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 ANC headphones around, you’re going to have to break open your piggy bank and start counting pennies. But that doesn’t have to be 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 post was updated on November 29, 2018, to account for pertinent Bluetooth information and price changes.
Related: Best noise cancelling earbuds
Most people should get the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B Quietpoint headphones
Audio-Technica is probably most known for their ATH-M50x headphones, and these are their quieter and 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 each earcup and along the headband for comfortable listening sessions.
They do have a wire which is both good and bad depending on what source device you plan on using. But if you wanted a wireless option, we have some other options for you. The ATH-ANC7B also folds flat for travel and can last 40 hours on a single AAA battery. Overall, they’re not a bad option considering you’re not even breaking a Benjamin.
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 Avantree ANC
If you want good sound and ANC, then these Avantree cans should be on your shortlist. They’re an inexpensive pair of noise cancelling headphones that don’t sacrifice any features or take many shortcuts on the modern design. Starting with the build and design, these are very comfortable and vaguely resemble the Bose QuietComfort 35 II.
The two best features about these headphones are arguably the most important when it comes to a pair of noise cancelling headphones: the ANC and the sound. A lot of times headphones with weak noise cancellation will get a little louder in order to block out the outside noise, but that isn’t the case with these. Plus, the 40mm drivers produce clear sound for the sub-$50 price point.
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 again, they have a — let’s say unique method of naming their products. The Sony MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling headphones are of the on-ear variety, so the passive noise blocking is less prevalent here 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 also gave these hinges so you can easily fold them and stuff them away in a bag. On top of that the ear cups swivel slightly so you can get an easier fit. Like some of the other options on this list, these require AAA batteries to power them. One battery should last you about 80 hours of noise canceling so if you keep a spare on you then you should be covered for quite some time. The Sony MDRZX110NC headphones have 3.9 foot audio cable that ends in a gold-plated L-shape 3.5mm plug which helps to strengthen the durability of that connection. That’s pretty handy considering many people are going to be using these while commuting or traveling. Oh, and 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. On the contrary, they’re setting the bar for how expensive good products need to be. Their Hi-Fi Active noise cancelling headphones are the perfect example of this. They have plush padding that keeps the headphones comfortable for long listening sessions and their ANC microphones can reduce outside noise by 15dB.
Monoprice Over-Ear Headphones
On the other hand, if you prefer to give your low end an extra pump there’s also a bass boost option that can come in handy. These are wired (sorry Bluetooth fans), but on the bright side that allowed them to add in-line mic and playback controls without raising the price of the headphones significantly. But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, one downside to these is the battery life. Usually, when a pair of headphones requires external batteries like AAA’s, you get rewarded for the inconvenience with crazy good battery life. But even though these take AAA batteries you’ll only get about 20 hours of constant playback so that’s something to keep in mind. You might need to travel with a spare pair of AAA batteries handy
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