Headphones

Best Noise Cancelling Headphones – Review & Buyer’s Guide

There is nothing more relaxing than listening to your music on a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

They are designed for comfort, style, long periods of use, paired with excellent sound quality. Using these, you can immerse yourself in a world of your own, drowning out all the distractions around you.

Most noise cancelling headphones aren’t cheap, making buying the right pair the first time all the more important. Let us help you with that.

headphones in a gym

5 Best Noise Cancelling Headphones 2019

Before we dive head first our reviews, let’s throw out a few stats.

When considering which pair or headphones to buy, it’s important to consider comfort. Listening to music on your new pair of noise cancelling headphones can quickly turn addicting. Thus, it is important that you have a comfortable pair. Naturally, the lighter the headphones are the less likely you are to feel them with long periods of use.

Another key factor to consider when making your decision is battery life. All the headphones covered have both wireless and wired modes, but let’s be honest, you care about the wireless mode.

Being able to wander your house without experiencing interruption or drop in quality in your music is important. 

Not only that, but battery life also becomes a key factor to consider. Having your ear phones die in the middle of jamming out to your music can really dampen your mood. 

For your convenience, we put together these important bits of information in a table for easy comparison.

Click any of the noise cancelling headphones that look interesting to jump straight to our review!

DeviceWeight
(oz)
Wireless Range
(feet)
Battery Life
(hours)
Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II8.3 4120
Sony WH-1000 XM38.995330
AKG N60NC7.046415
Sennheiser PXC 550 85130
Anker Soundcore Space NC9.35320

When it comes to style, innovation, amazing sound quality and comfort, BOSE has always been on the cutting edge. The Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II ticks all these boxes, standing out for the competition. This is why it is our number one pick.

Let’s dive in deeper however, and break down what makes these headphones so great.

If you want a short summary, click here.

Pros

Weighing in at only 8.3 oz, these are some of the lightest and most comfortable headphones you can find. These headphones are crafted using soft leather and are made to be worn all day without any discomfort.

The ear cups have built in foam padding, and are large enough to fit comfortably around your ears.  

Since these are wireless, there are no messy cables getting tangled up, damaged or lost. Additionally, they come in their own compact carrying case helping keep your investment safe.

They have built in NFC pairing, letting you connect effortlessly to any Bluetooth device with but a tap. As an extra bonus, you are able to pair with up to two devices simultaneously.

These noise cancelling headphones have built in volume buttons on the ear cup, letting you easily adjust your music on the fly. 

Unlike its Quiet Comfort 35 counterpart, this pair incorporates an Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) button into the ear cups. Now you can drown out distractions with the press of a button. 

20 hours of battery life will ensure that you can listen to your music where and when you want. In case that wasn’t enough, Bose has built in a quick charge feature! With just 15 minutes of charge time, you can keep listening to your music for another 2.5 hours.

Then there is the sound. If the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II weren’t impressive enough already, they deliver on the supreme sound quality that Bose is known and loved for. 

These headphones deliver a strong bass, crisp mid range, and clear high notes, delivering a warm balanced sound. 

Cons

We found that it took us unusually long to get used to the air pressure cabin feeling that can sometimes accompany noise cancelling headphones. As this feeling isn’t the most comfortable in the world, we thought it would be important to mention.

Also, the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II does not support LDAC, best and clearest wireless Bluetooth transmissions. This means you may be able to get higher quality sound on other headphones that do support LDAC, like the Sony WH-1000 MX3.

Is The Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II Right For You?

Overall, Bose had done it again and made a superb addition to their already impressive product line. Buy these for easy listening, amazing style and comfort, and above all, top quality sound.

Compared to some of the other options on the market, Bose focused its energy on making a set of headphones that sounds very balanced. If you primarily listen to vocal, acoustic, or instrumental music, this pair is the best fit for you.  

If you are looking for high end best of the best sound from your noise cancelling headphones and this is your kinds of music, buy the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II.

PROS

  • Very light and durable
  • Made with soft leather
  • Ear-pads are replaceable
  • 20 hour battery life
  • Clear crisp audio through bass, middle, and high ranges

CONS

  • User may get an air pressure cabin feeling when Active Noise Cancelling is on
  • Does not support highest quality audio files

Whenever music enthusiasts discuss noise cancelling headphones, the Sony WH-1000 XM3 comes up as one of the best if not the best pair of headphones on the market. It does many things right and, in fact, sets industry standards very high in some areas.

They are well deserving of the high praise they receive. They are, however, not perfect.

Let’s discuss the positives first.

If you want a short summary, click here.

Pros

The Sony WH-1000 XM3 noise cancelling headphones come with a compact carrying case.  They are designed to easily fold up into the case, so storing them away for those long trips is very easy. 

The headphones themselves have soft plush ear-cups and a well padded headband. You can wear them for hours without experiencing any jawline fatigue or fatigue at the crown of your head. 

Weighing in at 8.99 oz, they remain very light. Sony has managed to reduce if not completely eliminate the air cabin pressure feeling you get from many noise cancelling headphones. This scores them big points in our books. 

Unlike many other noise cancelling headphones on the market, the Sony WH-1000 XM3s use the new USBC ports for charging. They boast an impressive 30 hours of battery life with Active Noise Cancellation on. Furthermore, Sony has built in a fast charging feature allowing for 10 minutes of charging for 5 hours of playback!

The right ear cup features touch sensitive controls allowing you to adjust your music with a gentle swipe on your right ear-cup. Also included is a cool feature where, by covering your right ear cup, your microphone is turned on, volume turned down, and ambient noise let in. This is a great feature as it lets you jump into conversation with someone without needing to mess with your audio settings.

The Sony WH-1000 XM3 also holds the record for the best noise cancellation available to date. In fact, the difference is so big that it’s noticeable to audio gurus and the casual listener alike.

The headphones themselves are tuned to be more bass heavy. Unfortunately, to achieve this they sacrifice some of the crispness in the mid ranges on bass heavy songs.

Cons

As we mentioned before however, the Sony W-1000 MX3 does have it’s own faults. 

Because of how the ear cups are built, they don’t allow for air access and breathing. Consequently, you may find your ears heating up if you use these headphones for extended periods.

Also, you can only pair the Sony W-1000 MX3 with one device at a time. If you plan to swap between devices often, you may find this to be a nuisance. 

 While these headphones have pairing with google assistant, they are unable to pair with Alexa as of yet. Furthermore, even when you use the headphones to take phone calls, the build in microphone tends to pick up background noise.

Is The Sony WH-1000 MX3 Right For You?

Overall, the Sony W-1000 MX3 are a great set of noise cancelling headphones. Buy these if you travel frequently or want maximum noise cancellation.  

These are also fantastic if you primarily listen to bass heavy music, such as pop, hip hop or EDM. The extra bass will truly shine for you, taking your user experience to a whole new level.

PROS

  • Very sturdy and comfortable
  • USBC charing port
  • 30 hours of battery life with ANC on
  • Best noise cancellation available
  • No air cabin pressure feeling

CONS

  • Ears can warm up with long periods of use
  • The microphone tends to pick up background noise
  • Can only pair with one device at a time

AKG has a solid brand and they always manage to deliver what they promise on.

The AKG N60NC‘s are good noise cancelling headphones. However, they do not deliver the same premium quality as the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II or Sony WH-1000 MX3 do. 

They are a great pair of headphones for those who are looking for the noise cancellation experience yet aren’t willing to pay or able to pay the premium price.

Let’s discuss.

If you want a short summary, click here.

The Pros

As far as the strong points of the AKG N60NCs, their first strong point comes in their carrying case design. It is made of soft cloth providing plenty of protection for the headphones, while making the case itself more compact. Furthermore, the bag contains a separate internal to store your charging and AUX cables.

Secondly, these headphones are the lightest ones covered in this review, weighing in at only 7.04 oz. 

Third and most importantly, these noise cancelling headphones are an on ear model. This design allows your ears to breath easily even with long hours of listening. Since the ear-cups are make comfort in mind, they have a plush soft feeling to them.

In addition, the active noise cancellation feature does a good job of filtering background noise. These noise cancelling earphones do their job and let you focus on your music instead of the surrounding distractions. 

Finally, the headphones come with a built-in microphone and a microphone on the provided AUX cable. Both clearly pick up your voice, so people won’t have issues understanding you over the phone.

The AKG N60NCs are tuned to perform best in the mid and high sounds ranges. Keep this in mind when deciding if these are the right pair for you.

The Cons

Though the AKG N60NCs are a good pair of headphones, they still belong in the mid range in terms of quality and price. There are some minor nuisances and design flaws which work against these headphones, though they are by far not deal breaking.

Firstly, let’s talk battery life. A full charge only allows for 15 hours of playback time, which is fairly low in today’s market. The Bluetooth and noise cancelling are incorporated onto the same button. Forgetting to turn the noise cancellation off will result in quickly draining the battery. 

Secondly, the headband design isn’t the greatest. While there is plenty of padding, it still feels a bit stiff and can induce some wearing fatigue at the crown of your head with long use.

The built-in microphone is quite susceptible to picking up background noise, which may be annoying in crowded areas. 

Finally, AKG has built these to be crisp and clear in the middle and high ranges, but the bass has greatly suffered as a result.

Is The AKG N60NC Right For You?

The AKG N60NC make for a good pair of headphones. They are fairly comfortable as long as you don’t have a big head or big ears. These particular physical features may lead to discomfort with long periods of use.

The noise cancellation is enough for your typical home or office, but we would not recommend them based on this feature in crowded city areas. They are however a good alternative to their more expensive premium counterparts. 

Finally, if you listen primarily to vocal or instrumental music, these headphones could be the ones for you. They bring out the sounds ranges you care about most, doing an excellent job in the listening experience they provide. 

PROS

  • Compact folding design
  • Lightweight at 7.04 oz
  • On Ear design with plush leather ear-cups
  • Clear built in microphone
  • Balanced sound performance

CONS

  • Headband can become uncomfortable with long use
  • Microphone easily pics up background noise
  • Only 15 hour battery life
  • Very little bass

Sennheiser made the world’s first open headphones back in 1968, they seem to know what they are doing since then too.

The Sennheiser PXC 550 looks and feels the part and comes at a decent price. They are a great choice for daily use if you can get past a couple of design flaws.

Sennheiser PXC 550 definitely holds its own amongst our other picks too.

If you want a short summary, click here.

The Pros

The first thing you will notice about the Sennheiser PXC 550 is the robust design. These headphones have a fine leather headband with collapsible ear cups on either side while the unit as a whole has proven to be sturdy when put the paces under rigorous stress tests.

Another handy addition is the intuitive, touch controls on the right ear cup. Upward and downward swiping, increase and decrease the volume, respectively. Whilst tapping to play, along with right and left swipes handles forward/backward skipping. If you need to pause your playback, all you do is pull the ear cup.The end result? A button-less control system.

The design isn’t just easy on the eyes and ears, it also allows for extra portability, especially the collapsing ear cups. If that wasn’t enough for your travelling needs, you also receive a carrying case with an internal pocket.

NFC technology on the left ear cup could not make pairing your device any easier. All you have to do is enable Bluetooth on the device you wish to pair with your Sennheiser PXC 550 and touch it to the left ear cup for it to sync.

The battery life will literally last you around a day. If you use the standard mode you can expect to get 30 hours of entertainment from your Sennheiser PXC 550, however, you can expect 20 hours of use if you have ANC enabled to reduce unwanted ambient sounds. You don’t have to worry about being without your favourite songs while you charge either as you can playback music whilst charging.

Last but not least, unlike many other noise cancelling headphones, the Sennheiser PXC 550 do not induce a cabin or air-pressure feeling. You can enjoy your music in comfort and style while drowning out the noise of the busy world around you. 

The Cons

The collapsible ear cups rotate to switch the headphones on and off. Unfortunately, this actually works against the Sennheiser PXC 550. It’s very easy to accidentally turn them off/on and deplete battery as a result.

Although Sennheiser PXC 550 headphones are reliant on touch control, they do have button options for Bluetooth, ANC and Sound profiles. However, these buttons are very small and difficult to find, especially when multitasking!

The long battery life means it takes a long time to charge too. In order to have if it fully charged, you will need to juice it up for 3 hours.

There is no quick way to adjust the direction of the sound. The sound signature has to be fiddled around with using an app and this might need to be done a few times as sound direction isn’t always clear.

Our last qualm about the Sennheiser PXC 550 was nothing to with the technology, it was more of a cosmetic flaw. Prolonged use proved to result in ear sweat and that is not a pleasant feeling.

Is The Sennheiser PXC 550 Right For You?

We really liked the look of the Sennheiser PXC 550 and the portability aspect. This a great piece of kit for those of you that need something for the commute to work, gym workouts and if you need that extra help while studying. The touch controls are bound to help out with multi-tasking in all those places too.

Although you dodge the uneasy cabin or air pressure sensations, you will have to deal with ear sweat, and lots of it! But then again, if you use it at the Gym, you will be sweating anyway.

The 20/30 hours of battery life you get at the price point is very reasonable and the NFC functionality makes it very easy to get connected and going. Just remember, the long battery life comes with  a long time to charging time. Since you can playback whilst charging, it isn’t the end of the world.

The rotating ear cups are temperamental and sound direction is done via an app, other than that we really like this piece of kit.

PROS

  • Sturdy design
  • Built in touch controls
  • Compact travel friendly design
  • NFC enabled for fast pairing
  • 30 hours of music, 20 with ANC on
  • Charge and listen capability
  • Smart pause, pause by pulling on your earcup
  • No cabin air pressure feeling

CONS

  • Turns on and off by rotating earcup. Easy to forget about and accidentally drain the battery
  • Takes 3 hours to charge
  • Buttons are small and can be hard to find
  • Sound direction needs to be adjusted in app
  • Can cause a bit of ear sweat with long use

When we talk about low budget noise cancelling headphones, there aren’t many that do the job well.

You will find that in many cases, you lose audio quality when turning on the active noise cancellation.

Not so with the Anker Soundcore Space NC!

Let’s dive straight into this review and find out why these headphones are our budget pick.

If you want the short summary, click here.

The Pros

The Anker Soundcore Space NC outperforms any other budget noise cancelling headphones on the market. Though a bit heavy, weighing in at 9.3 oz, this only serves to add to their sturdy look and feel.

The ear-cup has integrated touch sensitive controls. All it takes to adjust your volume or skip between your songs is a gentle swipe on your ear-cup.

Anker didn’t skimp on battery life either. These headphones boast 20 hours of wireless replay time with active noise cancellation on, and achieve an impressive 50 hours in wired mode. 

As far as sound quality goes, these headphones have a clear crisp sound though all frequency ranges, though they seem to lack some of the fullness of their more expensive counterparts.

Our favorite thing about the Anker Soundcore Space NC we saved for last. Unlike many similar models in the same price range, the audio quality actually improves when you turn on active noise cancellation. 

In similar models you often find that when turning on active noise cancellation, the bass will lose it punch. Anker has managed to not only avoid this drop-off, but even boost the bass output when in this mode.

The Cons

We have found that he earcup design is a bit strange. The padding isn’t quite big enough to be considered around ear, yet not quite small enough to be on ear either. If you do get a pair of these, whether they fit on or around your ears till depend greatly on how big your ears actually are. 

This design choice also serves to contribute to another problem these noise cancelling earphones have, which is breathability. Because of the materials used, they earphones do easily let air in. If you are in a hot environment, you may find a bit of sweat accumulating around your ears while using these.

Finally, these speakers are not bass heavy. Listeners will notice that thought the bass is clear, it is missing a bit of that extra punch. This is especially so when compared to the active noise cancellation mode where the bass gets a significant boost. 

Is The Anker Soundcore Space NC Right For You?

Though the Anker Soundcore Space NCs can’t stand up to their more expensive competition, they are fantastic earphones in their own right.

If you are looking to take the edge off that busy loud commute, or even get a taste of what noise cancellation has to offer, these are a great pair of speakers to start with. 

Sturdy, sleek, and delivering on all they promise, these headphones will keep you happy with your music for many years to come. 

PROS

  • Sturdy build
  • Touch control ear-cup
  • Clear and balanced sound through all ranges
  • 20 hours wireless replay time
  • Sound quality improves when using Active Noise Cancellation

CONS

  • Low breathability
  • Top padding isn't most comfortable with long use
  • Lacking a bit in the bass frequencies

Conclusion

Each of the noise cancelling headphones reviewed here are great in their own right.  Each has their own strength, and place where it stands out from the rest of the competition out there.

We hope that our review helped you make your purchase decision today.

Check out more of our reviews like this:

Best Portable Speakers 2019

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Thank you for reading!

Till we meet again!

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