One of the most easily portable and most loved things that people carry in their pockets almost all the time is the music they love. Our music helps us to make good use of the local commuting time or trans-Atlantic flights. Music helps us immerse ourselves in our work in a noisy workplace.
It also helps to isolate us from the noise of busy streets. The common thread in all this is that we increasingly consume more music when outdoors and in noisy places.
But this makes it a chicken and egg problem – we listen to music in noisy places seeking to enjoy music, but the noise doesn’t let us enjoy the music the way we want. Noise cancelling headphones provide a solution to this problem. These headphones are equipped with several technologies that keep the ambient noise away taking us closer to the music the way we want it to be.
On the most basic level, the physical design shields or isolates us from noise to some level. This is called as passive noise cancellation and the headphones supporting this technique are called as passive noise cancelling headphones.
The most advanced technologies listen to the sounds around us and create an equally strong but opposite sound. These two sounds cancel out each other, leaving (almost) silence for our music to exist in and for us to hear only the music. This technology is called as active noise cancellation.
In this post, we shall look at top 15 such headphones which can do noise cancellation.All of them equally deserve candidates for the best noise cancelling headphones 2017.
Let’s start with the most expensive and the most impressive of all such headphones which are priced below $400:
Sony MDR1000X/B Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $398.00
Type: Over the ear | Weight: 9.8 ounces | Frequency Response: 4Hz to 40,000 Hz
The MDR1000X/B noise canceling headphone is an incredible piece of engineering and artwork by Sony. It is super sleek looking, with very nice and smooth finishing.
It has dual sensors to provide the ultimate active noise cancelation. One sensor sits on the outside capturing ambient noise, and the other sensor sits inside the cups to offset that noise in real time. It is wireless, lightweight and foldable, which makes it ultra portable.
It is equipped with Sony in-house SENSE Engine which lets you control what you hear exactly how you want to listen the sounds of music as well as the outside world.
For example, with the usual mode of operation, it lets you hear outside sounds which are loud enough that you hear but faint enough that they do not interfere with your listening experience. With ambient sound mode a.k.a voice mode, it lets you hear all external human voices which enable you to enjoy your music and not miss out on any important announcements.
Similarly, in personal NC (Noise Cancelation) optimizer mode, it automatically learns your own style and characteristics and adjusts noise cancellation appropriately for the best experience for you. It can also understand your touches.
For example, if you place one hand over any of the housing it automatically lowers down the volume and increases the amount of external speech being passed to you which enables you to have some quick conversations without having to take off your headphone.
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $383.48
Type: Over the ear | Weight: 0.58 pounds | Frequency Response: 8Hz to 28,000 Hz
This is a reincarnation of the earlier generation Momentum headphones. Those headphones, launched in 2013, were perfect in all aspects except one small flaw – they weren’t so comfortable for long continuous usage.
It was a success in the market, but Sennheiser being entirely obsessed with glitch free perfection couldn’t stand this small imperfection, and quickly brought in the next version of the same headphone, with the same name but with a new updated version number.
Any guess what special did it have? It had just some design changes so that headphones don’t feel uncomfortable even if you wear them continuously for the most part of the day or sleep wearing them in long haul flights.
The super fine sound quality of the wireless Momentum 2.0 even beats the sound quality of many well-known wired headsets. It is equipped with both – Bluetooth and NFC – which makes pairing it as easy as just tapping it to the NFC-compatible device.
It boasts of the world famous Noise Gard which is a hybrid active noise canceller whose performance is better than other active noise cancelation technologies. This makes Momentum 2.0 one of the best external sound cancelling headphones in its category.
Powered by this technology the Momentum 2.0 can easily eliminate virtually all the external noise. The sister technology called VoiceMax works with similarly incredible performance to remove noise from your voice when you are in a phone call using the built-in microphone of this headphone.
The exteriors of this work of genius, built with Stainless Steel and real leather exudes pure luxury making the Momentum 2.0 ultimate in both looks and performance.
Bose QuietComfort 35 Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $349.00
Type: Over the ear | Weight: 8.3 ounces | Frequency Response: Unavailable in product specifications
QuietComfort 35 Noise Canceling Headphone is Bose’s finest headphone so far. It has the best of everything which any fantastic noise canceling headphone should have. Under the hood, it has active noise cancelation which makes the quiet sounds quieter and music sound better.
This together with NFC, Bluetooth and other hardware such as a battery, connectors, etc. are packed in skeleton made of impact and corrosion resistant materials. This makes it ready to live healthy in the real world where bumps are bruised are commonplace.
The skeleton is then nicely wrapped in pure luxury and comfort. The headband is made of Alcantra which is typically used in top end ultra-luxurious interiors of cars, aircraft and yachts. The ear cushions are made of synthetic protein leather which gives it a very soft and comfortable feel.
In addition to deluxe look and feel, the ear cushions also have silicone bead which gives you additional noise suppression. The internal rechargeable Li-Ion battery in QuietComfort 35 headphone offers 20 hours of playback time which is among the best playback time in the world for this category of headphones.
But Bose knows that real world is unpredictable, so they have given this headphone a wired mode, in which the battery life doubles, plus a mere 15 min charge, offers full 2.5 hours of playback. Except for few non-essential and merely marketing friendly bells and whistles, there is nothing else which can be added into this headphone to make it better!
These points quickly bring QuietComfort 35 to be counted among the very good noise cancelling headphones from Bose.
Below noise cancelation headphones are priced below $300
Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $299.00
Type: Over the ear | Weight: 6.9 ounces | Frequency Response: Unavailable in product specifications
The QuietComfort 25 Noise Canceling Headphone is best-performing headphone so far from Bose. This headphone comes in two variants exclusively designed for Apple devices and Samsung or any other Android devices.
These headphones are featherweight and possess high-quality materials and a great finish. The headband is designed to sit comfortably closer to the head, and the ear cups can rotate to give the best and most comfortable fit.
These headphones are designed to keep working even when their batteries drain out completely, albeit without the noise cancelation feature working i.e. it will still be working like passive noise cancelling headphones.
The active noise cancelation together with the ActiveEQ and TriPort technologies deliver a crisp, clear and powerful sound which is a sheer music listening pleasure. With the in-line remote and microphone, it gives the full control at your fingertips.
Bose QuietComfort 15 Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $284.88
Type: Over the ear | Weight: 6.9 ounces | Frequency Response: Unavailable in product specifications
The QuietComfort 15 Noise Canceling Headphone from Bose has been in the market since 2011. Earlier only Apple compliant version was available, but since 2015 Android compatible version is also available.
Like other major hit headphones from Bose, the QuietComfort 15 also has active noise cancelation technology which provides state of the art noise cancelation making you hear what you truly want to hear – be it the music that you want to hear or just want some tranquil silence amid the crowd.
The audio cable has inline controls which can be used to control track, change volume as well as to handle calls. The ear cups are foldable which together with the light weight makes this headphone incredibly easy to carry in its case. This wired noise cancelation headphone from Bose runs on AAA battery, each battery gives the average of 35 hours of playback time.
The battery light indicator starts beeping when approximately 5 hours of battery life is remaining this makes it easy for a user to know when the battery is low. This gives users sufficient time to either recharge or replace the battery.
Bose QuietComfort 20 Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $249.00
Type: In-ear | Weight: 10.6 ounces | Frequency Response: Unavailable in product specifications
This QuietComfort 20 Noise Canceling Headphone from Bose is specifically only for Apple. There is another same model designed only for Android devices. It is the first in-ear noise cancelation headphone from Bose. The very small size makes these headphones very easy to carry even in the pocket.
It is surprising to see Bose managing to pack the advanced active noise cancelation technology with the dual sensor hardware in such a tiny form factor. Moreover, it also features an ‘Aware mode’ which can be activated by a touch of a button, and when switched on, this feature enables you to hear to your ambience making you aware of your surroundings.
You can also make quick conversations in this mode without removing the headphones. While the noise cancelation technology rivals that of the big sized headphones in removing the ambient noise, the TriPort technology enhances the sound to bring every part of music alive.
The tips of this unique headphone are designed based on the exclusive Stay Here+ design which creates a soft yet secure fit in the ears. This headphone also has in-line remote with a microphone which can be used to handle calls and control Apple devices such as select models of iPod, iPhone and iPad. These noise cancelling earbuds from Bose are truly world class and one of its kinds.
Here are the noise cancelation headphones which are priced below $200
Sennheiser PXC 450 Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $199.95
Type: Over the ear | Weight: 8.5 ounces | Frequency Response: 8 Hz to 28,000 Hz