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10 best noise-cancelling earbuds and headphones

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  • 9 min read

Whether using your earphones for your early morning warm-up session, as a travel essential, or to enjoy a peaceful and quiet environment while working from home, noise-cancellation headphones can surely help. Selecting a good audio headset isn’t easy, and the plenty of options don’t help.

There are many criteria to optimise your selection process. A few important ones include comfort, noise elimination, sound quality, battery life, cost and if they support multipoint pairing — two audio sources can connect simultaneously.

So, to simplify your life, here is our list of the 10 best noise-cancelling headphones and earbuds.

Also read: 10 things to know when buying Headphones

Bose QuietComfort 45

Brand: Bose | Price: $329.00

Bose QuietComfort 45 Headphones | 10 best noise-cancelling earbuds and headphones

Bose QC 45 is a welcome improvement to its previous models, with enhanced sound quality, durable battery life and better noise cancellation. The TriPort acoustic architecture produces high-fidelity audio outputs – with depth and fullness. Experience a personalised audio response with the adjustable EQ settings by manipulating the bass, midrange and treble or go for a preset setting from the pre-defined menu. With the personalised EQ setting and the proprietary acoustic architecture, you experience a well-balanced sound signature.

The USB Type-C charging has replaced the MicroUSB port charging for faster charging. These over-ear series perform their magic for 24 hrs with a single charge. And you can get a go-to round of 3 hrs with a quick 15-minute charging or plug in the audio cable to enjoy more hours in a wired mode.

At its best, the active noise cancellation (ANC) of QC 45 is on par with its companion, Bose 700 and effectively cancels 90% of the ambient sound from your surroundings. Choose the Quite Mode to enjoy full noise cancellation uninterrupted listening experience. Alternatively, you can simultaneously choose the Aware mode to hear your environment and music.

Since you cannot turn off the ANC setting, it drains most of your battery life. Also, you may feel the lack of some features that the Bose 700 and QC 35 II models offer.

Check out the Bose QuietComfort 45 here

Sony WF-1000XM4

Brand: Sony | Price: $248.00

Sony WF-XM4000 wireless earbud headphones are industry-leading noise-cancelling Bluetooth earbuds. They offer exceptional sound quality with active noise cancellation. Its battery lasts eight hours with the noise cancelling feature active, and the total battery backup is 20 hours alongwith the case.

Sony earbuds have a more compact and robust design when compared to its competitor, Bose. Though, based on personal experience, its size might not be a great fit for everyone.

These earbuds have an IPX4 sweat-resistant (splashproof) rating, ideally making them a great fit for intense sweating workout schedules. It also offers crystal-clear voice calling capabilities, a beamforming microphone, and a bone-conduction sensor that detects clear voice even in noisy environments.

Check out the Sony WF-1000XM4 Earbud here

Also read: Top 7 durable headphones

Mark Levinson 5909

Brand: Mark Levinson | Price: $999.00

The no. 5909 is the first premium headphone launched by Mark Levinson. They have a sturdy design and are comfortable to wear over long periods courtesy of the padded leather-covered ear cups and headband, which are replaceable.

The Mark Levinson 5909 has a multipoint Bluetooth pairing. They are high-res certified that permit near-lossless streaming over Bluetooth. They can perform well with the support of Sony’s LDAC and Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive codecs but are unsupported by Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Its sound experience is more natural, with more depth, texture and definition for the music. 

Check out the Mark Levinson 5909 Headphones here

Sennheiser Momentum 3

Brand: Sennheiser | Price: $399.95

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Headphones offer exceptional active noise-cancelling capabilities — detailed, bass-rich and vibrant sound experience and no less. You also get convenient software features like ambient passthrough and customisable EQ, paired with the best sound quality and good noise cancelling.

These headphones also adapt to your ambient noise and give you near-transparent hearing. The soft earpads and leather-crafted headband make for a comfortable design. Also, the three-button interface on the side makes device handling easier. Enjoy a seamless music experience without missing a beat with the auto on-off, and pause functionality.

Check out the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Headphones here

Also read: Open-back vs Closed-back headphones

Bose NC Headphones 700

Brand: Bose | Price: $225.92

The Bose NC 700 has balanced sound, adjustable active noise cancellation and exemplary voice call quality. It has 11 levels of active noise cancelling and produces crisp, clear and lifelike sounds that balance across each volume level.

It has a battery life of 20 hr with active noise cancellation, yet it still falls short of the 30 hours of its Sony WH-1000XM5. But Bose still holds a superior position due to its multipoint pairing. It is comfortable to wear for long periods.

These lightweight and water-resistant headphones come in a sleek and ultramodern attractive design. Bose’s companion app also lets you customise the EQ for personalised audio. Voice assistant access and the intuitive touch control on the earcups allow you to stay connected handsfree

Check out the Bose NC Headphones 700 here

Sony WH-1000XM5

Brand: Sony | Price: $398.00

Despite newer releases, this one remains a crowd favourite. With its ultra-comfortable, lightweight design with soft-fit leather, these headphones have an extended battery life of 30 hours with quick charging. It can also juice up for three hours within three minutes of charge.

Sony’s WH-XM5000 is close to bridging the noise-cancelling gap with its counterpart, Bose 700. It offers two processors that control eight microphones, providing a near-seamless ANC experience.

Furthermore, you can carry your headphones effortlessly by folding them into a redesigned case. Its instant pause/play feature automatically pauses the music when you take off the headphones and starts again when you put them back on. It features intuitive touch control that controls volume, activates the voice assistant and answers a phone call.

Check out the Sony WH-1000XM5 here

Also read: Bose 700 vs Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones

Sennheiser HD 450 BTNC

Brand: Sennheiser | Price: $69.95

These are the upgraded model of Sennheiser 4.5 BTNC headphones, 2020 release and deliver some notable upgrades. It has an increased battery life of 30 hours with active noise cancellation and supports USB Type-C charging.

In addition to ANC, they’ve got Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX support and virtual assistant support. It has a multipoint feature allowing you to switch connectivity between multiple devices easily. Using the Sennheiser’s app, you can control the equalisers, podcast mode and firmware updates through your smartphones.

These are not water resistant and thus not suitable for workouts. Nonetheless, despite a few setbacks, these headphones are an ideal choice if you’re looking for something decent on an affordable budget.

Check out the Sennheiser HD 450 BTNC here

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95 Premium

Brand: Bang & Olufsen | Price: $899.00

These aesthetically pleasing wireless headphones by Bang & Olufsen are lightweight with comfortable, foamy over-ear headphone cushion pads. They have a battery life of 38 hours with adaptive active noise cancellation support on a single charge. It uses Bluetooth 5.1.

Packed with two 40mm titanium drivers and neodymium magnets, you can experience powerful sound with high-quality sound precision and increased low-frequency response.

If you’re looking for exceptional quality and have a huge budget, you can consider purchasing these luxurious headphones. However, the only reason to avoid these is the missing auto-pause feature when you take your headphones off.

Check out the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95 here

Also read: Top 7 noise-cancelling earbuds

Apple Airpods Pro 2

Brand: Apple | Price: $215.28

Apple Airpods Pro 2 has active noise cancellation support that blocks all the background noise. It has a battery backup of 6 hours with active noise cancellation and has an IPx4 splashproof rating for water and sweat resistance.

These wireless in-ear Airpods come packed in a MagSafe charging case with speakers. Powered by Apple’s H2 chip, earbuds deliver more power and efficiency. Adaptive Transparency mode allows the outside sound to penetrate and reduces the loud environmental noise. They also offer personalised spatial audio with fantastic dynamics and surround you with sound from all around.

Using the touch control of Airpods, you can swipe to adjust the volume, press to drive media playback, answer or end calls and press and hold to switch between the listening modes.

Check out the Apple Airpods Pro 2 here

Apple Airpods Max

Brand: Apple | Price: $406.00

These over-ear wireless headphones from Apple block most ambient noise, especially on the lower end of the frequency spectrum. Apple Airpods Max headphones triumph with its virtual surround spatial audio feature while binge-watching TV and videos, offering the soundest user experience.

Although these headphones may be slightly hefty, they are surprisingly comfortable. However, they do have some drawbacks. No water resistance IP rating is associated, and the battery life of 20 hours is only average compared to its lower-priced rivals. It also has no audio jack and even lacks the multipoint connectivity feature.

As is true for any other Apple product, consider buying this only if you’re in the Apple ecosystem, or else there are eight other great picks on this list.

Check out the Apple Airpods Max here

Also read: How to connect Bluetooth headphones to PS4?

Prachi Shah

She writes about technical elements and tech guides for daily operated applications and is typically familiar with Windows or application errors. She indulges herself in reading books and poems or baking when not writing. She does sketching and enjoys her favourite playlist with a hot, brewed cup of coffee.

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