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We’ve added a What to look forward to section discussing the JBL Reflect Aware C and the potential release of other headphones that run over a USB-C or Lightning port. Our wallet-friendly runner-up—the Monoprice 10799 Enhanced Active Noise Cancelling Earphones—is currently unavailable, and we don’t expect that model to be back in stock until late summer 2016.
The Bose are still the best in-ear noise-cancelling headphones, though the competition has been fairly light this year. All of our budget picks in this guide have been discontinued, but we'll be updating soon with new, cheaper recommendations.
Are you using headphones with an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and experiencing crackling sounds or problems with Siri? We've put more than 35,000 miles on our main pick, between flights, trains, and buses, and they've even been backpacking.
The Bose QC20s are still the best noise-cancelling in-ear headphones, but we updated the guide with more testing data and step-down picks. The Bose QuietComfort 20 offer significantly better noise reduction than any other in-ear headphone. If overall noise reduction is all you care about, you don’t mind carrying around something a bit bigger than a paperback book when folded, you don’t wear glasses, and you don’t plan on sleeping on a plane, the over-ear QC25s are your best bet.
However, if you want something that’s more compact and easier to tote around, but isn’t quite as quiet overall, get the QC20s. For what it’s worth, I travel a lot and I bought myself a pair of the QC20s, and I wouldn’t leave home without them.
There is a big difference between earbuds that claim to be “noise isolating” and those that feature “noise cancelling,” so don’t get the terms confused. If you can get a good fit (always crucial with in-ear headphones) and the headphones are designed well, noise-isolating headphones can do an okay job lowering ambient noise. Noise-cancelling goes one step further, dropping the ambient noise lower than what is possible with basic in-ear headphones. Active noise cancelling is far less dependent on fit and will reduce noise at many frequencies far better than passive noise isolation. One thing we noticed in our research was that noise-cancelling (NC) headphones have low Amazon rating averages across the board as a category. The QC20s come as close to this as any headphone I’ve tested, but even they aren’t going to completely eliminate mid-to-high frequencies like voices or babies crying. Headphone measurement guru and Wirecutter contributor Brent Butterworth measured the QC20s using sophisticated objective measurement gear. Brent’s full measurements are worth checking out, but the main takeaway is that at certain frequencies, the QC20s drop the ambient sound by 45 decibels. I’m not saying the Bose make an airplane sound as quiet as a library (other frequencies aren’t dropped by as much), but this is the magnitude of that maximum difference. Bose’s tangle-resistant cable and zippered case make the QC20s an even better travel companion.
Lastly, for reasons we’ve gone into above, most-noise cancelling headphones on Amazon have pretty poor reviews, but the Bose fare pretty well. Despite all of that, their excellent design and impressive noise-cancelling abilities make the Bose QuietComfort 20 the best noise-cancelling headphone. The Monoprice 10799 Enhanced Active Noise Cancelling Earphones have the best noise-cancelling performance of any of the lower-priced in-ears we’ve tested.
This chart shows the noise cancelling of the Bose QC20 and Monoprice 10799, along with several competitors. The 10799 are able to drop ambient noise in the crucial “airplane engine” range of 100-200 Hz by about 27 dB.
To test the 10799, I used them on a transatlantic flight and several high-speed trains between London and Bordeaux. They don’t have anything overtly wrong with them, and the bass, mid-range, and treble are all in reasonable proportion to each other (as in, no one range is audibly boosted or attenuated).
John and Lauren, who don’t travel as much as Brent and I, said they’d definitely pick up a pair if they had a long flight coming up.
The Amazon rating is low, but as mentioned earlier, it’s clear from the comments that people were expecting magic, and no NC headphone can offer that.
The aforementioned Brent Butterworth is one of the few audio reviewers capable of objectively testing headphone noise cancelling with specialized measurement gear. To measure noise cancelling, Brent sets up speakers and a subwoofer to output pink noise at 75 dB. Brent, Wirecutter headphone maven Lauren Dragan, and myself listened to each headphone with and without background noise to test the overall sound quality and the noise-cancelling sound quality. For the initial testing for this guide, I compiled a list of every noise-cancelling in-ear headphone from brands I’d heard of and brands I hadn’t. The aforementioned HeadTrip (NXG) Hush NX-HTNC and Sony MDRNC13, which I found to be excellent budget options for those not interested in the more-expensive Bose. Previous A-T headphones were well-reviewed, and the Audio Technica ATH-ANC33iS had a 4.7 out of five average rating on Best Buy.
Both the Phiaton PS 20 NC and Bluetooth PS 210 BTNC had good reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. As I’ve said before, the primary criterion for judging noise-cancelling headphones should be their noise-cancelling capabilities.
The AKG K391 NC were the only headphones to give the Bose a real run for their money in terms of objective noise-cancelling capabilities. I didn’t mind the extra bass (I tend not to, generally), but the peak Brent spoke of is an instant dealbreaker for me. The Audio Technica ATH-ANC33iS were, as Brent put it, “Just a nice, flat-sounding headphone. However, the $100 BT 100 NC is the only BT NC headphone that had a reasonable amount of NC. The Phiaton PS210 BTNC were the other Bluetooth options in our original guide, but Lauren wasn’t a fan: “tinny sounding, no sound depth. Panasonic RP-HC55, 56, and 75 are an old model, not well-reviewed, and not a US model (also, poor reviews), respectively. Pioneer SE-NC31C-K – Pre-test by Brent revealed the NC and sound quality were barely average.
Sony XBANC85D – The only in-ear NC headphones I could find with an MSRP higher than the Bose, yet they have an average Amazon review lower than Sony’s own NC13.
A cheap option, sort of, would be to buy earplugs and use over-ear headphones to blast through the earplugs.
If you don’t mind the reduction in sound quality, the bulk of carrying over-ear headphones, the discomfort of wearing earplugs on a long flight, and aren’t sitting next to me, this is a cheap option. We actively moderate the comments section to make it relevant and helpful for our readers, and to stay up to date with our latest picks. The Wirecutter and The Sweethome are lists of the best gadgets and gear for people who quickly want to know what to get. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. Block up to 90% of unwanted ambient noise with vQuiet’s world-class active noise canceling technology.
Large 40mm custom voiced drivers ensure you will always enjoy deep accurate bass, expressive mid tones, and detailed high tones. Class-leading battery life allows you to enjoy superb sound performance with active noise canceling for up to 35 hours. Pushing the signature blue bypass button mutes playback and deactivates noise cancellation, allowing you to hear your environment without removing your headphones. Innovative design and incredible durable construction make vQuiet the perfect headphone for travel.
Active Noise Cancelling Velodyne’s vQuiet headphones practically remove all unwanted sound with a 90% reduction.
Unlike other noise canceling headphones, you can rock your favorite tunes without a battery- just a single charge from our built in rechargeable battery can keep you in the groove for up to 35 hours! Swapped with a friend on a flight to compare to his Bose & hardly noticed any difference . The sound quality is excellent, with near perfect highs and lows, and not an overpowering bass. The only cons that I have with these headphones are, the audio cable is not long enough for my applications. The velodyne Vquites are a pair of good quality ANC ( Active noise canceling) headphones. The build quality & design looks very slick and you definitely will feel good wearing them around your head , bet it in a work setting or in a coffee shop on long flights.


13 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones to Tune Out Your Surroundings CompletelySo long subway noise! Even though most headphones and earbuds deliver reasonably good noise isolation, headsets with active noise canceling have built-in microphones that help them almost completely block outside racket. Any audiophile and music professional will admit to the fact that the heaviest of bass music (EDM, hip hop) sounds the best in clubs and concert venues. The 7 headphones we will list below allow for deep and strong bass quality, as well as superior comfort, minimal distortion, and responses at lower frequencies.
In addition, the 50mm duel diaphragm guarantees that the bleeding of mids and highs does not occur, leaving you with crisp and booming bass, vibrant mids, and prolonged highs.
One of the few complaints involving the M-100 revolves around its ability to shut out noise; however you should be aware of the fact that these noise isolating headphones effectively keep your music in and the noises out. What this means for you is that you can now receive solid bass, pronounced highs, assertive mids and deep lows, which ensures that your bass listening is rich and prominent. Audiophiles will also be excited by its lovely design, sturdy build, impressive bass extension, and superior low-bass separation. However, the on-ear design of the MDR-1R prevents optimum noise isolation, but the closed styling and acoustic seals build on the shortcomings of this design. Though Sennheiser has opted to take a more conservative approach with the reproduction, the bass remains precise and clear- unlike the aggressive tones found in other headphones.
In addition, the Momentum boasts of exemplary noise isolation, powerful sounds signatures, vivid mids and highs, and rich responses. And there is also the comfort factor associated with these bass headphones, with a top grade leather headband and ear pads ensuring that clarity is at its highest at all times. Before we begin, it is important to note that these bass headphones have a burn time of 55 hours, so do not be disappointed by the bass you first hear. This highly responsive and sensitive set of headphones ensure that bass reproduction is strong, true, deep, pumping and incredibly sweet; with crisp and clear lows. However, the beauty of the Beyrdynamic lies with its noise variable reduction slider, which allows you to regulate your bass output using a four-stage operation.
When this feature works in conjunction with the 50mm driver units and neodymium magnets, we get a responsive and forceful frequency of 3Hz-28 KHz, which is perfect for the most popular of music genres. The bass emanating from the Denon AH-D600 can only be described as being of rib pounding, head rattling and body slamming quality. The comfortable bass headphones are also renowned for their extensive 5Hz-45 KHz frequency response, which allow you to experience the lowest of lows and the highest of highs- hence the head rattling feeling. If you are looking for headphones that will provide quality sound at high volumes, then this is the set for you. What this means for you is that you can now listen to your bass without distortion, regardless of the genre of music or volume of your headphones. As you can now determine, the aforementioned headphones are the best headphones for bass on the market. We based this conclusion on objective testing with headphone measurement equipment, subjective listening tests conducted with multiple listeners, and more than 100,000 miles’ worth of in-flight testing.
Unfortunately, none of the other less-expensive headphones we tested are a good enough alternative to recommend, so we have no budget pick for now. The Monoprice 10799 Enhanced Active Noise Cancelling Earphones are the new budget option, offering better-than-average noise cancelling and decent sound quality for only around $80. Microphones on the earbuds work with circuitry in an attached dongle to create inverse sound waves that cancel out incoming noise. To measure overall noise isolation, 75 decibels of pink noise are created, then how much sneaks past the headphone is measured. The purple line is the similarly-priced (but not noise-cancelling) Marshall Mode EQ in-ear headphones. Reading the comments reveals a trend: Many people are expecting “magic” from their headphones, that suddenly the world will be silent upon switching them on. The QC15s, which previously had the best noise-cancelling Brent had measured, “only” dropped the ambient sound by a maximum of 33 dB. I wrote a full review of the QuietComfort 20s for Forbes that included using them on a round-trip cross-country fight, along with extensive listening tests.
I found the QC20s comfortable to wear the whole flight, and they dropped the roar of the engines (Boeing 757-200 out, 737-800 back), to about the level of the average open office. Across 1,778 reviews at time of writing, the average rating for these headphones is an incredibly high 4.5 out of five, with 72 percent of reviewers granting them five stars and 14 percent giving them four. In addition to many long flights, the Bose have also been on buses, trains, and backpacking through 20-some countries. They haven’t worn at all so far, but they’re definitely the part that feels like the weakest link.
The next step up in performance is actually the Bose, which says more about this category than it does about the Monoprice, to be honest. Everything below 75 db is a reduction in the ambient noise, though recall that decibels is a logarithmic scale. Lauren, Brent, John, and I all listened to them, and figured that against other under-$100 headphones, they’d probably place around mid-pack. There is some mid-range coloration, so vocals sound a little odd, and the bass and treble both lack the clarity and fullness of better like-priced headphones.
If you don’t travel enough to justify the price of the Bose, these will make your next flight a little quieter. As you can see from the charts below, a headphone’s performance isn’t the same across all frequencies. From this we got the two previous runners-up to the Bose, the HeadTrip and Sony models discussed below. For this update, we got in three new Phiaton models, the BT 100 NC, PS 202 NC, and BT 220 NC. If you’re willing to spend $200 on these, save up a bit more and get the Bose, which have even better noise cancelling and far less offensive sound. The 220s have a maximum of 14 dB, which is very mild, with an average in the “airplane band” of approximately 12 dB. Beautiful build, but it seems all the money went to the looks, rather than the substance.” The noise cancelling was also fairly mild. Lauren also felt that the lack of a passive mode was a dealbreaker, since the Sonys did have a passive mode for less money. In order to get the sound past the earplugs, you’re going to have to crank the volume on your headphones. In addition, they’re well built and, for most people, an exceptionally comfortable headphone. Now there is a single model number (“20”) but make sure you select the model that matches your gear. When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we earn affiliate commissions that support our work. We select each pick with the utmost care, relying on expert opinion, research, and testing.
In addition, unlike most noise canceling headphones, the vQuiet can be used without battery power. The vQuiet headphones allow multiple users the ability to listen to the same thing simply by plugging their additional headphone cord into one of the two headphone jacks.
Also, I have experienced some issues with the in-line volume controls not working properly at times. If you are in the market for a great sounding, and quality built headphone at a very fair price, I would highly recommend them.
The One touch button to quickly put it on silent to listen to your environment is a good innovation that you don't see on most ANC headphones. Because of that, they typically carry a higher price tag than headphones that don't feature the tech.This roundup contains wired and wireless noise-canceling headphones of all sizes and price points. The latest iteration delivers excellent noise cancelation and significantly improved sound over its predecessor. By combining understated looks, premium finish, and superb sound, the wired headphones are a high-quality sub-$200 entry worthy of consideration.
They can also deliver wireless audio with superior quality, thanks to proprietary Samsung technology.
It is perfect for users who like to travel light, but without compromising on sound quality and features. Also on offer in white, the QuietComfort 20 is the in-ear headset to buy in its price range.
This exceptionally portable headphone promises deep pulsing bass without rattle, accompanied by higher-grader treble and mid tones.


What this means for you is powerful and muscular sound throughout the frequency range, without fear of shaking as witnessed in other headphones. And if you are the type of person who enjoys cranking up the bass to spectacular volumes, the 103dB sensitivity will ensure that your speakers remain intact.
When this is combined with the 40mm liquid crystal diaphragm, you have headphones that will provide fantastic bass across an extended frequency range. If you enjoy strong thumping and rattling in your bass, then this is not the option for you. This multi-layer delivery of bass ensures that your music is strong and customized to your preference. Furthermore, the focus on sound level isolation via the acoustic seal design allows for strong bass reproduction and ultra extended bass beats. This serious and clear sound quality works to counteract the lack of noise cancellation abilities, by ensuring bass reproduction is respectable at all times.
Wearing these headphones is exceptionally comfortable, and using them is equally intuitive; what more can you ask for? Alongside the Beats Executive, Yamaha Pro 500 and JVC HA-SZ2000 which we have not reviewed, these 7 headphones promise clear, crisp and strong sound quality dedicated to your bass listening. In all, we considered more than two dozen models and tested the best of those, and the QC20 came out on top because it had better active noise cancelling than any other model we tested by far. If you can’t stretch to $300 or travel only occasionally, the Monoprice 10799 Enhanced Active Noise Cancelling Earphones are a great alternate. I’ve been reviewing audio gear for 13 years, including a seven-year stint as the Technical Editor of Home Theater magazine. I found that the QC20s did a little better with lower-midrange frequencies (think whooshing air), but the QC25s did better with lower and higher frequencies. And if you wear glasses, the frames might prevent you from getting a good seal on the QC25s, reducing the effectiveness of the noise reduction. Noise isolating is a passive effect—in its most basic form it’s akin to sticking fingers in your ears.
As you can see, the active NC reduces more noise at low frequencies, which, for frequent fliers, is where it counts because jet engine noise is mostly low frequencies. Some people will get a great seal, others won’t, so it’s impossible to say what will offer better passive noise isolation since all ears are different. To put this amount in perspective, the average noise levels inside an airplane and a library are roughly 45 dB apart. The new versions of the QC15s, the QC25s, offer a similar amount of reduction to their predecessors. These number have remained remarkably consistent in the two years since our initial review.
Some feel it’s excessively large; we find the flat design fits nicely next to a phone or iPod. There are several competitors in the price range above the Monoprice, but below Bose, and none offer the noise-cancelling performance of the Monoprice. Where the Bose elicit a “WOW” when they’re turned on, the 10799 elicit more of an “okay, neat.” The 10799s take the edge off, but they don’t nearly cancel as much noise as the Bose.
I wouldn’t pick them to listen to every day, but for the times I need cheap NC, the sound is not objectionable. If you’re the same way, a pair of Comply foam tips might be a good alternate and might even give you a better seal. There really isn’t anything cheaper worth spending money on, nor anything more expensive other than the Bose. For the full explanation, check out his article How to Measure Noise Cancelling in Headphones. A noise-cancelling headphone can perform well on the objective test but still not sound very good.
For that test I took the finalists (along with the Bose and my trusty B&W C5s) with me on a flight from LA to Hawaii. Those with multiple reviews and an average score well below 3.5 were discarded (more on those later). Unfortunately, most of the headphones I tested were not able to pass this low threshold of acceptable sound quality. You can see how mild the NC performance of the PS 202 NC is in chart in the Monoprice section above. In addition to draining your portable’s battery faster, you’ll be annoying the crap out of anyone next to you on the plane or train.
We expect more headphones that run over USB-C (or Apple’s Lightning connector) to debut this year, but we’ll have to see how in demand they are before testing any. Signature Style International artist, Marta Hall, created the signature style and shape of the vQuiet. With 10 hours of battery life on a single charge, the headset will easily last through a normal workday, too.
Whether you want skull rattling cannons, accurate and clear hi-fi headphones, or responsive bassy headphones, we have something for you below. To begin with, this high sensitivity headphone (110dB) is elegant and sophisticated in its appearance, and this is augmented by its fantastic bass reproduction. But there is one thing both models have in common; they offer superior, deep and clear bass sound, which does not rattle nor degrade the treble.
The QC20 even offers better active noise cancelling than the much-bigger over-ear QuietComfort 25, which is our pick for the best noise-cancelling headphones (though the QC25 has additional passive isolation the QC20 lacks; more on this later). Subjectively, they offer about half the noise cancelling of the Bose, but currently only cost a little more than 25 percent of the price. The over-ear design is also a lot harder to sleep in compared to the more-or-less in-ear design of the QC20s. From my previous review: “For example, if you have a noisy air conditioner in your room, it will practically disappear. In my office, where I’ve got an air conditioner practically next to my head, it drops the AC down to the point where it’s barely noticeable.
Because of their flat-ish design, the QC20s are far more comfortable to sleep in than most other headphones.
It’s worth noting that “not objectionable” is pretty much as high a praise as we lavished on the Bose’s sound quality, so there’s that. For this test, I brought the Bose, Monoprice, and the C5 S2s with me on the flights and trains mentioned above. I suppose you could get a NC headphone just for the NC, but since there are options here that offer some degree of both (i.e.
Brent gave them a listen and said, “Just the perfect amount of bass and it strikes a good balance between fat and tight. Remember decibels are a logarithmic scale, so even these seemingly small differences are significant.
You’ll be cutting out some frequencies more than others, which defeats the purpose of decent headphones. As I said before, I fly a lot, and if my seatmate were playing music loud enough for me to hear, I’d certainly cause a ruckus worthy of an air marshal’s attention.
I’ve spent most of the last two years on the road, chalking up more than 100,000 miles in the air and visiting and living in 20 different countries. It’s worth noting that while we call these “in-ear” headphones, they’re more on-the-inner-ear. My pick is the B&W C5 S2, but any of the top picks from the $200 in-ear guide will sound better than the Bose.
The price of the headphones turned out to have absolutely no correlation to their overall performance. There are subjective aspects that mean this chart isn’t absolute, but it should give you a general idea. A trace of extra sizzle around 3 or 4 kHz but it’s like maybe +2 dB too hot, not really objectionable.
It’s a unique design that presses against the opening to your inner ear but doesn’t actually stick inside like traditional in-ear headphones.
You can get custom-fitted earplugs that reduce all sound equally, but they cost as much or more than some of the NC headphones in this article. I’ll gladly wear earplugs for the length of a concert, but even after those few hours, I’m ready to get them out.



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