Wearing noise cancelling earbuds while you travel abroad or in the plane can make a lot of difference. You can experience high quality music without having to put up with ambient noise and listen to your favourite soundtracks without any hindrance, and this gives a more pleasurable listening experience as compared to traditional over the ear headphones or earbuds. Here are our top picks for the best noise cancelling earbuds of 2017 which stand out for their superior noise cancelling effect and superior comfort, while delivering stellar audio performance. While it is not uncommon to find noise cancelling headphones, it is rare to find noise cancelling earbuds that does the job equally if not better than over the ear headphones.
We choose the best noise cancelling earbuds based on a combination of factors such as price, sound performance and comfort. Ideally, a good set of noise cancelling earbuds would able to cancel low-frequency ambient background noises in the 80% to 90% range, with the very best able to cancel up to 97% of the background noise. We choose earbuds that are able to hit this minimal noise cancelling threshold and are also capable of delivering extremely high quality sound performance. Our experts have gone through hundreds of earbuds to determine which ones have the best active noise cancellation and sound isolation, together with crisp and detailed sound performance. Be sure to check out our updated list of best noise cancelling earbuds below!
The Bose QuietComfort noise cancelling earbuds is hands down revolutionary. We were truly surprised at what Bose has accomplished with the QC20 series. If you are looking for the best noise cancelling earbuds on the market today, combined with very good sound and comfort all in a very small lightweight package, the QC20 is for you. These pair of earbuds features advanced noise reduction rivalling any full-sized headphones – when we first turned on its noise cancelling circuit, we could only describe the effect as eerily silent. In addition the achieving great noise-cancelling in an “ear bud” type design, Bose has also made real strides in quieting the sounds of speech (i.e., such as loud talking or a baby crying). The QC20s are by no means perfect in silencing speech, but it’s a clear step forward.
Furthermore, the soft silicone of the QC20 ear tips rest so comfortably against the ear openings that you simply forget you’re wearing them at all. Most importantly, the Bose StayHear design of the tips keeps them in place, which is a huge deal for me. The Bose QC20s remain secure, but without force that would cause discomfort. The QC20s come with medium tips installed, but also include small and large sizes in the box. We found that wearing these noise cancelling earbuds for long periods of time did not cause any discomfort at all – in fact we barely noticed we were wearing them.
The sound quality of the QC20 is excellent, and the bass is deep and punchy with the added noise-cancelling effect. The highs and lows are crisp and clear, and it also handles the mids really well. We could literally hear the instrumental separation when we ran through classical music through these earbuds – no distortion was heard at higher volumes.
The minimal size and lightweight design make the QC20 a “take everywhere” earphone. These earbuds come with a super lightweight lithium battery that runs for 16 hours on just a 2-hour charge from USB. (Bose includes the required USB to micro-USB charging cable.) The earphones will continue to function with a dead battery, but without noise-cancelling and with somewhat degraded sound quality. The integrated microphone makes it a perfect headset for use with iPhone and other cellular phones. (Note that you must order the QC20i for use with Apple products.) The microphone also includes an “Aware Mode” switch that allows in some outside noise, like traffic sounds–convenient and an essential safety feature if wearing these in a city environment.
If you like to bring along noise cancelling earbuds when you fly there is no reason to use anything but these. Although the QC20s may be a little more expensive than most, they will pay for themselves in added enjoyment after the first few flights. It’s a great investment for frequent flyers.
The Verdict? Overall, the QC20s are one of the best noise cancelling earbuds in the market right now which are ideal for android, BlackBerry and Windows phones. They reproduce the notable audio performance exclusive to Bose technologies, and provide long-lasting comfort plus stability from proprietary high quality earbuds and advanced noise cancelling. It’s the perfect companion for travelling or for those who taking long flights – and makes listening to your favourite music and videos such a fine pleasure. This product is currently selling with a 30-day full refund policy that will give you a chance to try them out without having to fully commit right away, so be sure to check these out while they are still available.
#2 Best Sound Quality: Meidong HE8 Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Meidong HE8 is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find on a budget that delivers exceptional value for money. These earbuds have an AMS3421 built-in noise cancelling chipset which can reduce distracting ambient noises by up to 32db when turned on. They make very good earbuds for listening to your music even in noisy background environments, and are perfect for plane travel or to avoid the traffic noise. These noise cancelling earbuds also feature an ergonomic ear wing design which easily fits snugly into your ears with its soft angled silicone earbuds and also comes with in-ear earplugs with different sizes to choose from. These earbuds will stay securely in your ears while doing workouts and exercises. The HE8s charges using any electronic device with a USB interface via the included micro USB, and also features Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX streaming technology. The earbuds are very lightweight and weigh a mere 15 grams, and feel very comfortable when worn for long periods of time without causing any ear fatigue. If you are looking for one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can buy at a very good and affordable price, the Meidong HE8s are definitely the ones to get.
The sound performance of the Meidong HE8s is surprisingly good. Music performances sounded crisp and clean, with very pronounced highs and detailed midrange. The HE8s do produce a good deal of bass response which makes listening to rock, pop and electronic dance music on these earbuds particularly enjoyable. The noise cancellation works very well by cancelling background noise, which enhances the sound performance and music quality. Listening to country and folk music while on the plane felt as though we were listening to a life-like performance, and we could barely hear any engine noise. The HE8s are capable of making a mundane walk on a busy street feel as though you are transported into a world where you can only hear your music without any distractions. It gives the music a sense of depth and quality that we thoroughly enjoyed listening to.
The HE8s are very well designed and have a lightweight construction that weighs a mere 15g. This practically makes the HE8 disappear when worn in the ears and you will not notice that you are actually wearing these earbuds. The battery life on the HE8s can eliminate noise for up to 10 hours and have a total music playtime of around 4.5 to 7 hours depending on the volume. The standby time of the HE8s is 200 hours. The difference between the HE8s and a pair of noise isolating earbuds is that the HE8s actively cancels noise up to 32db, which means that it will neutralize sound such as outside conversations, car engines and ambient background nose. These earbuds come with addition earbuds with small, medium and large sizes to choose from to secure the best fit in your ears. We particularly liked the ergonomic design of these earbuds which make them feel extra comfortable when worn inside the ears – they also stay securely and firmly in the ears while doing workouts and exercises which is great. The noise cancellation function works well to eliminate noises in the gym for you to have a completely uninterrupted workout.
The Bluetooth connectivity on the HE8s is very good and stable. It uses the latest Bluetooth 4.1 technology together with aptX streaming for high quality music transmission. AptX streams music lossly which means you get better sound quality, provided that you mobile device also supports aptX streaming. The earbuds can be easily charged by connecting it to a USB enabled device or charger via the included micro USB. The entire package comes with the HE8 noise cancelling earbuds, a micro USB charging cable, user guide, portable protection bag, three sets of earbuds with different sizes and two pairs of ear wings for workouts.
The Verdict? The Meidong HE8s are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find at a very good price that truly delivers stellar noise cancellation and sound performance. The earbuds are designed to be extremely lightweight weighing a mere 15grams, and carry a battery life of approximately 10 hours of noise cancellation time and 4.5 to 7 hours of continuous music playtime. The earbuds have a very sleek and modern looking design, and come with nice earbuds and additional ear wings for you to fit them securely in your ears for workouts and gym use. It also comes with a nice integrated microphone for hands free calls, and features the latest Bluetooth 4.1 technology with aptX streaming. The active noise cancellation on these earbuds works very well and is able to cancel out 32db of ambient background noise without any issues. We also liked the overall sound quality, with felt crisp, detailed and smooth with punchy bass. It is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find for the price and we highly recommend them.
#3 Best Budget: COWIN HE8D Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The COWIN HE8Ds are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find that delivers high fidelity sound performance with active noise cancellation now selling at a value price point. These earbuds come with a powerful 1.57” driver with a liquid crystal polymer diaphragm for handling heavy beats, and have a full range frequency response of up to 40 kHz. These earbuds are designed with a soft synthetic leather on the housing to give a luxury look and feel, and fit securely over your ears for hours of comfortable listening. It is also protected by a nano coating which makes these earbuds sweat-proof and suitable for gym and workouts. The HE8Ds also feature OTG magnetic charging which allows you to charge the earbuds by connect it to virtually any USB enabled device via the micro USB plug – you can connect it to your phone and it will charge automatically. These earbuds even come with an 18 month warranty from the manufacturer which shows how much they stand behind their products. If you are looking for one of the best noise cancelling earbuds that are lightweight, comfortable and durable, the HE8Ds are the ones to get.
The sound quality of the COWIN HE8D is very good, and is able to produce very precise and accurate sound. These earbuds have quite a warm bass response which feels tight and controlled, with detailed midrange and crisp highs. The HE8Ds have exceptional sound clarity that make vocal performances feel almost life-like, and can reproduce each note and instrument as the artist originally intended – you can really hear the details in the music and will even notice subtle notes which you have never heard before. Listening to rock and pop music on the HE8D was a very enjoyable experience, with powerful bass response and very crisp highs – the music had a solid punch to it and felt fully articulated. The sound does not distort when cranked up to maximum volume; these earbuds can get pretty loud and will drown out all the noise you can expect to hear in a noisy environment such as a gym or on the street. This is enhanced by the active noise cancellation on these earbuds which does the job of neutralizing outside noise pretty well. While the noise cancellation is not the noise-silencing type like the Bose, they do keep outside noises from interfering with your listening experience.
The HE8Ds have a noise cancellation level of 28db at 20Hz to 2000Hz, which is quite a wide frequency range. When the active noise cancellation is turned on, the COWIN HE8D will cancel ambient background noise effectively and works well on a plane – the engine hum from a plane will sound tiny and subdued. The noise cancellation also worked wonderfully well on a noisy street by cancelling traffic noise and conversations from people. While it is not total noise cancellation, they will reduce these sounds to a rumble that is barely noticeable. The HE8D earbuds also feature a comfortable design and are extremely lightweight when worn; they are perfect if you intend to take them on workouts or to the gym. The earbuds are coated with a waterproof nano coating which makes them entirely sweat-proof, so you don’t have to worry about damaging these earbuds while wearing them on an exercise or workout.
The Bluetooth connectivity on the HE8D works like a charm and will connect to virtually any Bluetooth enabled device. We did not experience any dips in sound quality or sound transmission while streaming music from the Bluetooth device. These earbuds also feature an integrated microphone for you to take hands free calls on the go, and supports on-the-go charging via micro USB. The HE8D comes with Bluetooth 4.1 technology with aptX streaming. The entire package comes with a nice carrying case and earbuds of different sizes (small, medium and large) for you to choose from so you can get the perfect fit in your ears.
The Verdict? The COWIN HE8Ds are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find now selling at a very good price. The 1.57” drivers can deliver true high definition sound with a great deal of accurate; music performances on the HE8Ds will sound on point with crystal clear vocal reproduction. The design of the HE8Ds is also very lightweight and comfortable; we liked the fact that the manufacturers provided silicone earbuds of different sizes to choose from. These earbuds are also coated with a waterproof material which makes them sweat-proof; they are perfect for gym and outdoor workouts. Charging the HE8Ds using the micro USB cable was easy and straightforward, and the Bluetooth connectivity on the HE8D is stable and consistent. On the whole, the HE8Ds are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find at a very good price, and we highly recommend them.
#4 Most Comfortable: TaoTronics Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The TaoTronics noise cancelling earbuds are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds with very good noise reduction, an incredible 15 hours of playtime and excellent sound performance. The noise cancelling on these earbuds can reduce background sounds by up to 30dB and block out ambient noises, making it the perfect earbuds for study or air travel. These earbuds come with an enhanced 140mAh battery which provides up to 15 hours of continuous playtime, and also comes with interchangeable ear-buds and hooks for convenience and comfort. They are meticulously crafted with machined aluminium alloy and also features a gold-plated 3.5mm audio jack and an airplane audio adapter for convenience. Overall, the TaoTronics are a modern set of noise cancelling earbuds that delivers very good sound performance and comfort, with effective noise cancelling which leaves you only with detailed and enjoyable sound.
The sound performance of the TaoTronics is crisp, clear and detailed. These earbuds have a pretty V shaped sound, which is bass boosted and treble boosted, but produces equally good midranges. These noise cancelling earbuds sound fine without the noise-cancellation turned on and it does not entirely rely on the built-in DAC to output normal volume. These earbuds have a very even response across the spectrum with good highs and mids, with tight bass reproduction and minimal sibilance. We really liked the fact that these earbuds came with interchangeable ear-buds and hooks for convenience and comfort, and these isolate noise quite well even without the active noise cancellation. When the noise cancellation is turned on, we felt that there was minimal ‘white noise’ or static which makes these earbuds perfect even in environments with little background noise. When used on an airplane, the active noise cancellation reduces the engine humming noise and audible conversations, which makes for an excellent uninterrupted listening experience.
We really liked the sleek and modern design of the TaoTronics. The battery pack is designed to be smaller and unobtrusive, and is able to be charged by the integrated micro USB port. The earbuds comes with a 6″ cable between the battery and the jack which is great. Furthermore, these earbuds come with ear-fins to secure the earbuds which are separable – you can remove the fins if you do not need them which is convenient for those who are used to in-ear earbuds. The black silicone fins look aesthetically pleasing and adds a premium feel to the overall design of the earbuds. That being said, we found that the cable leading to each earbud produces ‘noise’ whenever it is touched or brushed against an object, although this would not be an issue for most people if they prefer listening to music while stationary.
Apart from the incredible noise cancellation, the TaoTronics comes with a three button in-line remote control for full audio playback with volume adjustment, track selection and a play/pause functionality with a 55-inch long wire. The earbuds feel nice and comfortable on the ears – we did not experience any ear fatigue wearing these earbuds for an extended period of time. The overall construction of these noise cancelling earbuds is of very high quality; it looks really simple but refined with the metallic finish and LED lighting on the earbuds.
The Verdict? The TaoTronics are hands down some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find that delivers great value for money, with incredible noise cancellation and superb audio quality. The battery life on these noise cancelling earbuds is equally phenomenal with its 15 hours of continuous playtime. It also has a very modern and sleek look to it, with a posh metallic finish and smaller battery pack which increases its portability. The earbuds are comfortable, easy to wear and convenient to replace. We were completely surprised at how good the TaoTronics really sounded – and with such incredible sound coupled with noise cancellation at a budget price, the TaoTronics is well and truly one of the best noise cancelling earbuds in its category.
#5 Best High-End: Phiaton BT 220 NC Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Phiaton BT220 are the go to noise cancelling earbuds for their sound profile as well as their design and comfort. The BT220s are actually a follow up on the previous BT210 models and they still sound amazing. This version features a better solid construction, the wires are thicker and seem to be more robust, and the battery life seems to be longer. The sound quality of these Phiaton earbuds have received wide acclaim for some years now, and although they do not come cheap, we found that they deliver a deeply satisfying listening experience. From light classical music to heavy rock, the 220s handles them all, lending every track a certain heft and balance while still allowing it to retain its most salient features. The sound never gets slack and muddled at the low end or tinny and shrill at the other. While other earbuds might deliver a little more punch for highly compressed and processed genres such as rock or hip-hop, the accuracy of the 220s makes them the perfect all-round headphones.
The noise cancellation on the 220s, while not perfect, can easily cancel out 95% of ambient sound and makes it one of the best noise cancelling earbuds on the market. We compared these with the Bose QC20 and found that the 220s are able to equal to those in performance. For frequent travellers, the 220s will certainly be an indispensable accessory.
In the looks department, you can’t do much better than the 220s. The style is clean and refined but with enough dash subtly worked in to make it look of the present. The buds in particular might seem a tad oversized at first but don’t feel at all cumbersome and are just beautifully hewn. The aesthetics clearly indicate the 220s are a premium device (they remind you of the iPhone 6 in that sense), and should remain current years from now.
The Verdict? The sound quality on the 220s is great and the noise cancelling is pretty decent. If you are looking to block 95% to 100% of ambient noise in your area, you might want to try other noise cancelling earbuds. However, they sound pretty decent with noise cancelling and the wireless Bluetooth function is a definite plus, making these one of the best looking and most convenient earbuds to travel around with.
Note: At the time of writing, the Phiaton BT220s are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find on a budget so be sure to check them out before they sell out!
#6 Best Value: Mighty Rock HE8G Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Mighty Rock HE8Gs is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find now selling at a very good price. These earbuds have active noise cancellation technology which can reduce up to 32dB at a frequency range of 20 Hz to 2000 Hz, and comes with a built in noise cancelling chipset AMS3421 for better noise reduction. This means that the earbuds will be able to reduce distracting background noise such as the engine noise from traffic or the low rumble of a plane. The earbuds feature a very comfortable and lightweight design and were a mere 15 grams. It also features on the go charging which means that you can plug it into your phone via the micro USB and it will automatically charge. The battery life delivers up to 11 hours of active noise cancellation and 5 hours of music, which is pretty decent. It also comes with the latest Bluetooth 4.1 technology for high quality music streaming and a built-in microphone for you to take hands free calls on the go. On the whole, the HE8Gs are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find that are high quality and have very effective noise cancellation.
The sound performance of the HE8Gs is top notch – listening to these set of earbuds you get the feel that they are very premium. The acoustic drivers in these earbuds are able to produce very crisp and clean sound, with detailed vocals and midranges. The bass response is good and it hits hard, but only when the active noise cancellation is switched on. The Bluetooth streaming for the audio tracks was consistent and clean, and there were no sudden hiccups while streaming music. Listening to rock and pop music on the HE8Gs was plenty of fun, with booming bass and accurate sound that felt natural and not colored. Vocal performances were sweet and smooth, and very detailed – you feel as though you are in a concert hall when the active noise cancellation is turned on. You can also adjust the EQ settings on your phone to get the sound settings up to your personal preference. All in all, we were quite impressed with the sound quality and detailed music reproduction that the HE8Gs had to offer.
The noise cancellation on the HE8Gs is great – it will significantly lower background ambient noise, although it will not totally eliminate any sound. The sounds that you usually hear at a busy airport are reduced to an insignificant background noise that is barely noticeable while listening to music. Wearing the HE8Gs on the plane felt comfortable and will also reduce the engine noise to a low rumble. This is also especially useful to reduce baby crying noises to help you get a good sleep on the plane. We liked the fact that the HE8Gs came with earbuds of small, medium and large sizes to choose from you to get the perfect fit in your ears. This is crucial if you want to achieve both noise isolation through the earbuds and active noise cancellation to reduce background noise. The earbuds are also lightweight, which make them comfortable and unobtrusive to wear.
The HE8Gs feature Bluetooth 4.1 technology for a consistent and stable connection to your mobile device while streaming music. The battery life lasts a good 4 to 5 hours of music time with active noise cancellation switched on. It also comes with a microphone which you can use to take hands free calls on the go, which is particularly useful if you need to take calls while driving or workout out. The micro USB charging works pretty well – simply connect it to your phone and the earbuds will charge automatically. The manufacturers have also provided an 18 month warranty on the HE8G earbuds, which shows just how much they stand behind their products.
The Verdict? The Mighty Rock HE8Gs are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find on a budget that delivers great value for money. These earbuds are capable of producing very crisp and solid music, with accurate vocal reproduction and good bass response. The music sounds best when the active noise cancelation is turned on. The noise cancellation is able to block out up to 32 db of ambient background noise and has a frequency range between 20 to 2000 Hz – this means that it can significantly reduce most sounds that you will hear in a crowded or noisy environment. The earbuds are also designed to be really comfortable and lightweight, and we did not feel any fatigue after wearing them for prolonged periods of time. They also have a very sleek and aesthetically appealing design. Charging the HE8Gs was also very easy and convenient, and we were able to charge it quick enough just by connecting it to the mobile phone via the micro USB which took about 10% of the phone’s battery life. It is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find that delivers very good noise cancellation and sound performance, and we highly recommend them.
#7 Earbuds with wired and wireless modes: SMARTOMI MOTTO Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The SMARTOMI MOTTO are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find which can effectively reduce up to 90% of ambient background noise with its advanced noise cancellation technology. These earbuds are equipped with advanced aptX codec and CSR chip which delivers superior quality bass and detailed vocals, with high-fidelity stereo sound with low latency. We also liked the fact that these earbuds can switch between wireless and wired modes with the dedicated 3.5mm audio cable, which is great in case you run out of battery or need to connect to non-wireless sources. They are designed to be small and lightweight which make them easy to carry in a pocket, and also comes with a clip which you can use to attach it to your shirt or belt. The SMARTOMI earbuds have an enhanced 120mAh battery which delivers 7 hours of continuous music playtime at medium volume and recharge in only 1.5 hours. The manufacturers have also provided an 18 month warranty which shows just how much they stand behind the quality of their products. If you are looking for one of the best noise cancelling earbuds that can deliver great sound and effective noise cancellation at a very good price point, we highly recommend the SMARTOMI earbuds.
The sound performance of the SMARTOMI earbuds is really good, particularly when the active noise cancellation mode is turned on. These earbuds sound great and you can actually hear the stereo effect very nicely – watching movies while wearing these earbuds will enable you to hear things that you never thought present in the sound, such as the subtle creek of a door opening behind. Listening to music on the SMARTOMI earbuds was a very enjoyable experience, with very good bass response that feels punchy and tight. Vocal performances came across as clean and detailed, and never shrill or tinny. The highs and midrange are crisp and clean, with very accurate sound reproduction at almost any volume. These earbuds are also capable of going very loud when cranked up to near maximum volume – you will have no issues blocking out noisy background noise in a gym or on a street. The active noise cancellation also does the job pretty well of making you feel as though you are fully immersed in your music, and adds a nice cinematic effect to your music when turned on. Overall, we were thoroughly impressed by how good these earbuds sounded.
The SMARTOMI earbuds have very good noise cancellation which works really well for low frequencies – it can cancel up to 90% of the ambient noise. This means that car noises, low humming noises from a plane engine and street noises will be reduced significantly reduced to a point where it is barely noticeable. That being said, the active noise cancellation does not entirely block out sound like the Bose QuietComfort earbuds – you will still be able to hear people conversing with each other, although to a much less degree. We particularly liked the fact that these earbuds came with a dual mode function which allows you to switch between wireless and wired connections – this is especially useful if your earbuds run out of battery. The earbud are also very sleek and comfortable to wear, and nicely fits in a pocket for easy portability. That being said, we found that the earbud size can be a little large for some ear sizes, which needs some re-adjustment after wearing for prolonged periods of time.
The battery life on the SMARTOMI earbuds is really good and can deliver up to 7 hours of continuous music playtime on a single charge. The Bluetooth connectivity on these earbuds is excellent and we never experienced any dips in sound performance or lags in music transmission while watching movies. The SMARTOMI earbuds come with aptX Bluetooth streaming which allows you to stream music lossly, meaning that you will get high quality music and better sound performance. The earbuds also come with a square control bar which you can use to answer calls and adjust the volume.
The Verdict? The SMARTOMI MOTTO are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find that have really effective noise cancellation. They are capable of cancelling up to 90% of low-frequency background noise, which greatly reduces the amount of background rumble and engine noise that you usually hear. The sound quality of these earbuds is truly top-notch, with very accurate sound reproduction and detailed vocal performances. Watching movies on these earbuds is an incredible experience; you will actually details in the music which you may have never noticed before. We also liked the fact that you can switch between wired and wireless modes by opting for the 3.5mm audio cable. The battery life on these earbuds is a good 7 hours of continuous music playtime, and these earbuds have aptX Bluetooth streaming equipped for high quality music transmission. If you are looking for one of the best noise cancelling earbuds at a very good price, the SMARTOMI will not disappoint.
#8 Most Well-Balanced: Huawei Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Huawei noise cancelling earbuds are specially designed earbuds with a full-bodied bass output, excellent mid range and crisp high-end for an immersive and high-fidelity listening experience. It features an integrated sound chamber design and high end drivers (2 dynamic drivers and 2 balanced armature drivers) with composite diaphragms and high purity cooper to minimize sound distortion and enhance audio definition. These earbuds are housed in a precision cut aluminium shell with low-key gunmetal finish, giving the earbuds a sleek and modern feel. The Huawei earbuds can be directly charged through the headphone jack or other phones supporting direct charging, and also comes with an oxygen free cooper cable to keep sound distortion to a minimum and enhance audio fidelity. If you are looking for some of the best noise cancelling earbuds with excellent sound performance and comfort, the Huawei is a very good option now available at a very good price point.
The active noise cancellation of the Huawei earbuds was very good and better than what we expected. The Huawei does a great job of removing ambient background noise – the airplane engine noise or road noise on the Huaweis are nearly eliminated. While we noticed some white noise when the active noise cancellation was turned up, the white noise was at tolerable levels and relatively unobtrusive. This makes the Huawei one of the best noise cancelling earbuds for air travel or for travelling in general. The Huawei is also lightweight and portable and easy to carry around without much hassle.
The Huawei is easily among the best noise cancelling earbuds in terms of sound performance. The sound quality was very good and the Huawei provides a fuller bass response as compared to most other earbuds. The mids and highs were exceptionally crisp and clear, and the midranges were pronounced and detailed. Vocal sounded slightly warm on these earbuds, and the sound did not distort even at higher volumes. The Huawei does tend towards a slightly V shaped sound signature which is great for those who prefer rock / electronic genres of music. The sound performance of the Huawei was greatly enhanced when the active noise cancellation was turned on, making the music sound louder and clearer and natural. The mid range sounded pure and smooth, and we could appreciate the fine details in the music while listening to these earbuds.
Where the Huawei truly shines is definitely in the comfort category. The silicon tips were very supple and felt extremely comfortable on the ears – we did not experience any listening fatigue while using these earbuds. The earbuds did not feel bulky at all and had the right size to weight ratio which felt great in the ears. We also really liked the design of the Huawei and the aluminium finish of the earbuds which gave it a very premium appearance. The battery life of the Huawei runs for a good 4 to 6 hours with active noise cancelling turned on which is good, but may need to be recharged if used on a long haul international flight. Huawei also provides a USB-A adapter that allows the earbuds to be charged using a standard USB port, although these earbuds cannot be used at the same time while charging.
The Verdict? The Huawei performs extremely well in terms of audio performance, design, comfort and active noise cancellation. These earbuds are designed with long term durability in mind – everything feels nice and polished with very comfortable silicon tips that fit securely on the ears. The noise cancellation on the Huawei was also great and managed to cancel out nearly almost all ambient background noise, which is especially great for those who intend to use these earbuds for air travel. The battery life is a good 4 to 6 hours which is decent for casual listening, and the build quality on these earbuds feels premium and sleek. Overall, the Huawei does a very good job of background noise reduction and achieves great sound quality with or without active noise cancellation, and is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find now selling at a very good price.
#9 Best for Travel: B&O PLAY H3s Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The B&O Play H3s are among the very best noise cancelling earbuds and ranks highly in terms of quality, music performance and comfort. These top tier noise cancelling earbuds are custom designed earbuds from Bang & Olufsen and each earpiece is crafted from a solid block of aluminium. The earbuds are ultra-light and provides exceedingly good sound performance, with a dynamic full tone sound design integrating a custom-designed 10.8 mm driver. The B&Os are able to reproduce the original sound material as authentically as possible, and with the active noise cancellation turned on, allows you to listen to all the details of the music even in noise environments. These earbuds are also unparalleled in terms of comfort, and comes with a variety of ear tips for the best fit and comfort. The rechargeable battery delivers a whopping 20 hours of continuous playtime with active noise cancellation turned on. Overall, while the B&Os are among the very best noise cancelling earbuds and deliver phenomenal sound performance with very good noise cancellation.
The sound quality on the B&Os is phenomenal. We were very impressed with the sound quality of these earbuds – the highs and mids were crystal clear and incredibly crisp, with very detailed midrange and decent bass response from these earbuds. This is quite remarkable considering the size of these earbuds. The sound stage on these earbuds is also very good, giving the music a nice spatial separation among the notes, making you feel as though the music had actually come to live. These earbuds are also capable of going to an extremely loud volume without any distortion at all. We also felt that the sound quality of the B&Os was greatly enhanced when connected to a digital amplifier – the sound quality, crisp highs and mids, excellent midrange and good bass response is simply breathtaking and beyond what you would normally expect from noise cancelling earbuds.
The noise cancellation on the B&Os is among the very best that we have tested. The active noise cancellation system is built into the B&Os using feed-forward technology – a small mic, placed inside the housing, measures the ambient noise. The microphone signal is transferred to an active noise cancellation circuit, which turns the microphone signal into “anti-noise”. The anti-noise significantly reduces ambient noise to a comfortable level automatically, and drowns out most ambient noise that you would normally hear, for example, on an air plane or in a bus. This is great because you can actually hear all the details in the music even in noisy environments – this makes the B&Os perfect for those who enjoy listening to music on the go, but with the added benefit of active noise cancellation.
The H3s are designed out of lightweight metal, which makes it robust and scratch-resistant, while keeping the weight at a mere 40 grams. We particularly liked the fact that these earbuds came with memory foam ear tips which deliver comfortable fit and very good noise isolation (in addition to the active noise cancellation). The entire package comes with four different sizes of silicone ear tips to choose from, which is an added bonus. The rechargeable battery inside the ANC unit gives you a good 20 hours of continuous playtime with the active noise cancellation turned on. Even if the battery runs out, you can still use these earbuds to listen to music but without the noise cancellation.
The Verdict? The B&O H3s are a premium set of earbuds and one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find with phenomenal sound performance. The sound quality on these earbuds is simply exceptional, delivering great soundstage and detailed separation at every level – they are simply extremely enjoyable to listen to and deliver very crisp highs and mids, which is rare for earbuds of this size. We also liked the premium design to these earbuds – each individual earpiece is meticulously crafted using a solid block of aluminium which gives it a modern and sleek feel. The entire package comes with four different size silicone earbuds for you to get the best fit in the ears. We also felt that the H3s were definitely one of the most comfortable earbuds which simply ‘disappeared’ into the ears while listening to music. If you are looking for one of the best noise cancelling earbuds in terms of comfort, design and sound performance, the B&O H3s are definitely the ones to consider.
#10 Most Versatile: Linner NC-21 Lightning Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Linner NC21-Lightning earbuds are one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find that are capable of reducing ambient background noise by up to an incredible 97%. This significant noise reduction allows you to listen to music and take calls clearly at a party, metro station or at the airport. These earbuds are specially built with lightning connection for iphone, iPads and iPods. The Linner earbuds delivery crystal clear balanced audio with a full range frequency response. It also features an awareness mode which can disable the noise cancellation mode while amplifying surrounding sounds, which make it possible to hear what is going on around you without having to remove the earbuds. The NC21-Lightning earbuds come with a 3 button in-line remote for full audio playback and includes volume adjustment, track selection and play / pause. You can also activate Siri directly from the earbuds without having to take out the iPhone from your pocket. The earbuds come with interchangeable pads and hooks for a comfortable and secure fit in your ears, and forms a gentle seal around your ears for better noise reduction. The Linner NC-21 Lightning earbuds are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find with very powerful noise cancellation, and we highly recommend them if you need a set of reliable earbuds to keep out background noises. Do note that that these earbuds are specially made for iOS devices with lightning port connection.
The sound performance of the Linner NC-21 is superb. Compared to other mid-range earbuds at a similar price range, the Linner NC-21 outperforms them in both sound quality and noise cancellation. These earbuds have very powerful bass response with a much warmer sound signature, and slightly less treble. The volume can be cranked up to its maximum settings and it will produce no distortion in the sound quality. Listening to instrumental music on these earbuds was quite an experience, with each instrument clearly defined and with an incredible level of detail. When the active noise cancellation is turned on, you feel as though you are sitting in the concert hall listening to the orchestra perform. The sound from these earbuds does not sound flat or tinny; they have detailed midrange and good bass response over the Bluetooth connection. We would go as far as to say that these earbuds truly sound excellent and deliver sound quality that is way beyond their price range.
The Linner NC-21 ranks highly in terms of comfort and design. They are designed to be lightweight and feel very comfortable when worn inside the ears, which make them ideal for prolonged listening. The noise cancellation on the Linner NC-21 is simply top-notch, and will significantly reduce almost all ambient background noise. Wearing these earbuds on the plane would really decrease the amount of engine rumble that you usually hear. In fact, switching the noise cancellation on is good enough to keep out most noises and for you to get a good sleep while travelling on a plane. We also liked the fact that these earbuds came with additional earbuds of small, medium and large sizes to choose from to get the perfect fit. This is essential to achieving the best noise isolation from the silicone ear tips in addition to the active noise cancellation.
The Linner NC-21 has a unique awareness mode which can disable the noise cancellation mode for you to listen to your surroundings without having to remove your earbuds. This is especially useful if you need to keep a look out for traffic on the street or road crossing. These earbuds are made with iOS and is compatible with iPhone7, iPhone 6 and 6s, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch with its lightning connector. The entire package comes with the NC21-Lightning earbuds, 3 sets of earbuds of different sizes, 2 sets of ear hooks, 1 hop pocket and a detailed user manual for easy reference.
The Verdict? The Linner NC-21 is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds we have ever come across specially designed for iOS devices with lightning connection. These earbuds are capable of reducing up to 97% background noise which is really incredible; the noise reduction that you get with these earbuds is very impressive – they will significantly reduce loud noises to a low rumble. The sound quality with these earbuds is also very good, with detailed midrange, crisp highs and very good bass response. Listening to these earbuds felt as though we were in a concert hall, with very accurate instrumental sounds and detailed separation. They are also very comfortable and lightweight, and designed to be worn for prolonged periods of time without causing any ear fatigue. It also comes with nice earbuds and ear hooks to secure the earbuds to your ears while working out or while sweating it out at the gym. If you are looking for one of the best noise cancelling earbuds that are specially designed for iOS devices with superb noise cancellation, the Linner NC-21 is your answer.
#11 Best Battery Life: Leophile Zero Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Leophile Zero is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find with extremely good noise cancellation and impressive sound quality. These earbuds are specially designed with an integrated neckband for prolonged wearing with reduced in-ear pressure. The neckband has a unique incoming call vibration alert which alerts you to incoming calls on the go. It also has wired and wireless modes which you can switch between using the dedicated audio cable, so you will never have to worry about running out of power. The earbuds on the Leophile Zero have a unique design that slide into your ears naturally and stay secure on your ears. The Leophile Zero has an extremely long lasting battery life of up to 20 hours of continuous music playtime on a single charge, which is really incredible considering how compact the earbuds and neckband is. The manufacturer also provides an 18 month warranty period which shows just how much they stand behind their products. If you are looking for one of the best noise cancelling earbuds with very good noise cancellation and long lasting battery life, the Leophile Zero is the way to go.
The sound performance of the Leophile Zero is one of the best that we have heard in a long time. The sound is really close to what you would get with over the ear headphones. While these earbuds will not beat the sound of professional headphones, they sound great with very crisp highs, detailed midrange and a good deal of bass response. Listening to rock and electronic dance music on these earbuds was an very enjoyable experience, with tight and punchy beats with low-end frequency response. You also get very detailed vocals and crystal clear music reproduction which really brings out the subtle details in your music. Watching movies using the Leophile Zero was plenty of fun, and you can hear the details in the sound with pristine accuracy. We particularly liked the fact that the sound quality is exactly as good regardless of whether the active noise cancellation is turned on or off. Overall, the sound quality of the Leophile Zero is very well balanced, with very deep bass response and detailed clarity.
The active noise cancellation on the Leophile Zero works very well and drowns out low frequency noises easily. It does a very good job of cancelling outside ambient background noise, such as the low engine rumble of an airplane or the sound of the air conditioning or electric fan, and provides a really comfortable listening experience. You can also turn on the active noise cancellation without playing music, which helps especially if you need to sleep on a plane without being disturbed by noises. That being said, the active noise cancellation is not complete sound elimination – you will still hear people talking or kids crying on the plane, although this would be significantly reduced.
The call quality on the Leophile Zero is top notch – the microphone works really well and we could converse with the person at the other end of the line without any issues. We also liked the fact that you can switch between wired and wireless modes using the AUX audio cable, which is great just in case you run out of battery. The battery life on the Leophile Zero lasts an incredible 20 hours of continuous music playtime, which is probably the longest you can find on this list. The Bluetooth connectivity on the Leophile Zero is very good, and can connect to virtually any Bluetooth enabled device. These earbuds use Bluetooth 4.1 technology for a stable and consistent connection with high quality music streaming. We did not experience any issues or sudden dips in connection while streaming music to the Leophile Zero.
The Verdict? The Leophile Zero is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find that delivers exceptional sound performance with an incredible 20 hours of battery life. The music quality that you get with this neckband earbuds is exceptional; they sound almost like over the ear headphones, and have very good bass low-end reproduction. Listening to electronic dance music and hip-hop on these earbuds was a very enjoyable listening experience; they also have enough power for multiple use before needing to recharge. The noise cancellation on the Leophile Zero works very well to cancel out low-end frequency noises. While it is not complete noise cancellation, they do the job pretty well and can help you sleep and relax while travelling on the plane. The earbuds are also very comfortable and feel secure on the ears; wearing this for a prolonged period of time will not produce much ear fatigue. The entire package comes with the earbuds, USB charging cable, user guide, 3 sets of earbuds, 2 wire clips and one aux audio cable. It is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find that will last for a long time, and we know that you will love them.
#12 Best for iOS Devices: Libratone Q Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Libratone Q Adapt is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find for iOS devices that has a sleek and very unique design. These earbuds are powered by the iOS lightning connector for noise cancellation and music streaming. The noise cancellation is adjustable by up to four levels to customize your listening experience. It also comes with four button controls to access the “hush” function, pause, play and make phone calls, or adjust the volume settings. The Libratone Q has very good sound quality, with a good balance of deep bass, full midrange and crisp highs for detailed music reproduction. It also features a built-in microphone for you to take hands free calls on the go while the active noise cancellation minimizes the background noise. If you are looking for one of the best noise cancelling earbuds for iOS devices, the Libratone Q is a great choice.
The sound performance of the Libratone Q is very good, and is capable of producing very clean and detailed sound with decent bass. The highs and midrange feels detailed and smooth, and very enjoyable to listen to. Vocal performances on the Libratone Q were sharp, accurate and pristine, and gave that extra sparkle to the music. The bass response on these earbuds was also good – electronic dance music and rock music sounded punchy and tight, with decent low-end response. You can also crank the volume up on the Libratone Q without experience any distortion, which is great. Watching movies while streaming with the Libratone Q was an enjoyable experience, and you can hear details in the sound without any lag. For the best sound quality, we would recommend turning on the active noise cancellation when using the Libratone Q as this would make the sound feel much clearer and more pristine. In terms of sound performance, we have no complaints with the quality of the Libratone Q.
The Libratone Q has a nice sturdy physical design, with a lightning adapter cord that has a good length to them. From an aesthetic standpoint, these earbuds look very sleek and premium; they do not feel cheap at all. Each individual earbud feels nicely crafted and well-designed without being too bulky. The earbuds fit nicely and snugly into the ears, and they also come with earbuds of different sizes to choose from. The built-in microphone along with the “hush” function silences the music when making hands free calls, which is makes taking calls with the Libratone Q very easy and convenient. These earbuds also come with a handy Libratone app which you can use to customize your settings and listening experience.
Where the Libratone Q truly shines is how well it can cancel outside noise. It offers four levels of noise cancellation which is pretty useful if you need to use these earbuds in different settings. For example, level 1 noise cancellation keeps the music playing while letting in 80% of outside volume, while level 2 allows 60% of outside sound in which makes it great for travelling or commuting. Level 4 is the strongest which blocks almost 100% of outside noise – this is perfect if you intend to cancel the engine rumble on a plane or need some quiet time to focus and study. The Libratone Q draws power directly from your iOS device with the Lightning connector, and are compatible with devices that use the Lightning adapter such as the iPhone 7, 6 and 6 Plus devices, iPad Air, iPad Mini and the latest iPod Nano.
The Verdict? The Libratone Q is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find specially designed for iOS devices with four levels of effective noise cancellation. The sound performance of the Libratone Q is very good, with crisp highs and detailed midrange and decent bass response. Listening to music on the Libratone Q with the active noise cancellation switched on felt really smooth and enjoyable; we also liked the fact that you can adjust the noise cancellation levels to get the optimal amount of cancellation for your needs. It also comes with four button controls and an integrated microphone for you to take hands free calls on the go. The earbuds feature a very sleek and unique design which feels premium; you really feel that you are getting quality for what you pay for. While the Libratone Q are slightly more expensive than you conventional noise cancelling earbuds, they are certainly some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can invest in especially if you use iOS devices and we highly recommend them.
#13 Best for Study: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23s are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds and feature very good audio quality at an extremely affordable price. These earbuds can reduce distracting background noise by up to 90% while offering superior sound. It’s engineered to create a comfortable listening environment in areas with high ambient noise, and features a miniature microphone in each earpiece that picks up ambient noise. The electronics in the control box creates a noise-cancelling wave that cancels out ambient noise effectively. The ATH-ANC23s are especially good for air travel, and comes included with an airline plug adapter.
We were truly impressed with the sound performance of the ATH-ANC23 and its noise cancelling abilities. The sound quality is amazing, providing detailed, clean and crisp sound through the earbuds with decent separation. The bass response on the ATH-ANC23s was also good – better than what we expected. These earbuds fit perfectly into the ears, and also provide comply foam tips for you to adjust the earbuds to suit your listening needs. These earbuds also come with a clip on control module which is strong and can provide good fixation.
Where these best noise cancelling earbuds shine is during air travel. The ATH-ANC23s truly did a miraculous job of filtering out the engine noise on the jet, making the flight extremely comfortable. The noise cancellation filters are specially designed to cancel out lower pitched repeating noises like airplane engine rotors – the engine sound is reduced to such a large extent that you might even forget that you are sitting on a plane. The collective sound of all the ambient noise are simultaneously eliminated, giving a good deal of peaceful quiet while listening to your own music or podcasts. While these earbuds may not be as pricey as other high end noise cancelling earbuds, they certainly hold their own with incredibly good noise cancellation and sound performance at such an affordable price point.
The entire package contains the earbuds, multiple silicone earbud cups, airline headset adapter and a carrying pouch. In addition, it also comes with batteries and a pair of foam earbud cups. The foam earbuds make a very good difference when it comes to finding a comfortable fit. In addition to the ANC on/off switch, the controls also feature a nice mute button that turns off noise cancellation while it is pressed down.
The Verdict? The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23s are hands down some of the best noise cancelling earbuds available at an extremely affordable price point, and yet deliver stunning noise cancellation and good audio performance. They are convenient, sleek and easy to use, and ideal to travel with on the plane to cancel out ambient background or engine noise. If you are looking for one of the best noise cancelling earbuds with good quality at the lowest price possible, we would definitely recommend checking out the ATH-ANC23s.
#14 Best Call Quality: AKG High Performance Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The AKG High Performance noise cancelling earbuds are built to deliver true high-performance AKG sound with digital active noise cancellation. Furthermore, it comes with an in-line microphone and a closed-back design which keeps environmental noise out. This is vast improvement over the previous AKG models and a great step for those who like in-ear earbuds and even less ambient background noise. On the whole, it’s very compact for travel, it has a high quality microphone for chat/video calls, and the noise cancelling function makes a lot of difference on the airplane.
The sound quality on the AKGs are pretty good – they are definitely at the high end and one of the best noise cancelling earbuds we’ve heard at this price range. While the Bose Q20 may sound too overwhelmingly bassy for some, the AKGs are more moderate and balanced in sound output. It brings in bass only when necessary, and focuses on the highs and mids, and the tremble is arguably much clearer. In general, we found that the AKGs are more flat – so if rock and pop music are you thing, the Bose Q20 will give you a better experience. If you prefer voice, instrumental or vocals and want a clear touch of them, follow the AKGs.
The whole kit with cables fits nicely in a small bag that will fit nicely into a laptop bag pocket, and ultralight. The microphone quality is very good, and the mic/switch is at chin-height. We tested it with a android phone (Galaxy Nexus) the call switch doubles as a pause button for my music player app, which was a nice added touch.
The Verdict? The AKGs are great sonically and comfort wise, and we expect that they will be very comfortable to wear on a plane. They’re definitely going to be perfect for traveling and much easy to schlep around than a big noise-canceling headset. Those who have a music preference more on the highs and mids should consider getting these. Overall, the AKG noise cancelling earbuds deliver exceptional value for money so don’t forget to check them out!
#15 Best Bass Response: Shure SE846-CL Noise Cancelling Earbuds (Noise Isolation)
While the Shure SE846-CL are not exactly noise cancelling earbuds per se, they provide enough noise isolation by their sheer design and incredible output sound quality that they rival or beat the best noise cancelling earbuds. We have listened to many earphones, over the ear “cans”, including the Bose AC20s active noise cancelling earbuds, and nothing compares to this experience in good listening. We used the Comply Txs-100 Comfort Plus Earphone Tips (Black, 3 pair, small) with these and they isolate noise extremely well.
The Shure SE846 features quad hi-definition micro-drivers which are capable of delivering extended high-end clarity and unparalleled low-end performance. It’s low-pass filer provides incredibly deep low-end performance of a true subwoofer without sacrificing clarity or detail – we were surprised at how good these earbuds were as compared to actual headphones. We could even customize the frequency response on these – the adjustable sound signatures were available (balanced, warm or birght) via changeable nozzle inserts and removable metal nozzles.
Shure did not leave anything out when they put this package together. It comes with a large plastic case like a pelican case as well as a zippered case. It also comes with a plethora of tips and most interestingly a set of 2 additional tubes that can be inserted in to the IEM’s that change the sound of the SE846’s. We opted to stay with the pre-installed neutral tubes for a more balanced experience. The Shure SE846 felt extremely comfortable on the years – although these are noticeably larger and if you have smaller ears you may have some comfort issues with them. We found that wearing these for extended periods of time did not cause any issues, although it’s good to adjust them around from time to time.
The sub bass is incredible in these little IEM’s. The Shure SE846 literally takes it to another level with the low frequencies it can go down to. The bass is there and not overwhelming and the highs are crisp and clear. Overall, the sound on these is excellent! Also worth noting is the very low impedance of only 9 ohms – this means that they can easily be driven from mobile devices and get good volume without having to turn it all the way up.
The Verdict? While the SE846’s are not active noise cancelling earbuds, they seem to be an evolutionary step in a long line of IEM’s. The superior design of these earbuds helps isolate outside noise effectively, coupled with an impressive sound performance that is just stunning. The sub bass is amazing in an IEM and the other improvements like the metal nozzles and removable tubes to change the sound are great. They are hands down one of the best IEM’s on the market today and we highly recommend them.
Note: At the time of writing, the Shure SE46 is selling at a very good price point, so don’t forget to check it out!
#16 Best Design: Shure SE535-V Noise Cancelling Earbuds (Noise Isolation)
While the Shure SE535s are not exactly noise cancelling earbuds, they provide enough noise isolation and high quality sound that rivals or outperforms that of the best noise cancelling earbuds in the market. The first thing most listeners will notice with the 535’s is their phenomenal mid-range response, which is largely out of style in most of today’s popular (read: crap) audio products. The tight, clean bass is delightfully present in the mix without clouding over other ranges. The treble is bright and organic, not harsh and overpowering. The improved bass response, build design, and crossover sets these apart from earlier and lower models. For those seeking full, powerful, honest sound with a great build and innovative features, buy these and don’t look back.
The 535 has been improved in several areas from the earlier 530 model. The build quality has been improved and is substantially solid and commendable. The replaceable cord is almost indestructible, but it being replaceable it is a non-issue. The Shure SE535s are specially designed to provide a great deal of noise isolation too, shielding the input speakers from ambient noise.
More important is the sound quality which has been dramatically improved in a number of ways due to refinements to the shaping of the cavity within which the balanced armatures are fitted (the “speakers” inside are more comparable to tuning forks than typical electo-magnetic speakers.) The crossover points between these armatures may also have been refined and adjusted for flatter response – meaning audibly flat, rather than just measurably flat. The external shape of the device was changed too, and it should fit more comfortably for many ears once one gets used to inserting them.
There is tremendous clarity and transparency throughout the frequency range resulting in better delineating of instruments, one from the other, and the textures and shapes within the sound. For example, the airy whoosh of a flute, the tinkles in the distance of a softy struck triangle at the back of the stage, the rosiny draw of the bow of a string instrument, the brassy rasp of a trombone, and the shimmer and afterglow of a brushed cymbal. It also provides higher resolution of the soundspace, such that the leading edges of percussion instruments penetrate with greater force, impact and speed. The fading tails of sound decaying away are easily distinguishable and followed to its silence.
The 535 excels in the bass department, even over Shure’s 530 earlier model which provided deep bass surely, but not with the 535’s impact, solidity and tightness, definition and textures. There are other brands with seemingly more bass or lower bass capability. This may be an illusion. For plumbing the deepest bass we have the requirement for very high definition. The 535 is, by a long shot, superior – you need to seal the earbud to your ear canal to hear it in all its glory.
The Verdict? We have not yet heard a more enjoyable, and most importantly, accurate portable set of noise isolating earbuds to date. The price, understandably, will be a factor for most people. However for the discerning listener who demands the quality of sound the 535 can furnish and will install higher resolution audio files in their music players/iPods, the Shure 535 will be a stunning addition to their musical enjoyment on the go, in a plane, while exercising, or at home.
#17 Most Portable: Sennheiser CXC 700 Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Sennheiser CXC-700 earbuds are very lightweight and are very comfortable. At this price range, they rank as one of best noise cancelling earbuds in terms of comfort and sound quality. There are two types of earbuds, those that fit into the ear canal and those that place a speaker at the entrance of the ear canal (much like Apple’s buds). The CXC-700’s are of the former type they fit into the ear canal with little effort and actually seal in better than most. This is a big plus right out of the box.
When inserted properly, earbuds that fit in the ear canal should block a lot of noise and these do that as expected. When we got them in and turned them on, we were plunged into near-silence. Sennheiser claims that these block 90% of low frequency noise and that seems to be about right – with a fan turned on in the room and the buds turned on, the fan simply vanished. The active noise cancelling comes at a small price that some may find annoying, though – there is a white-noise hiss when these are engaged and though it is faint it is unmistakable.
An interesting feature is that these earbuds come with three cancellation modes for blocking different sets of frequencies. Mode 1 blocks very low frequences, mode 2 blocks a higher set of frequencies (still low) and mode 3 combines the other two modes into one. We would recommend using mode 3 at all times to block all ambient noise at all times, although some might prefer other modes just in case they want to hear the traffic or office phone ringing. It’s good to note that these speakers functions equally well without batteries in passive mode. The small 10 MM drivers allow users to sleep on their sides while travelling without any discomfort.
When the CXC-700 earbuds were compared to the Bose QC20s, we were surprised at how much of the low frequencies were knocked out – the earbuds actually performed on par with Bose and definitely outclassed the PXC-450’s. The passive cancelling combined with the ANC capabilities of these earbuds make them equals with the Bose top offering and a clear winner over their over-the-ear sibling PXC-450.We also found that these earbuds have excellent treble (like most earbuds) and they have good bass. Where most of the troubles with most headphones is in the midrange, these earbuds did astoundingly well. In fact, the sound reproduction is very warm, crisp and lively. We were able to get what we wanted to hear without resorting to an equalizer to improve the bass output. Finally, the TalkThrough function enables users to communicate with others without removing the earbuds, which is a very nice added touch.
The Verdict? These CXC-700 earbuds are easily one of the best noise cancelling earbuds in the market today in terms of comfort and audio performance. If you want noise cancelling and prefer earbuds to regular cans, these deserve a look. For anyone who travels often this is hands down one of the best earbuds to get – and while the retail price on these seems a little high, the actual selling price from Amazon and others provides a very fair value for the price. For an excellent pair of in-ear noise cancelling, we would highly recommend the CXC-700.
#18 Best for Causal Listening: Sony MDRNC13 Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Sony MDRNC13 noise cancelling earbuds provide effective noise suppression across a range of frequencies and packs a stunning 100 hour battery life with hybrid earbuds. It reduces approximately 87.4% of ambient noise and the dual-use capability allows you to listen to music with or without noise cancellation. The earbuds feel very comfortable and fit securely; you can wear these for long periods of time without feeling fatigued.
These earbuds fit into your ears like earplugs to eliminate sound in your surroundings, and once turned on, will actively cancel the incoming low-frequency noise. The noise cancellation function takes a couple of seconds to kick in after turning on, and we could definitely tell the difference. It will get rid of the low-frequency engine humming during flight. If you are not listening anything during the flight, do not plug the 3.5mm jack in – noise cancellation works best if there is no additional white noise/picked up static coming from the sound system. Consider these as electronic earplugs with built-in speakers as a bonus.
The MDRNC13 provides good noise cancellation and better sound than what most earbuds can deliver. When you add the ear-canal seal, you can even get some decent bass for a transducer this small. The frequency response is pretty even across the rest of the audio spectrum, without any resonances or frequency dropouts.
Note that there’s no hiss when it’s not cancelling background noise, even when it’s on. This is definitely a side-effect of the noise cancellation process and not a defect with the audio circuitry. Also note that the overall volume decreases slightly when you turn on the noise cancellation., unlike the NC22’s which actually boosted the volume slightly. It comes with a small pouch, extra plastic tips, and a AAA battery (required for the noise cancellation function). You can clip the noise cancellation circuit on your shirt/jacket for a more comfortable experience.
The Verdict? The Sony MDRNC13 delivers very good audio performance and noise cancellation, and feels less bulky in its design from the other noise cancelling earbuds. While the audio performance isin’t at the top of the range, it packs an incredible 100 hours of active noise cancelling time and is extremely portable and user friendly. If you are looking for a cheaper option that delivers effective noise cancellation for travelling, these high quality earbuds represent a good value investment.
#19 Most Durable: The Sony MDR-NC300D Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Sony MDR-NC300D are one of the best noise cancelling earbuds and have the ability to reduce up to 98.4% of ambient noise. When we reviewed this product and compared it with the Bose Quiet Comfort 15, we found that the noise cancelling was about equal. The quality of the sound while listening to music was about equal – but one nice feature with the Sony is that you can calibrate the noise cancelling through an adjustment system. The Sony also features 3 different modes of noise cancelling depending on what type of noise environment you are in, which is a useful addition for those who need to listen for phone calls or oncoming traffic. Another advantage over the Bose is that they are way much smaller and more portable, making them the ideal travel companion. The battery lasts about 15 hours as advertised.
The Sony drivers are 16mm, so that bass is nice but does not compromise the upper frequencies. Furthermore, these new NC300 buds are certainly more advanced at noise cancelling (ie a NYC subway) and do not produce a hissing noise unlike some other noise cancelling earbuds. Do note that the Sony earbuds do not allow you to listen to music at all when the noise cancelling unit runs out of batteries – which means you cannot listen to anything until you replace the battery, so be sure to get an extra set of batteries when you go travelling.
The Verdict? The Sony MDR-NC300D are very good at reducing ambient noise and have a seek portable design. It’s active digital processing realizes more effective noise and also has more comfortable vertical-in-the-ear style earbuds. While the battery life of this device is not as long as other models, they compensate by providing very good noise cancelling and are more portable than other noise cancelling earbud models. The drivers also provide decent bass and good sound reproduction, which definitely represents good value at this price range.
#20 Most Lightweight: Polk Audio 6000i Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The Polk UltraFocus 6000 is the one of the best noise cancelling earbuds available, delivering ultra-high performance sound with focused details, fully fidelity and deep bass. It has a very lightweight design which makes it very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. When we first reviewed the UltraFocus 6000, we noticed that it comes with many salient features which enhance its performance and comfort. The materials and controls all seem to be high quality with no flimsiness. Furthermore, Polk’s exclusive optimized active tuning takes advantage of noise cancelling technology to improve overall performance of these earbuds – listening to these was simply sublime.
There are 7 choices of earbud tips to choose from as well as an airline 2 prong adaptor. We noticed that the phone jack is very short, unobtrusive, and has a nice flexible rubber 90 bend so as not to catch on things. As far as the noise cancelling is concerned, it seems to work pretty well and will eliminate all but the loudest sounds. Testing this on an Airbus A320, we could barely hear the inside of the cabin on the flight as well as people talking. When wearing these around other people in a medium noise environment, for instance in an airport terminal, we could not hear anything from the outside. The sound that these speakers (13.6mm) put out are superior than any other medium priced earbuds we have reviewed, with nice crisp highs and surprising lows (8-25 kHz). The controls are easy to figure out and the speaker seems to work well, no complaints from people on the other end. The packaging says they have 115db of sensitivity, which we thought are comparable to or better than $300 Bose.
In fact, we would go so far as to say that the UltraFocus 6000 sound so good that they are almost comparable to a home theater system. The bass on them is amazing and sounds fairly close to a dedicated subwoofer. Although some might complain of too much bass, those who love rock and hip-hop genres would really enjoy this one. The highs and mids are very crisp, also may be compared to home theater systems with devoted midrange and tweeter speakers. Simply said, these earbuds sounded crisp, detailed, and full of bassThe fact that they are active noise cancelling makes it nice on the bus, subway, or just when there is any background noise going on.
The Verdict? Although the UltraFocus 6000 may be slightly bulk and require a battery, they are one of the best noise cancelling earbuds which deliver superb sound performance and accurate audio reproduction. We would highly recommend these for travelling or for anyone who needs earbuds but wants to hear full quality sound, and who don’t mind slightly bulkier earbuds.
Special Mention: COWIN HE8 Noise Cancelling Earbuds
The COWIN HE8s are some of the best noise cancelling earbuds in terms of high quality sound, lightweight design and superior active noise cancellation. The HE8s are able to cancel out background noise of up to 32dB at a frequency range of 20 – 2000 Hz, and includes an AMS3421 noise cancelling chipset which can reduce up to 99% of ambient background noise to give you ultimate pure music relaxation throughout. The earbuds are capable of producing extra high quality sound with aptX Bluetooth streaming, which ensures high-fidelity sound and low latency with better bass response. Furthermore, these earbuds are extremely comfortable and lightweight, with custom designed earbuds for you to choose from for the best fit. The battery life is also very good, with a decent 5 hours of continuous playback with active noise cancellation enabled. At the time of writing, the HE8s best noise cancelling earbuds are now selling at a very good price, making them highly value for money and definitely worth checking out.
The noise cancellation on the COWIN HE8s are phenomenal. The high sensitive drivers efficiently filter out unwanted ambient noise – it also has integrated Dual Noise Technology which uses internal and external microphones to detect and offset ambient noise. The earbuds produce natural sound without any distortion with its 13mm driver with Liquid Crystal Polyemr diaphragm for punchy bass, and can reproduce a full range of frequencies up to 40 kHz. When we tested the HE8s, we felt that the sound quality provided surprisingly good levels of bass and very decent highs and mids, coupled with very good ambient noise cancellation. This made the music sound all the more natural and enjoyable. The earbuds also comes with an optimized CSR apt-X which reduces distortion with streaming high quality audio.
Apart from the incredible sound performance and noise cancellation technology, these best noise cancelling earbuds come with advanced comfortable ear tips – three pairs of pillow-like softness earbuds, with ultra-soft earbuds for a secure and easy fit. We really liked the variety of these earbuds which is essentially for getting the right fit in the ears. Furthermore, the HE8s are designed for on-the-go charging, which means that you can charge the HE8s while listening to music. The HE8s charges normally on most USB / micro-USB devices. The HE8s are also very easy to operate – all the functions are easily accessible at the fingertips on the slim control module, including the music functions on the inline remote.
Furthermore, the HE8s are sweat and weather resistant, and are engineered and tested for lasting quality and durability. The HE8s can withstand dripping sweat and rain, which is ideal if you wish to take these earbuds outdoors while travelling. The HE8s are extremely well packaged and comes with standard earbud fittings, with additional ear wing fittings and a hard casing to protect the earbuds. The wing fittings were particularly helpful in providing an amazing fit and taking the strain off the in-ears, which made the HE8s one of the best noise cancelling earbuds in terms of comfort.
The Verdict? The HE8s are hands down some of the best noise cancelling earbuds with phenomenal sound performance, good bass response and incredible noise cancellation. These earbuds provide the excellent ability to drown out all ambient background noise and most external sounds which would interfere with quiet listening, making them superb earbuds for airplane travel or just for quiet listening to music. The biggest strength of the HE8s are perhaps the comfort of these earbuds – the earbuds are designed to be extremely comfortable and comes with wing fittings which made quite a big difference – they provide an amazing fit and make them feel as though the earbuds are not there. The battery lasts a good 4 to 6 hours on a single charge with active noise cancellation turned on, which is pretty good. If you are looking for one of the best noise cancelling earbuds at an affordable price with amazing sound quality and noise cancellation, these earbuds come highly recommended.
Frequently Asked Questions – Check out our top picks for 2017
- How does noise cancellation work?
- Noise isolation vs active noise cancellation
- Headphones vs earbuds for noise cancellation
- What do we look out for?
Here are some frequently asked questions on noise cancelling earbuds and how they work. We explain the differences between noise isolation and active noise cancelling, how active noise cancellation works and whether you should get noise isolation headphones as compared to earbuds. We also explain what we look out for in the selection process and how we arrived at our round-up of the best noise cancelling earbuds in this list.
Noise cancellation is the technology whereby the noise cancelling earbuds emit a special frequency that neutralizes outside noises. This means that the noise coming from the outside is eliminated and is not heard by the human ear. Typically, earbuds can eliminate from 20 to 30db of noise at a frequency range of 100 to 2000 Hz, so as you reduce the background rumble and other noises that may cause disturbance. Such noises are usually at the lower end of the frequency range and can be easily eliminated. This means that you will hear less of an engine rumble when sitting on a plane, or hear less car engine noise when walking on the street. Where active noise cancellation does not work really well is with higher frequencies, such as the yell of a child or with piercing sounds – only the very best noise cancelling earbuds can actually neutralize such high frequency noises. Noise cancellation does not eliminate all the sound you can hear from your surroundings – only the noises that fall within the frequency range that the device can handle will be eliminated. Some earbuds also come with the ability to adjust the level of noise cancellation that you wish to have, which is great in case you need to listen to road traffic signals or for safety concerns.
Noise isolation is basically preventing noise from getting into the ear by having a tight seal while wearing the earbuds. These earbuds are specially designed to fit securely into your ear and will prevent noise from coming in – it is similar to the concept of wearing ear plugs. Noise isolation does not consume energy and is really a matter of earbud design and how tightly it can fit in your ears. Active noise cancellation, on the other hand, requires energy consumption in the production of frequency waves that neutralize outside noise. This means that the device is constantly producing these noise cancelling frequencies so that you will not hear outside noises when listening to music. This process will consume battery life as it is actively trying to keep background ambient noise from being heard in the ear. The very best noise cancelling earbuds use a great combination of noise isolation and active noise cancelling to keep outside noises out from the earbuds, so you can have a quiet listening experience.
Contrary to popular belief, noise cancelling earbuds do provide a good deal of noise cancellation and are not entirely inferior to noise cancelling headphones. We have tested earbuds that can provide a stunning 97% level of noise cancelling which significantly reduces ambient background noise. That being said, if you are looking for total noise reduction then you should certainly consider using a set of noise cancelling headphones. We have rounded up a list of best noise cancelling headphones that you should consider. Apart from the noise cancelling strength, an advantage of earbuds is portability – you can even transport them by keeping them in a side pocket and are not as bulky as headphones. Another consideration to take into account is that noise cancelling headphones typically requires the headphone to be charged and active noise cancellation to be switched on before playing music. This problem is mostly absent with noise cancelling earbuds, which can play music straight from your mobile device without needing to be charged.
Price is obviously one of the most important factors that we consider in our round-up. Generally, we go for earbuds that are highly value for money – although they are not necessarily the best high end earbuds, they deliver solid noise cancellation and very good sound performance. We also look out for how good the noise cancellation actually is when tested in a noisy environment, as well as the quality of the sound performance. Generally speaking, the very best noise cancelling earbuds produce excellent noise cancellation and are selling at very good price points, making them highly value for money. Be sure to check our roundup above for the best options available at the moment for these noise cancelling earbuds.