Links on SoundGuys may earn us a commission. Learn more.
Best noise cancelling wireless earphones
Read full review...
Read full review...
Read full review...
Read full review...
Read full review...
True wireless earphones as a category have come a long way from the original AirPods, but in terms of features, they tend to lag far behind on or over-ears. However, we’re happy to report that enough companies have brought their A-game to wireless earphones—and by “A” game I mean active noise cancelling (ANC).
As we have several talented testers digging into the best noise cancelling wireless earbuds, we’re constantly updating this list to make sure that the best ANC wireless options on the market appear here.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on May 4, 2022, to include the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3.
Why is the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro the best noise cancelling wireless earbuds?
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro drops the bean-shaped build of the Galaxy Buds Live, and returns to a more traditional earphone design. These earbuds actually seal to the ear, with the help of silicone ear tips. These are Samsung’s most durable Galaxy Buds yet: they feature an IPX7 rating, which means they withstand a drop in the pool. While the Galaxy Buds Pro is cheaper than much of the competition, the Galaxy Buds Pro compares favorably to the Sony WF-1000XM4.
Battery life is fine, but it’s nowhere near the best, which is disappointing considering how the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus supply some of the best standalone battery life of any wireless headset. The earphones last 4 hours, 48 minutes on a single charge with ANC enabled, and the USB-C wireless case provides an additional 13 hours of battery reserve.
Samsung lets you toggle between two ANC modes, low and high. The high setting effectively blocks out upper-bass and low-midrange frequencies, which is where you’ll hear sounds like a refrigerator whirr or the hum of an old A/C unit.
Learn more: What makes a good set of in-ears?
Sound quality is very good when you listen from a Samsung Galaxy device, thanks to support for the Samsung Scalable Codec. Sub-bass notes are amplified and sound almost twice as loud as midrange frequencies, which is par for the course when it comes to consumer headsets. Treble notes are amplified, too, which makes it easier to perceive detail from your favorite tunes, though it may be unpleasant during certain tracks like Modulogeek’s song One Day We’ll be Okay.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 is a very good set of noise cancelling earbuds; in fact, its ANC edges out the Galaxy Buds Pro. What holds the Galaxy Buds 2 back from knocking the Buds Pro from its place as the best noise cancelling earbuds for most people is that the Buds Pro has a more durable IPX7 rating and has a slightly better frequency response for most listeners.
There’s a less exaggerated difference between lows, mids, and highs through the Buds Pro compared to the Buds Plus. This is important as neither the Galaxy Buds 2 nor the Galaxy Buds Pro has iOS app support, so what you hear is what you get. When you use the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 and Pro on Android, you can at least use the Galaxy Wearable app to choose from a handful of EQ presets to adjust the sound accordingly.
If you want to save $50 USD and feel that an in-app ear tip fit test would help you figure out which ear tips to choose, the Galaxy Buds 2 is a great pair of earbuds. For most listeners, however, the greater durability and better sound quality of the Buds Pro is worth the extra cash.
iPhone users, the Apple AirPods Pro is the best noise cancelling option
Apple listened to the cries of the audiophile crowd and created a version of the AirPods that seal the ear canal. Not only is this important for sound quality, but it also enables the feature you’re all here for: noise cancellation. The older AirPods earphones don’t seal the ear canal, which lets in a bunch of outside noise—and also makes active noise cancellation a monumentally difficult task. Now that this tiny little issue is taken care of, Apple’s flagship earphones are actually quite good, albeit expensive.
On the whole, the noise cancellation of the AirPods Pro is good, save for the fact that it doesn’t attenuate any one note to a crazy degree. You’ll notice outside noise being reduced in loudness to about half or one-quarter as loud, but not really much beyond that. (See: last image in the gallery above.)
Unlike the Samsung model mentioned above, the batteries also last north of 5 hours, and the Apple earphones also offer a few hidden perks like a constantly running DSP engine that alters the performance of the units to best match your ear. Additionally, you can take a break from blocking out the world to listen in to conversations by pinching one of the stems to activate transparency mode.
The AirPods Pro offers the latest suite of features supported by Apple’s H1 chip, and they’re a rock-solid set of earphones. If you’re debating between this and the Sony WF-1000XM4, you have some reading to do.
iOS 14 added new features to the AirPods and AirPods Pro headsets: Spatial Audio was a highlight, which is Apple’s approach to the in-ear surround sound experience. Spatial Audio on the AirPods Pro makes it feel as if you’re at a live concert or in the middle of a war zone, depending on the content you’re playing. Another new feature is automatic device switching, which lets you effortlessly move from one Apple device to another.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 has the best noise cancellation
All else being equal, if you want a solid pair of do-it-all wireless earbuds, you want to buy the Sony WF-1000XM4. Sony made huge improvements to its noise cancelling technology, and these earphones reign king when it comes to raw ANC performance.
Wireless earbuds tend not to do such a great job at attenuating outside noise because they simply can’t devote a lot of power to the task, but Bluetooth 5.2 improves power efficiency. You get the best of both worlds here: a near 8-hour battery life and effective ANC. The USB-C case provides an additional two charge cycles and can fast charge the earphones. You can also place it atop a Qi wireless charging mat.
The sound quality is fine though there are a few quirks: bass and midrange notes are significantly louder than treble notes. If you want a more accurate frequency response, you may want to equalize the bass and midrange response down a bit to make it easier to hear higher notes. You can do this, again, from the OS-agnostic Sony Headphones Connect app.
These Sony earbuds may be expensive, but they do everything very well. The buds earned an IPX4 rating, so you can bring them to the gym or on your next run. You also get a more compact, attractive design than the previous generation. If you have the money, we highly recommend these luxurious earphones.
Sony supplies a handful of memory foam ear tips, so you can get the best, most comfortable fit. When you download the Sony Headphones Connect app, you can take the ear tip fit test to make sure everything fits properly. This is a must-have for noise cancelling earphones as passive isolation is key to optimal noise cancellation.
(Click the image to expand.)
The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) is the best value
Amazon unveils its noise cancelling technology with the Echo Buds (2nd Gen). You get a USB-C charging case and, like Apple’s pricing strategy, can pay an extra fee ($20) for a wireless charging case. If you’re a smart home fanatic with an array of smart products, these seem like a promising pair of affordable earbuds.
Alexa integration is the backbone of the new Echo Buds, and when you download the Alexa app, you get immediate access to a host of features like a custom EQ module, voice assistant preference, and Amazon’s Ear Tip Fit Test. This test tells you if the ear tips create a proper seal to your ear, and instruct you to swap them out for another size if not. Apple offers this feature too but it’s limited to its AirPods Pro and only works with an iOS or iPadOS device, while the Amazon Alexa app is available on Android and iOS.
Active noise cancelling is quite good and outperforms that of the AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3 and AirPods Pro, for nearly half the price. If you want a solid set of wireless earphones with an IPX4 rating and a slew of software features, the Echo Buds are an affordable pick.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 has the best sound quality
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 (MTW3) has a great frequency response with bass and mids that closely follow our house curve. You can see this in the last two images of the gallery below. The treble response is slightly under-emphasized compared to our house curve, but this is easy to fix in the Smart Control app’s (iOS/Android) limited EQ module.
The headset uses Bluetooth 5.2 and supports the SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codecs. This means you can enjoy high-quality audio to any source device, and with aptX Adaptive, your music quality will automatically adjust to balance connection stability (Android only).
The active noise cancelling is very good and rivals that of Bose and Sony. Sub-bass and bass frequencies sound up to one-eighth their original loudness when you have the MTW3 earbuds in with noise cancelling on. Sennheiser provides three ear tip sizes to get you started though there’s no fit test here.
There’s nothing too fancy about these earbuds, though they do sport an IPX4 rating which makes them a fine pair of buds for the gym. Commuters will also enjoy this pair of earphones, again for its excellent noise cancellation and passive isolation performance. This is a great all ’rounder headset if you can swallow the $249 USD price.
Sennheiser’s touch controls are pretty straightforward and let you toggle through listening modes, adjust the volume, control playback, and more. You can even access your preferred smart assistant with a triple-tap on the right earbud.
Should you buy the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds?
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds has stellar noise cancelling, a comfortable fit, and great sound quality. At first, you couldn’t equalize the sound from the OS-agnostic Bose Music app but Bose has since released a software update that let’s you amend the frequency response. Aside from releasing useful updates, we like this Bose headset for its comfortable ear tips and IPX4 rating. The touch controls have a perfect degree of sensitivity which can’t be said of even our favorite ANC earbuds the Galaxy Buds Pro from Samsung, or any of its other wireless earbuds, really.
The best noise cancelling wireless earbuds: Notable mentions
Of course, this list doesn’t have all the ANC wireless earphones represented. While we don’t recommend all of them, there are a few that might be worth a look at if your needs aren’t met by what we’ve discussed.
- Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro: Anker packs plenty of high-end features into this compact package. Adjustable EQ and ANC alongside a multitude of ear tips and ear wings provide a truly customizable fit.
- Beats Studio Buds: If you have an Android smartphone (or iPhone), and want a pair of Beats that works just as well on your handset as it does on iPhones, get these compact buds. Beats’ buds perform valiantly against Apple’s AirPods Pro.
- HONOR Earbuds 2 Lite: While the touch controls could be better and there’s a wonky app situation for North Americans, these buds offer a lot for under $100. You get decent ANC and a good frequency response, with that AirPods Pro-inspired aesthetic available to Android users.
- Jabra Elite 7 Pro: A tight fit brings a ton of passive isolation to the Jabra Elite 7 Pro. Throw in ANC on top, and these earbuds have no problems blocking out environmental noise.
- Jabra Elite 85t: The sequel to the fan-favorite Elite 75t adds active noise cancellation that can turn down the volume on your surroundings, and just as quickly amplify background noise to keep you safe.
- Jaybird Vista 2: Jaybird adds noise cancelling to its beloved Vista wireless earbuds and manages to make the whole package even more durable, from the earbuds to the case.
- Klipsch T5 II ANC: Klipsh’s earbuds don’t provide the most comfortable fit but if you can get them to comfortably stay in place, you’ll enjoy great passive isolation, a standout charging case, and good ANC.
- Master & Dynamic MW08: These earbuds prioritize function over form, offering excellent sound quality, impressive battery life, good noise cancelling, and an IPX5 water-resistant build. If money is no object to you, these earbuds are worth considering.
- OnePlus Buds Z2: If you don’t mind giving up an EQ and aptX for IP55 earbuds, good noise cancelling, and auto play/pause functionality, you’ll find plenty to like about this headset.
- Panasonic RZ-S500W: Panasonic uses hybrid ANC in its mid-tier noise cancelling earphones, and it works very well. If you want a great pair of affordable earbuds, that are durable too, get these.
- Razer True Wireless Hammerhead Pro: For under $199, Razer’s wireless earbuds offer decent active noise cancellation and good sound quality—all wrapped in an IPX4 water-resistant build. It also features a low latency game mode, which may entice mobile gamers and video streamers.
- Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: These earbuds build upon the success of the previous CX True Wireless, and this time around, Sennheiser includes noise cancelling, which handily outperforms the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2.
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 noise cancelling wireless earbuds
If you’re in the market for noise cancelling wireless earbuds, you need to know a few things about what you’re getting into. Wireless earbud fans probably already know what to expect from their new sets, but if you’re taking the plunge for the first time there are a few things to go over. We don’t want you running into something unexpected, after all.
Battery life isn’t great, so get used to it
Because wireless earphones can only fit so much battery into a teeny-tiny housing, they’re unsurprisingly terrible at the whole “not needing to recharge” thing. That’s why most wireless earphones stash a bigger battery in their carrying case to recharge the individual buds when you’re not using them. This way, they appear to have much better battery life than they actually do. If you’re on a long commute, however, you’ll notice that your buds drain faster than they ought to.
Thankfully, battery life tends to last more than the average four hours required by most people to get to and from work without a recharge. Well, that would be true if the nature of wireless earphones didn’t put immense wear on the tiny cells they have.
Because of the fact that you’re going to be charging and depleting wireless earphones so many times more than you would a normal set of Bluetooth headphones, you’ll find that they hold their charge less and less over time. Some owners of the original AirPods find that after two years, the buds only seem to hold their juice for about 15 minutes at a time. Obviously, that’s a huge bummer, but don’t let that dissuade you: just be aware that buying wireless earphones isn’t an investment in the future, just so long as you recycle them when they die.
Have you noticed battery life degradation with your true wireless earbuds?
Are noise cancelling earbuds actually good?
Yes, noise cancelling earbuds can be quite good and effective, but one constant we’ve found among ANC wireless earphones is that the ANC performance is inconsistent. Active noise cancelling works best against loud, droning sounds that don’t have a lot of changes to them over time. You’ll find that people talking near you still come through, but computer fans, office noise, and engine sounds get muted out.
Because wireless earbuds generally don’t have the space to cram in the hardware necessary to cancel out a ton of noise, it’s a miracle they’re able to work at all. Major props to any company that can get an ANC unit working reasonably well in this form factor! Bear in mind, that you also need to get a proper fit with your earbuds in order to get the best isolation. Good isolation yields the best possible ANC because it means there’s a physical barrier between your ear canals and the outside world.
Active noise cancelling is extremely important to listeners because it not only allows you to listen at a lower volume, but it also improves the perceived quality of your music. That said, you may find that the difference between having ANC on and off isn’t really all that big, and in fact, you may want to turn the feature off sometimes to squeak out some extra battery life. While you only get on average 20-40 minutes more, it could help out in a pinch.
No, generally, noise cancelling earbuds are not as good at blocking out noise as noise cancelling headphones. Headphones generally have better passive isolation which yields more effective active noise cancelling. Headphones are also just bigger and can house more microphones to record and bock out noise through destructive interference.
(Click the image to expand.)
Why you should trust SoundGuys
Not only is this our day job, but we’ve tested the best of the best out there for as long as “true wireless” has been a thing. But we’re a little different at SoundGuys: we show our work as well. Our singular mission is to lay the facts bare as they are, and we have the expertise, drive, and ethics to do it. We only make money when you find what you’re looking for, and enjoy it enough to keep. We take our integrity very seriously.
We don’t do paid reviews, on-site ads, or recommend products that our editorial staff doesn’t feel are worthy of your time. We go out of our way to make sure that our recommendations are backed up by objective testing wherever possible so that you don’t have to take our word for anything—you can examine the facts for yourself if you want.
Frequently asked questions about the best wireless noise cancelling earbuds
Sadly, no. In order to update the firmware of your AirPods Pro, you’ll need to connect it to a compatible iOS device—an important limitation to consider when buying these earbuds. If you’re looking for earbuds outside of Apple’s ecosystem, check out our list of the best AirPods Pro alternatives.