You might not have realized just how unsuitable your home is for work productivity. Whether you have screaming kids running up and down the halls or you’ve just discovered that your neighbor in apartment 1B loves to listen to Public Enemy all day on volume 11, sometimes you need some peace and quiet. Whatever the reason, the best noise-canceling headphones let you instantly create a peaceful work environment.
Noise-cancelling technology is the perfect reason to upgrade your headphone game. Not only does it block out distracting outside noise, but headphones with this feature provide incredible clarity so you can experience music in the best way possible. With the push of a button or a voice command, you can also take phone calls and participate in conference calls at a moment’s notice. And since virtually all of the best noise-canceling headphones offer Bluetooth, you can go totally wireless.
Stop using those dinky headphones you bought at the airport and show your ears the love they deserve. To help you make the right decision, we’ve put together a list of the industry’s best products. When ranking these headphones, we weighed customer reviews, price, design and audio technology. Keep reading to discover our favorite noise-canceling headphones from Sony, Bose, Beats and other top audio brands.
1. Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise-Cancelling Headphones
BEST NOISE-CANCELING HEADPHONES OVERALL
Looking for the best noise-canceling headphones of 2021? While we love the look, features and price of the new Marshall headphones below, there’s a reason we recently named the new Sony 1000X Mark 4 the “best noise-canceling headphones ever.” As in ever, ever. The 1000XM3 headphones were already an incredible piece of audio technology, but Sony’s upgrade has some improvements that justify the higher price tag. These headphones come with a more advanced algorithm that enhances the noise-cancellation features. Plus, you can easily connect to two different Bluetooth devices, switching from your Spotify playlist to a phone call with the push of a button. There are a lot of great wireless headphones for sale in 2021, but they don’t get better than this.
2. Apple AirPods Max
Apple’s AirPods Max turned heads when they debuted with a $550 price tag, and many reflexively declared that Apple had lost its mind. But in the time since their release, they’ve had time to prove their worth, and it turns out they’re worth every last penny for Mac and/or iPhone users. Whether you’re considering the pristine audio quality, top-notch build quality, slick looks, comfortable fit or support for advanced features such as spatial audio, there’s no other pair of headphones that come close in terms of pure performance. Plus, these have some of the best noise-cancellation you’ll find on the market today, especially when it comes to snuffing out voices.
So why aren’t these our top overall pick? Well, some of the features which warrant that price tag only work with Apple devices, which makes it hard to recommend as a universal top pick.
3. Marshall Monitor II A.N.C.
Marshall is the iconic music brand that makes the guitar amps and sound equipment used by your favorite musicians. However, the company is now making more consumer products such as smart speakers and headphones. Recently, the company’s Marshall Monitor headphones were upgraded with new active noise-cancellation features. While they don’t have as much recognition, these premium headphones deserve to be in the same category as the best noise-canceling headphones from Sony, Bose and Beats.
The new Marshall Monitor II headphones have a slick design, great features and impressive audio quality. With the noise-canceling feature activated, these headphones have a 30-hour battery life. The company that powers the world’s biggest rock stars has put its muscle into delivering a pair of headphones with killer sound (thanks to custom-tuned 40mm dynamic drivers). A control knob on the ear rests lets you control music and incoming calls, and the Bluetooth connectivity lets you go totally wireless. We also love the sleek design. While Beats and Sony have gone for a minimalist, almost futuristic design, Marshall’s headphones have a retro aesthetic reminiscent of their pebbled leather guitar amps.
4. Shure AONIC 50 Noise Canceling Headphones
There’s a reason why you’ll find so many music and audio professionals using Shure products, it’s because the company makes some of the best-sounding gear money can buy. With the AONIC 50 headphones, Shure has an offering that can stand toe to toe with the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones. The early consensus on the AONIC 50s was that the audio quality was phenomenal, but the noise-canceling performance was merely fine. However, following a summer firmware update, SoundGuys found quantifiable proof that the noise-canceling has been dramatically improved, which has turned these into a top pick.
Another stand-out aspect of the AONIC 50 headphones is the fact that it supports nearly any high-quality wireless standard or audio codec you would want, including Bluetooth 5.0, AAC, apt X, aptX HD and aptX Low Latency, as well as Sony’s own LDAC codec. AptX Low Latency, in particular, is a codec that isn’t found on many noise-canceling headphones right now, but it’s essential if you want to use a pair to watch TV or play games because it dramatically reduces audio lag and provides audio that is synchronized with what you’re seeing on screen.
5. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
BEST BOSE NOISE-CANCELING HEADPHONES
Lots of companies claim to have “industry-leading” noise-cancellation technology, but the Bose 700 really does take noise-canceling to a new level. With 11 different settings of noise cancellation, you have complete control of the ambient noise you let in from the outside world. And when someone needs a quick word while you’re listening, you can activate Conversation Mode with a touch of a button, allowing you to hear without taking your headphones off (although the person you’re talking to might think that’s rude). Enabled with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support, plus 20 hours of battery life, you might not ever need to take the headphones off. With audio technology powered by Bose and an attractive over-ear design, these are some of the best noise-canceling headphones available right now.
6. Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Noise-Canceling Headphones
BEST BUDGET NOISE-CANCELING HEADPHONES
Finding decent noise-canceling headphones under $100 is tough, but the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 fills that need, specifically for those on a tight budget. The best part is that the sacrifices you have to make are minimal — you still get adjustable, multi-mode noise-cancellation, transparency mode and a customizable EQ. And it doesn’t matter how much money you spend, the 40-hour battery life is an impressive accomplishment, especially for under $100 headphones. The one compromise you’ll have to live with is that the plasticky build quality leaves something to be desired. But you’ll quickly forget about that once you hear the audio that comes from these.
7. Beats Solo Pro Noise-Canceling Headphones
For those who prefer on-ear, as opposed to over-the-ear offerings, the Bose Solo Pro is a great option. Beats calls its ANC “pure adaptive noise-canceling” to provide working ANC with an on-ear design. Whatever audio sorcery is in the Solo Pro works to keep distracting noise out and your favorite tunes or podcasts sounding clear. It even has Transparency Mode like Airpods Pro and Bose 700. These headphones are available in a slew of colors to match your personal style, and the stylish design is cool enough to upgrade any outfit.
8. Master & Dynamic MW65
Master & Dynamic is no slouch when it comes to high-end headphones and with the MW65, you’re getting top-notch build quality paired with audio that will bring you joy. We loved the rich and layered sound that came from these headphones, along with the insane 65-foot wireless range that these cans are capable of. But the Master & Dynamic MW65 headphones didn’t get the Best Splurge award for nothing: These headphones will cost you a pretty penny.
9. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 Headphones
Few luxury brands justify the cost of their products as much as Bang & Olufsen, and its Beoplay H9 headphones continue this trend, not only offering some of the best-looking headphones around but providing a high level of audio performance that the brand is known for. But there’s also some functionality baked into these cans, as the Beoplay H9 headphones have a dedicated button designed to give you access to your voice assistant of choice with a quick press. They’re also one of an increasingly few pairs of noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones to support aptX Low Latency.
10. AKG N700NC M2 Wireless
BEST FOR FLYING
While the AKG N700NC may not ever be the best noise-canceling headphones, you might not get more for your money than you do with these. While they may not boast support for Bluetooth 5.0, aptX or LDAC wireless standards, the reliance on the older Bluetooth 4.1 and SBC codecs mean that you’re likely to get a more stable connection and better low-end noise-canceling (which is a huge benefit for plane travel). These cans even have a passthrough mode for the sounds of the outside world, which gives you plenty of versatility in how you choose to use these.
11. Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
BEST ON-DEVICE CONTROLS
Microsoft may not have quite the same chops as Sony and Bose when it comes to making noise-canceling headphones, but that doesn’t mean they’re not bringing some great ideas to the table. For starters, around each of the Surface Headphones 2 cans are rotating dials. Depending on which one you twist, you can quickly adjust the volume or level of noise cancellation. On top of that, this is one of the few headsets that can quickly switch between two devices that are paired to the headphones at the same time, such as a phone and a laptop.
And with a price tag that’s lower than many of the best noise-canceling headphones, the Microsoft Headphones 2 are perfect for those moments at work when you need to easily lower the volume or switch from listening to audio on your laptop to taking a call.
12. Sony WH-1000XM3 Noise-Canceling Headphones
Until Sony released the WH-1000XM4, these were the best noise-canceling headphones in the world. And while they’re no longer the king of the hill, these are still excellent headphones, and they’re even better if you can find them on sale. The Sony WH1000XM3 have voice-assistant support, adaptable noise-canceling modes, a built-in microphone for phone calls, Bluetooth connectivity and an easy-to-use companion app. On top of all that, these headphones boast a 30-hour battery life. Finally, Sony has given its premium headphones a handsome, modern design. These over-ear headphones are also foldable, which makes them a great travel companion. With a 4.6-star rating and 8,700 Amazon reviews, these are top-rated headphones with incredible audio quality.
13. Apple Airpods Pro
Ok, ok, we know these aren’t exactly headphones, but we also know that the average person doesn’t care (audiophiles, feel free to skip ahead). That being said, the Air Pods Pro noise-canceling abilities are too good not to mention. Adding fitted tips and active noise cancellation, the AirPods Pro brings Apple’s flagship audio product to greater heights compared to its predecessor. And like the Bose 700, Transparency Mode allows you to hear when someone is speaking to you without having to take an earbud out. Oh, and did we mention they sound incredible? Because on top of all the ANC goodness and wireless features, the sound is top quality.
14. Jabra Elite 85h
GREAT BATTERY LIFE
Jabra makes great earbuds, so it’s no surprise that their noise-canceling headphones offering is also stellar. The sound quality is on par with the heavy hitters (see Sony, Marshall and Bose), and the 36-hour battery life is nothing short of incredible. You can customize the sound profile to your liking, making your listening experience unique to you. These are impressive for a first attempt into the ANC headphone world. The visual design is a little too similar to Beats, but we love the metallic gold, titanium and copper colorways.
15. Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II
Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II definitely qualify as premium headphones. Enabled with Google Assistant, Alexa, Bose AR (Bose audio augmented reality), plus signature Bose audio quality, the headphones let you experience music as it was intended. Quiet Comfort was designed to wear all day without fatiguing your head or ears, and with the 20-hour battery life, you might find yourself wearing them until the battery dies.
16. Sennheiser Momentum 3
Sennheiser has had its hand in the audio world since 1945 — so it’s no surprise that the company’s newest model of ANC headphones sounds incredible. The Momentum 3 sports two big ear cups with sheep leather. The cups rest comfortably on your head, while the ANC does a great job at blocking outside distractions from interfering with top-of-the-line sound quality. When shopping for the best noise-canceling headphones, don’t be afraid to look beyond Bose, Beats or Sony, especially if you’re considering Sennheiser noise-canceling headphones.
17. Bowers & Wilkins PX7
With style in mind, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 look as gorgeous as they sound. The tightly-knit black stitching and unique design of the large ear cups give these noise-canceling headphones a distinct look. On top of that, the arms are constructed with carbon fiber for a design that’s both flexible and durable. The ANC features three different settings: automatic, high and low, giving you a little extra control of the ambient sound. They’ll even turn off automatically when you take them off, preserving the impressive 30-hour battery life. Bowers & Wilkins might not be the name you think of when noise-canceling headphones come to mind, but maybe it should be.