Most people can’t live without earbuds or headphones – in fact, search any household and you will most likely find a lot of pairs lying around. If you’re anything like us, we can’t go out of the house and ride a bus or train without bringing an in-ear earbuds. It’s compact, easy to bring, and versatile, making it great to bring for travel, working out, exercising and more.
The world is a noisy place, and earbuds come in handy for listening to music, radio shows, podcasts, watching movies or answering calls to hear sounds clearer. But if you’re tired of always turning up the volume because it’s always too noisy outside (and if its effects on your hearing is becoming a concern), then it may be best for you to invest in noise cancelling earbuds. These can be your friend while you’re flying on an airplane, commuting and while working on shared office spaces.
What are noise cancelling earbuds?
Noise canceling earbuds uses a kind of technology that allows it to emit a special frequency that neutralizes outside noises. This means that the outside noises are eliminated and not heard by the human ear. A noise cancelling earbud cannot completely eliminate outside noise – only full-size, in-ear headphones can do that – but it’s a more portable option, because headphones are big and bulky.
Noise cancelling earbuds can easily eliminate low frequency sounds, like an engine rumble on a plane, or car engine noise. Most of them can’t work well with higher frequencies, like a child yelling or piercing sounds, but the best noise cancelling earbuds can neutralize high frequency noises. This is still a good thing, because it allows you to hear someone shouting to call your attention or a car horn going off as you cross the road, but you won’t hear the drone of the traffic. There are earbuds that come with the option to adjust the level of noise cancellation, like if in case you are walking down the road and needs to listen to road traffic signals to be safe.
What to look for to get the best noise cancelling earbuds:
1. Wired or wireless
Whether you get a wired or wireless earbuds, it’s really up to your preferences and your intended use. You may consider Bluetooth earbuds if you want it wireless. You may also opt for wireless if you want to listen to music as you do rigorous workout.2. Value for money
Price is obviously one of the most important factors when buying a gadget, accessory or device. Go for earbuds with higher value for money. It’s not necessarily the best high end earbud, but make sure you go for something that delvers solid noise cancellations and good sound performance with the budget you have at hand. If you don’t really have much, save a few more dollars since these are not as cheap as compared to regular, cheap earbuds.
Remember, premium noise cancellation comes at a premium price. These gadgets are equipped with their own audio processor, and the quality of that processor relies heavily on the price of the device. The internal drivers and build quality also play into the cost.3. Sound quality
Noise cancelling earbuds generally have reduced performance when it comes to sound quality. You can’t compare them to the best earbuds, earphones or headphones. Noise cancelling technology produces counter frequencies that negate ambient noise, but it’s not always accurate. Sometimes, some sounds from your original track can get cancelled as well. But these doesn’t mean these earbuds are bad. The best noise cancelling earbuds produce great sound quality comparable to good-quality, ordinary earphones.4. Control center
A lot of noise cancellation earbuds come with a small control center or a multi-function button, so you can get a lot control over your music and smart device. The control center usually contains common functions including volume, play/pause, mute or answer call. Others don’t care much about this, but there are some who would prefer to keep their devices in their pockets while being able to control their listening settings.5. Comfort
Make sure you can get comfortable with the noise cancelling earbuds you choose. It must fit your inner ear snugly and perfectly, so it won’t keep falling down. It must not also exert too much pressure on the ears. Earbuds with comfort as priority often have ergonomic design, so it won’t be tiring for the ears even if you wear them for long periods of time.6. Extra features
Some earbuds come with extra ear tips with different sizes, different listening modes depending on the environment, case or carrying bags and more. These are not absolute must-haves, but they may be attractive for you depending on your preferences.
Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Where to Buy
1. Bose QuietComfort 20
Coming from Bose, the pioneer for noise cancelling technology, the QuietComfort 20 is known as the best noise cancelling earbuds around. It provides better noise reduction than any other set of in-ear headphones, plus it sounds really good. The noise cancelling technology brings you an experience close to the noise reduction that the QuietComfort 35 Series II headset can provide. When the noisce cancelling function is on with no music, you can hear an eerie silence – that’s how effective these earbuds are. This is why it’s common to see these earbuds worn by people on airplanes – it’s a favorite travel buddy of frequent travelers.
The QuietComfort 20 features a super comfortable design that will remain secure in your ears, but wouldn’t cause any discomfort. You can wear it for long periods of time and you will barely remember that you’re wearing them. It delivers a deep and punch bass with crisp highs and lows. Plus, it comes with a super lightweight lithium battery that runs for 16 hours on a 2-hour charge. The USB and micro-USB charging cable comes included with the earbuds.2. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 is one of the best noise cancelling in-ear earbuds and has a classic (and a bit dated) design. Because of its unique QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling feature, you can minimize background noise to just up to 10% of its actual volume. This is really a great feature if you want peace and quiet. This enables the earbuds to deliver crystal-clear sound quality. You can connect it to any smartphone, MP3 player (if you still use one) and other portable devices.
One quirky little thing you’ll notice about this earbud is it has a small box that sits inline on the cable, which is where you can control noise cancellation and other options. It brings warm and vibrant sounds, and if sound fidelity is a big priority for you, these earbuds are the one to get. It can be comfortably worn by up to 4 hours without you needing a break because of its quality foam layer. Also, it comes with a built-in microphone for calls and an airline plug adapter.3. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E4
If you’re looking for cool earbuds with active noise cancellation and high quality sound performance, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E4 is for you. These are the perfect earbuds for audiophiles who like the best of both worlds. The noise cancellation function is very effective, as it comes with a transparency mode that turns off the noise cancelling so you can hear your surroundings when needed. The sound quality exceeds what is expected of noise cancelling earbuds, as it delivers deep bass and crisp highs, with clear and reach notes.
Apart from performance, the aesthetically minimalist design of these earbuds are another thing to love. It even comes with a set of ear tips with four different sizes to choose from. These are equipped with built-in, rechargeable batteries that provide 20 hours of active noise cancellation playtime. It also gives you the option of a wired mode so the ANC function can operate without using the battery. Another great thing about these earbuds are the transparency mode, which enables you to quickly tune back to the outside world.4. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H3 ANC
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H3 ANC is among the very best noise cancelling earbuds out there. Using a feed-forward technology, B&O turns the microphone signals to anti-noise to significantly reduce the ambient noise to a comfortable level automatically, and drowns out most ambient noise on its own, for instance, while you’re in a plane or a bus. It’s ultra-light, making it enjoyable and comfortable to use for the ears.
Sound-wise, the H3 is quite remarkable, as these earbuds deliver crisp and detailed midrange and decent bass response. It can bring your favorite music to life, as close to the original sound material as possible. The bass is exceptionally good, and beyond what you’ll expect from noise cancelling earbuds. Its rechargeable battery brings a 20 hours of continuous playtime with noise cancellation on.5. Bose QuietControl 30
If you’re looking for the best wireless noise cancelling earbuds around, then the Bose Quiet Control 30 Headphones are for you. It’s an incredible set of active noise cancelling earbuds that are jam-packed with tech. It gives you a breakthrough technology that allows you to control your own level of noise cancellation. There is also a noise-rejecting, dual microphone system embedded to help reduce the noise around you when making calls. It even sound better than the QuietComfort 20.
The batteries and other electronic components are housed inside the neckband of these earbuds. At full charge, you can enjoy up to 10 hours of wireless listening. It has a lightweight, comfortable collar design, and the earbuds themselves are ergonomic. You can connect your devices through Bluetooth and NFC pairing. This one’s a great option for travel and commute, and as well as doing some jogging around the neighborhood with music.6. TaoTronics Noise Cancelling Earbuds
TaoTronics Noise Cancelling Earbuds is the cheapest in this list, and it’s one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find if you’re on a tight budget. You can’t compare its noise cancelling technology and sound quality with other higher-end earbuds on this list, but for the price, it’s quite great. The noise cancelling technology equipped in these earbuds are really effective and useful. With its monitoring mode, you can control how much external noise can get in. This feature can be useful for instances like where you’re in the plane and a flight attendant is speaking, or you want to listen to music but you also want to hear other people around.
This earbuds from TaoTronics have an incredible 15 hours of playtime with noise reduction on a full charge. It also comes with interchangeable earbuds and hooks for comfort and convenience. It features a sleek design, metal body construction and inline controls for volume, audio tracks and calls. It even has an airplane audio adapter for extra convenience while flying.7. OVC Active Noise Canceling Earbuds
OVC Active Noise Canceling Earbuds is one of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can find on a budget. Though its noise cancelling performance is nowhere near Bose or B&O’s, they work impressively well in reducing noise and background distractions up to 30 dB. Sound-wise, these earbuds also perform well. They produce crisp and well-defined highs and deep midranges. The bass is not that impressive, but creates a great low-end punch. You can improve the bass with its bass enhancement function while the noise cancelling function is turned off.
The earbuds have a sleek and elegant appearance, and they are comfortable when worn on the ears. Another amazing feature of this earbuds is that it can deliver up to 60 hours of playtime on a single charge, making it a perfect companion for long-distance travels. The entire package also comes with soft ear tips, micro USB charging cable, airline adapter and a travel pouch.8. Huawei Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Coming from a well-known smartphone brand, Huawei Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds is one of the most well-balanced noise cancelling earbuds you can find. At a very good price point, it performs extremely well in terms of active noise cancellation, audio performance, design and comfort. It does an amazing job at removing background ambient noises, and delivers immersive and high-fidelity audio experience. It provides fuller bass response, with detailed midranges, and crisp mids and highs.
Featuring a modern design, these set of earphones are not only functional but are also stylish. The low-key gunmetal finish gives these headphones a smart look. It’s comfortable to wear, lightweight and portable. The silicon tips are supple, and you won’t experience listening fatigue with these earbuds. The battery life runs for around 4 to 6 hours with active noise cancelling on, but the good thing is it can be directly charged through the headphone jack or other phones that support direct charging.9. Cowin HE8D ANC Bluetooth Earbuds
Like the entry from TaoTronics and OVC, the Cowin HE8D ANC Bluetooth Earbuds is another affordable contender as an excellent noise cancelling earphone. With a price under $100, finding a wireless, ANC earbuds that performs well is a steal – and Cowin HE8D won’t disappoint. Noise cancellation is noticeably effective, but of course, it’s not as good as our Bose top pick. It comes with three pairs of silicone ear tips that provide excellent noise isolation and cancellation. The overall sound is superb and slightly bass emphasized.
This set of earbuds has an IPX4 rating, which makes them sweat-proof. This is a wireless set that’s perfect for bringing with you on workout sessions. You can connect your smartphone or other devices via Bluetooth. It comes with a hard-carrying case to make carrying it easier. Meanwhile, the battery of these earbuds can serve you for around 9 to 10 hours with noise cancelling turned on.10. Sony WI-SP600N/B
Sony WI-SP600N/B is a wireless noise canceling earbuds specifically designed for sports. The unique feature of this set is that it’s IPX-rated, meaning it’s has a water-resistance level. Don’t worry about sweat while you’re working out and wearing these earbuds – it’s meant to be your workout buddy. It also comes with a built-in microphone that allows you to make hands-free calls and use with your voice assistant.
This set of earbuds may not have the best sound quality, but it sure does have a deep, punchy bass. Audiophiles who have the means may go for Bose than choose this one, (since this have a price almost comparable to Bose), but for an average user, the sound quality is already great. The active noise cancelling function is not as strong as that of Bose, but these can be a decent option for commute and travel. You can connect your devices via Bluetooth and NFC pairing. This set also comes with a hybrid silicone rubber earbuds, arc supporters and USB cables.