The 10 Best Noise Canceling Headphones

Updated June 28, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Noise Canceling Headphones
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Great for traveling and for getting the best sound quality with minimal outside interference, these noise canceling headphones come with a variety of features, including Bluetooth connectivity for wireless use and comfortable earcups for all-day listening. They're ideal for plane rides and for commuting on noisy buses and subways. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best noise canceling headphone on Amazon.

10. Sony MDR10RNC

While the Sony MDR10RNC may not look overly impressive or all that fancy, they do a surprisingly good job of cancelling out background noises, whether you are listening to music or just looking for some peaceful silence, but they don't have wireless capabilities.
  • good sound quality for the price
  • come with a flight adapter
  • are not rechargeable
Brand Sony
Model MDR10RNC
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. Monster Inspiration

With personalized interchangeable headbands, the Monster Inspiration can be made to suit your personal style or just your mood of the day. They produce rich sound with clear highs and deep lows, but their noise cancelling feature isn't as good as other models on the list.
  • get better after a break-in period
  • budget-friendly price point
  • heavy to wear for long periods
Brand Monster
Model 128631
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

8. Definitive Technology Symphony 1

The rechargeable battery of the Definitive Technology Symphony 1 lasts for 15 hours when the noise cancelling feature is on. They produce an audiophile-grade sound with their 50 mm drivers, and their all black design is well suited to business professionals.
  • supple leather-like earcups
  • no hiss during noise cancellation
  • headband has minimal padding
Brand Definitive Technology
Model Symphony 1
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Plantronics BackBeat PRO+

The Plantronics BackBeat PRO+ effectively block out all unwanted noise with on-demand active noise cancellation. Their ability to sync with multiple devices simultaneously conveniently allows you to answer calls while listening to another device.
  • rich bass with crisp highs
  • pillow soft earcups for long flights
  • may not fit people with large ears
Brand Plantronics
Model 204800-21
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Bose QuietComfort 20

The Bose QuietComfort 20 are the only earbud style noise cancelling headphones effective enough to make our list. They have an Active EQ that helps deliver lifelike music reproduction with a wide sound stage feel, and they have an "aware mode" to hear background noise.
  • inline microphone and remote
  • stay hear tips keep them in place
  • very durable build quality
Brand Bose
Model 718840-0010
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Sony MDR1000X/C

The Sony MDR1000X/C eliminate noise in all conditions, but have a neat feature that lets you instantly hear any sounds around you by simply cupping your hand over the right earcup. Plus, the voice mode automatically lowers your music if there are announcements.
  • 40 mm high sensitivity drivers
  • frequency response up to 40 khz
  • tap to answer or hang up calls
Brand Sony
Model MDR1000X/B
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Sennheiser Momentum

The Sennheiser Momentum block out all background noise with Noise Gard hybrid technology, so you can concentrate or just get some sleep. They also quickly and easily pair with any Bluetooth enabled device for music listening, and are backed by a two-year warranty.
  • foldable stainless steel headband
  • leather covered memory foam cushions
  • can simultaneously connect 2 devices
Brand Sennheiser
Model M2 AEBT Ivory
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Bose QuietComfort 35

Whether you choose the stylish silver or more traditional black model of the Bose QuietComfort 35 you'll be impressed with their effective noise cancellation capabilities. To enhance your sound quality, they feature a volume-optimized EQ for perfectly balanced music.
  • last up to 40 hours in wired mode
  • clear dual-microphone system
  • comfortable for all day use
Brand Bose
Model 759944-0010
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Samsung Level On

The Samsung Level On offer great value for your money. They have a sleek, streamlined design, active noise cancellation, and smart touch button-free controls. NFC pairing makes them easy to connect to any Bluetooth device in seconds, and they conveniently fold for travel.
  • full dynamic range with warm bass
  • support phone call voice commands
  • allow for corded use as well
Brand Samsung
Weight 15.5 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8

Not only do the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8 block out any unwanted background noise, they offer wireless convenience and look stunning as well with their warm beige and gold tones. A plushly padded headband and soft earcups make them comfortable to wear for hours on end.
  • touch interface on the right earcup
  • 14 hour battery life on bluetooth
  • exceptionally lightweight at 255 g
Brand B&O PLAY by Bang & Oluf
Model BO1642204
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

How Noise Cancelling Headphones Work

Noise cancelling headphones were originally developed to be used by pilots flying noisy helicopters and aircraft. They first saw practical use in the aviation field in the 1950s, and became more and more common throughout the rest of the 20th Century. While conceived of for use in the cockpit, noise canceling headphones have achieved great popularity in the wider consumer market thanks to their ability to limit external sounds and accentuate the aural content a listener wants to enjoy.

There are two basic principles at play behind a pair of noise canceling headphones. First is the basic soundproofing that can occur when you slip a pair of headphones over your ears or insert earbuds into your ears. This passive and mechanical soundproofing is the chief method noise canceling headphones use to limit higher frequency noises. The second strategy these devices employ is active noise control, whereby a microphone built into the unit detects the ambient noises around the listener.

The microphone can detect both the volume and the type of sounds in the area, and transmits this data to the speakers, which then generate a waveform that is the opposite of the low frequency sounds detected. This opposite frequency can cancel out the sounds that would otherwise reach the wearer's ears, leaving him or her in relative peace and quiet. That is, unless the person is actively enjoying music, a movie, or other media, in which case the desired audio is served directly to the listener's ears.

As neither active noise control nor soundproofing are entirely effective at blocking out unwanted sounds, perhaps the term noise cancelling is a bit of an overstatement. Nonetheless, these headphones can do much to make a commute quieter, an office more productive, or a piece of music sound more crisp and clear even against the background din. Or in other words, they can make myriad aspects of your life a bit quieter, a bit clearer, and a bit more pleasant. That's worth the extra cash a pair of noise canceling headphones will cost you when compared with standard earphone options.

Noise Cancelling Headphones For Music And Media

If you don't actually care much about the crisp clarity of your music, or if you don't often find yourself suffering through noisy flights or cacophonous commutes, then perhaps a pair of noise cancelling headphones is a luxury you don't need to consider. If, however, you are consistently upset by the intrusive sounds and the sheer volume of noise you encounter, noise cancelling headphones might be more necessity than luxury. Just know that even the cheapest options that are decent in quality cost almost a hundred dollars, while other, high end models cost closer to four hundred dollars and beyond.

If you are selecting a pair of noise cancelling headphones for use while gaming or watching movies at home (or in your dorm), or for use whole at your desk at work, then chances are a wired pair won't hinder your ease of use. Selecting noise cancelling headphones that use a wire eliminates the need to worry about charging batteries. Choosing a pair that can run off batteries or off a wired connection is an even better idea, as it lets you move about untethered when needed yet unfettered by battery life the rest of the time.

Likewise, if you will almost always be using your noise cancelling headphones at home or at your workplace, feel free to select a large, bulky pair. While not ideal for use during travel, larger headphones mean more soundproofing capability and more room for quality acoustic components. These larger options also often feature more soft, pillowy cushioning, which you'll appreciate if you're wearing your headphones for hours on end.

Noise Cancelling Headphones Beyond The Music

If you need a pair of noise cancelling headphones to assist you in the proper execution of your work or as an aid for more enjoyable (or even just more endurable) travel, then there are several factors to consider. First think about whether you need reliable two way communication, and if so look for a pair of headphones with a microphone and the ability to handle phone calls. When you use a pair of noise cancelling headphones to make calls, you might finally be able to hear the person on the other end of the line even if you work at a loud job site, you oversee a factory floor, or you are in another noisy environment.

Now consider battery life. Some noise cancelling headphones only offer a six hour battery life, for example, which won't even get you through the workday. Spending extra cash for a unit that can last for many hours of use is money well spent. Next consider size and weight; especially if your job requires lots of moving around, the lighter your headset, the better. And if you can find a pair of noise canceling headphones that's relatively compact, so much the better for use as you commute and as you store the headphones when not using them.

If your work regularly exposes you to a decibel level beyond what is considered safe for human health, which is a noise level of around 85 decibels or below for and eight hour work day, then ear protection isn't optional, it is absolutely imperative.

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Last updated on June 28, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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