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
The PXC 450 noise canceling headphone from Sennheiser is an icon in itself. It features Noise Gard 2.0 active noise cancelation technology which has significant improvement to the already fantastic original Noise Gard technology. Noise Gard 2.0 reduces up to 90% of ambient noise making it one of the best external sound cancelling headphones in its category.
Patented diaphragm technology together with adaptive damping delivers the sound in its purest form. The innovative Talk Through technology only lets speech inside the headphones enabling you to talk to anyone without being bothered by the surrounding noise and that too without having to remove the headphone.
Its design is such that even in the absence of battery power, it can isolate good amount of noise. So you can say that it always works! The physical design also enables it to be folded and therefore carried around very quickly. It has battery time of 16 hours with all features turned on.
Audio Technica ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $190.21
Type: Over the ear | Weight: 1.6 pounds | Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 25,000 Hz
The ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint Noise Canceling Headphone from Audio technical is among the best of world’s best noise canceling over-the-ear headphones. This sensational headphone has 2 miniature microphones in each earpiece to support the Audio Technicas in-house active noise cancelation technology.
These two separate microphones in each earpiece very effectively capture the ambient noise around each earpiece which can be subtly different from one another. Therefore the noise cancelation which is done is each earpiece is perfect for the noise around that earpiece rather than relying on a single reference noise source.
The noise reference from different sources cancels the noise better than the other technologies and can reach up to 95% noise cancelation. The active noise cancelation in ATH-ANC9 headphone can operate in three modes each having different strengths of noise cancelation at different frequency bands.
The first mode offers maximum suppression for low frequencies which makes it ideal for use in ambiences having humming sounds such as airplanes, trains and buses. The second mode is designed to aggressively cancel random noise making it ideal mode for using in offices and crowded places where the noise isn’t stable.
The third mode powerfully suppresses across all frequencies equally giving you tranquility for maybe your studies or just to be in peaceful silence right in the middle of noisy ambience simply by putting on this luxurious headphone.
These points easily bring the ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint among the very good noise cancelling headphones from Audio Technica.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $169.00
Type: Over the ear | Weight: 10 ounces | Frequency Response: 15 Hz to 28,000 Hz
The ATH-M50X noise canceling headphones from Audio Technica belongs to M series in their professional monitor headphone line-up. The ATH-M50X is the most critically acclaimed model in this series. It has the same fantastic acoustic design as in other over the ear headphones from Audio Technica.
In addition, it has a detachable cable. No wonder it is recognized as a legend by top audio engineers and audio reviewers. The earpieces have large 45 mm aperture proprietary drivers which are made of voice coils made of aluminum wires with Copper coating and rare earth Neodymium magnets.
The frequency response delivers bass as low as 15 Hz giving a powerful thumping bass. On the higher end, the ATH-M50X can reproduce sounds accurately up to 28 KHz giving a very wide spectrum which helps in producing exceptional clarity throughout the board.
The signature shape of the earpiece offers maximum noise isolation in loud environments. The earpieces can swivel 90 degrees making it possible to monitor with single ear. These headphones are collapsible which saves lots of storage space making them significantly portable.
The fans of these headphones range from top class recording and mixing studios to DJs, and of course normal people who have exquisite taste in music.
These noise cancelation headphones are priced below $150
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B QuietPoint Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $141.15
Type: Over the ear | Weight: 7.4 ounces | Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 25,000 Hz
The ATH-ANC7B QuietPoint Noise Canceling Headphone deploys proprietary active noise cancelation technology researched, developed and optimized by Audio Technica. They are very light in weight and compact in size which makes them extremely easy to carry around with you.
The light weight and the comfortably fitting earpieces and the headband make these headphones usable for hours at a stretch without any discomfort. The frequency response of this wonderful headphone permits the headphone to produce deep rich bass on one end and extended treble on the other end, with a detailed and balanced mid-range in the middle.
The earpieces present the sound in such a way that it creates an immersive sound stage. The material used in cushions, the shape of earpieces and the fitment effectively reduce the external noise by as high as 90%. So finally what you get is a great music minus the irritating background noise.
The large aperture 40 mm drivers aided by Neodymium magnets offer an incredibly high sensitivity of 109 dB which gives a quite large difference between minimum and maximum volume levels, or in other words, very precise control on the reproduced volume.
This also helps to you being able to hear the softest of the sounds as well as loudest of the sounds without distortions or cracking. The earpieces have all the necessary electronics to give you amazingly good noise cancelation without the need of any external equipment.
Finally, we have the most affordable noise cancelling headphones that are priced below $100
Audio Technica ATH-ANC27x Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $99.57
Type: Over the ear | Weight: 6.8 ounces | Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
The ATH-ANC27x is another high quality, durable, noise canceling headphone from Audio Technica. Weighing merely 6.8 ounces makes it feather light, and same is the feeling of the materials used in the cushions of the earpieces. These headphones can reject external noise by 85%.
This figure may sound low in the face of higher numbers from other similar headphones from Audio Technica, but from a technical point of view, this is still very high rejection rate which can be easily put in a best grade category. The frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 KHz offers the range which is more than what most people can hear.
This enables the ATH-ANC27x headphone to deliver equally great over the entire spectrum, be it the powerful bass, or superfine treble or natural and detailed mid-range. The sound presentation creates an immersive experience. The high quality and special materials used in constructing this headphone give it a great 106 dB sensitivity giving this headphone the ability to reproduce very soft to quite loud sounds effortlessly perfectly.
The in-house QuitePoint technology deployed in these headphones gives up to 18 dB active noise cancelation. In simple words, it means that the external noise levels inside the headphones are several times lesser than the same noise just outside the earpiece.
It gives an amazing 40 hrs of battery life on Alkaline AAA battery. It comes with a detachable 1.2 meter cable. This is a perfect noise canceling headphone for anyone who doesn’t require wireless and call-taking capabilities in their headphones.
Sony Premium Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $59.95
Type: Over the ear | Weight: Undisclosed in product specifications | Frequency Response: Undisclosed in product specifications
The Sony Premium Noise Canceling headphones are built for listening comfort, compact transport, and to offer great value for money. Just one flick of a button enables the Sony’s proprietary and impressive active noise cancelation which instantly brings down the perceived external noise down by a whopping 95%!
These headphones are the boast of decent sized 30 mm drivers with Neodymium magnets which enable these headphones to accurately reproduce deep bass until fine treble and everything in between with clarity, crispness and smooth transitions between the different frequencies such as in build-up in music.
The design emphasizes little on the bass side which makes these headphones perfect for today’s genre of music. This is augmented by the physical design of these headphones comprising of adjustable headband and earpieces which can swivel, which is geared towards long usage during travel as well as leisure, including giving them compactness and enabling them to be stowed away anywhere.
The goal of long usage is also strongly supported by best in class battery life of 80 hours. These and much more such favorable points about the Sony Premium noise canceling headphone makes it among the best affordable noise cancelling headphones.
Sony MDR-NC31EM Noise Canceling Headphone for Xperia Z2/Z3, Price $59.00
Type: In-ear | Weight: 23 grams | Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
The MDR-NC31EM in-ear noise canceling earbuds from Sony are especially optimized to give the best performance with Sony Xperia Z2 and Z3 mobile phones and tablets. Sony has implemented its digital noise canceling technology in these small headphones which block the outside sounds very effectively leaving only music for your ears.
This technology is hugely aided by the physical design of these headphones which nicely fits in the ears. They are comfortable to wear, yet they can block out the external noise. This is due to its precision design. The same design also ensures that the music is presented to you in all its beauty and nothing is lost.
It gives exceptionally deep bass for its size, clear mid-range, and super fine treble. When listening to music from the MDR-NC31EM headphones, you can hear every string, every beat and every small change in the rhythmic flow.
It has a microphone in-line which is useful for calls if the headphone is connected to a device with a 3.5 mm 5 pole audio contacts which are present in Sony Xperia Z2 and Z3 mobile phone a tablet.
SoundPEATS B10 Noise Canceling Headphone, Price $11.99
Type: In-ear | Weight: 1.1 ounces | Frequency Response: Unspecified in product specifications.
The B10 noise canceling headphone from SoundPEATS is an example that merely looks small and economic in price that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad product. On the contrary, it can be a remarkable product.
This noise canceling headphone is ultra light weight. Each earpiece weighs merely 0.45 ounces which don’t even feel that you are wearing any headphone in your ears. The physical design of this passive noise canceling headphone is such that it provides excellent noise isolation, leaving you immersed in your favorite music.
The tips of this in-ear headphone are ultra-soft which adds to the comfort aspect. B10 has a good frequency response and sound reproduction capability with a slight tilt towards bass. This is actually quite good because the music feels terrific!
These were current 15 best noise cancelation headphones. As you may have noticed, it was not easy to select merely 15 out of hundreds of such incredible headphones. We tried our best to include only the best but yet be flexible in terms of brands and different price points. So even though the noise canceling headphones in sub $100 category are lesser performing or having lesser features than their counterparts which are priced above $200, but our attempt to pick the best reprehensive in that price category.
Owning to such filtering process, we know that there is a good chance that we might have missed out on your favorite noise cancelation headphone. If so, then let us know by commenting on this post. It would greatly help all the readers if you can also tell few points which make that headphone as your favorite.
We are also very keen to hear your thoughts and ideas about the above list of top noise canceling headphones and more curious to know which in your opinion is the best noise cancelling headphones 2017.