Best Noise Cancelling Headphones - Audiostance

The 7 Best Noise Canceling Earbuds

Earbuds, in conjunction with smartphones, have elevated the outdoor listening experience to a point where it’s fairly standard to see people walking the streets listening to music. The Apple AirPods have become somewhat synonymous with move on the move, similar to what we saw with the Sony Walkman in the 1990s. Noise-Canceling features have become extremely popular in newer earbuds, but which are worth buying?

Be sure to check out our buyer’s guide at the end of this article, where we help narrow down your choice based on your requirements.

Our Pick!

Apple Airpods Pro (2nd gen)

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) offers an undeniably appealing balance of quality across sound, build, and comfort, making them a popular choice with good reason.

Quick Pick – Our Awards!

Best Overall

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) remains an excellent choice for an all-around noise-canceling earbud. They excel particularly well when paired with an iPhone and can utilize the H2 chip. Still, even across mobile platforms, it’s hard to fault the AirPods Pro second generation, which offers good comfort, great sound, and a lot of reliability.

Best Sounding

The Bose QuietComfort 2 may not be the most balanced-sounding earbud on this list, but the overall sound presentation is great with lots of width and detail. The slightly accentuated bass adds some thump to the sound that many listeners will appreciate.

Best for Exercising

The Bose QuietComfort 2 is our top pick for exercise, as the build tends to sit flush in the ear, creating a tight seal that is not uncomfortable but can still hold steady while you perform most exercise routines.

Best For The Outdoors

The Jabra Elite 7 Active offers IP57 weather protection, making them resistant to dust and even limited submergence in water. This makes them a great choice for an outdoor, active lifestyle that requires protection from the elements.

Budget Choice

The Jabra Elite 7 Active are an outstanding pair of noise-canceling earbuds that do far better than their price point would suggest. We can highly recommend these earbuds as a high-value-for-money option.

Understanding Noise Cancellation

Active Noise Canceling requires the use of a power source to employ an electronic noise-canceling filter. On each earbud is an ambient microphone (or multiple microphones on more sophisticated models) which picks up the noise around you and can then cancels the audio frequency. Many people believe that noise-canceling earbuds eliminate all the sound around you when they’re only effective with low-frequencies. This is why they’re so popular on planes because noise-canceling earbuds remove the noise made by the airplane’s engines. High frequencies can still be heard, but just not as loud. In premium noise-canceling earbuds, high-frequencies are muted a lot better but can still be heard if you listen without any audio.

The 7 Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds

We’ve put together this list based on the raw performance of these earbuds and the value they bring at their price point. In the current year, these are our top recommendations.

1. Apple AirPods Pro (Gen 2)

Apple Airpods Pro (2nd gen)

In recent years, it’s become hard not to give Apple AirPods their dues. While they aren’t perfect, they have become synonymous with music and life in general in popular culture. But how do they stack up when paired against the competition? Is this a case of marketing hype, or is there something more to the Apple AirPods Pro?

Design & Comfort

There are not many areas where these noise canceling earbuds fall behind, but the design is still not the most conducive to being seated stably. Even though Apple has provided many additional ear tip sizes, this doesn’t prevent the AirPods from falling out during rigorous movement. If you’re an everyday user, this may not be a problem, but for those looking for an ideal pair of noise-canceling earbuds for working out, this can be a problem.

In terms of actual comfort, the Apple AirPods Pro typically feels good across multiple types of ear shapes and isn’t likely to cause much ear discomfort during use, even for extended periods.

Sound Quality

Here’s where the Apple AirPods Pro really steps up to the plate and justifies their prevalence in modern culture. Gone are the days of metallic-sounding treble and distorted bass, as we used to so often find with earbuds. The AirPods Pro starkly contrasts that historical experience with a balanced sound signature and warm profile that comes across as natural and appealing.

The adaptive sound option also brings value into the mix. It can create a wider sounding experience that will be appreciated by those with enjoyment for a fuller, more bass-inclusive sound. On the topic of bass as a whole, the Apple AirPods 2 Pro performs very well in the low end with tuning that isn’t accentuated but focused on depth and accuracy. For instance, they’re a bit more subtle than the Bose QuietComfort II earbuds.

When it comes to midrange response, the Apple AirPods 2 Pro isn’t bad. They fall slightly behind the Bose with a little less distinction, especially towards the lower end of the frequency, where the clarity could be improved marginally. This type of tuning lends itself to some muddiness in certain songs.

The treble response is fairly accurate, and if anything, perhaps a little recessed, particularly towards the low and mid-treble range. This is where the Apple AirPods 2 Pro and the Bose diverge, with the Apple AirPods 2 sounding less bright but also protecting from the sibilance that the Bose tended to be subject to. If you’re sensitive to sibilance, this tuning may benefit you.

Noise Cancellation

While the Apple AirPods 2 Pro do well overall at noise isolation and can protect from high and low frequencies, they won’t dethrone the Bose. Both earbuds excel at reducing noise from similar frequencies, but the Bose is more efficient.

In its own right, however, the Apple AirPods 2 Pro still does an excellent job which will still edge out most other noise-canceling earbuds on the market. But if you have incredibly high demands from your earbuds, with a lot of environmental noise to remove, Bose will be your best bet here.

Battery Performance & Charging

The Apple AirPods 2 Pro has excellent battery features that see a whopping four additional charges being provided by the charging case. While these noise-canceling earbuds have a bit less playtime per charge than the Bose, the availability of an additional charge means you actually get a few more hours of use out of the AirPods 2 Pro before you need to recharge the docking station. You can expect just shy of 6 hours of battery life from a single charge of the buds.

Why We Recommend It

The Apple AirPods 2 Pro is a popular pair of earbuds for a good reason. They tick all the boxes but also make particular sense if you own an iPhone, as adding the H2 chip brings additional audio enhancements that Android users won’t see. However, if you have incredibly high demands out of your ANC, the Bose will still offer you a better noise-canceling experience.


  • Overall impressive sound performance
  • Great battery life
  • Good noise isolation
  • H2 chip shows further performance improvement on iPhones


  • Stability isn’t great

2. Bose QuietComfort 2

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II follows the remarkable success of the original QuietComfort earbud model. This second iteration improves on a number of features from the original earbuds but also slightly falls behind in other areas, depending on how you approach sound. One of the most obvious changes is the design, which moves away from a somewhat generic pill-styled design to a more nuanced shape. This change was made to provide additional comfort, somewhat of a weak point for the original QuietComfort Truly Wireless earbuds.

Design & Comfort

As touched on, the design of the Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds features a few new elements to it. These changes were made to improve some ear shapes’ initial comfort issues. The Bose QuietComfort II Earbuds come with three sizes of ear tips, as well as three variants of stability bands. These added accessories allow you to create the combination that best works with your ears, and they do it well. The nature of these changes also ensures that the Bose QuietComfort II can have more stability in your ear, reducing movement or displacement during exercise.

While we don’t see a mass of new features added to the Bose QuietComfort II, it retains all the original series’s essential features – such as volume control, voice assistant, call, and music control. 

The upgrade from Bluetooth 5.1 to 5.3 sees the overall range performance improve, as well as seeing lower latency on most operating systems. While the 5.1 Bluetooth was still more than viable, we are always happy to see new products being launched with the latest Bluetooth connectivity available.

Sound Quality

When we look at the sound quality of these earbuds, this is where things become a little more subjective. The Bose QuietComfort II has a bass response that is more accentuated than the previous model, which was renowned for its mostly flat sound signature. The change in the sound signature in both the lows and highs may split some fans of this Bose series.

The original QuietComfort Truly Wireless earbuds will be preferential if you’re allergic to bass. However, if you like more accentuated low end and brighter treble, the QuietComfort II provides this with great tact. The bass is far from obnoxious or overtuned, and is still well within what I’d consider a good sound signature. If you felt like the original earbuds from this series lacked the ‘oomph’ you were looking for, an upgrade may be on the cards.

The midrange is where these earbuds shine, with a balanced but full sound that leaves everything sounding warm and easy to listen to. This is at least true for most of the midrange, as we hear some dips and peaks in the upper midrange and treble range. While noteworthy, these imbalances are still well within the range of sound signature variance between some of the flagship models we see, and they still sound great. However, it is worth noting that those sensitive to sibilance may not appreciate these peaks, which can be equalized using the Bose Music app.

Noise Cancellation

Even though we see some subjectivity in the sound profile, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are hard to fault regarding noise isolation. They offer some of the best noise-canceling capabilities we’ve seen.

What separates these noise canceling earbuds from many others on the market is the ability to deal with noise across almost all frequencies effectively. Further on in this article, we discuss finding a noise-canceling earbud that masks the sounds you’re trying to avoid. Still, with these earbuds, regardless of the noises you’re looking to reduce – they are likely to be effective in blocking them.

Battery Performance & Charging

We’ve also seen improvements in the charging and battery life of the Bose QuietComfort II earbuds, which can now squeeze out three recharges from the case, which initially could only provide two. The charging time has been reduced by more than 30%, and you can now fully charge in around an hour. You’ll find that you typically get around 6 hours of battery life from a single charge or close to 25 hours of total listening time.

It’s hard to fault the battery and charge capabilities of the QuietComfort earbuds II, which are superb, even when compared with other flagship products.

Why We Recommend It

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II is versatile and well-suited for most needs. They feature great comfort, which can be adapted to your ears, and also perform in a league of their own regarding noise cancelation. The slightly accentuated bass may not be for everyone, but I dare say many people will prefer it.


  • Excellent battery life
  • Extremely versatile
  • Good sound quality
  • Brilliant noise isolation


  • Quite expensive
  • Sound signature may not be everyone’s favorite

3. Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earbuds

The Samsung Galaxy Buds series hasn’t provided me with the best experiences in the past. Last year I reviewed the Galaxy Buds Live and found them to be a somewhat disappointing experience when compared to other earbuds on the market. However, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro is a vastly different earbud that performs better across the board when compared to the more affordable Buds Live.

Design & Comfort

The shape of the Galaxy Buds2 Pro design still closely resembles that of the first iteration of the Buds Pro. One area where these earbuds show their dominance over the Buds Live is in their comfort. They feel like they sit better in the ear, with less discomfort over time. In fact, the Buds2 Pro is comfortable not only when compared with cheaper models from the Galaxy range but also able to compete with AirPods Pro (2nd gen).

The controls on the Galaxy Buds2 Pro aren’t my personal favorite, but it’s hard to find faults in how Samsung has laid out its controls. They remain easy to use and quite intuitive.

While the build quality feels good, the waterproofing offered by these noise-canceling earbuds is a big plus for Samsung, as IPX4 is the most commonly found waterproofing for earbuds currently, and while IPX4 is decent in its own right, having the added protection of a full IPX7 rating means the Galaxy Buds2 Pro are better suited for longer periods of water exposure. You could even use these in the shower.

Sound Quality

When it comes to audio performance, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro has one of our favorite response signatures out of the earbuds we’ve come across. It’s very balanced but still breathes life into the listening experience, with a particularly impressive low-end response that is possibly the most natural of all earbuds on this list.

The midrange is somewhat similar, with a rich but accurate sound that lets instruments and vocals shine through, particularly towards the upper end. As frequency response charts show, the treble is a little more volatile, but not without merit. There are some peaked and recessed elements to the treble that, while not appealing to everyone, may be seen as a big positive to those particularly sensitive to piercing sibilance.

Noise Cancellation

Samsung has made marked improvements in the overall noise isolation found on the Buds2 Pro, even when compared with the previous iteration. Samsung has taken the fight to Apple with noise cancellation that spans across low and high frequencies to ensure versatile protection from external noise.

Battery Performance & Charging

Battery performance is where things go a little downhill for the Buds2 Pro. While Apple, Bose, and Google can offer a single charge that lasts for close to 6 hours, the Buds2 Pro falls short of this and typically provides around 5 hours of use on a single charge.

While the recharge time is still competitive at around an hour for a full charge, we are a little disappointed to see that the charging dock offers just over two full additional charges. The result here is that you’ll get around 17 hours of total use, which is substantially lower than the 25-30 hours we see from the aforementioned earbuds.

Why We Recommend It

The Galaxy Buds2 Pro is a bit of a mixed bag, but if you’re someone who appreciates a flat sound signature, particularly in the lows and mids, and also want a rugged, waterproof solution, the IPX7 rating on the Buds2 Pro is something few flagship competitors can offer.


  • IPX7 water resistance
  • Very balanced sound profile
  • Easy-to-use controls
  • Very good noise isolation


  • Fairly low battery life

4. Jabra Elite 7 Active

Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds

The Jabra Elite 7 Active is a bit of an enigma. While we are used to expecting big things from big brand names, Jabra isn’t exactly a household name. So how have they managed to become one of the most loved earbuds around? The Elite 7 Active gives us a glimpse into why these noise-canceling earbuds are so popular.

Design & Comfort

The Jabra Elite 7 Active has a fairly standard design & build, which is especially familiar to fans of the other Sony earbuds that have been brought to market over the years. When it comes to how they fit in the ear, the experience is going to somewhat depend on how they align with your own ear shape, but on the whole, they do very well with several ear tip pieces you can swap out for a better fit.

We love that the Elite 7 Active come with an IP57 rating. This is especially cool to see since we barely see dust protection provided to earbuds, but this can go a long way in ensuring the longevity of your earbuds. It is especially useful if you find yourself using them for walks or runs on the beach.

Sound Quality

The sound quality is perhaps the most surprising part of these earbuds. Despite their affordable price tag, they are able to keep up with every earbud on this list in terms of audio performance and, in many cases, are just simply better.

The bass has some slight accentuation, but in a way that is tasteful and very clean in its presentation. When one talks about a punchy bass, the Elite 7 Active has nailed it. The bass remains slightly elevated as one moves into the midrange frequency, but again just slightly so, with the mid and upper midrange sounding particularly balanced yet warm.

The treble presentation is also outstanding, with bright and warm sounds that come across as wide and enjoyable. There is a slight recess in the treble, but this will again serve well for those who tend to be sensitive to sibilance.

Overall, the sound quality on the Jabra Elite 7 Active has no excuse for being this good. This budget pair of earbuds perform like a leading flagship product.

Noise Cancellation

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the Jabra Elite 7, and the noise-cancellation is one area where although these earbuds still perform extremely well, they couldn’t keep up with some of the other products on this list.

The biggest challenge here is that the Elite 7 Active struggles to isolate low-end frequencies. This makes them less than ideal for public transportation where the low droning of engines may be present. But they still perform well in dampening nearby conversations.

Battery Performance & Charging

Jabra continues to impress when it comes to battery performance. A single charge can provide around 8 hours of battery life, while the charging station can provide around three additional charges. This brings it neck and neck with the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd gen) regarding total battery life.

The only downside here is a rather extended charging time compared to the AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro can charge within an hour, while the Jabra typically takes closer to two hours for a full charge.

While the somewhat long charge time is unlikely to impact everyone, it is worth noting for frequent travelers who may be limited on time per location.

Why We Recommend It

We can recommend the Jabra Elite 7 Active to anyone looking for a great-sounding pair of noise-canceling earbuds on a budget. They are excellent value for money, and while the noise-cancelation may not be the best we’ve come across, the overall quality of this product is unbelievable for around $150.


  • Excellent value for money
  • Impressive sound quality
  • IP57 weatherproofing


  • Noise cancellation falls behind flagship competitors

5. Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF-1000xm4 noise canceling earbuds

It’s impossible to talk about noise cancellation without mentioning Sony. Their WH series of noise-canceling headphones, along with the WF ANC earbud range, has been adopted as a favorite by many consumers in recent years due to their overall high-quality build and impressive performance. 

The WF-1000XM4 is their flagship noise canceling earbud, though we do expect to see the XM5 released later this year, given the recent release of the WH-1000XM5.

Design & Comfort

The Sony WF-1000XM4 features a design that doesn’t stray too far from conventional. They’re set fairly shallow in the ear canal, which has merits but can also create a less comfortable fit for particular ear shapes. While we wouldn’t go as far as to say they’re uncomfortable as a whole, it should be noted that if you find particular earbud types uncomfortable, there are more safe options out there. The 1000XM4 has three different sizes of ear tips, which allow you to customize the fit to achieve the best comfort possible. 

The fit, despite not being very deep, tends to lend itself to very reasonable stability, and most people will find that they can perform light exercise with the WF-1000XM4 not falling out. The Bose is still superior in this regard, but these earbuds are far from the worst we’ve seen regarding the looseness of the fit.

Sound Quality

When it comes to sound performance, the Sony WF-1000XM4 does well overall, with a balanced, accurate bass response. The midrange is also pleasant, particularly in the lower mids. However, there is a distinct drop-off from the upper midrange, which also spans the treble range.

This largely recessed upper-range signature means that these earbuds are not the brightest listening experience, with the highs sounding a little compressed and subdued. While this isn’t ideal, for most listeners, it won’t be a deal breaker. Thankfully the Sony Headphones Connect mobile app offers both graphic and preset EQ options that can help you dial in the sound that you are looking for.

Noise Cancellation

The noise cancellation of the Sony WF-1000XM4 is good but not the best out there. Similar to sound quality, it falls a bit behind some of the other models on this list. It does very well in isolated higher-pitched frequencies but doesn’t quite perform as well in the low-range isolation.

This particular type of isolation can still work well in office environments where you’re trying to eliminate chatter, but there are better options out there for those needing a pair of travel-focused earbuds.

Battery Performance & Charging

In terms of battery performance, the Sony WF-1000XM4 shines. You’ll easily get around 10 hours of use from a single charge, significantly more than most other alternatives. The charging dock can only perform an additional two charges, which means a total battery life of around 30 hours. But even with the lower amount of charging cycles from the dock, this number still edges out most other earbuds.

The charging time is a little longer than the Apple AirPods Pro, for example, but at around 75 minutes per charge, they are comparable in this regard to the Google Pixel Buds Pro.

Why We Recommend It

These noise-canceling earbuds are best suited for those who don’t mind spending some time EQing their sound to get it where they like. It performs well in most areas, though it’s hard not to bring attention to the somewhat poor treble response.


  • Excellent battery life
  • Good stability
  • Overall good sound quality


  • Moderate noise cancellation
  • Uneven mid & treble response
  • Controls could be better

6. Google Pixel Buds Pro

Google Pixel Buds Pro earbuds

It’s poetic that the next noise-canceling earbud on our list is the Google Pixel Buds Pro, which is often seen as the antithesis of Apple, with the battle of Android vs. iOS seemingly turning into a multigenerational debate. So how does the Google Pixel Buds Pro compare?

Design & Comfort

The Google Pixel Buds Pro feels great out the gate for most ear shapes. However, they sit quite far into the ear and can cause some discomfort for certain individuals due to subsequent pressure. Despite the nature of the seating, the earbuds can fall out during even moderate movements, such as jogging or other forms of exercise.

The Galaxy Pixel Buds Pro offers three different ear tip sizes to help cater to different ear sizes, and while these are often enough to provide a stable fit, it still doesn’t guarantee the same stability as some other models. Again, this is only usually a problem for those who want an active lifestyle-focused earbud.

Sound Quality

These noise-canceling earbuds perform extremely well in the overall sound quality but with what is perhaps a bit of a niche sound signature. A noticeable emphasis on the bass and treble response make these a good choice for those who like what is often referred to as an EDM/Hip-Hop sound profile, following a somewhat v-shaped sound signature.

The bass is beefy, the midrange is primarily balanced, albeit a little recessed in place, and the treble is bright. Perhaps too bright for some listeners, as a noticeable spike towards the mid-treble causes the emphasis on sibilance that we mentioned earlier.

If you’re looking for a balanced sound for critical listening, this isn’t the best option on the list. However, that’s not to say these don’t hold merit because they still perform very well, as long as you appreciate an elevated bass and don’t struggle with sibilance. It is worth noting, however, that the graphic EQ that the Google Pixel Buds app provides can help you in tailoring the sound profile to your preference. This can ultimately remove many of the issues of sharp treble.

Noise Cancellation

We weren’t expecting the Google Pixel Buds Pro to be quite as impressive as it was in terms of noise cancellation. They do very well at eliminating both low and high-frequency sounds and do so with similar efficacy as the Apple AirPods 2 Pro.

Because they do so well at a large range of frequencies, these noise-canceling earbuds are a great solution as a general pair of earbuds for those who find themselves looking to block out various noises depending on what they’re doing. We’re glad to see that Google was able to keep up in this regard, as both the Bose and Apple noise-canceling earbuds set quite a high benchmark for flagship noise-canceling earbuds.

Battery Performance & Charging

While the Google Pixel Buds Pro does a very good job of providing an extensive battery life on a single charge, the lack of charging cycles available from the dock means that the overall potential battery life still falls a little short of the AirPods Pro and QuietComfort Earbuds II. You’ll be able to get around seven and a half hours of battery life from a single charge, while the dock will provide you with around another 14 hours. 

This total, while respectable in its own right and still competitive, does mean that it offers 20-30% less battery life than the aforementioned earbuds.

Charging time is also something where the Google Pixel Buds Pro is able to keep up but still falls slightly short of the competition, with around 75 to 80 minutes per full charge.

Why We Recommend It

The Google Pixel Buds Pro falls a touch shy of the Apple AirPods Pro 2 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 in most regards, but it’s worth keeping in mind that these earbuds are available for $50 and $100 cheaper, respectively. This makes it a very viable alternative for those who may look to save some money.


  • Fairly affordable
  • Good sound quality


  • Could have better stability
  • Somewhat lengthy charging time

7. JBL Club Pro+

JBL find themselves recommended on a number of our best lists, and this is mostly thanks to the balance between quality and affordability that they bring to the table. It’s rare that we test a JBL product that we dislike, and we’re happy that the Club Pro has not strayed from tradition.

Design & Comfort

The JBL Club Pro+ is somewhat large in that they consist of a deep design that sees the JBL logo in very clear sight. If there’s one thing that JBL may go a bit overboard with, it’s the branding of its products. That said, this doesn’t take much away from these earbuds’ actual build and design. They feature a somewhat angulated design on the control area, but unfortunately, the controls themselves aren’t the easiest we’ve worked with.

There are three pairs of different-sized ear tips, which help ensure comfort and a snug fit. The JBL Club fits well in most ears and should provide enough stability to perform light exercise.

Sound Quality

The JBL Club comes to the party in the sound department. Out the gate with default EQ, these ANC earbuds provide a balanced and accurate sound signature that even critical listeners can appreciate. While they aren’t the most lively-sounding earbuds, the signature is so well-balanced that it makes it a breeze to EQ them to your preferred sound.

The bass response on these earbuds is awe-inspiring if you enjoy a flat sound signature. I prefer a little more thump, but this is easily adjustable with the mobile app’s EQ. The midrange response is also mostly balanced and provides an intelligible instrumental presence that sounds balanced and clean. The treble response is equally impressive, and no strong sibilants are present. Overall, the sound profile of these earbuds is just overall extremely high quality, though it is worth noting that the stereo imaging falls short of things like the QuietComfort 2 and Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen).

Noise Cancellation

While the noise cancellation on the JBL Club is what we’d consider good, they are perhaps the weak point in what could otherwise be a formidable ANC earbud. They still do a relatively good job at isolating noise from most frequencies, but they don’t have the same type of performance as some of our other top picks.

Low and midrange frequencies, while fairly handled, are not as easily suppressed as some of the higher frequencies. The biggest disappointment here is that we have seen better ANC performance from other JBL earbuds that don’t quite match up to the same level of audio performance.

Battery Performance & Charging

JBL has a pretty good reputation regarding battery performance across their devices, and the JBL Club Pro doesn’t stray far from this tradition. You can expect around seven and a half hours of battery life from a single charge, which can be done three additional times with the charging dock.

This brings the overall battery life up to an impressive 30 hours, on par with the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd gen)

Why We Recommend It

The JBL Club Pro+ has some unbelievable sound quality that would appeal to those seeing a balanced and true sound profile. Even outside of the sound profile, the JBL Club Pro does well in battery performance and comfort.


  • Great sound quality
  • Balanced sound profile
  • Excellent battery life


  • Challenging controls

Buyer’s Guide – What To Know When Buying Noise-Canceling Earbuds

As with all types of speakers, the right one for you is going to be the one you will enjoy most when you listen to it. Far too often, people rely on others’ direction on what they should buy instead of understanding what it is they are looking for first. This is why our list of recommendations is crafted in a way that doesn’t seek to portray one noise-canceling earbud as the right decision for everyone, but instead, we try to help you find what it is that you’re looking for and then offer you some of the best options for your needs.

These days it’s common for most audio manufacturers to offer some earbud options in their catalog. Many of these earbuds also now feature noise cancellation as a key sales point. But with all these different brands offering what appear to be similar products, how do you know which is the best?

Despite the overlap that we see with products in the earbud market, there are still very specific features or performance aspects that you should keep in mind.

Consider Comfort

While over-ear headphones have a forgiving level of comfort, which, apart from small personal preferences, are somewhat universal, with earbuds, however, there are designs that work well for some and are uncomfortable for others. This is because in-ear comfort will depend on the shape and size of your ear canals and how well they align with the design of the earbud.

Some models of noise canceling earbuds come with additional attachments that help cater to various ear shapes. The most common accessory is ear tips, but some models also come with different sorts of customization.

Sound Quality & Audio Performance

Before just blindly picking a product from this list, ask yourself what sound you enjoy. For those without an interest in audio, it can be easy to assume that all products should sound alike and follow a similar formula. However, each speaker and each set of earbuds have their own unique tuning, design, and subsequent sound profile.

If you’re a fan of bass-heavy music and use your earbuds to set your vibe, you may prefer a more bass-heavy sound signature that can accentuate those low ends and make you feel like you’re in the club. Others who want to listen primarily to podcasts and more voice-orientated content may prefer a noise-canceling earbud with a crisp treble and upper-midrange. And then there are the audiophiles, many of whom believe that the only good sound signature is a flat, balanced one.

Regardless of the type of sound signature, you’re looking for. We’ve included products that cover all of these different profiles. But we recommend that you spend some time thinking about what you want to get out of your earbud’s sound. All the listed products have been vetted, with any objectively inferior options not cutting.

The Noise-Canceling You Need

Not all noise-canceling is the same. Some earbuds may do exceptionally well at blocking out low-droning sounds, while others may do better at canceling higher-pitched frequencies, such as nearby chatter. Again, this is why it’s important to have a good grasp of what you’re looking to achieve. If you will be using your noise-canceling earbuds in a work office and you want to block out annoying colleagues, then you’ll want to make sure that the buds you’re looking for excel at mid-range and treble frequencies.

On the other hand, if you’re someone who takes the train, you may want to block out lower-pitched sounds primarily. We’ll run through which earbuds excel at which types of frequencies, but again – this is something you should consider before going into any purchase. Not all options will excel at the type of noise-canceling you want.

Battery Life Considerations

The battery life of wireless ANC earbuds is also something to consider. While wired earbuds with noise cancelation are still available, wireless alternatives have continued to become the focus of manufacturers. Battery life is not likely to be as big of a concern for a home user as it is for those using their earbuds for traveling or public transport.

Battery considerations are comprised of a few important parts. Firstly, there’s the overall battery life. This is how long your earbuds can stay on from a single charge. Then there’s also the charging time. Charging time becomes particularly important for those traveling and who may only be in a single location for a few hours to charge up. Finally, many noise-canceling earbuds will come with a charging case that can hold its charge and ultimately offer you more time away from a power point by letting you charge the earbuds with the case battery.

How do noise canceling earbuds work?

While there is more than one type of noise cancellation. Active noise-canceling works by determining external frequencies from your environment and then actively producing a phase-reversed version of those frequencies to cancel them out. For a more detailed version, we recommend reading our guide dedicated to noise cancellation.

Is all noise cancellation the same?

Not at all. While the basic technology used is usually very similar, the efficiency with which the earbud cancels out environmental noise varies between models. The best noise canceling earbuds will do well at canceling out all frequency ranges. Some earbuds do well at blocking out some frequencies but do worse at others.

Why are my noise canceling earbuds not reducing noise?

Check to make sure that your ANC settings are set correctly. Most noise cancellation can be toggled on or off and, in some cases, dialed into a specific setting. To confirm that your ANC is working, play music and toggle your ANC on and off in an area of environmental noise and ensure you can notice the switch over.

Are noise canceling earbuds more effective than noise canceling headphones?

The choice between earbuds and headphones will be a personal choice rather than an objective fact. The quality of the noise canceling will come down to how each specific model is made. You can get extremely effective noise cancellation from both earbuds and headphones.

Avatar photo
Written by
Bryn De Kocks

Bryn learned of the importance of quality audio through competitive gaming. Since then he's expanded his interest in the audio sphere, focusing primarily on the headphone market.

View all articles
Leave a reply

1 comment