While active noise-canceling (ANC) headphones have been around for a long time, the technology has come a long way in recent years and has become more common. ANC headphones can help you focus in a noisy office, or block out engine noise on a plane, train or bus. Not all ANCs work the same, and with so many options in every possible price range these days, it can be hard to know which ones are worth it.
We’ve tested more than 200 headphones with active noise cancellation, and here are our recommendations. If you’re looking for something in a specific price range, check out our picks for the best noise-cancelling headphones under $200, as well as our best affordable noise-cancelling headphones.
1. Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless
The best ANC headphones we’ve tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. Despite being the previous generation Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless, these premium over-ear headphones offer better noise isolation than their successors. Your ANC system does an excellent job of blocking out the quiet roar of a bus engine, office chatter and the hum of a computer fan. They’re also rated for over 37 hours of continuous use with ANC on, and feature an auto-off timer to conserve battery life when not in use. They also support multi-device pairing, so you can be connected to two devices at the same time.
These over-ear headphones feature a bass-heavy default sound profile that adds big boom, boom, and boom to the mix. However, if you find that the bass is overwhelming the vocals and lead instruments, the companion app offers tweaks via graphic EQ and presets. If you’re looking for ANC headphones with a more neutral default sound, you might want to check out the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless. They still have a little extra bass, but they don’t sound as bombastic and bloated as the Sonys. They’re also more comfortable, thanks to their lightweight fit that doesn’t clip tightly to your head. However, their ANC does little to block out background noise across the spectrum.
2. Sony WH-H910N/h.ear on 3 Wireless
m to block out ambient noise and loud noises. However, it doesn’t do well in the face of low-end noise like an airplane engine or a passing subway train, making it more suitable for the office than the commute. Their 40 hours of uninterrupted battery life can also last several workdays without recharging, but they don’t support multi-device pairing.
These over-ear headphones ship with a bass-heavy sound profile that adds extra thump, rumble, and punch to genres like EDM and hip-hop. The mids are well-balanced, but the wobbly high frequencies dull details in vocals, leads, and sibilant sounds like cymbals. Fortunately, the companion app has adjustable graphic EQ and sound presets, allowing you to fine-tune the sound to your liking. They don’t feel as good as our top pick, the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, but are still comfortable enough for long listening sessions.
3. Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are Sennheiser’s latest wireless over-ear headphones. You’ve got incredible battery life, personalized apps, an expansive feature set, easy in-ear controls, eager sound that makes you nod happily wherever you go, and most of all, great The noise reduction function can be adapted to your needs environment.
We found the design to be a little bland. Sennheiser has ditched its slightly eccentric fixed aluminum headband in favor of a more businesslike black plastic and cloth design. But once we wear them, a design choice is made.
They are an evolution of the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless released in November 2019. We praised their great sound, features, built-in tile tracking (so you don’t have to lose them), and active noise cancellation (ANC), but we were disappointed by the 17-hour battery life. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless now boasts an impressive 60 hours of battery life even with ANC turned on, and to save you the trouble of checking we’ll let you know that the Sony XM3, XM4 and XM5 models only give you 30 hours to receive.
The sound quality and battery life here are excellent, and the ANC really shines. We especially appreciate the customizable ANC, which is a treat (you can actually control it by “pinching” the right earcup, like panning a photo on a smartphone). If you want great noise cancellation in a design with long battery life, then these are for you.
4. Anker Soundcore LifeQ30 Wireless
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless has an adjustable ANC system with three different presets: a “transport” mode for bus and plane engines, an “outdoor” mode for traffic noise, and an “indoor” mode for ambient noise and air conditioning. In Transport mode, they block out a lot of ambient noise and last more than 44 hours straight with ANC on. They also come with a 1/8″ TRS cable, so you can use them wired, but you can’t use the mic while wired.’
These circumaural headphones have a very V-shaped sound profile, which means you can expect some extra pop, rumble, and boom in your mix. Although the vocals and lead instrumentation are bright, these voices are still somewhat swelled by the added bass. Fortunately, you can tweak them to suit your needs via the companion app’s graphic EQ and presets. These headphones also support multi-device pairing, so you can be connected to your smartphone and computer at the same time. Unfortunately, there have been numerous user reports that the headband or hinges have cracked over time.