The 13 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones to Buy in 2018

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

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, with stellar reviews from Consumer Reports. 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 480 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones

Sennheiser PXC 480
Courtesy of Amazon.com

When it comes to comfort, hands-down the most comfortable headphone form factor is the over-ear design. These cans fit over your entire ear, which prevents the pressure that on-ear cans can place on the flaps of your ears, and the jawbone stress that in-ear devices can cause. Among over-ear noise-canceling headphones, the Sennheiser PXC 480 are the most comfortable. Tough, rugged materials ensure both reliability and durability. They also feature a unique TalkThrough function that allows users to communicate without taking off the headphones.

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: V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Headphones look like something out of science fiction with a two-tone industrial style that will make you look like a DJ from the future. But they’re not just stylish. They sound great, too. These headphones have a dual-diaphragm 50mm driver, which allows for crystal clear sound that separates thumping bass from bleeding into the mids and highs of a song.

Oh, and they’re crazy versatile, too. These headphones let you go wired or wireless depending on your circumstances. Say you have a smartphone with no jack and need wireless headphones, but you use wired headphones with your work laptop. The V-MODA Crossfade can handle both and you can sync the headphones to two devices simultaneously if you’re using, say, a phone and a tablet at the same time. These headphones can pump music wirelessly for about 12 hours on a single charge, but you can still use them wired if your battery runs out. It also comes in black, chrome, red and white/silver color varieties, so you can match the headphones to your new future DJ personality.

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.

Amazon reviewers say that the WaveSound 3 headphones are a great value for less than $100 and they’ve been extremely satisfied, especially for travel and dealing with ambient noise.

Best for Style: BÖHM Wireless Bluetooth with Active Noise-Canceling Headphones

BÖHM Wireless Bluetooth with Active Noise-Canceling Headphones
Courtesy of Amazon.com

These are some pretty little headphones — and affordable, too. Unlike a lot of other noise-canceling headphones, these BÖHM cans include a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts up to 18 hours. With two, high-end stereo drivers, you can expect some quality sound with a heavy bass presence. As an added bonus, these phones are Bluetooth compatible, meaning no wires are necessary. They come in two, equally stylish color tones, but we recommend the brown, tan, gold scheme for maximum wow factor. In addition to looking great, the BÖHM headphones are super comfortable. They feature light leather ear cups with a soft headband for stress-free listening. There’s even an inline remote and mic that allow you to take hands-free calls on the fly.

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 take a beating, 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

Our reviewers spent 104 hours testing one of the most popular pairs of noise-canceling headphones on the market. To get the most thorough results possible, they tried them in all types of scenarios, from running errands to relaxing at home. We asked them to consider the most important features when using these headphones and we've outlined them 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.