The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

440 15/10/2021

For frequent flyers or commuters on public transit, reducing the noise around you is the difference between enduring a trip and enjoying it. Noise-cancelling headphones can make your music easier to hear and your world a little more peaceful. We recommend the over-ear Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and the in-ear 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro, depending on which headphone style you prefer.

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is the best wireless noise-cancelling headphones set that Bose has ever released. These headphones are expensive, but we think they’re worth the investment for the frequent traveler who puts a high premium on performance and comfort. They offer the superior noise cancellation that Bose is known for, plus more adjustability than on any other noise-cancelling headphones we’ve tested.I want a Noise Cancelling Headset.You can adjust the level of the active noise cancellation (ANC) on a scale from 0 to 10, so if you find that intense noise cancellation causes a feeling of pressure or discomfort (what we call “eardrum suck”), as we noticed with the Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II—or if you just want a little more sense of your surroundings—you have more flexibility to find a level that works for you.

These noise-cancelling headphones also have a lightweight design that is comfortable to wear for hours, and they feature an easy-to-use combination of touch controls and physical buttons that you can access without looking. Plus, you can use them in wired mode with the ANC engaged if, for example, you want to access an in-flight entertainment system. They fold flat for easy storage in the supplied case, too. They aren’t entirely without flaws, however: The sound quality is good but not as crisp as on the best over-ear headphones we’ve tested, the app can be vexing, and the battery life isn’t the longest we’ve seen—though at 20 hours it’ll still get you through a very long flight.

Perfect for commuters, the 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro is the updated version of our previous earbud pick. These collar-style Bluetooth earbuds (which have a flexible band connecting them) cancel an impressive amount of noise and have enough battery life to last through a long flight and beyond. (1More claims 20 hours with the noise cancelling off and 16 hours with it on, consistent with what we found in our tests.) The quick-charge mode will give you three hours of use after just 10 minutes of plug-in time. These earbuds also function corded—with the active noise cancellation on or off—for those trips when you want to use an in-flight entertainment system. The voice-enhancement mode lets you carry on a conversation by tapping a button to pass the sound through so you don’t have to remove the earbuds. Plus, unlike wireless earbuds that use a hard-plastic collar (such as the Bose QuietControl 30), this pair’s flexible collar allows them to coil up small enough to fit into a trouser pocket.

If you want good noise cancellation without all the bells and whistles, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 over-ear Bluetooth headphones deliver. The noise cancellation is effective, the sound quality is pretty decent (though a bit bass heavy), and the lightweight chassis and soft foam earcups are comfortable. The 30-hour battery life is impressive for a model in any price range. You can use these headphones in wired mode, and the controls are easy to operate. Although the Life Q20 doesn’t come with EQ manipulation, adjustable ANC, touch controls, or always-listening voice activation, this pair does deliver on the ANC-headphone essentials, and it offers a shocking amount of quality for well under $100.

Although true wireless earbuds aren’t our first choice for noise cancellation, we know that people love them. If your heart is set on getting a completely wireless pair of noise-cancelling earbuds, the 1More True Wireless ANC is the best option. This pair is the most effective at reducing airplane noise, the buds are small and fit securely and comfortably in your ears, and the sound quality is quite good. The controls are easier to use than most, and the charging case offers USB-C and Qi charging. However, the average battery life of 5 hours (longer if you turn ANC off) is a lot less than that of our other picks, and you can’t use these earbuds in wired mode, so you need a Bluetooth transmitter to use this pair with in-flight entertainment systems.


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