Top 20 Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

What’s Noise Cancellation?

What’s ACTIVE Noise Cancellation?

What’s PASSIVE Noise Cancellation?

The following video demonstrates the effect of ‘Noise Cancellation’ and the answers to above 3 questions very well! Watch it please, we HIGHLY recommend it!

The TOP 20 Noise Cancelling Headphones is made up of the following 7 categories

  1. TOP 3 Active Noise Cancellation Headphones
  2. Top 3 BUDGET-friendly ACTIVE Noise Cancelling Headphones
  3. Top 3 BUDGET-friendly PASSIVE Noise Cancelling Headphones
  4. Top 2 Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones
  5. Top 4 Noise Cancelling Earbuds
  6. Top 4 Budget In-Ear Noise Cancelling Earbuds
  7. Best In-Ear Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Earbuds

TOP 3 Active Noise Cancellation Headphones

#1. PSB M4U 2 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones

PSB M4U 2 headphonesAvailable in Black and White

Why is it the BEST Active Noise Cancelling Headphones?

  • There are mainly 2 criteria we (and others) use when ranking noise cancelling headphones.
    1. How good is the sound quality? EXCELLENT! The PSB M4U sound quality was WAY BETTER than the sounds of other noise-cancelling headphones. They are sonically tuned to perfection for every music genre including but not limited to rock, electronica, jazz, classical etc. etc. Its balance of bass/lows, mids, and treble/highs is flawless producing audiophile grade music
    2. How good is it at cancelling outside noise? Noise cancellation was very good with the PSB M4U 2 headphones. However, its noise-cancellation wasn’t as good as that of the Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones. But we emphasize that it’s noise cancellation was still VERY GOOD, it’s just that the Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones happened to be EXCELLENT as far as the noise-cancellling was concerned
  • PSB M4U 2 headphones active noise cancellingConsidering that the PSB M4U 2 headphones had very good noise cancellation and excellent sounds, this pair is considered the overall best noise cancellation headphones. If you look around the internet, you’ll see that this is not just our opinion, but most other reputed reviewers also say the same thing.
  • In addition to EXCELLENT sound quality and VERY GOOD sound-cancelling, it also has the following features
    1. Offers 3 listening modes: active, passive, and active noise-canceling
    2. Still functions and sounds great after the batteries have drained (with most others, they stop working after the batteries are out of juice)
    3. 55 hours of battery life
    4. Comfy earpads
    5. Suspended earcup mounting system allows earpads to swivel vertically and laterally so that you can adjust them for optimal fit and comfort
    6. For more accurate noise-cancellation, it has four noise-canceling microphones, two on each earcup
    7. 2X 55-inch cables with controls on the wire to navigate music tracks and access the microphone
    8. It’s foldable
    9. Also included in the package are a travel case, airline adapter, a 3.5mm-to-6.3mm plug adapter and an extra pair of ear cushions.
  • All in all, PSB M4U 2 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones are undoubtedly the best noise cancelling headphones in the market.
  • Well, isn’t there anything wrong with it? Yes there is! It ain’t cheap and it’s low on stocks! Check price and availability here.

#2. Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones

  • The Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones wins 2nd place among the best noise cancelling headphones. Bose AE2w Bluetooth Over-the-ear HeadphonesAgain, asking the 2 questions …
    1. How good is the sound quality? EXCELLENT! But not quite the audiophile quality of the PSB M4U 2s. But then again, not all of us need or can appreciate audiophile-grade music. So if you want really really good music quality, but not quite audiophile-grade, and want to save 100 bucks, you should go with this Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones
    2. How good is it at cancelling outside noise? Probably the best as far as noise cancellation is concerned. Proprietary Bose innovations use microphones both inside and outside each earcup to sense the sounds around you-and reduce the noise.
  • What else do we like about ‘em?
    • They’re EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE. Probably the MOST comfortable of all around-the-ear NC headphones
    • Has a 3 button inline remote: volume up and down and call answering button
    • Apple compatible
  • What are the CONS?
    • Bose® QC15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones PackUnlike with the PSB M4U 2 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones, when the battery dies, the music dies too. This may not be a big issue, especially if you keep an spare AAA battery.
    • Price – again, not cheap, but roughly $100 cheaper than the PSB M4U 2s!
  • Here’s what you get in the package – QuietComfort 15 headphones, QuietComfort 15 inline remote and microphone cable (detachable), Standard audio cable (detachable), AAA battery, Carrying case and Airline adapter
  • Check for availability of deals here

#3. Harman Kardon NC Premium Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones

  • Harman Kardon NC Premium Over-Ear Noise Cancelling HeadphonesHarman Kardon NC Premium Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones takes the #3 slot in our ranking of the best noise-cancelling headphones. Let’s cut the cra* and get to those 2 famous questions of ours  8-)
  1. How good is the sound quality? EXCELLENT! But not quite the audiophile quality of the PSB M4U 2s, may be even a little bit better than the Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones. Like we said before, not all of us need or can appreciate audiophile-grade music. Compared to the PSB M4U 2 headphones, you can save over $150 with these Harman Kardon NC Premium Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones (on sale at the time of writing October 2nd 2013). Another noteworthy, pleasantly surprising feature of these were that turning on noise cancelling hardly makes a difference to audio quality. With almost any pair of NC headphones, when the audio signals travel through the ‘noise cancelling machinery’ inside a pair of NC headphones, you lose at least some of the audio quality. This is why passive noise cancellation gives you better sound quality than active noise cancellation. However, when the ‘noise-cancellation’ part is considered, ‘active’ obviously does a better job than ‘passive’, however, at the expense of some sound quality. But with thesee HK premium NC headphones, its active mode hardly makes a difference. You can test this by repeatedly turning on and off the NC feature. Like with any active NC headphones, when you turn the NC on, everything usually sounds louder. With an average pair, in addition to the audio becoming louder, on closer inspection, you’ll also notice a loss of quality/clarity. But with these Harman Kardon NC Premium Around-the-Ear NC Headphones, there’s hardly a loss of clarity.
  2. How good is it at cancelling outside noise? Very good, but comes behind the Bose® QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® Headphones and in par with the PSB M4U 2 headphones. But that’s good enough noise cancelling for 99% of us!
  • What else impressed us on these headphones?Harman Kardon Around-the-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones
    • Just like the PSB M4U 2s, you could continue listening to music even after the batteries are drained!
    • Has an inline Apple friendly 3 button remote/mic for phone calls
    • Like the name says “PREMIUM DESIGN” – not everybody may like them, but we do, we love ‘em!
  • What are the cons?
    • Like with most high-end NC headphones, the original list price is >$300. However, at the time of writing this (October 2nd 2013) they were on sale with over $100 off the list price.
    • Uses a rechargeable battery – lasts about 40 hours – what we don’t like about them is that once they die, you have to recharge them. Whereas with non-rechargeable ones, you can just pop one AAA in and it’s ready to go.
    • The rechargeable cable is NOT a standard micro-USB cable!

 

Top 3 BUDGET-friendly ACTIVE Noise Cancelling Headphones

These are our Most wallet friendly headphones with ACTIVE Noise Cancellation. Note that this is NOT PASSIVE Cancellation. Passive cancellation (noise isolation is a better word) simply cuts out the external sounds thanks to the tight fit of the earcups. In contrast, with active noise cancelling, microphones on the headphones identify various noises in your surroundings and the noise-cancelling circuitry inside the headphones produces a counteracting signal (near exact opposite wavelength). The result? Environmental noise is cancelled by the counteracting noise produced by the headphones –> Noise Cancellation!

Because of this complex NC circuitry, ACTIVE NC headphones are almost always MORE expensive than the PASSIVE NC headphones. This is why they don’t come cheap! This is why these NC headphones, even though we have categorized them as budget friendly, are NOT REALLY CHEAP.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling Closed-Back Headphones SOUL by Ludacris SL300WB High Definition Noise Canceling Headphones (Black/White) Sony MDR-NC200D Digital Noise-Canceling Headphones
Amazon Image Amazon Image Amazon Image

Top 3 BUDGET-friendly PASSIVE Noise Cancelling Headphones

Passive Noise Cancellation is generally NOT as good as ACTIVE Noise cancellation. It shouldn’t be a surprise because it is merely due to the passive ‘sealing effect’ of the earcups. The following headphones are pretty good at noise-isolation.

Sony MDRZX100/BLK ZX Series Stereo Headphones Audio-Technica ATH-M30 Professional Studio Monitor Closed-back Dynamic Stereo Headphones V-MODA Crossfade LP Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone (Phantom Chrome)
Amazon Image These are extremely cheap at around $15-20 and have a decent amount of noise isolation. However, don’t expect these to cancel the ambient noises at a level anywhere near the PSP M4U 2s, the Bose QC15s, the HK NC Premiums or even the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B, Ludacris SL300WB or Sony MDR-NC200D Amazon Image Again, not made to be a noise cancelling, but blocks out a decent amount of external noises and has EXCELLENT audio quality Amazon ImageOf these 3, probably the best passive noise-cancellation comes these V-MODAs!

Top 2 Bluetooth Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sennheiser MM 450 Flight Bluetooth Multimedia Headset with Noise Cancellation – Black Amazon Image Parrot Zik Touch-Activated Bluetooth Active Noise Cancelling HeadphonesThese are the Most Feature-rich NC headphones. You should check out its specs whether you buy it or not! Amazon Image

Top 4 Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones/Earbuds

How do the Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones compare to NC Over-the-ear headphones?

  • Generally, both sound quality and noise-cancelling are better on the over-the-ear headphones.
  • However, in-ear NC headphones have the clear advantage of being light-weight and portable.
  • If you don’t have a problem carrying around a bulky pair of headphones around your neck/folded in a bag, we highly recommend that you go for over-the-ear headphones. But if you prefer the small, light-weight, less space-occupying features over sound quality, then your only option is to go for in-ear NC earbuds

 

These are undoubtedly the BEST in-ear NC headphones for sound quality, superb noise cancelling and comfort Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones Amazon ImageOf the in-ear NC headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones are in a class of its own. They’re noise-cancelling is SUPERB, almost as good as those high-end over-the-ear headphones. However, they’re awfully expensive for a pair of in-ear earbuds. Audio quality is not as good as that of the over-the ear NC headphones, but as good or better than other in-ear NC headphones. Audio Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling In-Ear Headphones Amazon Image
Klipsch IMAGE S4 In-Ear Enhanced Bass Noise-Isolating Headphones (Black) Amazon Image Sony MDRNC13 Noise-Canceling Headphones Amazon Image

4 Budget In-Ear NC Headphones/Earbuds

  • The prices range from ~$7 to $20.
  • Don’t expect active noise cancelling-quality noise cancellation or superb audio quality from these. However, they do a decent job for most of us on a budget without sacrificing too much sound quality!
This is very cheap. The only reason it’s marketed as noise-cancelling (it’s NOT REAL noise-cancellation, even though the product details say so) is because of the ‘noise-reducing fit’. Because of the ‘good fit’ with the ear canal, it doesn’t let music out or ambient noises in!
Panasonic RPHJE120K In-Ear Headphone Amazon Image
Digital Silence DS-101A Stereo Analogue Ambient Noise Cancelling Headset with Microphone – Black Amazon Image
MEElectronics Sport-Fi M6 Noise-Isolating In-Ear Headphones with Memory Wire (Black) Amazon Image Panasonic RP-HC55-S Noise-Cancelling Earbud Headphones (Silver) Amazon Image

Best In-Ear Bluetooth NC Headphones/Earbuds

Phiaton PS 210 BTNC Bluetooth 3.0 Active Noise Cancelling Stereo Earphones with Mic Amazon Image