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Best noise cancelling earbuds

Get rid of outside noise without the bulk of headphones.
By
February 15, 2022
Best All-Around
Bose QuietComfort 20
By Bose
8.4
Check price
Positives
Great ANC
Sound quality
Good fit
Negatives
Expensive
OS specific
The Bottom Line.
Bose is still king when it comes to ANC, and it's hard to beat the QC20 headphones even if they are expensive.
Best features
Sony WI-1000XM2
By Sony
The Sony WI-1000XM2 noise cancelling earbuds in black against a white background.
8.2
Check price
Positives
Battery life and fast charge
Alexa integration, Google support
Atmospheric pressure optimization ANC
SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC, and wired audio
EQ sound in app
Negatives
Price
Microphone quality
The Bottom Line.
Sony's neckband noise cancelling earphones sound great and are a smart pick for frequent flyers.
Best for iPhone
Apple AirPods Pro
By Apple
Render of the Apple AirPods Pro in white against a white background.
7.2
Check price
Positives
Good active noise cancelling
Actually fits well
Auto-pause/play detection with iOS
Transparency mode is useful
Still small and convenient charging case
Negatives
Okay sound quality
No volume controls
The Bottom Line.
While they aren't the best active noise cancelling headphones on this list, the AirPods Pro are no joke. Plus, the transparency feature is super practical and they're just as convenient as the originals.
Read full review...
Best true wireless
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless
By Sennheiser
The Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless earbuds
8.2
Check price
Positives
Sound quality
Good ANC
aptX, AAC, SBC codecs
IPX4 rating
Decent app
Negatives
Bulky
Lacks Google Fast Pair and wireless charging
The Bottom Line.
It's not the best at anything, but the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless is very good at everything. It's definitely worth a try for most people.
Read full review...
Best versatility
1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro
By 1MORE
The 1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro earbuds in black against a white background.
8
Check price
Positives
Magnetic earbud housings
Sound quality
LDAC, AAC, SBC, wired
IPX5 rating
Comfortable
Efficient fast charging
Negatives
Cumbersome controls
Battery life
The Bottom Line.
If you want effective noise cancelling wireless earbuds that don’t cost a fortune, 1MORE is a good company to start with.
Read full review...

Whether you travel for work, commute to work, or just like listening to music while you drink your morning coffee, noise cancelling headphones are great, but they can still be bulky. Fortunately, there are quite a few manufacturers that stuff this tech into earbuds. These are the best noise cancelling earbuds you can get right now.

Editor’s note: this list of the best noise cancelling earbuds was updated on February 15, 2022, to include the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless in the Best list, as well as add sections on the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and Sony WF-1000XM4. We added the Denon AH-C830NCW, Jabra Elite 4 Active, and Shure AONIC Free to the Notable mentions section.

The best noise cancelling earbuds are the Bose QuietComfort 20

Bose is one of the leaders in active noise cancelling (ANC) technology. After years on top of the game, its larger noise cancelling headphones have just begun to be challenged by other manufacturers. When it comes to earbuds, though, Bose is still one of the best. Although the QC20 has been updated with a newer wireless version, we’re keeping it at the top spot because you don’t have to worry about battery life. That said, if your phone doesn’t have a headphone jack, you may need a dongle.

Bose QuietComfort 20
Bose QuietComfort 20
8.4
Bose QC 20 noise cancelling earbuds on white surface.Bose QC 20 noise cancelling earbuds headphone jack.The Bose QuietComfort 20 noise cancelling earbuds and mic module on white background.Bose QC 20 noise cancelling earbuds and noise cancelling controller on white background.
Bose QuietComfort 20
Bose QuietComfort 20
Buy now

The cable ends in a 90-degree connector and a few inches above that you’ll find a slim block of components. Inside is a battery that will give you about 16 hours of noise cancelling and music playback. It houses an Aware Mode button, so you can hear what’s going on around you when you need to. Of course, you’ll also be able to control volume and playback thanks to a small control module on the wire, but make sure to pay attention to which model you get as it’s specific to Android or iOS.

Why should you get noise cancelling earbuds?

Hearing loss is a pervasive issue, and noise cancelling technology can help prevent it: it combats the permeation of external noise by way of destructive interference. Anyone who’s been on a subway platform while listening to music knows that as the train comes to a halt to pick up riders, it becomes nearly impossible to hear your music. That’s because our brains only have so much bandwidth to process simultaneous stimuli; our prehistoric brains are programmed for survival.

A JBL Reflect Flow Pro earbud in a person's ear, with their finger gesturing towards it.
In order to block out the most noise, you need to get a good fit (as seen with the JBL Reflect Flow Pro).

Back in the prehistoric days, it was important to register loud noises over all else because they were likely threats (e.g. a prowling leopard). Now, this prioritization of loud sounds is less needed since we don’t typically have run-ins with wild creatures ready to pounce on us. Instead, it impedes music playback in the form of auditory masking: a loud sound makes it difficult to perceive a quieter one. We often reach for the volume rocker to increase music loudness as a way of combating loud external noises, but active noise cancelling earbuds do much of the heavy lifting, making us less compelled to put our hearing at risk.

See also: What is noise-induced hearing loss

Enjoy a host of features with the Sony WI-1000XM2 neckband headset

Sony has the noise cancelling market cornered with its flagship over-ear and true wireless models. The little-discussed WI-1000XM2 neckband earphones is a great buy for frequent flyers not yet ready to jump ship to totally wireless earbuds.

Sony WI-1000XM2
Sony WI-1000XM2
8.2
The Sony WI-1000XM2 rest on a surface next to a book and eyeglasses.The wired audio input for the Sony WI-1000XM2.A man wears the Sony WI-1000XM2.
Sony WI-1000XM2
Sony WI-1000XM2
Buy now

Each earbud has one inward and one outward-facing microphone to record and cancel out unwanted sounds. The proprietary QN1 chip powers the noise canceling and is energy efficient; this chip also features a 32-bit DAC and headphone amp for clear, loud sound. You get your pick of Bluetooth codecs to stream (SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, and LDAC) and you can even listen by wire with the included cable.

Related: The best wireless neckband earbuds

The earbuds support fast charging: 10 minutes of charge provides 80 minutes of playback, and you get 10 hours of listening from a full charge. The Sony WI-1000XM2 supports Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. There are only two drawbacks to this headset: price and microphone quality. User reviews indicate the headset has disappointing microphone quality for the price. If you can overlook these shortcomings, you’ll enjoy these wireless noise cancelling earphones.

iPhone owners should just go with the Apple AirPods Pro

Apple has finally made the AirPods good with the AirPods Pro, and that’s mainly due to the better fitting ear tips. Not only does it mean more people can actually wear it, but the AirPods Pro blocks out background sound just because it seals your ear canals from the outside world. Throw on the new active noise cancelling that Apple put in the AirPods Pro, and it does a pretty great job at blocking outside noise. It isn’t as strong as something like the Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless earbuds, but it’s way better than the original AirPods.

Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro
7.2
A picture of the AirPods Pro earbud with the silicone sleeve removed to reveal the nozzle.A man wears the Apple AirPods Pro against a gray background.The Apple AirPods Pro noise cancelling true wireless earbuds rest on a smartphone.The Apple AirPods Pro in a man's left hand (foreground) with an iPhone and the AirPods Pro wireless charging case in the background.
Apple AirPods Pro

Besides the active noise cancelling, the AirPods Pro also has a transparency mode that uses microphones to pipe in external sounds so you can hear what’s going on. It’s super helpful when you’re trying to hear what the pilot or conductor is saying but don’t want to remove your earbud. The new shorter stem is where you’ll find the pressure-sensitive playback controls that let you skip between tracks and toggle ANC on or off.

Cut the cord with the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless

One of the best picks out there for noise cancelling true wireless buds is the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless. For under $200 USD it does a little bit of everything very well. Its ANC combined with good passive isolation ought to dampen most low drones and incidental noises. Meanwhile, the frequency response voicing provides a pleasant, consumer-friendly sound. If you don’t like it, play with the EQ in the free app.

Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless
8.2
The Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless sits on a table in front of a window.The Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless is held outside, sitting in its case.A man holds the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless earbuds in his hand outside.The Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless earbuds lay on a wooden bench outside, paired to a Google Pixel 4a running the Sennheiser Smart Control app.A man sits outside wearing the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless.A noise canceling/isolation chart for the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless earbuds, which shows good isolation, a decent low end attentuation.A frequency response chart for the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless, which shows nicely emphasized bass and mids, but less high range output than we'd like to see.
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless
Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless
Buy now
See review
See review

For true wireless earbuds, the size of the buds and charging case are a touch bulky. With that in mind, you get nearly 6 hours of playtime (with ANC on) to a single charge and an extra 16 hours of juice from the case. Assuming you get a good fit, you can take the CX Plus to the gym with its IPX4 rating and transparency mode, should you want some better environmental awareness while out jogging. Finally, moving beyond the bare minimum, Sennheiser decked the CX Plus with aptX codec (alongside AAC and SBC) meaning you’ll enjoy better quality audio on Android.

Related: The best AirPods Pro alternatives

The 1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro is a versatile headset

1MORE’s noise cancelling earbuds include plenty of premium features for a reasonable price. The earbuds have an IPX5 rating, support LDAC and AAC, and can be used as a wired headset in a pinch. That’s right, you can connect a cable to the neckband and then into your phone.

1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro
1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro
8
The 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro earbuds on a wooden coaster on top of black table1More Dual Driver ANC Pro earbuds snapped together on a notebook with brass pen in the background.The 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro pictured on a yellow couch.The 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro playback controls with plants and a camera in the backgroundShot of 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro noise cancelling and microphone buttons.Man holding the lid open of the USB-C input for the 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro earbudsThe 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro earbuds on top of a white tote bag with teal decorations.A picture of a man holding a single earbud of the 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro showing the oblong shape.Man wearing 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro earbuds snapped together around neck.
1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro
1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro
Buy now
See review
See review

The magnetic earbud housings perfectly manage the cables when you’re not actively using the headset. The microphone quality, while not the best, is very good and can certainly get you by on a personal or professional phone call. If you’re a commuter who wants a solid pair of ANC earbuds, but isn’t ready to jump ship to noise cancelling true wireless products, the 1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro is a fine option for you.

Is the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds worth buying?

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds noise cancelling true wireless earbuds in the USB-C charging case next to a Gameboy Color and PlayStation 4 controller.
The Bose QC Earbuds support mono listening but it’s limited to the right earbud, which isn’t useful for some folks.

Bose was one of the earliest manufacturers to really pin down ANC, so it’s no surprise the QuietComfort Earbuds does the job well. It’s effective at using ANC to block out noise across the spectrum. The default frequency response should please most listeners, but the companion app now has some EQ options to add some flexibility.

It shares the same IPX4 rating as the Bose Sport Earbuds, which gives it some versatility alongside with a sidetone for your phone calls. The codec suite is minimal at AAC and SBC, but for iPhone users AAC is about the best you can use anyhow. The downsides include the large case and the buds are pretty big too. It also goes for about $100 USD more than the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless, which isn’t chump change.

Does the Sony WF-1000XM4 have the best noise cancelling?

The Sony WF-1000XM4 on a wet, red bench, also with moisture on the earphones.
An IPX4 rating means splashes, sweat, and humidity won’t kill your earphones.

Another premium set of noise cancelling buds coming in at a pricey $278 USD is the Sony WF-1000XM4 not only looks to topple the AirPods Pro for iPhone users, it seeks to dominate the Android buds market too. First of all, it has excellent ANC and passive isolation. For true wireless earbuds using ANC, the 7 hours and 43 minutes of battery life beats out most competitors.

Like the Sony WI-1000XM2 it has a lot going on for processing and the suite of codecs includes the popular LDAC. The app is pretty useful too for Sony 360 Audio surround sound. For the uncompromising listener, this could be the right pick, but at a steep price.

Can you use the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro with any phone?

Man holding up the open charging case for the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro takes the best features from all of the previous Galaxy Buds generations.

The current flagship Samsung earphones rank as some of the best noise cancelling true wireless earbuds currently available. Noise cancelling is very good, especially when it comes to midrange frequency reduction, which is important for commuting. The buds expertly cut through droning sounds like the vibrations from a subway car, but can’t quite combat incidental noise like clanging pots and pans.

AKG tuned the earbuds to sound superb: the frequency response closely follows our house curve with slightly amplified bass and low-midrange notes. If you don’t like how it sounds, you can always cycle through the handful of EQ profiles within the Galaxy Wearable app, so long as you have an Android device. It has some of the best waterproofing of any earbuds with a IPX7 rating.

The best ANC earbuds: Notable mentions

The case of the Shure AONIC Free is open and laying on its back propped by the lid.
Shure takes a different approach by blocking out noise the old fashion way with good isolation.
  • Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen): Amazon debuted its proprietary noise cancelling with these earbuds, and it does a great job of blocking out droning sounds. In fact, the ANC here is better than the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Apple AirPods Pro. Of course, there are some concessions like microphone and sound quality, but if ANC and Alexa support are your top priorities, the Echo Buds will serve you well.
  • Denon AH-C830NCW: The Denon AH-C830NCW technically has better active noise cancelling than the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless, and you get the same IPX4 rating. However, it isn’t listed as a top five pick because you don’t get volume controls and there’s a noticeable degree of lag on Android since it only supports SBC and AAC.
  • Jabra Elite 4 Active: At $120 USD Jabra stuffs the buds with ANC, Bluetooth 5.2, Google Fast Pair, and a solid IP57 rating. You lose some premium surround sound features found in pricier options, but not everyone needs that.
  • Jabra Elite 85t: These earphones feature very good noise cancelling, and microphone quality. You can create a custom EQ profile within the mobile app if you aren’t happy with the bassy default sound. With the debut of Jabra’s other Elite series earphones like the Elite 7 Active and Elite 7 Pro, the Elite 85t has dropped in price.
  • Shure AONIC Free: Here’s a novel option, noise cancelling without active noise cancelling. The AONIC Free features such good isolation you don’t even need to fuss with ANC settings. It helps that the buds sound great and have a useful companion app with a comprehensive equalizer. If you’re looking for a wired option the Shure SE215 uses the same buds to isolate your ears.
  • Razer Hammerhead USB-C ANC: Razer’s USB-C headset is at the top of its very small class. If your smartphone is without a headphone jack, and you want wired earbuds without the dongle, get these. If you’re open to checking out true wireless options, the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro may be more up your alley.
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds 2: Though missing some of the more premium features of the Galaxy Buds Pro, this set features basically the same ANC as the flagship for a few bucks less.

Hold up! Something’s different:

Some of our picks’ frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and ANC performance plots. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white).

Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.

What you should know about the best noise cancelling earbuds

How does noise cancellation work?

A graphic depicting two inverse waves being added together and resulting in a flat line.
Constructive and Destructive Interference Sound waves of equal amplitude, offset at 1/2 wavelengths result in compression waves with an amplitude of 0—canceling out the sound.

We have a full breakdown of how noise cancelling technology works, but the shortened version is that it uses destructive interference. Each sound has its own waveform, and the microphones in ANC headsets record your surroundings and emit an inverted waveform to combat ambient noise.

In a perfect world, it would be as simple and neat as 1-1=0. However, the technology isn’t there yet and may never be. Environmental noise still permeates the barrier created by noise cancelling headphones. Generally speaking, though, the technology has advanced quite a bit: Apple, Bose, and Sony have impeccable performers.

Start here: Ultimate headphone buying guide

This technology is complicated, and to get an effective pair of headphones or earbuds with ANC, you should expect to pay around $150. This is pricy but has proven well worth the investment for daily commuters and readers with loud neighbors.

How do you wear earbuds?

Each set of earbuds has a slightly different way you should wear them, but for the most part, you just need to make sure the ear tips fit well into your ear canal entrances. This means you should take the time to experiment with each ear tip size, and mix and match if you have to. Shake your head around a bit and take note of your comfort level. Usually one of the sizes works but on the off chance that they don’t, you may want to invest in third-party ear tips.

Learn more: What is isolation?

Just like standard earbuds, noise cancelling earbuds greatly benefit from a proper seal. No matter how good the ANC tech inside the earbud is, if the nozzles aren’t physically blocking external noise out, auditory masking will affect your ability to hear your music.

How we choose the best noise cancelling earbuds

When it comes to noise cancelling earbuds, we performed our due diligence by researching the ones we’ve yet to get our hands-on. Bose, recognized as the brand to get when looking for noise cancelling headphones, is awarded as our top contender. However, we made sure to include other, less ubiquitous options that will still suit a wide array of listener profiles. While the Bose QuietComfort 20 still reigns as our pick for the best noise cancelling earbuds, you’re bound to enjoy any of the above.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

A man taps a Google Pixel XL to a pair of Sony WH-1000XM3.
We test all the software features that accompany headsets too.

SoundGuys strives to inform readers about audio. Whether that includes knowing what’s relevant via one of our many best lists, or if that means improving your understanding of audio science. Individually, the team has accrued years of audio endeavors bringing a unique perspective to their writings

While this site does operate on referral links, no one benefits from championing one product over another. In fact, the writers don’t know if a link was ever clicked. Ultimately, we want you to be happy with your pick, and if you don’t get anything, we want you to close out of this tab feeling more informed about audio.

Next: Apple AirPods Max vs Sony WH-1000XM4

Frequently asked questions about noise cancelling earbuds

It is unlikely that they will block out dog barking. It depends on two things mainly: how sporadic the barking is, and what frequency range the barking is in that you’re hearing is. If it’s sporadic, like one bark every now and then, it probably won’t work. Because dogs bark in a fairly wide frequency range, it’s hard to know how effective any ANC is with the specific dog(s) you’re hoping to block out.

You’re better off looking for very good passive sound isolation, like a good fitting closed-back headphone or really snug earbuds without vents. Look into something like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2.

Hey there! We have an entire list of the best noise cancelling true wireless earbuds where we include other brands like Panasonic, Master & Dynamic, and more.

We recommend the Bose Sleepbuds: these aren’t designed to play music, and are only compatible with the Bose Sleep app. You can use said app to select a number of ambient recordings to help you catch some Z’s. It’s a miniature white noise machine that won’t keep your partner awake.

For the most optimized experience, get the Apple AirPods Pro; these earbuds use Apple’s H1 chip which allows for hands-free access to Siri, improves power efficiency, and enables seamless device switching with iOS and macOS products. The H1 chip is compatible with macOS 10.14.4 or later and iOS 12.2 or later. The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2 has okay ANC with very good sound. It’s just harder to justify for the price, especially when you can just get the CX Plus True Wireless instead.

Both Bose and Sony make great noise cancelling earbuds. If you’re already invested in the Bose ecosystem, you may find yourself more at home with Bose’s ANC earbuds. Bose has made a name for itself when it comes to noise cancellation and comfort, be it with its earbud or headphone audio solutions. Sony’s noise cancelling earbuds are no slouch, and it has a tight grip on the noise cancelling true wireless market.

We recommend the Sony WI-1000X to anyone who wants a convertible pair of Bluetooth earbuds, since you can quickly switch from wired to wireless audio. Ultimately, though, both brands make great products and it may very well boil down to what headset is on promotion at the time of purchase.