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Best noise canceling headphones for work

Too much noise at work? Not anymore!
April 17, 2023
Sony WH-1000XM5
By Sony
Product shot of the Sony WH-1000XM5 in black on a white background.
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Excellent ANC
Great microphone quality even in loud environments
Comprehensive app with EQ
SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs; wired
Multipoint connectivity
No water resistance
The Bottom Line.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 improves upon the already excellent noise canceling headphones before it, with the best ANC yet from Sony, as well as a fantastic microphone.Read full review...
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
By Bose
The Bose NCH 700.
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Very good sound quality
Great ANC
Nearly perfect touch/button controls
IPX4 rating
In-app EQ
Not super comfortable
The Bottom Line.
Excellent design and ANC together make the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 a great pick. The IPX4 rating ensures light rain won't kill them either.Read full review...
Bose QuietComfort 45
By Bose
The Bose QuietComfort 45 in black against a white background.
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Great ANC
App support
SBC and AAC only, no aptX
The Bottom Line.
The supremely comfortable Bose QuietComfort 45 still has great ANC, even if some other options out perform it. The iconic headset is still a winner in our books.Read full review...
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
By Apple
The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) wireless earphones in white coming out of the MagSafe charging case which stands vertically.
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Good ANC
Four ear tip options
IPX4 water resistance
Case supports wireless and fast charge
Charges with Lightning cable
The Bottom Line.
If you're deep in the Apple ecosystem, the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) is an excellent option. The ANC and microphone make it great for work, and being able to quickly switch between Apple devices makes it super convenient.Read full review...
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
By Sennheiser
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Advanced codec support
Unbelievable battery
Great sound quality
No folding hinges
The Bottom Line.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless is an excellent headset that's less expensive than the highest-end ANC headsets. For office use, the somewhat poorer ANC isn't a big deal, and could be a very capable ally.Read full review...

Want to tune out the world while you work? While there are many great headphones for work, active noise canceling (ANC) headphones are the best option for people who get easily distracted or overwhelmed by noises like air conditioners, clacking keyboards, construction, and other people around you. So we’ve compiled the best noise canceling headphones for work to help you focus on the task at hand.

Editor’s note: this best list was updated on April 17, 2023, to add in the Bose QuietComfort 45 and Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless to our picks.

For our top five picks, you can find the isolation and frequency response charts at the end of each image gallery. You can learn more about how to read our charts here.

The best noise canceling headphones for work is Sony WH-1000XM5

For best-in-class noise canceling, amazing sound quality, and an outstanding microphone, look no further than the Sony WH-1000XM5. It is pricey at $399 USD, but it won’t disappoint by any means. Its low-frequency noise canceling capabilities blow other headphones out of the water, and the microphone quality will get you through any and all voice and video calls you make. The microphone also has highly effective noise suppression. If there’s any wind or background noise around you, nobody on your call will hear it.

Sony WH-1000XM5
A top down view of the Sony WH-1000XM5 resting on a dark grey graph patterned surface.Top-down view of the Sony-WH1000XM5 with the ear cups folded flat and upwardsThe Sony WH-1000XM5's ANC unit does a good job of canceling noise, but it also isolates very well.The Sony WH-1000XM5 boosts sounds up to 300Hz by about 5dB.

The WH-1000XM5 also has a long battery life, lasting 31 hours, 53 minutes with ANC on in our standardized testing. A battery life like this will take you through the work week easily without needing to charge it. The USB-C charging comes in handy, since charging the XM5 headphones for only three minutes will yield 180 minutes of playback time. At $399 USD, this headset may be expensive, but it’s worth the price for top-tier noise canceling and stellar microphone performance. Notably, the WH-1000XM5 also takes the crown for best Sony headphones.

You can get an idea of just how well the WH-1000XM5 microphone performs below. The background noise from our office and wind simulations is practically inaudible.

Sony WH-1000XM5 microphone demo (Ideal):

Sony WH-1000XM5 microphone demo (Office):

Sony WH-1000XM5 microphone demo (Wind):

How does the microphone sound to you?

10602 votes
Sony WH-1000XM5Sony WH-1000XM5
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Sony WH-1000XM5
ANC performance • Outstanding microphone • Useful app features
The king of the ANC pack extends its reign
Although its predecessor set the high water mark for excellent performance, the Sony WH-1000XM5 pushes it ever higher. Now featuring new drivers, it's an intriguing set of headphones among the flagship active noise-cancelling (ANC) devices on the market. Not only is it full of useful features, but it also excels in travel or at the office, in particular.

The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 block the world out and looks beautiful doing it

Bose leads the charge when it comes to noise canceling headphones and the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 (aka NCH 700) renders low-end sounds about one-sixth as loud as they’d sound without the headset on. You’ll enjoy a pleasing frequency response that aligns closely with our headphone target curve. This pair of headphones also has an IPX4 rating, so it’ll fare better in light rain better than something like the Sony WH-1000XM5, which is not water-resistant at all.

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 outsideNeither the Shure Aonic 50 nor the Bose Headphones 700 (pictured, black) have folding hinges.The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 onboard button controls.Chart of ANC performance of the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.The frequency response chart for the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 which follows our house curve, though some bass emphasis is apparent.
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
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Bose’s durable headband uses a sliding mechanism rather than a traditional notched one, which contributes to the sleek design of the NCH 700. It’s low on buttons, consistent with its minimal design, and it has touch panels for more controls on the outside of the right ear cup.

The microphone on the Bose Noise canceling headphones 700 is good for work calls, and not too much background noise in an office environment will come through. Listen for yourself:

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 microphone demo (Ideal):

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 microphone demo (Office):

How does the microphone sound to you?

6933 votes
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
SG recommended
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Excellent ANC • Lightweight design • Rotable ear pads
If you want some of the best ANC you can get, Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 have you covered.

Get comfortable at work with the Bose QuietComfort 45

For super comfortable noise canceling headphones that you can wear the whole workday, look to the Bose QuietComfort 45. The QC 45 is known for its supreme comfort, and it’s also very durable. For $299 USD, you’re getting great value for the comfort and noise canceling capabilities this headset has to offer. It also has excellent sound quality, following our preference target curve very closely. Most people will love how this sounds, and if you don’t like the EQ that much, you can always change it in the Bose Music app.

Bose QuietComfort 45
Chart shows the isolation and ANC performance of the Bose QuietComfort 45 firmware 2.0.4.A chart showing the frequency response of the Bose QuietComfort 45 (cyan), compared to the SoundGuys house curve (pink)A photo of the USB-C port of the Bose QuietComfort 45.A man holds up a smartphone with the Bose Music app open, showing the controls for the Bose QuietComfort 45.A man uses the control cluster on the back of the Bose QuietComfort 45.
Bose QuietComfort 45
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The Bose QuietComfort 35 II uses the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, so unfortunately Android users might not get a reliable high-quality codec here. Like the WH-1000XM5 and Bose NCH 700, the QC 45 also supports a wired connection, so you can enjoy lossless playback. The battery life is really good, lasting 24 hours, 49 minutes in our standardized battery testing, so you’ll likely only have to charge it once during your work week.

Like most headsets, the microphone of the Bose QuietComfort 45 will work just fine for video calls and office conversations. The unit in the Bose QuietComfort 45 does an okay job at noise rejection, but you’re unlikely to notice any issues. If you do, it may be one of those problems that can only be solved at the source.

Bose QuietComfort 45 microphone demo (Ideal):

Bose QuietComfort 45 microphone demo (Office):

How does the sample sound to you?

6353 votes
Bose QuietComfort 35 IIBose QuietComfort 35 II
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Excellent ANC • Strong connection • Customizable controls
One of the most comfortable ANC headsets
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is one of the best active noise canceling headsets. The companion app lets you manually adjust the ANC and other sound settings, and the slim design makes it comfortable to wear for hours.

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) will fit into your Apple ecosystem perfectly

Apple users will get a lot out of the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation). It integrates seamlessly with Apple products, allowing you to switch between devices easily due to the H2 chip. It also has a pretty consistent output across the bass and midrange with less emphasis on treble frequencies than we typically see from wireless earbuds. All genres will sound good through the earbuds. With a nice secure fit, great noise canceling, and handy controls on the ear stems, this pair of earbuds will get you through the work day and anything else you need it to.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case is open to reveal the noise canceling wireless earbuds inside.The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) case open with the earbuds next to an iPhone 12 mini.A hand holds the right earbud of the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) to show off the stem.The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) sensors decorate the earbuds which lay on a yellow, textured surface.A chart depicts the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) and AirPods Pro (1st generation) frequency responses, revealing the newer pair has a louder bass response.A chart depicts the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) noise canceling and isolation performances; the former is very effective when you get a good seal.
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
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The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) is also IPX4 water-resistant, including the case, so you can take them outside without worrying about them dying in the rain. You can also take calls easily on it, since it has a good microphone. It’s not the best microphone out of all of these picks, but it’s definitely good enough for people to hear you clearly on the other side.

The AirPods Pro (2nd generation) has a good microphone in ideal conditions, but you can hear in our demo below that incidental noise can cancel out your voice. In a real life scenario the AirPods Pro is supposed to detect vibrations from your speech to ensure it doesn’t block out your voice, but our testing can’t account for that since it’s done with a calibrated artificial mouth in our testing chamber. Your real-life results will likely be different from ours.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Ideal):

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) microphone demo (Office):

How does the microphone sound to you?

5842 votes
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
AA Recommended
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Impressive ANC • Comfortable fit • Wireless charging
One of the best true wireless earbuds for iOS users
The second generation of AirPods Pro features top-quality active noise cancelation in a water-resistant package.

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless isn’t much of a step down

Because offices generally aren’t places where having an insane level of ANC is necessary, you might be better off with the higher sound quality of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless over the other picks on this list. Not only does it offer great sound quality, but the headset has the best battery life of any ANC headset we’ve tested that’s still on the market. With the tradeoff of slightly worse ANC for $50 less than the other top-flight options here, you may find that this tradeoff isn’t so bad.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
A chart showing the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless' frequency response closely matching the SoundGuys Consumer Curve, with only minor deviations.A chart showing the attenuation performance of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, able to block out anywhere between 75 and 93% of outside noise depending on frequency.The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless headphones lay on a wooden table with the USB-C charing port in focusA person uses the capacitive touch controls to control media playback.A man wears the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless outdoors.The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless sits on a headphone stand in background with a phone displaying the Sennheiser Smart Control app displayed.The Sennheiser momentum 4 wireless sits on a headphone stand
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
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Controls are pretty standard, and operate through a capacitive touchpad on the right ear cup. Though the app of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless doesn’t have as many features as the Sony app, it does offer some creature comforts that are largely useful like firmware updates.

The microphone of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless hangs tough with the rest of the high-end crowd, but it does let some incidental noise in—meaning you’ll likely want to lean on video chat programs like Zoom or Meet to add noise suppression for you. Most of these add that by default, so there’s very little chance of background noise being a big issue.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (ideal):

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (office):

How does the microphone sound to you?

4318 votes
Shure AONIC 50Shure AONIC 50
AA Editors Choice
Shure AONIC 50
Bluetooth 5.0 and wired listening • SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, LDAC • Multipoint connectivity
This is the headset to get if you value build and sound quality over all else.
The Shure AONIC 50 noise canceling headset is a premium solution to your work from home and commuting woes. Large removable earpads lengthen the lifespan of the headphones and are easy to clean. Noise canceling is excellent as is functionality and comfort. The biggest drawback of these headphones is the price.

How different is the Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset from the Bose QuietComfort 35 II?

The Bose QuietComfort lays flat on a wooden table plugged into its volume dial.
The large volume dial is easy to adjust but takes up quite a bit of space.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset is pretty much the same as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but this time with a detachable boom mic. It connects to devices through a 3.5mm headphone cable, or over Bluetooth like the original QC 35 II. The addition of the boom mic does make a bit of a difference in mic quality, since the mic is now closer to your mouth, and the microphone has an under-emphasis in the bass range to combat the proximity effect. When placed correctly, you’ll get clearer audio from the boom mic than the embedded headset mic.

The microphone has no problems with voices, and it will perform well for video and voice calls, as well as gaming as the headset was originally intended. Whether or not that’s worth the extra $30 USD is down to whether you care about the slight increase in vocal quality over the microphone. For most, the difference won’t matter much.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming HeadsetBose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset
Good ANC • Great isolation • Accurate microphone
One of the best ANC gaming headsets.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is one of the best active noise canceling headsets. The companion app lets you manually adjust the ANC and other sound settings. A slim design makes it comfortable to wear for hours.

Does the Jabra Elite 85h have good ANC for a work headset?

A photo of the Jabra Elite 85h headphones partly folded on a stack of blue, thin books with a vintage camera in the bottom left corner.
The ear cups rotate 90 degrees and can be folded toward the headband.

As a more affordable noise canceling headset, the Jabra Elite 85h might be enticing because of its comfortable build, water-resistant coating, and battery life, alongside the cheaper price tag. But if you’re looking at it for the noise canceling, you might want to look elsewhere.

The ANC on this headset lags behind other noise canceling headphones and does a poor job of canceling out low-end frequencies. The passive isolation is pretty good, though. If you just want something with a little bit of ANC with really good isolation, this might be worth considering, but if you want to block most sounds out, look elsewhere. For $249 USD, you’re better off picking up a pair of Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones on sale.

Jabra Elite 85hJabra Elite 85h
Jabra Elite 85h
Good fit • Water-resistant nano-coating • Auto ear detection
Jabra's noise canceling headphones haven't dethroned Sony, but they're still good and support AAC.
The Jabra Elite 85h undercuts the competition with its sub-$250 price and active noise cancelling (ANC) functionality, but you get what you pay for: the ANC can't keep pace with top-tier, or even mid-tier competitors. If you want comfortable headphones with great battery life, however, the Elite 85h is a great bet.

What about the Sony WH-XB910N?

Shot from the side to show the Sony WH-XB910N controls on the left ear cup.
Power on/off and ANC/Ambient are the two buttons on the left ear cup. These work just fine.

Bass heads out there might appreciate the Sony WH-XB910N (the XB stands for “extra bass”), and while you can equalize the sound using the Sony Headphones Connect app, it won’t quite be perfect. The ANC is decent, being similar to the Sony WH-1000XM3, so it can definitely block out a lot of outside noise that may distract you. It also supports the SBC, AAC, and LDAC Bluetooth codecs, so you have high-quality Bluetooth audio options to choose from. If you’re going to pay $248 USD for the Sony WH-XB910N, you’d better be sure you like loud bass.

Sony WH-XB910NSony WH-XB910N
Sony WH-XB910N
Extra Bass tuning • Dual noise canceling • Comfortable ear cups
Noise-canceling proof that you don't need to break the bank for Sony's best listening experience.
X is for extra, B is for bass. These noise-canceling Sony headphones are tailored to deliver at low frequencies while shutting out the world around you with dual mics on each side.

The best noise canceling headphones for work: Notable mentions

A photo showing someone using the touch controls of the Sony WF-1000XM4.
The WF-1000XM4 is a compact set of wireless earbuds that will serve you well at work.
  • Anker Soundcore Life Q35: A cheaper option in the noise canceling headphones market at $109.99 at Amazon, the Life Q35 has LDAC support, wonderful battery life, a good microphone, and adequate active noise canceling.
  • Microsoft Surface Headphones 2: The Surface Headphones 2 has some nice features, like Bluetooth multipoint and aptX support. The ANC is good, and you can adjust the EQ to your liking as well. While it’s not exactly affordable, it’s cheaper than the more premium options out there at $249.99 at Amazon.
  • Monoprice BT-600ANC: Monoprice makes amazing affordable audio products, and the Monoprice BT-600ANC is no exception. For $69.99 at Amazon, you get incredible ANC performance, aptX HD support, and an extra-long battery life. The microphone is perfectly fine for calls too.
  • Sony WH-1000XM4: The former holder of the crown for best noise canceling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is still a fantastic noise canceling headset. With amazing noise canceling, LDAC support, great battery life, and adjustable EQ, this headset is definitely still worth it, especially if you can find it on sale. You can get it for $299 at Amazon.
  • SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless: Not just a gaming headset! The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless has really good ANC, a fantastic microphone, and a 22-hour battery life. It can be used wired through a 3.5mm cable or wirelessly with Bluetooth 5.0, though it only supports the SBC codec. It’s available for $349.99 at Amazon. You can save a pretty penny and get the non-noise canceling, wired version instead for $209.99 at Amazon.
  • Nothing Ear 1: A bit more affordable for a pair of noise canceling earbuds, the Nothing Ear 1 has pretty good ANC, a good microphone, and the design is unique and fun too. It’s a strong alternative to the AirPods Pro and performs quite well against Apple’s flagship buds. You can purchase it for $53.99 at Amazon.
  • Sony WF-1000XM4: Excellent ANC from Sony but in true wireless form, the WF-1000XM4 is a pair of earbuds for work. The microphone sounds good, and the sound quality is great too. It’s available for $178 at Amazon.
  • Anker Soundcore Life Q20: For just $59.99 at Amazon, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 has really good ANC and an incredible battery life coming in at just under 52 hours in our battery test. The frequency response isn’t for everybody, but it’s still an incredible headset for the price.

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 article (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and isolation 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 canceling headphones for work

When you’re shopping around for headphones of any kind, there are a few basic things to know. Whens shopping around for ANC headphones that you plan to use while working, well there’s even more research to do. Below, we help you learn about how noise canceling works, the benefits of a good headset mic, and why Bluetooth codec support matters.

How does active noise canceling work?

Angled view of the Sony WH-1000XM5 power and noise canceling buttons
Power, Bluetooth, and noise cancellation can be controlled using hardware buttons underneath the left ear cup.

Noise is heard through microphones on your headset, which creates “anti-noise” through phase-inversion. This means the headset creates a noise that is out of phase with the ambient noise it’s picking up, which cancels it out. For a more in-depth explanation, check out our article on how noise canceling headphones work.

Noise canceling is a difficult feat, and while technology is getting better all the time, it’s not perfect. Noise canceling headphones are best at blocking out ambient noise like the droning of a plane or a fan, not incidental noises like clattering dishes or dropping an object. To dampen incidental noise, you also need good passive isolation, which comes from a good fit. With over-ear headphones, a good fit requires the ear pads fit around your ear without gaps. Those who wear earbuds need the ear tips to fit seal to the ear canal entrances and stay in place during movement.

Why are microphones important for work headphones?

A man wears the Bose QuietComfort 35 II sitting at a PC.
Sounding clear over a video call is pretty important!

Mic quality matters a lot if you’re looking for headphones for work because you want to be understandable over a video or voice call. While laptop microphones are sufficient for this, you can get much better audio quality from a built-in microphone on your headphones.

Some headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM5 have wonderful noise cancellation for the microphone, picking up basically no outside noise. But if your microphone isn’t top-of-the-line like that, you’ll want to ensure you’re in a fairly quiet environment. This is so your mic doesn’t pick up the sounds of other people around you, or wind and traffic if you’re outside. A mic with better noise canceling will eliminate these variables, but it’s good practice to control your environment.

What are Bluetooth codecs and do they matter for work headphones?

Image of Android Bluetooth codecs including aptX and LDAC
SBC, AAC, LDAC, it’s all so many letters, what do they mean?

Bluetooth uses different codecs to encode and decode audio data from your device to your ears. The different codecs have different transfer rates, or bit rates, which is how much data is transferred per second. This also depends on the sample rate of the track, or the amount of data in an audio file per second, as well as the bit-depth, or how much data is encoded in each sample.

SBC is the baseline Bluetooth codec. It has a low transfer rate, while aptX and LDAC have much higher transfer rates. Higher transfer rates mean better quality audio, as long as the audio files are also higher quality. You can’t get the full experience of a lossless file like a FLAC using the SBC codec, you need to be wired for that—though LDAC can get the closest when it performs consistently. For a more in-depth explanation, check out our article about understanding Bluetooth codecs.

How we choose the best noise canceling headphones for work

We tested the Sony WH-1000XM5 in the lab with state-of-the-art equipment.
We tested the Sony WH-1000XM5 in the lab using state-of-the-art equipment including our B&K 5128.

At SoundGuys, we perform objective tests to measure things like frequency response, isolation, microphone quality, and more. To do so, we use a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 head and torso simulator (HATS) with an anatomically realistic ear canal and outer ear. We also use a standardized setup to test the microphone quality of products with pre-recorded phrases from a calibrated artificial mouth in our test chamber. This allows us to present standardized microphone samples so you can judge the quality of various products and compare them across the board. After we collect all of this data, we then score each product through various objective and subjective measures.

Our team then confers with one another regarding the best products for a given category and presents our list to you. It’s not over after we hit “publish,” though. Instead, we treat every article as a living document that we update as new and worthy products come out.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

The Sony LinkBuds sit inside the Bruel & Kjaer 5128 head and torso simulator.
Finding the right fit is difficult on your own ears, but it’s even harder on our beautiful and stylish test head.

Each writer at SoundGuys has accumulated years of experience reporting on the consumer audio market, and our staff adheres to a strict ethics policy. SoundGuys‘ survival depends mainly upon on readers enjoying their purchases. We pride ourselves on transparently outlining objective facts, while accounting for the subjective experience to contextualize an audio product’s performance. When we do misspeak, we correct and own up to it.

Frequently asked questions about the best noise canceling headphones for work

Noise canceling is great for blocking out consistent sounds so the microphones have time to detect the sound and cancel it out. Loud, sudden noises are too quick to be properly cancelled out, so you’ll still hear these unless you have really good passive isolation.

Making sure you’re in a quiet environment helps a lot. Environmental noise like construction, wind, traffic, or others talking might interfere with your voice over the microphone. You can also adjust your mic levels in the sound settings on your computer if you’re too quiet or loud.

Many headphones have a passthrough mode that you can turn on to talk to people without removing your headphones. Some headphones, like the Sony WH-1000XM5, have speech detection that turns off noise canceling and turns on passthrough when it hears you talking to another person. This is imperfect though and many still prefer just removing their headphones to carry a quick conversation.

Make sure you put your headphones into pairing mode, which is different for each pair of headphones. Open up settings on your computer, and find the Bluetooth settings menu. There should be a list of devices, and the headphones should show up as a device to connect to. Click on the name of the headphones in the menu, and you should connect almost instantly.