Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

Want to enjoy the sweet sound of silence when you’re working or when you’re focusing on a task? Do you want to have headphones that actually let you listen to your music, canceling out any exterior noise that might bother you? Then you need to purchase a pair of noise cancelling headphones that will allow you to either listen only to the music that you want to listen to or that will help you get the peace and quiet that you’re looking for. In the following, we will rank and compare the best headphones that cancel external noise on the market, so check the rest of the article out if you’re interested in this subject.

Top 5 Noise Cancelling Headphones Comparison

1. Sennheiser HD1 Wireless 2. Bose QuietComfort 35 3. Sennheiser PXC 550 4. Sony MDR1000X 5. Bose QuietComfort 25
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Product Specifications

Brand Sennheiser Bose Sennheiser Sony Bose
Dimensions (H x W x D) 9.9″ x 7.5″ x 4″ 7.1″ x 6.7″ x 3.2″ 7.9″ x 5.9″ x 3.1″ 9.5″ x 6.3″ x 4.5″ 7.5″ x 6″ x 0.9″
Weight 7.4-Ounce 8.3-Ounce 8-Ounce 9.7-Ounce 6.9-Ounce
Cable Length 55.1″ 47.2″, 12″ 49.2″ 59″ 56″
Ear Coupling Circumaural Over-Ear Circumaural Circumaural Circumaural
Materials Leather, Stainless Steel Glass-Filled Nylon, Corrosion-Resistant Stainless Steel, Alcantara Stainless Steel, Padding Soft Synthetic Leather Canvas-Like Cloth, Padding, Corrosion-Resistant Stainless Steel
Battery Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Lithium-Ion AAA Battery
Color Black, Ivory Black, Silver, Midnight Blue Black Black, Beige Black, White, Triple Black

Performance

Passive Impedance 28 Ω 32 Ω 46 Ω 46 Ω 32 Ω
Active Impedance 480 Ω 600 Ω 490 Ω N/A 600 Ω
Transducer Dynamic, Closed Dynamic, Closed Dynamic, Closed Dynamic, Closed Dynamic, Closed
Headphones Frequency Response 16 Hz – 22000 Hz N/A 17 Hz – 23000 Hz 4 Hz – 40000 Hz 10 Hz – 800 Hz
Sensitivity -44dB V/Pa (1kHz) 113 dB 110 dB 103 dB N/A
Total Harmonic Distortion <0.5% <0.5% <0.5% <0.5% <0.5%
Bluetooth 4.0+EDR 4.1 4.1 4.1
Supported Profiles A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP A2DP HPS, HFP, A2DP, DIP A2DP N/A
Attenuation Up to 25dB Up to 25dB Up to 22dB Up to 21dB Up to 25dB
Charging Time ≃3 Hours 2.25 Hours 3 Hours ≃4 Hours
Operating Time 22 Hours 20 Hours 30 Hours 22 Hours 35 Hours
Codecs apt-X apt-X apt-X, SBC, AAC, LDAC
Smartphone Compatibility All Bluetooth Enabled Smartphone Devices All Bluetooth Enabled Smartphone Devices All Bluetooth Enabled Smartphone Devices All Bluetooth Enabled Smartphone Devices Apple Devices, Samsung and Android Devices
Highest Decibel Cancellation 81.85dB 80.55dB N/A N/A 78.6dB

Features&Accessories

Noise Cancelling Technology NoiseGard Hybrid with 4 Pick-Up Microphones Active NoiseGard Hybrid Adaptive Technology Active Active
Wireless
Passive Play Option
Comfort Cushioning Memory Foam Synthetic Protein Leather, Silicone Bead Memory Foam Urethane Foam Synthetic Protein Leather
Adjustable Headband
Volume Controls Earcup Control On-Ear Earcup Control Earpad Control In-Line
NFC Connectivity
Microphone Dual Omni-Directional Noise Rejecting Dual System Triple Microphone Array Integrated Built-In
Other Features VoiceMax Technology Volume-Optimized EQ Rotating Earcups Dual Noise Sensor Technology Rotating Earcups
Multi-Device Compatibiliy Voice Prompts Fold-Flat Collapsible Frame Sense Engine Technology Bose Active EQ
Foldable Headband Dual-Microphone System CapTune Compatibility Swivel Folding TriPort Technology
Voice Prompts Multi-Point Technology Voice Prompts LCP Diaphragm LED Lights
3-Way Calling Automatic Shut-Off Selective Sound Modes Foldable
Built-In Limiter
Talk Through
Accessories USB Charging Cable USB Charging Cable Cable with Remote Carry Case Microphone Cable
Carrying Case Airline Adapter Carry Case Inflight Adapter Airline Adapter
Inflight Adapter Carrying Case USB Cable Headphone Cable Carrying Case
Audio Cable Audio Cable for Wired Connection IFE Adapters USB Cable AAA Battery

Warranty&Support

Product Warranty 2 Years 1 Year 2 Years 1 Year 1 Year
Customer Support
User Manual

How We Rated the Headphones


Putting together a top of the best noise cancelling headphones on the market wasn’t an easy task at all as there are many contenders that were very close to making it in our top. Nonetheless, we took our time and did the proper research so that regardless of the model you do buy if you purchase one of the headphones featured in our top, your expectations will be surpassed rather than being met. To better understand why we chose these specific products and why we ranked them the way we did, read the following lines to understand our rating system.

  • Battery Type, Charge Time, and Operating Time

  • One of the most important elements that we took into consideration when rating the headphones is the battery. We paid attention at the type of battery that the headphones use, the charge time in case it was a rechargeable model, and the operating time offered by it. Of course, the models that scored highest were the ones that used rechargeable batteries as these headphones not only save you money in the long run because you won’t have to purchase new batteries every 1-2 weeks but because they are a lot more convenient to use. When it came to this rating element, the model that received the most points was the Sennheiser PXC 550 that uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that takes only 3 hours to fully recharge and that offers an amazing 30 hours of continuous operation until the battery’s power is depleted.

  • Highest Decibel Cancellation

  • The highest decibel cancellation point shows exactly how loud are the noises that the headphones can block. The bigger the better when it came to this number, obviously, and as you can see if you look at the comparison table at the beginning of the article, the headphones that scored highest are the Sennheiser PXC 550 that can cancel a noise as loud as 81.85 decibels. With these headphones on, you will sleep like a baby when the plane takes off because you won’t hear the engines at all.

  • Technology Used to Cancel Out the Noise

  • The technology that the headphones use to cancel out the noise is what shows the effectiveness of the devices. As we have previously discussed, it’s important for the headphones to feature the active noise control technology as it’s the best from this point of view, completely blocking out ambient sounds. All of the models in our top use a variation of the active noise control technology, so there’s no need to worry about the quality of their performance as it is basically unsurpassable.

  • Passive Play Option

  • The passive play option played an important role when choosing the right headphones that can cancel out external noise as this feature allows the user to listen to music without the noise cancellation feature or Bluetooth. Considering how the noise cancellation capability of these headphones makes the battery slowly run out of power, it’s important to have the option of listening to music without it as the battery will eventually be depleted, moment when you would probably rather still listen to music even if it means that the ambient noise will be present to interfere with the experience. Another reason why this feature is important is because it allows you to switch it on when you’re walking on the street, keeping safe by hearing if a car is approaching you or you’re in any other type of danger.

  • Multiple Device Connectivity

  • For versatility and convenient in use, the headphones should connect to two or more devices at once. We took this aspect into consideration when rating them, and as you can see, the Sennheiser HD1 Wireless and the Bose QuietComfort 35, the two best-positioned models in our top come with this capability. Even better, the HD1 Wireless model can connect up to 8 devices in the pairing list at once, so it’s undeniable that this is the best option to go with when it comes to versatility in use.

  • Foldable

  • While it’s not crucial for the headphones to be foldable, it’s still a feature that comes in handy as it allows an easier and neater storage of the devices when you’re done using them. As you can see, all of the models featured in our top can be folded, so storing them will be easy and not a lot of space will be occupied by them where you do decide to place them. Therefore, the headphones will be a perfect fit even if you will place them in a small and crowded purse or among your clothes in the luggage that you carry with you at the airport.

  • Accessories

  • Some accessories are quite necessary when making the investment as they offer a bigger convenience in use. All of the models featured in our top come with their own set of accessories, the common ones being the carry case that allows a neat place to store the headphones when you’re traveling or when they’re not in use, the USB charging cable that allows you to recharge the battery from the computer, and the in-flight adapter.

How Headphones that Cancel Noise Work

Loud noises are the enemy of anyone who wants to enjoy peace and quiet or to peacefully enjoy music, without being bothered by the people around or the ongoing traffic. Luckily for all of us, there is a device that can help us enjoy the perfect experience when listening to music or when we just want to sleep without being bothered by any ambient noise, this device coming in the form of noise cancelling headphones.

These amazing headphones do exactly what they promise, more precisely block out all external noise. But how exactly do they work? Unlike noise isolating headphones that don’t provide complete quiet, noise canceling ones use the amazing active noise control technology to ensure that not even 20 decibels of external noise will disturb you. The active noise control technology was developed by the founder of Bose, Amar Bose, who was annoyed by the loud noise produced by the jet engines of a flight that he was on.

Instead of preventing outside sound from reaching your ear, what the active noise control technology does is to cancel out the ambient noise completely using destructive interference. This amazing process involves placing a microphone close to the position where the sound will be entering the ear, picking up on the frequencies of the noise, and generating a frequency 180 degrees out of phase with this unwanted noise. This anti-noise output perfectly cancels the input, the headphones being capable of canceling noise by up to 80 decibels or even more depending on the quality of the product that you invest in.

If you’re on a flight and you have this device with you, there’s no possibility that you may ever be bothered by the sound of the jet’s engines as it will be canceled out, letting you rest peacefully or listen to your music and actually understanding what you’re listening to. The process through which the headphones work isn’t a complicated one, and this recipe for success is one of the main reasons why Bose is the leading manufacturer of headphones at the moment, taking care of an issue that has been bothering many people in the most effective manner possible.

Advantages That Come with This Investment


One of the first questions that you might have regarding making this investment is whether it’s truly worth making or not. The answer is yes, but our word shouldn’t be the whole proof that you need for making this investment as concrete facts are better and more convincing. Thus, to truly understand why it’s important to purchase noise cancelling headphones, read the following lines to see what are the advantages that the device has to offer.

  • Complete Blocking of Ambient Noise

  • Let’s face it, no matter if what you’re planning to do is to get a shut eye or just listen to music in peace, you won’t be able to enjoy the experience at its fullest due to the ambient noise. Unfortunately, you can’t make it disappear as everything and everyone around you makes noise. Thus, the only viable solution is to somehow block the sound. This is where the headphones that cancel noise come in, unlike noise isolating headphones that only reduce the sound, these headphones actually blocking it. Therefore, you won’t ever be bothered by the ambient sound regardless of where you are and what you plan on doing.

  • There’s No Need to Turn Up the Volume Too Much

  • Due to the fact that there will be no exterior disruptive noises interfering with your experience when listening to music, you won’t need to turn up the volume too much either anymore. This means that you will protect your hearing as there won’t be a need to listen to music loudly but rather at a much lower and calming volume. The listening experience will be a lot more relaxing and you will get to enjoy it to its fullest for the first time, not having the music scream in the headphones or being overlaid by external noise.

  • Perfect for Studying

  • When you need to study or read a book, you need to fully focus on what you’re reading and your thoughts shouldn’t stray from the material sitting in front of you. Because of the annoying ambient noise, this is basically impossible as even the slightest sound will take you out of your focus zone, making you think about other things and losing your train of thought. This is where the headphones shine as they completely block out the external noise, ensuring that not even the cars honking outside of your house on the street will be heard by your ears. If you’re a student, this is an important advantage as you need to focus on your studies when exams are approaching.

  • Take a Comfortable Nap On Long Flights

  • Some people travel more often than others as they are sent for business purposes from one location to another. If your line of work has you traveling often, you’re already fed up of watching the beautiful sky through the window and you’d rather get a shut eye until you reach the destination in order to be fresh when you arrive. This is especially important when there’s a meeting or presentation being held at the time of your arrival, not affording to lack attention to what is happening because you’re tired. With the headphones on during the flight, you won’t hear the loud and annoying noise of the jet engines, the chatty people on the plane, and not even the screams of babies that parents take with them on their flights. Being surrounded by complete peace and quiet, you will be able to sleep like a baby until the stewardess wakes you up as you have arrived at your destination.

  • Get to Relax When Doing Certain Activities

  • There are certain activities that require you to be in a calm state, activities like meditation and yoga. With the help of the headphones, you will reach that inner peace as you won’t be bothered by any outside noise, but rather get to fully focus on clearing your mind of all negative thoughts. When you will do yoga or meditate with the headphones on, the results will be noticeable from the first session as you will actually be calm and feel serene, being absolved of all the worries that used to cloud your mind.

Top Brands on the Market

On this wide and competitive market, there are a few brands that stand out from the rest as they constantly provide customers with high-quality headphones. These companies are Bose, Sennheiser, and Sony, three names that you’re probably already familiar with. In the following, we will look at what each of these companies stands for and how they got to the top of the food chain, helping you better appreciate them.

  • Bose

  • The history of how Bose started producing headphones that cancel noise is quite interesting, especially considering the fact that this is the company that produced the first pair of noise reduction and cancellation headphones. What determined Amar Bose, the founder of this company, to design and manufacture these high-end headphones that completely eliminate ambient sound was the fact that the engines of a jet he was on were too loud, making him feel uncomfortable. Now, due to the ingenious idea and determination of Amar Bose, we can all enjoy peaceful flights and we can listen to our favorite music no matter where we are without having to turn the volume up too much to understand the lyrics.

  • Sennheiser

  • If you’re into audio devices, then you’re no stranger to Sennheiser, a company that has been around for 70 years. During this time, it has used the experience accumulated to innovate the audio market and improve people’s experience when listening to music or watching movies. The goal of the company is to always be at the top of the market, working hard on developing new and better products each year to not only surpass competitors but to satisfy customers as well. If you’re setting out to invest in headphones that don’t meet your expectations but rather exceed them, Sennheiser is the company to purchase from.

  • Sony

  • Undoubtedly, Sony is the most recognizable brand that we have talked about as it doesn’t only stop at producing audio devices, being the leading company in numerous other markets as well. The Sony company produces consumer electronics, mobile devices, gaming devices, professional products, it offers financial services, and it even produces movies. Chances are that you already own at least one product manufactured and released by this company in your own home as the wide array of high-end products ensures a worldwide popularity for this brand. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Sony has manufactured one of the best headphones that cancel out noise, more precisely the Sony MDR1000X.

How to Purchase the Right Headphones


The noise cancelling headphones market is filled with numerous models that come from various brands and that all have different features and specs to offer. Thus, it’s rather difficult to stick to a certain choice, and it’s pretty hard to figure out what is the best option to go with as well if you’re not properly familiarized with what you should look for. In the following, we will show you how to make the right purchase, this way ensuring that your money will be well spent and that the headphones you do end up buying will be by your side for a long time.

  • Decide What Style Suits You Best

  • These headphones come in different shapes and sizes, and it’s important for you to decide what the best type for you to go with is before you start the searching process as you will be able to eliminate the models that don’t fit with your preference easier. There are three basic types of headphones from this point of view, more precisely in-ear, circumaural, and over-ear. In-ear headphones are cheaper as not much is used in the way of material when manufacturing them. They are worn in the opening or the canal of the year, and they deliver a flexible, high-quality sound. Circumaural headphones are worn around the ear and they create a seal, blocking out more sound due to their design. Over-ear headphones sit on the ear and they have a soft padding that makes them comfortable to wear. When it comes to choosing the type that best suits you, there’s no clear indicator of what you should go with except for your personal preference.

  • Pick the Active Noise Cancelling Technology

  • The active noise cancelling technology is what you should aim for the headphones you invest in to come with. This technology processes digital signals to cancel out the ambient sound, coming with a microphone and a processor that have the role of constantly monitoring the surrounding noise and adjusting according to what they pick up so that you won’t be disturbed by any noise whatsoever.

  • Check for the Battery Life to Be Good

  • The audio processor used for the active cancelling technology requires power, a power that is provided by a battery. When making the purchase, make sure that the life of the battery featured by the headphones is generous, offering as many continuous operating hours as possible. As you can see, all of the models featured in our top use batteries that provide enough power for the headphones to effectively block out external noise continuously for at least 20 hours. Some models use rechargeable batteries while other models require standard batteries, and what we recommend you choose are headphones that use rechargeable batteries as you will save money in the long run due to not having to change the battery once every 1-2 weeks.

  • Convenient Placement of the Volume Controls

  • For the experience of using the headphones to be as convenient as possible, you need for the volume controls to be located in an optimal place. The most convenient placement of the volume controls in on the ear cups, all that you will have to do to turn the volume up or down being to tap on the ear cups according to the setting you want to go with.

  • Don’t Cheap Out!

  • Last but not least, make sure that you don’t cheap out when making the purchase. While it’s true that a high-quality pair of headphones that block out external noise can cost a few hundreds of dollars, it’s better to invest in a more expensive model as it comes with more features, it delivers a superior listening experience, and it is made with more durable and comfortable materials as well. After all, you can’t expect high quality without paying for it, so if your budget allows you to buy high-end headphones that cost a little more, do it because it’s an investment that you surely won’t regret.

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