Whether you’re commuting to the office or trying to block out some of the people in the office, noise canceling headphones are a great tool to have. The problem is that if you want some of the best noise cancelling headphones around, you’re going to have to break open your piggy bank and start counting pennies. But that isn’t always the case. There are plenty of solid noise cancelling headphones under $100 that might be worth picking up if you’re in the market for a new pair of cans.
Editor’s note: this list was updated on March 26, 2021, to include the Plantronics BackBeat Go 410 Wireless.
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Most people should get the Anker Soundcore Life Q30
Anker continues to redefine the budget audio market with the update to its popular budget noise cancelling headphones: the Soundcore Life Q30.
Anker Soundcore Life Q30
Similar to its predecessor, the Soundcore Life Q30 features a lightweight constructions with plush ear cups, making these headphones very comfortable to wear during long playback sessions. Like the Soundcore Life Q20, this updated version is touted to deliver up to 40 hours of playback with ANC on, making battery life a non-issue.
Start here: Ultimate headphone buying guide
The Soundcore Life Q30 also features improved active noise cancellation. Though its performance can’t hold a candle to the likes of Sony or Bose, it’s better than nothing. Sound quality is what you’d expect from a pair of sub-$100 headphones: it’s consumer-friendly with amplified bass notes.
What you should know about the best noise cancelling headphones under $100
- Generally speaking, noise cancelling headphones are more expensive than their non-noise cancelling counterparts. That’s because there are more components packed into ANC cans, like extra microphones, to enable the technology.
- Unfortunately, the old adage, “you get what you pay for” applies to noise cancelling headphones under $100. While you’re still benefiting from the technology, the effectiveness of it can’t compare to the cream of the crop.
- Noise cancelling headphones use destructive interference to attenuate external noise, so droning sounds will be cancelled—while incidental noise like conversations, children being loud, and disorganized sounds will come through clear as a bell.
- Bluetooth audio quality still hasn’t caught up with wired audio quality, and that’s fine. Most of use prefer Bluetooth for its convenience and are fine with the drop in audio quality when on the go.
For the best on-the-go headphones, get the Sony WH-CH700N
Sony corners the noise cancelling headphone market, especially with its flagship cans: the WH-1000XM4. For people who are constantly on-the-go however, the WH-CH700N offers affordable active noise cancelling, which is perfect for drowning out the world on your way to work.
Sony WH-CH700NFull Review
The sound quality of the WH-C700N is okay, delivering a relatively neutral frequency response that accurately reproduces mid-to-high frequency sounds like strings and vocals. Its sound profile should appeal to fans of indie, acoustic, or vocal-heavy music. On the other hand, the low-frequency roll-off starting around 200 Hz means that low-end sounds like bass guitars and kick drums are de-emphasized, which isn’t ideal if you’re a fan of electronic or hip-hop tracks.
Sony WH-CH700N microphone demo:
Active noise cancelling is decent, blocking out ambient noise like chatter or clacking keyboards at the office. However, its ANC performance is not as impressive as higher-end headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4 or Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
While these headphones are typically priced at under $200, these cans are currently available through the Amazon Renewed program for just under $100! If you’re thinking of dipping your toes into the world of ANC headphones, just take the plunge with the WH-C710N.
Sony is always in the ANC conversation, this time with the MDR-ZX110NC headphones
Sony makes a lot of great stuff, so this next one should come as no surprise. Though the company has a—let’s say—unique method of naming its products. The Sony MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling headphones are on-ear headphones, so the passive noise blocking is less pronounced than the others on this list. Still, if you prefer on-ears to over-ears while traveling these are the best you can get.
To help with portability Sony included hinges, so you can easily fold them and stuff them away in a bag. On top of that, the ear cups swivel for a more comfortable fit. Like some of the other options on this list, these use AAA batteries. One battery should last you about 80 hours of noise cancelling. If you keep a spare around, you should be covered for quite some time.
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The Sony MDRZX110NC headphones have a 3.9-foot audio cable that ends in a gold-plated L-shape 3.5mm plug, which helps strengthen the connection’s durability. That’s pretty handy considering many people will be using these while commuting or traveling. Naturally, they also come with an in-flight adapter. If you think these might be the ones for you, you’re not alone. Sony got it right with these.
Not looking to spend too much? Then look to the JLab Audio Studio ANC
Priced at just under $60 USD, the JLAB Audio Studio ANC are a great pair of headphones for anyone looking to dip their toes into the world of active noise cancelling without spending a whole lot. Design wise, these headphones are rather middle of the road. Its design does have some redeeming qualities, featuring a sleek, minimalist aesthetic and a lightweight construction.
JLab Audio Studio ANC
The noise cancelling on these headphones will be effective enough, but again, you’re not going to get life changing ANC with a $100 budget. These headphones are a prime example of the old adage: “you get what you pay for”. For less than $60, you get a pair of on-ears with serviceable sound quality, noise cancelling performance, and design.
Looking for a pair of earbuds? Try the Plantronics BackBeat GO 410
When it comes to Bluetooth headphones, there aren’t many options if you want to spend less than $100. That’s just as true, if not more so when it comes to Bluetooth earbuds. Luckily, the Plantronics BackBeat GO 410 is a great headset at an affordable price.
Plantronics BackBeat GO 410Full Review
The earbuds sport magnetic housings that function to keep the cables organized when inactive. The noise cancelling is very good but this depends on your ability to get a proper seal. Audio reproduction is bass and treble-heavy, so these aren’t the earbuds to get if you want a accurate representation of your music. Then again, you can enjoy wired audio with this hybrid approach. The earbuds are sweat-resistant, making them okay for exercise when you’re in a pinch.
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Best noise cancelling headphones under $100: notable mentions
- AKG N700NC M2: These are the successor to AKG’s original entry-level noise cancelling headphones. Although it’s currently priced above $100, these cans are still worthy of your consideration thanks to its overall balanced sound signature and competitive noise-cancelling performance—all at a price tag that is still much lower than Sony or Bose’s offerings.
- Tribit QuietPlus Active Noise Cancelling Headphones: Featuring hybrid active noise cancelling technology, aptX support, and a 30-hour battery life, these are perfect for budget-conscious listeners looking for affordable noise cancelling headphones.
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Frequently Asked Questions
No, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 is not compatible with the app.