March 10th, 2021
Best noise canceling headphones: Beats, Bose, Sony & AirPods
Between working from home and sharing small spaces with multiple people, quiet time can be hard to come by. Fortunately, there are a few devices that can help you drown out the chaos and focus on what matters.
Among them: a pair of noise canceling headphones. They play audio and block out unwanted sounds—and they can easily pair with other tech like your phone, TV, gaming console, and even a stationary bike. But with so many different models and brands to choose from, it can be hard to pick the right pair for you.
Asurion Experts help millions of customers get the most out of their tech, and they've been hard at work testing different noise canceling headphones to find the best ones from Bose® and Sony® to Beats® and AirPods®. Check out their top picks below.
How do noise canceling headphones work and are they worth buying?
If you want fewer distractions when you work, travel, or play games, noise canceling headphones offer a much-needed reprieve. But before you invest in a pair, it's important to understand the technology behind them. It's called active noise cancellation, or ANC, and it processes and analyzes ambient sound (think vacuum cleaner or jet engine) then produces an equal but opposite sound to neutralize what you hear. Cool, right?
Do noise canceling headphones block all sound?
No. Noise canceling headphones work best with low-frequency sounds and may not block those at higher frequencies, like people's voices or babies crying. You might even find that noise canceling headphones occasionally hurt your ears or give you a headache because of their levels of cancellation. If this is the case, try using noise-canceling earbuds or devices with adjustable ANC instead.
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How to choose the best noise canceling headphones
There are four key things to take into consideration to help you choose which headphones are right for you:
- Comfort: You'll want your headphones to feel as good as they sound. For over-ear models, look for a pair that has a soft, adjustable headband with oversized and padded ear cups. For an in-ear option, choose a pair that fits snugly inside your ear canal but isn't too rigid.
- Battery life: Unlike traditional headphones that plug into a device to power on, noise canceling headphones rely solely on a charge. Be sure to find a pair that has a battery life of up to 20 hours and the option to use a wired cable if you run out of juice. For earbuds, it's best to have a pair that can last up to five or more hours between charges.
- Sound quality: Listen closely to your headphones for crisp, non-piercing sound, warm bass, smooth treble, and high levels of detail. You want the audio to be well balanced.
- Price point: ANC technology was once only available in expensive headphones. And while noise canceling headphones aren't cheap, there are a variety of options out there to fit every budget.
Now you know what features to look out for, let's jump into a noise canceling headphones comparison.
Best over-ear noise canceling headphones
Bose Noise Cancelling 700
Price: $329–$379 | Style: Over-ear | Battery life: Up to 20 hours | Touch controls: Yes | Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri | Hands-free calling: Yes | Weight: 8.96 oz. | Colors: Black, Silver, White
Asurion Experts like the Bose® Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 mainly because they're versatile and their noise cancellation is top-notch. Not only do they feature high-quality sound when you're making calls and listening to your favorite songs, but their ANC levels can be adjusted to 11 different settings. With their sleek, durable design, you'll feel comfortable wearing them for long periods of time. These headphones also charge quickly through a USB-C port, and you can use them to summon Amazon Alexa™, Google Assistant™, or Siri®.
Price: $278–$349 | Style: Over-ear | Battery life: Up to 30 hours | Touch controls: Yes | Voice Assistant: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa | Hands-free calling: Yes | Weight: 9 oz. | Colors: Silver, Black
Another Asurion Expert favorite is the Sony® WH-1000XM4—a pair with strong noise canceling performance and the ability to customize your listening experience in Sony's Headphones Connect™ app. You'll enjoy the clarity of the sound when you're on the phone or playing music. You can even do both at the same time with the multipoint Bluetooth® pairing, a feature that lets you connect two devices to your headphones at once. Plus they're comfortable, lightweight, and fast charging, although you won't have to power up much with their 30-hour battery life.
Best in-ear noise canceling headphones
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Price: $279 | Style: In-ear | Battery life: Up to 6 hours | Touch controls: Yes | True Wireless: Yes | Hands-free calling: Yes | Weight: 0.3 oz. Each | Colors: Black, White
The Bose QuietComfort® Earbuds don't disappoint when it comes to sound quality and noise cancellation. While they may be a bit bulkier than other popular models like the AirPods Pro®, they perform and sound better when listening to music, offering more detail and bass. And when you need a break, the transparency mode allows you to briefly let noise flood in—something you may want to do when you're crossing the street or grabbing a quick coffee. Turning this feature on is simple: just remove one bud to enable the feature automatically. Then, when you replace it, the pair will fit comfortably and won't slip out when you're working up a sweat.
Price: $249 | Style: In-ear | Battery life: Up to 4.5 hours | Touch controls: Yes | True Wireless: Yes | Hands-free calling: Yes | Voice assistant: Siri | Weight: 0.19 oz. each | Colors: White
Apple's AirPods Pro® are a great choice if you're looking for lightweight, truly wireless headphones that offer a lot of versatility. Their active noise cancellation makes them useful for voice calls and, with the added bonus of improved bass over earlier AirPod models, they create an immersive experience for listening to your favorite playlists as well. Their comfortable in-ear design fits securely, helping with noise isolation and leaving you without worry of them falling out if you want to go for a run while wearing them.
Best budget noise canceling headphones
Price: $49 | Style: In-ear | Battery life: Up to 12 hours | Touch controls: No | True Wireless: No | Hands-free calling: Yes | Weight: 0.66 oz. | Colors: Black, Yellow, Blue, Silver
While the Beats Flex™ aren't labeled noise-canceling earphones, they do the job simply by fitting so tightly in your ear. Our Experts like these magnetic earbuds because they have great sound quality for a lower price than their competitors and still offer cool features, like sharing your audio with others with just a tap.
Anker SoundCore Life Q30
Price: $79–$89 | Style: Over-ear | Battery life: Up to 60 hours | Touch controls: No | Voice Assistant: Google Assistant, Siri | Hands-free calling: Yes | Weight: 9 oz. | Colors: Black, Blue, Pink
It can be difficult to find quality noise-canceling headphones for a low price, and the Anker® SoundCore™ Life Q30 headphones might be as good as it gets. Not only are they sturdy and comfortable, they have a battery life that lasts 40 hours with noise canceling enabled and 60 hours without it. Worried about the sound and bass being too punchy? With these, you can easily adjust the equalizer in the SoundCore app. You can also adjust the ANC between three different modes.
Best noise canceling headphones for working out
Price: $119–$149 | Style: Ear hook, In-ear | Battery life: Up to 15 hours | Touch controls: Yes | Voice Assistant: Siri | Hands-free calling: Yes | Weight: 0.93 oz. | Colors: White, Black, Red
You don't just put Powerbeats® wireless headphones into your ears—you hook them on. It's one of the main reasons why Asurion Experts recommend these noise-isolating headphones for exercise and intense workouts. They're made to stay in place when you move, but they're still lightweight and comfortable for extended periods of time. Their sound quality is balanced and smooth, and if you need to summon Siri® during your workout, you can easily do so using the earbuds' voice activation feature.
Best noise canceling headphones for listening to music
Beats Studio 3 Wireless
Price: $199 – $349 | Style: Over-ear | Battery life: Up to 40 hours | Touch controls: Yes | Voice Assistant: Siri | Hands-free calling: Yes | Weight: 9.17 oz. | Colors: Black, Red, White, Blue, Grey
You'll get the best listening experience with the Beats Studio®3 wireless headphones. They were designed to be used in the studio—where every note on the track matters—and feature real-time audio calibration to play sound as it was intended. You'll also find wearing these Beats is extremely comfortable because of their ergonomic pivoting ear cups. And switching between calls and listening to music is easy too. Just press the b logo® to answer the phone, talk to Siri, or skip to the next song on your playlist.
Best noise canceling headphones for working from home
Bose QuietComfort 35
Price: Varies | Style: Over-ear | Battery life: Up to 40 hours | Touch controls: Yes | Voice Assistant: No | Hands-free calling: Yes | Weight: 8.3 oz. | Colors: Black, Silver
The OG of the company's line of wireless noise-canceling headphones, the QuietComfort 35 remains one of the best options in sound quality and ANC performance. But that's not all our Experts like about this pair of noise canceling Bose. These headphones are perfect for all day wear, making them great for working from home. You can use the microphone as a headset for taking video calls, and it's easy to pair and switch between multiple devices like your phone and computer. Background noise isn't a problem either. Even in the loudest office setting, these headphones drown out chatter. And they can last your entire workday.
Best noise canceling headphones for online gaming
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset
Price: $299 –$329 | Style: Over-ear | Battery life: Up to 40 hours | Touch controls: Yes | Voice Assistant: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Siri | Hands-free calling: Yes | Weight: 8.3 oz. | Colors: Black
Noise-canceling headphones need a little more power for online gaming, but Asurion Experts think the Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset is up for the challenge. This 2-in-1 device features the brand's Acoustic Noise Cancelling™ technology, giving them a combination of lifelike sound and deep bass, but also complete silence from the world around you. Attach the removable gaming module—which works like a boom mic—or the PC desktop controller to help regulate the volume and the sound of your voice. Then pause the game and take these lightweight, noise-canceling headphones with you on the go.
Best noise canceling headphones for kids
Beats Solo Pro
Price: $159–$299 | Style: Over-ear | Battery life: Up to 40 hours | Touch controls: Yes | Voice Assistant: Siri | Hands-free calling: Yes | Weight: 9.42 oz. | Colors: White, Black, Grey
Kids can't always sit still, but when you need them to focus on their schoolwork—especially if they're learning from home—our Experts recommend the Beats Solo Pro® headphones. They sound great, and your children will love the way they look and feel during a video call. But be warned: They may never take these headphones off. They can last up to 40 hours on a single charge.
How do I protect my noise canceling headphones?
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