amazon

Read our full
Marshall Motif ANC true wireless headphone review

Monoprice BT600ANC

MSRP:



$99.99

Best Prices Today:


$99.99 at Monoprice

Read our full
Monoprice BT600ANC review

Puro Sound Labs PuroPro

MSRP:



$199.99

Best Prices Today:


$199.99 at PuroPro

Read our full
Puro Sound Labs PuroPro review

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