The 13 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones of 2019

Tune out the background noise with these great headphones

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones

Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise-Canceling Headphones
Photo from Amazon
4.8

Bose is perhaps best known for introducing the world to noise-canceling headphones, but the brand is also synonymous with high-end, high-quality sound. Bose’s QuietComfort 35 (Series II) over-ear headphones may not be the best sounding headphones money can buy, but they are certainly the most comfortable and most effective noise-canceling headphones around. They come in black and silver color schemes, offering a healthy spectrum of styles. The cans themselves collapse into a convenient, travel-sized package. Sure, they're not cheap, but the noise-canceling technology developed by Bose has been perfected over decades.

Take a look at other product reviews and shop for the best Bose headphones available online. 

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Sony WH1000XM3

4.3

The only pair of wireless noise-canceling headphones that can hold a candle to our top overall pick is the Sony WH1000XM3. These incredibly stylish and light headphones offer strong noise-canceling and high-end sound quality derived from 40mm liquid crystal polymer drivers. On top of being nice to look at, these headphones also have hidden touch sensor controls so you can play, pause, skip, turn volume up/down, and more by just tapping gently on the right ear cup. They’re also designed to be comfortable and can be worn all day. Battery life on these headphones is amazing with up to 30 hours of playback on a single charge. If you need to quickly recharge, you can get 5 hours of playback after charging for just 10 minutes. While a tad pricey at over $300, these headphones will surely satisfy the headphone lover in your life who demands good noise cancellation and sound quality.

Read more reviews of the best Sony headphones available to purchase online. 

Best In-Ear: Bose QuietControl 30 Acoustic Noise-Canceling Headphones

Bose QuietControl 30
Courtesy of Amazon.com

As mentioned, when it comes to noise-canceling tech, Bose is the cream of the crop. Simply because it’s been in the game since the 1980s, the company has a leg up on the essential hardware behind noise-canceling devices. That’s why both its over-ear and in-ear flagship cans are the best noise canceling headphones on the market. The in-ear QuietControl 30 offer the right mix of style, comfort, and tech to ensure reliability and performance. Some people find in-ear headphones in general to be uncomfortable for prolonged use, so for these users we still recommend going with the QuietComfort 35’s. But if you don’t mind the feel of in-ears, or you don’t expect to use them for long periods of time, the QuietControl 30 are the right fit.

Check out our guide of the best earbuds available on the market today. 

Best Value: Monoprice Hi-Fi Active Noise-Canceling Headphone

Monoprice Hi-Fi Active Noise-Canceling Headphone
Courtesy of Amazon.com

These aren’t the cheapest noise-canceling headphones on the market, but they do offer the best mix of performance and price. You can find noise-canceling cans for as low as $50, but they’re not likely to work as advertised. The Monoprice Hi-Fi headphones promise solid noise-canceling performance and have stellar reviews. The active noise reduction tech blocks out ambient noise of up to 22dB, and runs on AAA batteries promising up to 50 hours of use. It features a three-button remote that allows you to use them with your mobile device or VoIP applications. The design itself is pretty boring and there’s no Bluetooth compatibility, but when it comes to value these are about as good as it gets for the noise-canceling category.

Runner-Up, Best Value: Monoprice SonicSolace Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones

MonopriceSonicSolace Active Noise Cancelling
Courtesy of Walmart.com

The Bluetooth SonicSolace noise-canceling headphones (available in this handsome brown color, or a more subdued black) are truly a steal. The construction on these is probably the first thing you’ll notice; they feel extremely premium with touches of rugged metal and very soft faux-leather cups. The adjustable headband and oversized cups make the headphones pretty comfortable, but it’s important to note that the one major con is that they’re a little on the heavy side, so they might not be the most comfortable for some users in extended use.

They give you a frequency response ranging from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, with 40mm drivers that push out 105 dB of sound, so you know the sound well pack plenty of punch. The rechargeable battery promises 16 hours of audio playback without noise-canceling tech, and eight hours with it engaged. And that tech really does cancel noise at a pretty effective rate, but the earcups themselves do a pretty fantastic job of isolating sound without it enabled, so it’s a double whammy.

Best for Comfort: Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones

Your search for the most comfortable noise-canceling headphones is officially over — the Sennheiser PXC 550s are phenomenal with an ergonomic design that pairs a padded headband with rotating ear cups meant for long listening sessions. As an added bonus, the ultra-comfortable build doesn’t diminish portability as the PXC 550s collapse into an included travel case.

When it comes to sound, the mids and highs offer excellent detail and clarity, the bass is just right, and the volume is loud enough without being overwhelming. Even when cranked to max volume, the audio is rich and clear without any detail loss.

Wirelessly connecting to any of your devices via Bluetooth 4.2 or NFC, NoiseGard suppression technology — with an active impedance of 490 Ohm and passive impedance of 46 Ohms — keeps ambient sounds away from your ear in order to place focus on your music or calls. A triple microphone array adds stand-out call clarity that also benefits from NoiseGard tech.

Check out our other reviews of the best Sennheiser headphones available on the market today.

Best Design: Libratone Q Adapt

These Libratone headphones sit in a nice cross-section of noise-canceling cans – they aren’t too big and bulky that you might as well be bringing speakers around, but they aren’t so small that they sound tinny. One look at the near-perfect reviews and you probably won’t need any further convincing to give these a try. The sound is a unique blend of lows, mids and highs that give you not necessarily a flat response, but a more Bose-like optimized sound for music listening.

They connect wirelessly via Bluetooth, but you can also plug them directly into your device via a 3.5mm aux cable. The design is a small, sleek on-ear construction, which they’re calling “Scandinavian,” available in either deep black or classic white. The internal battery offers 20+ hours on a single charge, which means they’ll definitely last you through the day. But, arguably the coolest feature of these headphones is the adaptive noise-canceling tech. They’re calling it CityMix, and the protocol offers you variable levels of noise-canceling whether you want to block out just about everything or just a small amount.

Best Sound: Sony WH1000XM2 Noise-Canceling Headphones

Sony’s reputation for top-notch headphones continues with the WH1000XM2. Their digital noise-canceling technology all but eliminates ambient noise from the background as the headphones automatically detect activity and balance their levels accordingly. You can customize the level of noise cancellation via Sony’s Headphones Connect App.

Fortunately, noise cancellation isn’t the only reason to love these headphones. The WH1000XM2's design and build quality are first-class. The headband is both flexible and sturdy while the ear cups are large enough to properly seal most ears. Smart touch controls on the outside of the ear cups also allow you to mute your music, skip a track, activate voice assistant, take a call, or adjust your volume.

When it comes to sound, once again Sony’s legendary reputation is alive and well. The headphones' 40mm drivers employ Sony’s DSEE HX software to deliver excellent mids, highs, and bass. Even the audio during phone calls is excellent. When it comes to battery, a full charge will last you 30 hours in wireless mode, and even when you run out, a 10-minute charging session can supply you with an additional 70 minutes of playtime.

Runner-Up, Best Sound: Paww WaveSound 3 Bluetooth Headphones

The WaveSound 3 headphones are designed first and foremost for travel, with an included traveling case and specific design features meant to help when you are on airplanes or trains. They block out cabin noise, talking and as much as 23 dB of unwanted ambient noise. And they include an airplane adapter meant for plugging in to some in-flight viewing systems, which is way better than using the sub-par headphones you are often given on a flight.

On top of clear sound and noise cancelation, the WaveSound 3 has a built-in microphone for taking calls (please don’t do this on an airplane!), as well as a lightweight and durable metal construction that will be comfortable on your head.

The headphones are praised for being a great value for less than $100, and that they're especially useful for travel and dealing with ambient noise.

Best for Style: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

With a premium design and build materials to match, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i headphones are a beautiful choice. The brand is known for quality and attention to detail — Bang & Olufsen promises that their products will withstand years of regular use — and the H8i is no exception. The leather headband feels tough and durable while the outer earpieces incorporate anodized aluminum. Inside, lambskin memory foam ear pads are both stylish and comfortable.

Unlike most noise-canceling headphones, the H8i employ an on-ear design that doesn't encapsulate the entire ear. That makes their noise-canceling technology even more impressive. Activate “transparency mode” with the click of a button and ambient noise is drowned out.

Audio quality is just as good as the design. Balanced mids and highs pair with outstanding lows and while the bass isn’t terribly deep, it’s easy to overlook in lieu of the total package. The headphone's battery supports 30 hours of playback, and they offer 100 feet of Bluetooth range and fast charging via USB-C.

Still not sold? Check out our guide of the most stylish headphones available on the market today. 

Best for Kids: Sony MDR-ZX110NC Over-Ear Headphones

When shopping for a pair of headphones for kids, you need to keep cost, durability and the size of the earcups in mind. Most kids won’t like a set that's too heavy or big for their heads, and the headphones will also probably be manhandled, so you probably won't want to shell out more than $50 or so. Sony's MDR-ZX110NC option checks all those boxes and at a very reasonable price point. The headphones offer noise-canceling technology to reduce potential interference with your music listening experience, and with 30mm drivers, the design gives you the oomph and richness you'd expect from higher-dollar headphones. They aren’t wireless, so there’s no flexibility there, but there is a 4-foot cable with an L-shaped, gold-plated connector for a long, stable connection to your audio device. If you’re looking for a kid- and wallet-friendly set of headphones that won’t sacrifice on audio-quality, then look no further. 

Best Wired: Bose QuietComfort 25

 

There are few brands that just do headphones right, and perhaps the best example of that is Bose. Offering a full range of well-researched audio products, Bose — and their QuietComfort line, specifically — is a great place to start if you’re looking for a solid set of headphones. While their QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones offer you freedom from wires, they do come with a commensurate price tag. But, if you want all the benefits of Bose’s tried-and-true noise-canceling tech, and don’t need the Bluetooth capabilities, the QuietComfort 25 is a perfect choice.

The design's noise-canceling microphones pick up outside noise and offset it with a small burst of white noise, giving you first-rate noise reduction that allows your music to shine through. The 56-inch QC25 cable features an inline mic and controls, allowing for you to stop and start your music and take phone calls. This particular package comes with a lightweight carrying case and an airport power adapter to help power noise canceling on the go. 

Best for Travel: Sony WF-1000X True Wireless Earbuds

 When it comes to choosing a pair of travel headphones, the most important consideration is how big they are and, as a result, how much space they’ll take up in your bag. If you’re looking to save a ton of room, then a pair of true wireless earbuds is your best bet. Thankfully, these Sony WF-1000X options offer you the added benefit of noise-cancelation — an extra important feature when you’re trying to drown out the dull roar of a plane engine. The earbuds even take the adaptive noise-canceling a step further and adjust the levels and qualities of your music playback based on your surroundings. The design's 6mm driver offers a pretty hefty response for headphones of this size. They connect via Bluetooth and reviewers note that the pairing is really stable. The headphone's batteries offer up to 3 hours of play time, but the included carrying case can juice them up with an additional 9 hours of operation. Altogether the set comes in a package that’s under an inch thick, so it’ll easily slide into any carry-on.  

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought and tested two top-rated noise-canceling headphones on the market. Our reviewers spent 132 hours using them in all types of scenarios, including running errands, exercising, and commuting. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these headphones, from the style to the controls. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Pair of Noise-Canceling Headphones

Active or passive - True noise-canceling headphones use active circuitry to analyze sounds in your vicinity and generate counter-signals to literally cancel them out. If you want the most isolated listening experience possible, you need active noise-cancelation. Passive noise-canceling just insulates you from the outside world with big earcups that form a strong seal against your head.

Headphone style - Active noise-canceling headphones are available in over-ear models (where the earcups cover your ear completely), on-ear models, and in-ear models. There was a time when only over-ear models were really effective, but today, the quality of the noise-canceling hardware is far more important than the style you choose.

Noise-canceling toggle - This is a feature that allows you to momentarily turn off noise-canceling, allowing you to hold a conversation or listen to something without taking your headphones off. It isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s a nice perk.

Test Results: Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones (Best Overall)

4.8

What We Like

  • Adjustable noise-canceling

  • Impressive sound quality

  • Great battery life

What We Don’t Like

  • A bit bulky

  • No microphone

Bose QuietComfort 35
Bose QuietComfort 35
Bose QuietComfort 35
Bose QuietComfort 35
Bose QuietComfort 35

Our testers found that these headphones’ noise-canceling ability is second to none. “When playing music, it's all you hear,” one reviewer wrote. Another plus? The noise-canceling levels can also be adjusted, which one of our reviewers said is “great if you're not looking to drown out the world.” Their sound quality is also stellar, according to another tester: “It measures up to studio-quality headphones I have that are similarly priced,” he raved.

Test Results: Sony WH1000XM3 (Runner-Up, Best Overall)

4.3

What We Like

  • Incredible noise cancelation

  • Amazing sound

  • High-quality build

What We Don't Like

  • Touch controls aren’t intuitive

  • Expensive

Sony WH1000XM3
Sony WH1000XM3 headphones
Sony headphones
WH1000XM3
Sony

“The noise canceling on these headphones is sort of astounding, almost to the point of being disconcerting,” raved one of our testers. According to our reviewers, the other major highlight of these headphones is the sound, which one of our testers said includes “a great smooth response, impeccable detail, and ample bass without being cumbersome.” In terms of the controls, one of our reviewers wished for “more physical buttons and an easier learning curve.” Our testers also noted the headphones are expensive, but they don't consider that to be a dealbreaker. Bottom line: “These are perfect for those who want heavy isolation,” declared one of our reviewers.