Sometimes, we just want to block out all that noise and lose ourselves in our song.
We all know how annoying it is trying to play that soul music on our headphones and we keep hearing the words of our colleagues or buddies mixed in with the lyrics, or the baby crying louder than the highest volume of your set.
That’s why noise cancelling head phones are rapidly taking over right now. These are high-tech music and sound sets that block out ambient or environmental noise using soft digital technology, and give out crisp, clearer sound.
Finding the best noise cancelling headphones can be a hell of a task most of the time. There are a whole lot to figure out when buying there products, noise cancelling effectiveness, wireless or wired functionality, battery life, selling price, charging process, size and weight, durability and ease of use.
Some are more advanced than others, which may suit a particular group of people who like high-tech stuff, and displease another group who’d rather go for simplicity any day.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones 2018
So we’ve assessed and reviewed a number of noise cancelling headphones and we have come up with our Top 10 noise cancelling headphones (both over the head and in-ear).
Bottom line is you want value for your money and we are here to help you. Below is a quick comparison table of the Top 10 in these category.
|FORM FACTOR||WIRELESS||OUR RATING|
|BOSE QuietComfort 35||Over-Ear||No||4.7|
|BOSE QuietComfort 25||Closed-Back||Yes||4.5|
|Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2||Binaural||No||4.5|
|Bose QuietComfort 35||Over-Ear||Yes||4.2|
|BÖHM Wireless Headphones||Tri-Fold||Yes||4.3|
|H501 233621 Headphones||Two-Ear||Yes||4.2|
1. BOSE QuietComfort 35 – Most effective noise cancelling
Being the successor of the Bose QuietComfort 25, the Bose QuietComfirt 35 is similar to its predecessor but it has some significant improvements.
The Bose QC 35 is a wireless headphone that transmits and purifies sound through Bluetooth, which is a plus to its digital noise-cancelling circuitry. The digital microphone creates noise cancelling wave phases over Bluetooth, and that makes it conveniently handy. It is expertly useful as a headset because it also reduces ambient noise over phone calls which is quick and efficient through Bluetooth pairing.
This noise cancelling headphone comes with a more sophisticated outer design than the 25. The ear cups are rounded on the side with stainless steel and covered on the outside using glass nylon, as against the plastic setting of the previous model.
This noise cancelling headphone is quite expensive and if the batteries live out, they can’t be replaced. Bose QuietComfort 35 currently has the most noise cancelling technology behind it.
2. BOSE QuietComfort 25 – Cheaper Top-Class BOSE
Noise cancelling headphones are the most advanced type of headphones in existence right now. They are specially designed to block out ambient noise from the environment for higher sound quality.
The headphones have a very superior soft real-time digital microphone that measures ambient nosie, and produces special waves negatively equal to the disturbance, which cancels it out before it gets to your ears. Just wonderful.
Bose QC 25 has an amazing feature that’s lacking in older versions. It comes with a single AAA non-rechargeable battery with a very long life span, and can serve as ordinary headphones without the noise-cancelling feature when the batteries are tapped out, before they are replaced. That’s a total plus.
This headphones has a highly digitalized noise-cancelling circuitry which doesn’t just block out ambient noise, it amplifies desirable sound without any hint of white noise, due to the high frequency of the noise-cancelling waves.
The Bose QC 25 is definitely lighter than the QuietComfort 25, not just because of the soft digital technology as against the bulky analog noise-cancelling circuitry of other brands, but also because of the high-quality premium plats that encases the circuitry. The Bose QC 25 has a very flexible, highly bendable handle which you can easily squeeze into that small sling-over bag.
You also don’t have to worry about the leather cushioning the ear cups wearing out and starting to tickle your ears. The ear cups of the Bose QC 25 are made of high-grade protein leather that is certainly not known to wear and tear.
3. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 – Feature Rich
Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 is next in line after the original PRO, and is also a great improvement such as its highly digitized electric components.
Works wirelessly over Bluetooth to cancel ambient noise and deliver crisp sound. Though the noise-cancellation of this headphone is not as great as that of the Bose QC 35, it’s a definite an improved version of the BackBeat PRO because white noise is significantly diminished.
It has an automatic proximity sensor that turns off the music when you take the headphones and automatically resumes the music when you put it back on. Even though it has this automatic feature, there are still control buttons on the left ear cup of the headphone.
The Plantronics BB PRO 2 is significantly lighter than the Plantronics BB PRO 2. The head band is made with stainless steel cushioned with thick high-grade fabric. The ear cups are cushioned with soft protein leather and attached to flexible hinges.
BB PRO 2 is well-suited for call reception. It has a sidetone feature that can replay your voice back to your hearing during a conversation. It also has a self-mute button that allows you to mute your own voice.
Though more sophisticated Plantronics BB PRO 2 is cheaper than BB PRO which isn’t even as physically attractive. The BB PRO comes with a rechargeable battery and is one of the most affordable noise-cancelling headphones out there.
4. Parrot Zik 3
This is one of the coolest, feature-packed noise-cancelling headphones in the market right now.
The Parrot Zik 3 has soft highly digitalized internal and external microphones that produces sound negatively opposite to ambient noise which cancels it out this is called Adaptive Noise Control.
It also has wireless functionality over Bluetooth and produces quite a higher quality of sound due to this function, probably even more than other noise-cancellers because of its ANC technology.
Another awesome feature of the Parrot Zik 3 is that it can be charged wirelessly over Bluetooth using several Qi accessories such as the Bluetooth speaker or the Qi full Q+80 wireless charging pad. So you can charge the headphones automatically without having to get up to go plug it into an outlet. It also has a micro-USB port for charging on the right ear cup if a Qi accessory is unavailable.
The Parrot Zik 3, though it has a better improved battery life than the Zik 2.0, still doesn’t last so much, but then again it’s the first Qi-chargeable headphone with replaceable batteries.
The Parrot Zik 3 is quite expensive, but then again it’s correspondingly feature-packed.
This headphone is the successor of the Sony MDR-1000XI, which has specially convenient features for people who travel a lot.
The digital microphone transmits sound and cancels out ambient noise over Bluetooth, but the unique thing about this headphone is that the Adaptive Noise Control circuitry has a sensor that automatically detects your activity.
If you are working or running really fast, the ANC has an atmospheric pressure sensor that measures the pressure around the environment at that point in time, and automatically adjusts the ambient sound control in accordance.
The sound produced by the Sony WH is so clear and crisp because the headphone is compatible with a higher format of Bluetooth, the aptx HD, which can handle higher resolution audio more effectively. The settings aren’t complicated and you should get around to them easily because the left ear has a dedicated Bluetooth pairing button.
The design is exactly the same as that of the Sony MDR-1000XI except for the Bluetooth button on the left ear cup. The ear cups are rounded dominantly with high-grade plastic and the headband is set in bendable metal.
The ear cups are cushioned with synthetic leather, stronger and nearly elastic which is definitely an improvement from the MDR.
These headphones measure up definitely to the Bose QC 35 in noise-cancellation. The batteries are rechargeable but not replaceable and it can be charged using the micro-USB supplied. The headphones are expensive, but the sound quality is definitely worth it.
6. AKG N90Q
The AKG N90Qs are cabled noise-cancelling headphones that are exceptionally user friendly.
They come with TrueNote technology that delivers an auto-calibration feature, wherein the N90Q has two soft digital microphones in each ear cups that sends signals into your ears and calibrates the frequency of your hearing levels, and automatically adjusts the sound and ambient noise control to your auditory.
You need to hold down the activation button for approximately five seconds and the sound will be automatically adjusted to you ear specifications.
The sound settings of the headphones can be adjusted into three stages; Standard mode, studio mode and surround mode. The standard mode activates the Dolby audio settings, the studio mode activates emission of more natural sound and the surround mode gives a more distinct emission of musical notes. A downside to this feature is that it adjusting the sound settings can be quite complicate and stressful, but it’s worth it when you get around to it.
The AKG N90Q surpasses the Bose QC 35 and the Sony WH in sound quality. It produces the crispiest, clearest sound due to the TrueNote technology it comes with, that adjusts and purifies sound to each individuals personal auditory specs.
7. Sennheiser PXC 550 – Best battery life
The Sennheiser PXC 550 wireless headphones have the highest battery life of any noise-cancelling headphones we reviewed.
You can tour the globe for thirty hours after each full charge without having to take the phones off for a recharge.
The PXC 550 has a digital noise-cancelling circuitry that works on Active Noise Control through Bluetooth, that means the digital mic cancels noise by generating a negatively-out-of-phase second sound, which is pretty high tech.
It has a very comfortable design, with the ear cups cutely shaped like ovals to perfectly encase the shape of our ears, rather than sit smack right on top of them. The head band is cushioned with soft premium leather and the ear cups are bound with a fine, extra-smooth plastic.
The cups are so well-cushioned with extra-soft padding, it kind of feels like you are in a virtual reality, only this time, your eyes are open, but your ears are softly covered.
If you want to completely power off the headphones, you can take it off and swivel the ear cups around the hinges and sit them flat, or you can use the power button.
Sennheiser PXC 550 is quite a feature-packed. The outer surface of the right ear cup is sensitive to touch as well. Tapping the surface pauses or palsy the music, swiping up and down increases and decreases the volume, and swiping side to side changes the songs.
You can also customize the sound settings using the CapTune app on your phone over Bluetooth. The headphones are expensive, but straight-up lit.
The Bose QuietControl 30 is an active noise-cancelling collar headphones that are quite a public favorite kind because of the cool collar band design and their bluetooth functionality.
The Bose QC 30 comes with highly adjustable Active Noise control levels. It actually has 12 settings for the ANC to cancel out ambient noise. From open mode to full cancelling.
The design of the Bose QC 30 is really eye-catching, highly sophisticated and very lightweight. The insulation material and the collar band are made of premium rubber that’s sleek and soft to touch.
The Qc 30 has the Active Noise Control and power buttons at a box-like out-crop in the middle of the earphone wire. There is a quite unnoticeable micro-USB port on the control box. The part of the set that goes into the ear is shaped like a funnel and is also made of smooth rubbery material that fits in snugly without being uncomfortable. The outer part of the earbuds is made with plastic.
The earbuds have wingtips that keep them in place when in your ear, and when you take them off they give the earphones a really cool deer-like look.
The sound quality of the Bose QC 30 is quite fantastic and crisp-sounding, but that’s expected of a Bose product, even though it doesn’t level up to the QCs 25 and 35 headphones. The earbuds don’t fit enough to permit enough passive noise-cancelling, but that’s not a big issue because the QC 30s have a wide range of ANC settings to choose from.
9. AKG N60NC – Super lightweight
The AKG N60NC is a wonderful improvement from the original N60 and just about the only wireless noise cancelling headphones that rivals the Sennheiser PXC 550 in battery life.
The headphones are also amazingly lightweight and well-suited for long-distance travel. The headphones can also be wire connected to your phone or device using the 3.5mm jack wire supplied.
AKG N60NC headphones have digital mics in the two ear cups that cancel out noise over Bluetooth and the compatibility fans out to virtually all devices. They are also great at passive noise-cancelling because of the wide diameter of the ear cups, though that’s a minus as the speaker hole is in turn quite small.
On a final note, they are quite handy noise cancelling headphones and you just won’t hear that car behind you honking when your music is jamming.
The Bose QuietComfort 20 acoustic noise-cancelling in-ear earphones are great sounding devices, and are a significant improvement from the QC 15.
These earphones are awesome in noise-cancelling because of their sophisticated noise-cancelling circuitry that includes an external perforation for noise control.
The noise-cancelling comes in two modes: the open-listening mode which is tagged the ‘aware’ mode and the full-cancelling mode. The open-listening mode allows ambient sounds to be picked up when you need to listen to something going on in your surroundings. The full cancelling mode blocks out the ambient noise completely.
The insulation is made of soft rubber and the earbud funnels are made of soft rubbery material as well. It also has plastic wingtips that sit the ear buds snugly in your ear. The ear buds are covered on the outside with perforated metal that forms part of the noise-cancelling circuitry.
The battery life of the QC 20 is impressively nice, with the rechargeable lithium battery lasting up to 16 hours after each full charge.
The ear phone has flat, long control panel very close to the 3.5mm jack plug. That’s where all your controls are.
The sound quality is also very crisp and clear. The QC 20 can also function without the noise-cancelling feature, which doesn’t require power. This comes on handy when the batteries are down. It’s fairly priced and extra handy.
Review Wrap Up
The product selection above are a handy selection of top noise cancelling headphones to choose from when faced with a buying decision.
You have to keep one really important fact in mind. You can’t really get a “perfectly perfect product”, but you can always fish out that particular headphone that meets your list of merits, though it may have one or two slight demerits which can always be over-looked.
It may have wireless functionality, excellent Active Noise Control, great battery life, but then it’s quite pricey and slightly heavy weight.
Here are a few things you’d generally like to keep in mind before making your decision:
- If you travel around a lot, you should probably get one that has an excellent battery life and atmospheric pressure adjustment.
- You should compare the price of the headphone you are considering to your budgetary allowances.
- If you work or live in a noisy area, you should get one that has an outstanding Active or Adaptive Noise control system.
- If what you mostly want is to do away with wires running over your head or from your ears to your pocket, you should get one with a Bluetooth or Wireless functionality.
- If you are not so particularly tech savvy, you should get one that’s not complicated or too high-tech to setup or use.
- If you are going to be wearing it around your neck a lot to swag up your dressing, then you should totally get one with a cool and trendy design.
Noise Cancelling Headphones Review (by Category)
- Noise cancelling headphones under $50 – Not all noise cancelling headphones come with a high ticket prices though without some features. Detailed review of the top 3 products in this category.
- Noise cancelling headphones under $100 – If still on a tight budget but with a little extra to spend. Read how you can get a good noise cancelling headphones without breaking the bank.
- Noise cancelling headphones for sleep or snore – Going to bed with an headphone is not a common practice but in some strange circumstance they are very essential. Also, detailed review of the top 3 noise cancelling headphones for sleeping.
- Noise cancelling headphones for kids, babies and infants – Beyond the love of music, noise cancelling headphones for kids are an important safety device protecting them from noise hazards. A comparison guide of the top 10 products of this category and an extensive review of the top 5.
Headphones Buyers Guide
There are several manufactures, brands and models of noise cancelling headphones available in the market that it is almost impossible for anyone to write about all of them. For proper comparison it is important that these headphones are compared along the lines of their similarities or better still on the basis of what a good noise cancelling headphones should have and do.
As an owner of some of these headphones and having read and listen to (good and bad) what people have had to say about their headphones, I have drawn 6 comparison criteria that top the list of a noise cancelling headphone expectation.
In order of importance, please find my comparison criteria below;
- Noise Cancellation: This is a given. What is a noise cancelling headphones without proper noise cancellation? This is its primary and most important criteria for a noise cancelling headphone. If the noise cancellation is not good enough then its
- Power Supply and Battery Life: Some of theses headphones come equipped with inbuilt rechargeable that you can charge when down while some others use a number of AAA batteries. In my opinion I do not think one is better than the other because at the end of the day it will be a decision made out of preference. For headphones with rechargeable batteries, it could be a tough task to get replacement batteries by the time they eventually unable to hold power. In many case people have had to ditch a good headphone because the battery cannot be replaced. Headphones with the AAA battery option could last a lifetime at least until AAA batteries are no longer being produced.
- Price: Our Prices are from Amazon.com and they vary regularly depending on promotions, availability and release. There is no defined price range for a good noise cancelling headphone just like it is for many other products. This is where our personal budget is allowed to tilt the scale.
- Color Variation: This list is endless but the most popular is black. One thing is certain, you will most likely find a headphone with the color that suits your personality.
- Form Factor: Noise cancelling headphones come in various design. Foldable, Non-Foldable, In-ear, Over-the-Head, Behind-the Neck. What I can guarantee is there is an design for whatever you are looking for.
- Rating: If you have read till this point then what others have to say about what you intend to spend on is important to you. Personally, when I am buying on Amazon, I always filter for products with 4stars review and above. I dont just settle there, I take some time to go through random reviews to learn what people love about the device those salient dislikes. Imagine a very good headphone but not suitable for a big guy with a considerable big size head. Comfort is key. I have saved myself several times from reading the good reviews too.
What is a Noise Cancelling Headphone?
Here we take away the complexity of picking the noise cancelling headphones that is perfect for you. We highlight key features to focus on and a detailed comparison chart of the top 10 noise cancelling headphones for the year 2017. Before anything at all, some definitions in case you have been hearing people throw the word noise cancelling headphone around. Here are some key information for about noise cancelling headphones;
The fact that you have a headphone over your head that impair sounds coming into your ear doesn’t mean you have a noise cancelling headphone. Let’s get that confusion out of the way.
There are different types of ambient noise that could interfere or completely block out sounds from headphones. If you have ever tried listening to music on an airplane or train, you would know what I am talking about. The roaring engine disrupts every sound coming from the headphones. Noise cancelling headphones reduce unwanted ambient sounds with the use of active noise control. A combination of microphones in the headphone ear cup combined with some electronic circuit generate anti-noise signal to cancel out ambient noise getting into the headphones.
The first noise cancelling headphone was made by Bose. This was after its founder, Amar Bose found himself on a noisy flight and the in-flight headphone couldn’t block out the noise to allow him enjoy his music. Great innovation birth by frustration 🙂
Types of Noise Cancellation
- Active Noise Control (ANC), which is also referred to as noise cancellation, or active noise reduction (ANR), is a method for reducing unwanted sound or noise by the addition of a second sound which is specifically designed to cancel the first.
- Passive Noise Cancellation (PNC) is the sound/noise that headphones block out by the the physical design of the earcups. The headphone earcup design and how it fits on the ear determines to a large extent how much noise or sound it blocks out. In plain terms, passive noise cancellation is noise cancellation not electronically induced.