Top 10 Best Noise Cancelling Headphones 2021 – Wireless vs Bluetooth?

Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

The popularity of noise-canceling headphones has grown. This is due to increased care about health, mobility, and multitasking, and the best noise-canceling headphones would be an ideal solution. People would nowadays work on the move, others would prefer a true fine sound while working, relaxing or traveling. Find out more in our guide which covers the ten best noise-canceling headphones which would serve almost any caliber. 

Here is a quick preview of our top 10:
#1. Sony WH-1000XM3
#2. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
#3. Apple Air pods Pro
#4. Sennheiser Momentum III
#5. Bowers & Wilkins PX7
#6. Beats Solo Pro
#7. Lindy BNX60
#8. AKG N60 NC Wireless
#9. Cowin E7 Noise Cancelling Headphones
#10. Jabra Elite 85h

#1. Sony WH-1000XM3

Best in Comfort

The latest noise-canceling headphones from Sony are steeped in comfort and luxury, thanks to their thick and cushioned ear pads that make it an absolute delight to wear even for long periods.

First off, let’s look at the design. As mentioned before, they look similar to the outgoing model, except that the metal is replaced by plastic in the headband. Though this makes it look less classy than XM2, it also weighs 20g lesser, thereby adding to its comfort. So, it is a trade-off that is fairly acceptable unless you’re extremely particular about the looks! It is also a lot straighter and doesn’t give that balloon-like look.

The real difference comes in terms of quality, both while listening and talking. Sony has added a few more microphones, so the person on the other end of voice calls should be able to hear you loud and clear. The overall clarity on the headphones has also increased and a point that stands out is the noise cancellation feature. They are so perfect that you can even turn them on permanently to take a peaceful nap and no outside noise will ever disturb you.

Now let’s talk a bit about the sounds. Sony has moved to an analog amplification and the results are truly wonderful. These headphones give an open and spacious sound that makes every single note and instrument super audible. There seems to be some room to breathe and this adds to the effect of different sounds. The vocals are fairly focused and the instruments give you a realistic feel as if you’re sitting and listening to these sounds.

No discussion about headphones is ever complete without talking about bass and the good news for bass-lovers is these cans provide a rich and deep bass that is sure to make you feel as if you’re on the stage amid all the instruments and vocals!  

Pros

  • Spectacular sound. Nice and open
  • Rich and deep bass
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Top of the class noise-canceling feature

Cons

  • The plastic on the headband makes it look less classy

#2. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

Great for calls

If you’re one of those people who has to attend a lot of meetings, this headphone is the ideal one for you. This is an upgrade of the best-selling Quiet Comfort series that has been around for more than 20 years now! Bose had been a pioneer with noise-canceling headphones and this model once again proves its supremacy in this area.

These cans sure block a ton of external noise and can be a great companion for frequent travelers and those who tend to work away from their homes often.
These headphones come with a ton of new additions that make them truly a big upgrade. For starters, it comes with new drivers and eight microphones to give stellar call quality. The person at the other end can hear you clear and loud and you can have a meaningful conversation, even if you’re in a crowded market.

Besides this enhancement to its noise cancellation, you can also see some upgrades in the design. These cans have a seamless stainless steel headband that makes them look classy and feels sturdier when compared to Quiet Comfort’s plastic ones. But the downside is that they don’t fold because there are no hinges and this means, you’ll have to keep it inside a pouch, box, or other protective gear.

The one area that could have been better is the weight. At 254g, this model is more than half an ounce heavier than Quiet Comfort and this can be due to the stainless steel headband instead of the plastic one. While this is not a significant increase, it can still have a bearing if you plan to wear these headphones for an extended time.

It comes with other cool features as well such as 20-hour battery life, 10m Bluetooth range, hands-free Alexa, touch controls, and more.

Pros

  • Spectacular sound. Nice and open
  • Rich and deep bass
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Top of the class noise-canceling feature

Cons

  • The plastic on the headband makes it look less classy

#3. Apple Air pods Pro

Best for Workout

Apple AirPods is not something that would often figure in a list of noise-canceling headphones, but the truth is these are so good that it is impossible to not have them on our list.

The biggest reason why these AirPods were made to our list is that they block noise effectively and can be a great boon for walkers and runners who want to enjoy a few minutes of solitude during their workout. At the same time, these AirPods come with a transparency mode that allows you to listen to the surrounding sounds and your music at the same time if that’s something that makes you feel comfortable.

Besides noise cancellation, these AirPods give you a secure fit as they come with three sets of silicone tips. Also, these AirPods are both sweat and water-resistant and all of these features make it your ideal workout partner, both indoors and outdoors.

Needless to say, it pairs well with the iOS device and the app is fairly intuitive as it helps you to do everything, from testing which ear tip fits you well to volume controls.

The only downside is the battery life which is just 4.5 hours when you turn on noise cancellation.

Pros

  • Gives a comfortable and secure fit for an air pod
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Noise cancellation is top-notch

Cons

  • Battery life could be better

#4. Sennheiser Momentum III

Best for Sound quality

Sennheiser Momentum III’s sound quality is exceptional and you can truly feel it when you listen to different genres of music. It truly makes for an enjoyable listening experience that is hard to match with most other headphones available today. The bass is not deep but is well-balanced to give a good experience while the high notes are intense and audible without sounding scratchy or annoying.

It can also help with sound isolation, though the isolation may not be complete. This works well on airplanes too as it can allow you to listen to your favorite music by isolating the noise of the engine and the chatter of passengers.

A cool feature of this headphone is Transparency Hearing, as it allows you to amplify the ambient noise. This can be a particularly helpful feature if you’re walking or running on the road and want to hear the outside noises.

Moving on from the sound quality, these headphones score high on design and comfort as well. 

The soft sheepskin cushions on the earpads give you a super comfortable and cozy feel. They wrap around the ears and don’t apply the additional pressure that comes with many headphones. Also, the overall build is sturdy and at the same time, it feels light on your head, making it ideal for long hours of listening.

Pros

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Beautiful design
  • The App is well-built and easy to user-friendly

Cons

  • Sound isolation can be better
  • Battery life is average

#5. Bowers & Wilkins PX7

Best in Luxury

Bowers & Wilkins is a name that is associated with luxury and the latest PX7 truly lives up to its name. Released during the fall of 2019, these are a superior pair of cans that provide the best noise cancellation in real-time environments. And these headphones are progressive as well as they are wireless, a big jump from the previous version of PXs.

This latest model reflects sophisticated noise canceling features and a much-improved sound quality that makes for an enjoyable listening experience. The bass and highs are clear without sounding overpowering while the mid and low tones sound clear. The individual notes of instruments and vocals are discernible and the soundstage is fantastic as well.

These headphones score well on the aesthetics front too with their elliptical ear cups and fabric finish. The headphones are solid and at the same time, highly comfortable too. Though the leather pads may seem odd at first, you get used to them soon, and it feels truly comfortable later on.

Besides the design and noise cancellation, there are many other cool features as well. For example, when you take off the headphones, the proximity sensors detect it immediately and pause your music. It is played again only when you put it on, so this way, you’ll hardly miss even a note! 

Pros

  • Superior sound quality
  • Good battery life
  • Strong Bluetooth connection
  • Attractive design

Cons

  • No playback control

#6. Beats Solo Pro

Best in Noise Cancellation

Beats brand is one of the best when it comes to headphones as they sell millions of products each year.

The obvious highlight of these cans is their active noise cancellation feature. It is based on the company’s Pure ANC technology to completely seal off ambient noise when you turn it on to listen to your favorite music. It is also easy to use as you can switch off the noise cancellation feature with the mere tap of a button. When you hit the same button twice, you turn on Transparency mode to hear the sounds of the outside world. These cans come with six microphones, out of which two are beam-forming ones.

As with the previous versions, these headphones also come with Apple’s new H1 chip that makes it easy to pair with any iOS device. It also provides better wireless connectivity and has a role in advanced sound processing and noise cancellation as well.

Moving on to the design, these headphones are bright and vibrant and are designed to make heads turn when you wear them! They come in many colors to suit different preferences. Moreover, they are comfortable to wear as well, thanks to the soft foam-filled ear pads that fit snugly on your ears.

When it comes to sound quality, these headphones sound smooth. There is a balance between the different sounds and you can feel a sense of harmony when the vocals are combined with instruments. The bass is a bit punchy, but not raucous and boomy.

A highlight is a protective case that is made of eco-friendly materials and looks nice and elegant. The battery life is good too, as you can listen to about three hours of music with just a 10-minute charge! With a full charge, you can get about 20 hours with ANC and double its level without ANC.

Pros

  • Powerful audio
  • Aesthetic design
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Works well with iOS devices

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a cable
  • No controls for track navigation

#7. Lindy BNX60

Best for Budget seekers

Lindy BNX60 is a great choice for anyone who is looking to buy a pair of headphones on a budget without compromising on features. These headphones come with both noise cancellation and Bluetooth connectivity and yet, they are modestly priced, making them affordable for everyone.

Let’s start with the design first. The design looks neat and simple, though the headband seems to be a tad thinner when compared to the previous versions. Also, the ear cups are not as deep as one would like. But still, they are comfortable and offer a snug fit without feeling too warm. The controls are split across both the ear cups which is both good and bad, depending on how you see it. One cup has a volume control, the power on/off switch, and ANC while the other has track controls and a USB input for charging.

Moving on to sound and performance, these headphones are truly incredible for their price. When you see headphones in this price range, it can make you wary. But this one is truly different as it offers a balanced sound that’s easy and comfortable to listen to. The bass is clear without booming into your ears while the highs are nice and controlled without a scratchy noise. They do a good job with the vocals too and make for an enjoyable listening experience.

As for noise cancellation, it does an excellent job of removing the external noise so you can enjoy your music in peace. There is no discernible difference in sound quality when the NAC is turned on and once again, this is surprising considering its low price.

Overall, these are a great pair of headphones when you’re on a budget. Though audiophiles may not enjoy it much, it is perfect for any average user.

Pros

  • Excellent Bluetooth connectivity
  • Good battery life
  • Simple design and lightweight

Cons

  • Build quality can be better
  • The thinner ear cups make it slightly uncomfortable for long hours of listening.

#8. AKG N60 NC Wireless

Best Value for Money

AKG N60 combines the best noise cancellation, performance, and design to give a big bang for your money. It is also moderately priced when compared to many other models in the same category and this is what gives the best value for your money

It is made mostly of plastic and the cheap build is fairly evident. But given this price range, it’s hard to expect anything more luxurious or sophisticated. That said, these seem to be durable, except that they don’t look plush.

But the magic of these headphones lies in their performance, which is what matters when you want to buy a pair of headphones. The sound quality is excellent and the noise cancellation removes all the external noise and gives you the privacy to listen to your music, even in crowded areas.

The Bluetooth connectivity is good for extended periods though it can start to stutter after about nine hours of straight listening. Battery life is excellent too and overall, it gives you the flexibility to listen to your music without worrying too much about the cables.

Pros

  • Noise cancellation is top-notch
  • Lightweight and highly portable
  • Good battery life
  • Bluetooth connectivity is long and stable

Cons

  • A microphone would make it better

#9. Cowin E7 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Most Silent

COWIN may not be a brand that you hear often, but this young company has made rapid strides in the world of headphones.
These headphones come with 40mm dynamic drivers, a Bluetooth wireless connection, and compatibility with both Android and iOS devices, thereby making them a highly versatile option for the outdoors.

The material used for making these headphones is a combination of metal and plastics and this gives durability to these headphones. Further, they also look nice and stylish given that the headband and the cups exude a metallic look to these headphones.

Also, they are tough and more durable when compared to many other headphones in the same price range. The cups are well-rounded and are reasonably sized to cover your entire ear. The earpads cover the entire ear to give a soft and cushiony feel, so you can listen to it for many hours without feeling fatigued. The ears don’t touch the structure of the ear cups at all because of the depth of the cups and this adds to the comfort of wearing them.

When it comes to performance, these headphones are top-notch. It is probably well-known for the deep bass effect it offers, making it a delight for bass-lovers. Besides bass, the sound quality is amazing. You can hear the low and mid-tones well and the soundstage is excellent. There is a big differentiation between vocals and instruments and this makes for an enjoyable listening experience.

A special mention about the active noise cancellation that is super silent when compared to others and this gives you a sense of privacy and allows you to live in your musical world.

Pros

  • Excellent active noise cancellation
  • No piercing highs or harsh mid-tones
  • Ideal for bass lovers

Cons

  • Bass can be overpowering
  • Microphones can be better

#10. Jabra Elite 85h

Best for Outdoors

Jabra is probably not a name that you’d associate with headphones, but its latest Elite 85his sure to give even top names such as Sony and Sennheiser a run for their money!

The design is top-notch and attractive. There is an element of minimalism to the whole design coupled with luxury to make it unique. It comes in three colors, namely, black, navy, and gold beige to give users some choice. The color is uniform throughout the headphones, though it can change slightly in the arms. Despite this design, the underlying material is plastic and this can be a bummer, even if the makers argue that it is a thick plastic that is sturdy and lasting.

The noise cancellation is excellent and as soon as you put on these cans, you effectively shut out the world. Of course, it is not the most silent and some amount of audio does creep in when there is no music playing. But that doesn’t seem to bother much when the music is on.

The sound performance is fairly balanced and clear and offers a sense of warmth. The bass is not too heavy either and this makes for an enjoyable listening experience. Of course, you can fine-tune the bass and treble through the well-developed app to suit your preferences. There are also many AI features that you can use to fine-tune your preferences and increase the ease of use.

A special mention here about battery life that is much longer than the average and this is what makes it so perfect for the outdoors. You can take it with you when you leave in the morning and you’re sure to have more charge when you get back home late at night!

Pros

  • Excellent battery life
  • Good ANC
  • Comfortable and stylish

Cons

  • No support for advanced CODECS

What are Noise Cancelling Headphones?

These are headphones designed to typically reduce ambient noise with the help of active noise cancellation technology. The active noise cancellation is useful as it differentiates two types of environments into one: the noisy and silent environment. It technologically lets one listen to audio lest increasing the volume.

How Does the Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?

When in action, the ANC headphones simply differentiate the ambient noise as it gives a “silent” and separated kind of environment.
When you put on the headphones, they are technologically inspired to cancel low-frequency sounds. They are built with circuitry which captures the exterior sound. This exterior sound is counteracted by the sound wave emitted out of phase. The result of these counteracts is silence. The silence makes the music come out clearer. The clarity varies depending on the types of materials used to counteract the exterior sound.

Benefits and Disadvantages

Benefits of Noise Cancelling Headphones

  • Protection – The Noise-canceling headphones give us perfect protection from the high-pitched and continuous levels of sound. Besides dealing with low-frequency sounds, they generally protect from the general exterior noise.
  • Enjoyment of sound production – The headphones are not only canceling the constant noise, but they also bring in the true feel of each beat. Most importantly protecting your health.
  • Traveling – Some headphones are purposely designed to suit travelers. To be more specific, business travelers. Who wants to keep up with the engine noise while in the aircraft? The headphones cancel out the noise leaving you with a great environment to rest, work, or study.
  • Quality and comfortable Calls – Headphones actively cancel sound allowing you to make calls and get crisp clear instructions or information from the other end. The wireless headphone option gives you the independence to receive calls from anywhere in the room.
  • Low volumes – Its controlled volumes remain low and managed yet getting the best out of the music that matters.
  • Spoilt for realness – You have an option to either reduce or increase the volume to get the clarity and richness of bass. Some headphones would not let you miss a word in the content.
  • Concentration – Students and workers looking for high concentration deterred by noise have an option. The headphones cancel sound to provide the required environment to concentrate. 

Disadvantages of Noise Cancelling Headphones

  • Complexity – Noise cancellation headphones are made quite complex for them to achieve their goal of noise cancellation. This consequently makes their prices to be so high due to the level of technology used in them.
  • Excessive circuitry – Well too much of something would most likely turn out to be poisonous. The complexity in the circuitry that achieves the noise cancellation sometimes changes the sound quality. It interferes with the quality of sound.
  • Bulkiness and Heaviness – Some headphones are built with heavy-duty materials in the name of quality. One thing that gets affected is the lightness of the standard headphone. They consequently become heavier and bulkier.
  • Costly – Making noise-canceling headphones is costly. Achieving the required circuitry and other matters ado is costlier compared to the standard headphone.
  • Power consumption – High-end headphones are built with parts that wholesomely consume power. Rechargeable headphones provide the power to be consumed by the parts. The parts would barely work, less the power provision. In the long run, the amount of power consumed is relatively high.
  • Imperfect sieving – Even though the noise cancellation headphones cancel noise, not all sounds are proofed. Some do get through.
  • Humming sound – This sound is barely reduced. It affects some people in the long run.

How to Choose the Best Noise Cancelling Headphones?

Is it Wired or Wireless? One of the most important features to look for in a headphone is the wired and wireless quality. There are wireless headphones that work via Bluetooth mechanism and others that are wired with cables that you connect to the mother device. Some places are ideally appropriate with wireless headphones. For instance, the airplane.

How Durable is the Battery?

The battery life of various headphones varies. They vary according to the usage at hand. The level of battery consumption in ANC mode is different from the consumption when not in the ANC mode.

Fitting

Some headphones are built to extend slightly from the ear. Others are built to tightly fit the ears. Such is best for office use. Daily commute headphones should be small for convenience.

Adjustability

The adaptability of a headphone is very vital. Headphones are meant to cancel noise. It would be even better if your headphone can adapt to various environments and adjust relatively.

Voice Control with Virtual Assistant

A good example is the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. It synchs and has a button for google assistant. You would talk to and ask questions and get information via your assistant.

Conclusion

Discover how you would make a final decision that you are going to a particular headphone. You must understand vital variables about headphones. Noise-canceling headphones are different from standard headphones. You are required to understand how they work, variables when choosing, their benefits and disadvantages among other qualities. This way you would be sure to pick on the best noise-canceling headphone out there.

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