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The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones in 2023

Best Noise Canceling Headphones 0 Hero

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. 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 best 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.

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Breakdown

What to look for

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. Also, our guide will strictly be covering over-ear headphones.

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 largely boils 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.

which pair is 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 extended battery life, whereas 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 to use 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.

are noise-cancelling headphones worth buying?

There’s no denying the significant price tag that comes with a solid pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and you may be asking yourself if you even need them. If you commute via public transportation, work in a loud setting, or travel often, then noise-canceling headphones are a godsend, and can significantly improve these situations (and you don’t even need to be playing audio to enjoy the effect). However, if you’re a casual music/podcast listener who works from home, in a quiet environment, and/or doesn’t travel much, these headphones can still be super convenient, but not quite as necessary.

Audio Technica ATH-ANC700BT

  • Convenient foldable design
  • Hi-res audio
  • Easy-to-use touch controls
  • EQ and other customization options via the company’s app
  • Noise-cancellation isn’t quite as good as other picks

Best Starter Headphones: 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-ANC700BT 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 25 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. 

Battery: ~25 hours
Drivers: 40mm
Resistances: Dust and water-resistant
Important Features: Touch controls, app connectivity

Microsoft Surface Headphones 2

  • Convenient for use with Microsoft’s ecosystem
  • 13 levels of noise cancellation
  • Comforatble ear pads
  • Battery life is solid, but not quite as high as other picks

Best WFH Headphones: 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.

Battery: ~18.5 hours
Drivers: 40mm
Resistances: None
Important Features: Connectivity to Microsoft Office, touch controls

Shure AONIC 50

  • Studio quality sound
  • Designed for lasting comfort during long-wearing sessions
  • Comes with a two-year warranty
  • Easy transition between noise canceling and environment mode
  • Need to connect to your phone to update firmware

Best Studio-Inspired Headphones: 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.

Battery: ~20 hours
Drivers: 50mm
Resistances: IPX4
Important Features: Touch controls, app conncectivity

Marshall Monitor II A.N.C.

  • Old-school design from a legendary audio brand
  • Great EQ settings
  • Convenient collapsable design
  • Google Assistant compatibility
  • No touch controls (there are knobs, though)

Best Retro Headphones: 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. 

Battery: ~30 hours with ANC, ~45 hours without
Drivers: 40mm
Resistances: None
Important Features: App connectivity,

Bose 700

  • Built-in Alexa compatibility
  • Solid EQ and settings through the Bose app
  • Can launch Spotify with one button
  • Crisp voice quality
  • Can’t use them while charging

Best Headphones for Calls: 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. 

Battery: ~20 hours
Drivers: 40mm
Resistances: Water-resistant
Important Features: Alexa compatibility, app connectivity, touch controls

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition

  • Arms are made with carbon fiber
  • Drivers made by engineers who developed studio-quality loudspeakers
  • Music stops when you lift an earcup
  • No touch controls

Best Carbon Fiber Headphones: 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. 

Battery: ~30 hours
Drivers: 43mm
Resistances: None
Important Features: Carbon fiber arms

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless

  • Super long battery life
  • Customization options via the Sennheiser app
  • Great for calls as well
  • Easy to travel with
  • Touch controls can be finicky

Best Headphones for Music: 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, a whopping 60 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. 

Battery: ~60 hours
Drivers: 42mm
Resistances: None
Important Features: App connectivity, touch controls

Sony WH-1000XM5

  • Best-in-class audio and call quality
  • Alexa compatibility
  • AI-powered noise cancellation
  • Lightweight and comfortable design
  • No sweat or water resistance

Best Headphones Overall: 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-1000XM5 headphones are unequivocally cutting-edge cans. The WH-1000XM5 boasts an ANC-backed onboard eight-microphone setup, Amazon Alexa compatibility, and smart wearing detection that automatically pauses music playback when the headphones are removed. And, on top of featuring a proprietary AI-based noise reduction algorithm, this model’s battery also affords 30 full hours of life and can receive three hours of music playback after only 3 minutes of charging. 

Battery: ~30 hours
Drivers: 30mm
Resistances: None
Important Features: Alexa compatibility, AI-powered noise reduction, touch controls, multipoint connection

Apple AirPods Max

Apple AirPods Max Headphones
  • Elegant Apple design
  • Crisp audio even at high volumes
  • Convenient to use with Apple’s ecosystem
  • Can add an engraving and it comes with 6 months of Apple Music
  • Not the most comfortable pick for long wearing sessions

Best Apple Headphones: 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. 

Battery: ~20 hours
Drivers: 40mm
Resistances: None
Important Features: Spatial audio with head tracking

Mark Levinson № 5909

  • Expertly tuned sound backed by decades of experience
  • Works with Google Assistant, Cortana, and Siri
  • Super clear call and audio quality
  • Expensive

Best Grail Headphones: 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 34-hour battery and a whopping 65’ Bluetooth range, the ultra-top—shelf № 5909 also boasts an anodized aluminum frame and premium leather trim. 

Battery: ~34 hours
Drivers: 40mm
Resistances: None
Important Features:Google Assistant, Cortana, and Siri-compatible, app connectivity,

The Best AirPods Alternatives Right Now

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If earbuds are more your style, then our best AirPods alternatives guide has a great selection of capable counterparts.