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 November 8, 2019 to reflect changes in price.
Related: Best noise cancelling earbuds
Most people should get the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B Quietpoint headphones
Audio-Technica is probably most known for its ATH-M50x headphones. These are their quieter, way less flashy cousins. They have a black and silver design that won’t look out of place in an office setting, and decent padding on the earcups and headband for comfortable listening sessions.
The ATH-ANC7B folds flat for travel and can last 40 hours on a single AAA battery. They still use a wire, which could be good or bad, depending on the source you plan to use. Overall, they’re not a bad option considering you’re not even breaking a Benjamin. If you want something wireless, keep reading—we have more entries for you further down.
What you should know
- 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 noises.
- 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 cheap wireless noise cancelling headphones go with the MPow H5
Noise cancelling technology at this price point won’t blow you away, but if it’s paired with earcups that provide good isolation, it can get pretty good. The MPow H5 are inexpensive headphones that really only cancel ambient noise at best, but combined with the comfortable earcups and the roughly 30-hour battery life and they’re at least worth checking out.
Like any good pair of ANC headphones, these also have hinges for folding and are fairly tough so you shouldn’t have any problem tossing them in your bag. Still, at under $50 don’t expect these to last too long. That said, considering you can get about eight of these for the price of one pair of Bose QC35 II, it might be worth it.
Sony is always in the ANC conversation, this time with the MDRZX110NC 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.
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 Monoprice as usual
Monoprice knows a thing or two about keeping the price low, but that usually doesn’t result in bad products. The company has set the bar for how expensive good products need to be. Its active noise cancelling headphones are the perfect example of this. They have plush padding that keeps the headphones comfortable for long listening sessions, and the noise cancelling microphones can reduce outside noise by 15dB. If you prefer to give your low end an extra pump there’s also a bass boost option that can come in handy.
Monoprice Over-Ear Headphones
With all that said, these are wired headphones (sorry Bluetooth fans), but they still struggle with battery life. Usually, when a pair of headphones requires external batteries like AAAs, you get rewarded for the inconvenience with good battery life. These use AAAs, but you only get 20 hours of constant playback.
Looking for a pair of earbuds? Try the Phiaton BT 100 NC
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 Phiaton BT 100 NC get the job done with the help of a flexible neckband that packs all of the technology inside.
Phiaton BT 100 NC
Not only do you get NFC pairing, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX, and vibrations for notifications, but they’re also surprisingly IPX4 rated for water and sweat resistance. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, though. You’ll only get about five hours of battery life and the ANC is not great, if we’re being honest. Ultimately, there aren’t many other options at this price point, and good luck trying to find another pair of wireless earbuds that you can plug into your source device to continue listening to music when the battery dies.
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