Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

by Palmer Gibbs

Here are the best Noise-Cancelling headphones for audiophiles, travellers, commuters and gamers alike. The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones from Bose, Audio-Technica, Sony, Sennheiser and more.

Everyone's been there -- a long list of tasks and a bevy of distractions standing in the way of knocking things off the list. Whether you are warding off a noisy coffee shop, rowdy roommates or chatty co-workers, a good set of headphones can be a helpful tool to shut out nearby commotion and conquer those to-dos.

The team at SpecOut, a tech gadget research site, created this list of the best Noise-Cancelling headphones currently on the market.

Noise-Cancelling headphones are more effective at blocking outside sound than regular headphones because of technology that creates destructive interference, or sound waves that basically cancel out each other.

SpecOut compiled its list using data from manufacturer sites and industry-leading publications. It ranked the headphones by Smart Rating, which takes into account information from tech sites, product reviews and expert ratings from magazines. Not surprisingly, Bose -- a leader in the audio space -- dominates the list, although it doesn't earn the top spot.

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Whatever you need to accomplish -- from a company report to the first assignment of a new school year -- these noise cancelling headphones can help you block out distractions and focus on the task at hand.

24 - Harman Kardon NC Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 69.80, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Harman Kardon NC Premium Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones

Harman Kardon Noise-Cancelling headphones feature an exclusive acoustic system that integrates superb mechanical design, materials and electronics. User-exchangeable bows, self-adjusting housings, soft leather cups and slow-retention ear-cup foam ensure a comfortable fit and an optimal acoustic seal on the ear. The Noise-Cancelling model employs the proprietary HARMAN closed-loop, active digital noise-cancelling technology developed for acoustic installations in luxury cars. The USB-rechargeable Noise-Cancelling headphones have a battery that lasts up to 40 hours. Even when the battery dies, the headphones will still work when connected by the supplied bypass cable to a playback device. No other noise-cancelling headphones offer this passive playback mode.

23 - Philips Fidelio NC1/00 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 70.53, Style: On-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Philips NC1 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Optimised 40-mm neodymium drivers for high-fidelity sound Each speaker driver is carefully hand picked, tuned and tested before being paired to ensure the most balanced natural sound. The 40-mm drivers utilise high-power neodymium magnets to deliver true high-definition sound in a wide dynamic range, right down to the minutest details. Compact multi-way folding for easy carrying and storage The Fidelio NC1's lightweight, slim and compact foldable construction in a stylish design makes it the perfect travel companion. With multiple ways of folding the headphones, you can decide how the headphones can fit efficiently in your travel bag or even in the pocket of airline seats. Specially tuned for consistent high-fidelity sound The noise cancellation feature of the Fidelio NC1 is specially tuned with optimal sound performance in mind. Challenging the perception that noise-cancelling headphones cannot deliver high-performance sound, the NC1 is engineered to deliver the best audio quality whether you're in a quiet or noisy environment. In-line control and mic switch between music and calls With the in-line control and mic, you can easily switch between your music and phone calls. Fidelio's superb noise cancellation lets you enjoy crystal clear calls even in bustling environments.

22 - Sennheiser MM 550-X Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 72.79, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Sennheiser MM 550-X Wireless Bluetooth Travel Headphones

Noise-Cancelling, Bluetooth wireless stereo headset with CD-quality sound, one-touch TalkThrough button, collapsible frame, extra-large ear cups and new SRS WOW HD technology for immersive sound

21 - Sony MDR-NC500D Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 73.91, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Sony MDR-NC500D Digital Noise Cancelling Headphone

Enjoy your music with less noise. A perfect solution for work, travel or even at home Silence the world around you with the MDR-NC500D noise Cancelling headphones. They provide 12dB noise reduction at 200Hz. This means you can shut out up to 93.7% of the ambient noise around you, including jet engines, office printers and subway chatter. These headphones are perfect for work, traveling or just when you're trying to sleep in a loud place. The ear-conscious design offers premium comfort, so you can wear them for long stretches without pinching your ears. For added convenience, the built-in monitor switch lets you hear surrounding sound without taking off the headphones.

20 - Samsung Level On PRO Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 74.34, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Sport

Amazon.com: Samsung Level On PRO Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Designed with premium materials and finishes, the level on wireless Pro conveys Prestige and quality. The Convenient Foldable frame makes them easy to carry and store while the lightly tensioned headband makes them perfect for long-term listening. Controls, keep music and phone controls easy, intuitive and right at your fingertips. Talk-in mode, allows you to turn ambient noise on or off while listening to audio. Ideal for situations where outside sound is helpful - like when using public transportation. Sound share allows you to share your streaming audio with a second level on wireless Pro, level on wireless or level U Pro headset. Ultra high quality audio (uhqa) technology delivers a true 24bit digital audio experience with up to 2X wider frequency range than standard cd-quality wireless sound. Combined with Active noise cancellation, listeners experience Vivid, Concert Hall sound.

19 - AKG N60 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 76.22, Style: On-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: AKG N60 Noise Cancelling Headphones

The AKG N60 Noise-Cancelling Headphones deliver Grammy award-winning AKG superior sound while also utilizing best in class active noise cancelling to minimize the disruptive sounds encountered on everything from planes to trains. This newest member of the flight line-up will rock your world continuously with up to 30 hours of battery life. And if immersing yourself in your music for a long period of time is the goal, the n60nc can still be used in passive mode after the battery Dies out. Accented with premium material such as aluminum, memory foam and leather, this unparalleled listening experience comes magnificently packaged in elegantly crafted lightweight headphones that provide both viewing and listening pleasure. In addition, this Ultra premium audio offering comes complete with first-class Features like an exclusive 3d-axis folding mechanism, a fully-accessorized travel package, a one button universal remote/mic cable and a USB charging cable. The AKG N60 NC utilizes the standard (Bluetooth receiver) high quality stereo audio listening, not the Bluetooth protocol one for Headset Audio which is used for talking on the phone.

18 - Ausdom ANC7 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 77.17, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Audiophile

Amazon.com: AUSDOM ANC7 Active Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones

Ausdom's Automatic Noise Canceller (ANC) System cancels background noise effectively, making you enjoy pure and high-quality music. Using sonic technology and proprietary algorithms to block the world around you and help you create your own fortress, even in a hearing-impaired environment. These Ausdom ANC7 Noise-Cancelling Headphones can be used both wired (stereo audio only) and wirelessly. Just a plug with audio cable (included in the box), then listen to your favorite tracks without using any battery.

17 - Samsung Level On Pro Wireless Headphones Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 77.76, Style: On-Ear, Category: Audiophile

Amazon.com: Samsung Level On PRO Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Designed with premium materials and finishes, the Samsung Level On Pro Wireless Headphones Noise-Cancelling Headphones convey prestige and quality. The Convenient Foldable frame makes them easy to carry and store while the lightly tensioned headband makes them perfect for long-term listening. Controls, keep music and phone controls easy, intuitive and right at your fingertips. Talk-in mode, allows you to turn ambient noise on or off while listening to audio. Ideal for situations where outside sound is helpful - like when using public transportation. Sound share allows you to share your streaming audio with a second level on wireless Pro, level on wireless or level U Pro headset. Ultra high quality audio (uhqa) technology delivers a true 24bit digital audio experience with up to 2X wider frequency range than standard cd-quality wireless sound. Combined with Active noise cancellation, listeners experience Vivid, Concert Hall sound.

16 - Sony MDR-NC100D Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 77.98, Style: In-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Sony MDR-NC100D In-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones

While the Sony MDR-NC100D Noise-Cancelling Headphones will never be as good as a full ear-covering headset, it makes a real noise reducing difference. You have however to chose the righi ear plug size. Too small, it will hurt, too large, it will not block outside noise enough. Excellent sound rendering. The best for its size.

15 - Audio-Technica ATH-ANC20 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling On-Ear Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 78.23, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Audiophile

Amazon.com: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC20 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling On-Ear Headphones

The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC20 Quiet Point Noise-Cancelling On-Ear Headphones block up to 80% of environmental noise and offer outstanding sound quality, comfort and portability. The headphones feature soft ear pads for long-wearing comfort. The detachable cord offers a convenient in-line volume control. Unlike many other noise-cancelling headphones, the ATH-ANC20 audio functions even without batteries or when its noise-cancelling function is turned off. The ATH-ANC20 folds for easy portability and storage and comes with an airline adapter, AAA battery and protective pouch.

14 - Monster Inspiration Titanium Noise Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 78.32, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Monster Inspiration Active Noise-Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones, Titanium

Experience Monster's legendary sound performance with a revolutionary pair of headphones that you customize to suit your style. Crystal-clear highs, powerful-deep bass, and an incredibly detailed midrange brings your entire music library to life with impressive realism and without distortion. A full line of interchangeable headbands lets you express your individuality in ways you've never imagined. It's Serious Audio in High Style. Impressive Sound with Astonishing Noise Cancelling The latest in Monster technology brings you a headphone with exceptional noise-cancelling performance. Create your own perfect environment and enjoy your music anytime, anywhere. Just listen.

13 - Bose QuietComfort 3 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 78.35, Style: On-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Bose QuietComfort 3 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

The Compact, on-ear Bose QuietComfort 3 Noise-Cancelling Headphones offer a proven combination of Bose noise reduction, audio performance and comfortable fit. Proprietary Bose technologies deliver quality sound from these award-winning headphones - and make listening a pleasure just about anywhere.

12 - Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 79.62, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Audiophile

Amazon.com: Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Noise-Cancelling Wireless Headphones let you experience crystal-clear MOMENTUM sound without being attached to a cable. This high-resolution headset sets the benchmark for performance, style and comfort in the wireless headphone category. Bluetooth technology is integrated with engineering expertise to ensure MOMENTUM signature sound remains intact. Near Field Communication (NFC) is provided for effortless “at a touch” Bluetooth pairing with any NFC-enabled device. Further enhancing the audio experience is Noise Gard hybrid active noise cancellation that virtually eliminates unwanted ambient sound. Your voice will sound crystal clear during phone calls thanks to Voice Max; dual built-in microphones that dynamically cancel out external interference for perfect speech intelligibility. MOMENTUM Wireless features an iconic design using premium materials like stainless steel and real leather. New, slightly larger ear cups using ergonomically designed, memory foam cushions provide extreme comfort for long listening sessions. The stainless steel headband is now foldable for easy and compact storage in the supplied premium carry case. You can enjoy MOMENTUM Wireless everywhere!

11 - Phiaton PS 20 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 82.47, Style: Earbud, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Phiaton PS 20 NC Active Noise Cancelling Earphones, Black

Phiaton's PS 20 NC Earphones with "Noise Blocker" noise cancellation technology are the answer to every on-the-go music lover's dream. In addition to their luxurious glossy finish for classic style, with an ergonomic design that provides total comfort even with extended hours of listening, the PS 20 NC features a host of advanced technologies that deliver a dramatically enhanced listening experience, anywhere, anytime.

10 - Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 Quietpoint Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 87.70, Style: On-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Audio-Technica's ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint headphones use proprietary active noise-cancelling technology to provide a comfortable listening environment in areas with high ambient noise. Delivering noise cancellation up to a remarkable 95%, the ATH-ANC9 QuietPoint headphones feature Audio-Technica's new Tri-Level Cancellation. Mode 1, ideal for use on airplanes, trains and buses, applies maximum noise cancellation to low frequencies. Mode 2, designed especially for use in noisy offices or crowded places, targets the mid-range frequencies, while Mode 3 creates a pristine, peaceful environment ideal for study. The headphones feature four miniature microphones, two in each earpiece, that pick up ambient noise and create a sound-cancelling signal to effectively block the noise. The ATH-ANC9 headphones also offer a cable with an inline microphone and controller for answering calls and controlling music. The mic and controller support select products, including iPhones, iPads, and many iPods. The microphone has an omnidirectional pickup pattern and it is designed for crisp intelligibility, so your voice will be clearly transmitted without having to speak directly into the mic. These headphones are designed to offer you crystal-clear sound that makes Audio-Technica the choice of leading artists worldwide. Wherever you happen to find yourself-in the comfort of your living room, in a noisy office, or settling in for a long flight-there is no better way to experience audio or immerse yourself in a peaceful environment.

9 - Bose QuietComfort 20 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 88.00, Style: In-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Bose QuietComfort 20 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Shut out the world and lose yourself in your music -- or hear what's around you. It's your choice with the first in-ear noise cancelling headphones from Bose. Quiet Comfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones are engineered to let you enjoy better sound every day, everywhere you go. Turn on noise cancelling to reduce surrounding distractions and focus on your music. Or, at the touch of a button, activate Aware mode so you can hear what's happening around you without removing the headphones. Inside, exclusive TriPort technology brings your music to life while additional Bose technologies provide dramatic noise cancellation rivaling any full-sized headphone on the market today. Proprietary Stay Hear+ tips create a soft, secure fit. The inline microphone and remote let you switch to calls on your iPhone, and provide control for select iPod, iPhone and iPad models. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides up to 16 hours of use. And even when the power is off or the battery runs out, you can still use these headphones to enjoy Bose quality sound. Included: Quiet Comfort 20 headphones; 3 pairs Stay Hear+ tips (S, M, L); clothing clip; rechargeable lithium-ion battery (built-in); USB charging cable; carrying case. Battery life: 16 hours per full charge

8 - PSB M4U 2 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 88.11, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: PSB M4U 2 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

PSB's M4U 2 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones don't let anything come between you and enjoying your music. Thanks to PSB's exclusive Room Feel technology, your music will sound so rich and natural you'll think you're listening to a set of high-end loudspeakers. "Easily one of the best headphones ever made, and with noise cancelling and a travel-friendly design, you can use it anywhere.

7 - Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 88.79, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Bose's QuietComfort 25 Noise-Cancelling Headphones are engineered to sound better, be more comfortable and easier to take with you. Put them on, and suddenly everything changes. Your music is deep, powerful and balanced, and so quiet that every note sounds clearer. Even air travel becomes enjoyable, as engine roar gently fades away. No matter how noisy the world is, it's just you and your music -- or simply peace and quiet.

6 - Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 - Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 89.49, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 - Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Plantronics' BackBeat PRO 2 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones enhance every moment with on-demand active noise cancelling and immersive audio to create an oasis of calm.

5 - Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 89.65, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Sennheiser's PXC 450 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones are the premium around-the-ear travel headphone set. The headphone set features Sennheiser's exclusive NoiseGard 2.0 active noise compensation system, which effectively reduces up to 90% of ambient noise. Adaptive baffle damping and patented Duofol diaphragm technology deliver pristine audio production. The extremely comfortable headphones offer audiophile-grade sound combined with a foldable construction for maximum enjoyment and convenient storage.

4 - Cleer Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 91.37, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Audiophile

Amazon.com: Cleer Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Cleer's Noise-Cancelling Headphones create exceptional peace and quiet on the go with powerful, hybrid noise Cancelling technology (up to 30dB suppression), ambient mode allows listening to close conversations without removing headphones, Bluetooth wireless audio streaming with AAC, and aptX support, and up-to 20-hour battery life. Featuring exclusive ironless driver technology, FLOW ensures bold and articulate playback. Interchangeable deco-rings allow for personalizing the FLOW to suit your mood.

3 - Bose QuietComfort 35 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 91.67, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Audiophile

Amazon.com: Bose QuietComfort 35 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

How did Bose make its world-class QuietComfort 35 noise cancelling headphones even better? It now allows you to adjust the level of noise cancellation on the new Quiet Comfort 35 wireless headphones II. All it takes is a push of the new Action button to take full advantage of the industry-leading noise cancelling technology and completely block out the world around you, or let in some noise around you. You choose the level that best suits your environment. So go ahead, lose yourself in your music-or the quiet. Of course, QC35 headphones II also deliver the same performance and technologies you expect from Bose: volume-optimized EQ so the sound is always true to your music no matter the volume and a noise-rejecting dual-mic system for clear calls, even in noisy environments. The built-in microphone also gives you easy access to your phone's default virtual assistant, like Siri. Just hold down the multi-function button and use the power of your voice to control your music and more. Plus, you'll be free from wires with Bluetooth and NFC pairing and voice prompts to walk you through every step of the process. Premium materials like super-soft Alcantara and synthetic protein leather make for a comfortable fit for listening all day long. And for even more functionality, download the Bose Connect app. It lets you personalize your headphones, share music between more than one pair of compatible Bose Bluetooth headphones, manage Bluetooth connections and access future software updates. You can even choose your level of noise cancellation directly within the app. Up to 20 hours of battery life from a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (and up to 40 hours in wired mode) let you keep the music playing all day-or flight, train ride, study session-long.

2 - Creative Sound Blaster EVO Zx Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 93.10, Style: Over-Ear, Category: Gaming

Amazon.com: Creative Sound Blaster EVO Zx Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Thanks to the built-in SB-Axx1 audio processor of the Sound Blaster EVO Zx headset, you get vastly improved audio delivered to your ears in real-time. Be amazed by what you hear, even if it's from the most compressed sources. High-fidelity Audio Streaming With the headset supporting aptX and AAC technologies, you're assured that the audio content transmitted over Bluetooth is crystal clear. Enjoy Your Headset Even More With the Sound Blaster EVO Zx, you can even experience cinematic, virtual 7.1 surround sound when you connect the headset to your PC!* *Connect your EVO headset via USB to your PC and install Sound Blaster EVO Control Panel to enjoy virtual 7.1 surround sound. Virtual surround sound is supported for Mac. HD Voice Enjoy improved audio clarity for your voice calls through your mobile phone or VoIP service as Sound Blaster EVO Zx supports wideband Bluetooth technology, which enables more details of the voice data to be transmitted. * HD Voice functionality is dependent on the mobile device and service operator. Voice Commands, Now More Accurate Remember the occasions when you tried in vain to instruct some voice-activated application to perform a task? With high-quality voice pickup and all the voice technologies packed into your headset, your commands can be transmitted accurately all the time. Love to Chat? Use Sound Blaster EVO Zx as a VoIP headset while connected to your PC or Mac. Tap and Play, Easy! Simply tap your Near Field Communications (NFC)-enabled device on the headset for easy, one-touch Bluetooth pairing. Sound Blaster EVO Zx supports up to two Bluetooth connections simultaneously, which is great if you're watching a movie on your tablet but wish to instantly switch to answer a call from another paired smart device Connect in More Ways than On Use the included analog cable for direct connection to your portable media player, or swap it with your own cable of a different length.

1 - Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23BK Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Headphones Rating: 96.81, Style: In-Ear, Category: Travel and Commuting

Amazon.com: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23BK Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Audio-Technica's ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling In-Ear Headphones reduce distracting background noise by up to 90% while offering the superior sound that makes Audio-Technica a world-leading pro audio company.

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