The 10 Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones in 2022

Photo: Marshall Monitor II ANC

Though a solid pair of headphones has long been a fairly essential piece of tech, the growing number of Zoom calls and video conferences that are now part of our daily routine has made owning a quality set of cans an absolute must — and that’s before factoring in the rise of mobile gaming and streaming platforms and devices. This increased demand over the last few years alone has given way to a slew of new headphone models — including a handful of stellar work-from-home-specific models. And while this does give buyers more options to select from than ever before, the sheer abundance of available offerings can admittedly make the shopping process a daunting experience.

Well aware of this reality, we’ve closely monitored this space, keeping tabs on all the latest and greatest releases in the segment over the last two years before comparing them side-by-side in order to boil this expansive sector down to the ten best pairs of noise-cancelling headphones that you can buy. Alongside highlighting our picks for the finest pairs on the market, we’ll also be delving into what factors and features to consider when shopping, as well as how to go about honing in on the pair that’s right for you.

Modern Headphone Shopping 101

The 10 Main Factors To Consider When Buying New Wireless ANC Headphones

While it will vary based on your personal wants and needs, there are a handful of areas you’ll pretty much always want to explore when shopping around for a new pair of wireless active noise-cancelling headphones. Below, we’ll briefly touch on the ten most crucial elements to take into consideration before pulling the trigger on your purchase.

Drivers: Considering that these are the transducers that are actually producing a headphones’ sound, drivers are beyond crucial to review when buying headphones. When checking out this area, you’ll want to look at driver size and driver construction, as well as the type of diaphragm that the driver is using. Traditionally, 40mm has been something of an industry standard, though in recent years we’ve seen larger, more impressive drivers on the more premium models in this space.

Tuning & Audio Quality: The drivers being utilized will play an enormous role in a pair of headphones’ sound quality, though there are additional factors that impact this area, one of the biggest of which is how said drivers are tuned. Because the modern headphone market is such a fiercely competitive space, it’s become increasingly commonplace to see drivers that are tuned by big-name, Grammy Award-winning audio engineers and technicians.

Bluetooth & Codec: Every pair of headphones on this list is of the wireless Bluetooth variety, however, the performance of each model’s Bluetooth can vary based on the generation being used, as well as the codec being utilized. These factors will directly impact a headphones’ range and connection. What’s more, some codecs and systems are substantially more reliable and less finicky than others.

ANC Tech: Active noise-cancellation is another trait that every model on this list shares, however, the capabilities of this technology can vary from model to model. Some brands utilize their own proprietary ANC systems — combining this tech with passive noise-cancellation to maximize its efficacy. Moreover, quite a few headphone models boast supplementary ANC modes such as TalkThru, Ambient Aware, Transparency Mode, and Conversation Mode.

Materials & Construction: Next to the drivers and sound quality, another area that hugely defines a pair of headphones’ overall quality is the materials used to construct it. While some models utilize plastics, most of the more high-end pairs feature metal frames and bands paired with leather-wrapped memory foam earcups. Some models also use ultra-top-shelf constructions such as polymers, anodized aluminum, Alcantara, lambskin, and carbon fiber.

Durability & Waterproofing: While this area does largely boil down to the materials used to construct a pair of headphones, there are other factors to consider here. Waterproofing is at the top of this list, though it’s incredibly easy to get an objective sense of a headphones’ weather and water resistance by referencing its IP — or “Ingress Protection” — rating.

Battery Life: Because every model on this list is wireless, battery life is another important area to explore. It’s also important to point out that features like active noise-cancellation will drain a battery’s life faster, making it pivotal to check out a headphones’ maximum battery life, as well as how long its battery lasts when using ANC.

Latency: One minor downside to using wireless Bluetooth headphones is that there can be a slight delay between audio and video playback when streaming content or gaming. As such, latency is well worth taking into account if you plan on primarily using your headphones for playing games or watching videos, as doing these things with a pair of headphones that have a half-second delay can be incredibly annoying.

Brand: In the premium audio space, brands live and die by their reputation. As such, most of these companies tend to deliver products with a fairly uniform level of consistency in terms of sound and overall quality. So, while we wouldn’t necessarily suggest making your purchase exclusively based on the manufacturer, taking the brand into account can be a great way to land on a final decision should you find yourself on the fence between two pairs.

App Support & Connectivity: Alongside connecting to your phone, computer, or tablet, some wireless headphones also have the ability to pair with dedicated smartphone apps that afford a pair with supplementary features such as the ability to customize the EQ or adjust ANC settings, just to name a few.

Copping The Right Cans

How To Find The Pair Of Headphones That’s Right For You

Though there are several ways to zero in on the pair of headphones that are most conducive to your wants and needs, we’d always recommend using your intended use as your jumping-off point, as this will hugely narrow down your search. Based on how you plan on utilizing the headphones, you’ll have a markedly better sense of what features and performance capabilities you’ll likely need. If you plan on routinely using these headphones for travel, you’ll almost certainly want a folding pair with an extended battery life, whereas where if you plan on using your new cans primarily for fielding work video and audio calls, battery life and portability will be far less of a concern – however, you will, in this case, want to opt for a pair with a quality onboard microphone setup, powerful ANC tech, and a decent Bluetooth range. In the same vein, if you intend on using your headphones for gaming, you’ll require a low-latency pair.

How much you’re willing to spend will also play a major role in guiding your purchase, though fortunately there’s no shortage of excellent headphones that can be acquired for a reasonable sum. And while most modern wireless ANC headphones offer the same basic features — for the most part — one factor that massively impacts pricing is audio quality, with the more elite, high-end brands affording markedly better sound, albeit typically at a much steeper MSRP. And though it can at times be tempting to simply opt for the most high-end available option, the truth is that unless you’re a hardcore audiophile with a trained ear, you may not even be able to hear the subtle differences that separate the most premium pairs from more accessibly-priced headphone models.

Mobile Audio Masters

The 10 Best Pairs Of Wireless ANC Headphones Currently On The Market

Now that you’re up to speed on what to look for when shopping and how to find the pair that’s right for you, let’s dive into our choices for the best active noise-cancelling headphones currently available.

Microsoft Surface Headphones 2

Engineered from scratch to be something of the ultimate work from home headphones, Microsoft’s second-generation Surface Headphones are equipped with a state-of-the-art onboard microphone array, crystal clear Omnisonic sound, touch-and-swipe-style fingertip controls, SBC and aptX audio codecs, and advanced ANC tech with a whopping 13 different levels. Offered in light gray or matte black color options, the Surface Headphone 2’s USB-C-rechargeable battery can be fully juiced up in under two hours and affords 18.5 hours of music playback or 15 hours of battery life when using Microsoft Teams calls.

Purchase: $250

Sony WH-1000XM4

Touted by Sony as offering world-class active noise-cancellation technology thanks to the use of Dual Noise Sensor tech, the Japanese brand’s WH-1000XM4 headphones are unequivocally cutting-edge cans, as evidenced by the pair’s 2021 CES Innovation Award. The WH-1000XM4 boasts an ANC-backed onboard five-microphone setup, Amazon Alexa compatibility, and smart wearing detection that automatically pauses music playback when the headphones are removed. And, on top of featuring proprietary Next-level music with Edge-AI that was developed in collaboration with Sony Music Studios Tokyo, this model’s battery also affords 30 full hours of life and can receive five hours of music playback after only 10 minutes of charging. 

Purchase: $298

Audio Technica ATH-ANC900BT

Since Audio Technica’s inception six decades ago, the Tokyo-based audio brand has constantly delivered state-of-the-art transducers and audio equipment — and the company is now continuing this tradition in modern times with its ATH-ANC900BT headphones. Capable of being paired with the Audio-Technica Connect app, this wireless active noise-cancelling model packs digital hybrid noise-cancelling technology, the latest generation of Bluetooth connectivity, memory-foam earpads, a flat-folding design, and an ultra-potent battery that offers up to 35 hours of wireless listening — with ANC turned on. The brand’s signature sound quality comes through a set of 40mm dynamic drivers that feature DLC-coated diaphragms. 

Purchase: $299

Shure AONIC 50

Shure built its name and reputation producing audio gear for industry professionals, though the brand has now managed to take its studio-quality sound and deliver it in an ultra-comfortable and travel-ready package with the AONIC 50 wireless headphones. Designed to remain comfortable even after being worn for extended durations, the AONIC 50 comes loaded with a built-in premium headphone amplifier, adjustable noise-cancellation, connectivity to the ShurePlus PLAY app, and support for a slew of codecs from the likes of Qualcomm Sony — allowing for ultra-low-latency listening. Backed by a two-year warranty, this pair of headphones is also sold in a trio of color options. 

Purchase: $299

Marshall Monitor II A.N.C.

First revealed in February of 2021, Marshall’s Monitor II A.N.C. model represents the famed audio brand’s first-ever active noise-cancelling wireless over-ear headphones. Winner of a prestigious Red Dot Design Award, these headphones maintain Marshall’s signature design language while concealing a host of thoroughly modern features such as voice assistant compatibility, a battery with 30 hours of ANC-equipped listening — or an enormous 45 hours without — and an external control array comprised of a machined brass control knob supplemented via an “M-Button” that lets users select from one of three EQ settings, plus an ANC button for toggling on and off noise-cancellation. 

Purchase: $320

Bose 700

You don’t have to closely follow the audio gear space to know that Bose has long been a leader in this space, with the American audio brand having been the first to introduce noise-cancelling tech to the public and boasting a 58-year history of churning out truly stellar headphones and speakers — and the outfit’s 700 model is far from an exception. Built around a collapsible design with a stainless steel headband, the Bose 700 wireless ANC headphones sport a wildly sophisticated onboard quad-unit microphone arrangement that offers unparalleled voice pickup, the ability to receive a full recharge in under 2 hours, Bose’s signature active EQ, 11 levels of noise-cancellation, and the ability to launch Spotify with the touch of a button; plus connectivity to the Bose app and Alexa compatibility. 

Purchase: $379

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition

Whether it’s high-fidelity speakers, cinema-grade soundbars, or audiophile-quality headphones, Bowers & Wilkins unequivocally produces some of the most elite audio gear that money can buy. Taking inspiration from modern supercars, the British brand’s PX7 model is crafted around a set of woven carbon fiber composite arms and features a pair of 43.6mm drivers that were developed and tuned by the same engineers behind B&W’s world-famous 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers — the items used in the legendary Abbey Road Studios. On top of their ability to afford world-class sound, these headphones can also do so for up to 30 hours at a time before needing to be plugged in — plus 15 minutes of charging affords these cans an additional five hours of music playback time. 

Purchase: $399

Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless

The newest addition to Sennheiser’s top-shelf headphone range, Sennheiser’s MOMENTUM Wireless model is a premium set of cans that boasts an unmistakably vintage-inspired design that contains a plethora of decidedly modern features and amenities. Alongside Bluetooth 5 tech, 17 hours of battery life, and a trio of ANC modes, these headphones also feature smart pausing that interrupts music playback when the listener removes the headphones and an expertly-tuned 42mm set of dynamic drivers. Capable of being externally controlled via a simple and intuitive three-button interface, these headphones come protected by a two-year warranty. 

Purchase: $400

Apple AirPods Pro Max

The over-ear successor to Apple’s industry-leading AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds, the Cupertino company’s AirPods Pro Max model is just as beautifully designed and technologically advanced as one would expect of a product from Apple. Produced in five different colors — and sold with the option for custom engraving — these cans are crafted around a knit mesh canopy structure that’s paired with a plush set of memory foam earpads. What’s more, true high-fidelity audio is afforded through a set of Apple-designed drivers that provide ultra-crisp and clear sound and minimal distortion, even at higher decibels. 

Purchase: $549

Mark Levinson № 5909

Based in Stamford, Connecticut, Mark Levinson is a boutique audio brand that’s been delivering high-fidelity turntables and amps for the last 50 years. However, the company recently harnessed its immense expertise in the audio game to deliver its first-ever pair of headphones with the № 5909. The brand’s elite sound quality is made possible through the use of a set of beryllium-coated 40mm dynamic drivers, though the listening experience is made all the richer by the model’s state-of-the-art ANC tech — the latter of which features an Ambient mode. Equipped with a 30-hour battery and a whopping 65’ Bluetooth range, the ultra-top—shelf № 5909 also boasts an anodized aluminum frame and premium leather trim. 

Purchase: $999

The 15 Best True Wireless Earbuds

Partial to the more EDC-friendly TWS-style of headphones over the on or over-ear variety? Then be sure to check out our guide to the best true wireless earbuds for an in-depth look at more than a dozen of the best pairs currently on the market.