Shopping for a great set of headphones with the perfect blend of quality noise cancellation and other comfort and convenience features can be surprisingly tricky.
After all, true audio enthusiasts who notice all the beautiful subtleties in their favorite tunes are bound to notice all the little details that can make or break a great user experience as well!
When combing through the web to find your perfect set of headphones, it pays to have your priorities in place.
Are you shopping on a close budget? Do you value audio quality above all else regardless of the price tag? Are you looking for a way to simply tune out your surroundings and make crystal-clear phone calls in peace?
Keep your personal criteria in mind while you take a look at this list of the 11 best noise-canceling headphones of 2020 to find the pick that’s just right for you!
Top Best Noise Cancelling Headphones
1. Anker Soundcore Life Q20
Plenty of people out there want a great pair of noise-canceling headphones that won’t sucker-punch their bank account. For those looking for a surprisingly satisfying budget buy, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 is a great product for the money!
These headphones are lightweight, but in a good way: Users are delighted to report that they don’t feel too cheaply made even though they’re, understandably, a bit flimsier than more expensive headphones. They’re comfortably padded without being overly bulky or heavy, and then still feel good to wear even during long commutes or tasks. The foldable ear cups also rotate up to 90 degrees, making the headphone set nice and easy to store without taking up all the room in your bag.
Experienced audiophiles will tell you that the sound quality on the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headphones doesn’t quite hold up to what you can expect from premium headphones that cost hundreds of dollars. However, they also concede that it would be unreasonable to expect them to and state that the sound quality is beyond that which they would expect for the price!
Users report that the noise cancellation feature on these headphones works very well and that there’s plenty of bass that keeps the sound rich without muddying up the music. For those who prefer their sound to be extra heavy in the bass department, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headphones also come with a “BassUp” option that can be switched on and off at will.
These headphones are also handy in terms of staying connected with your digital assistant of choice. With an easy, long press of a button, you can summon either Google Assistant or Siri, depending on which one you use.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headphones come with a micro USB charging port so that you can easily recharge and get ready for another round of clear, quality sound. They also come fitted with a 3.5mm audio jack that makes it easy for users to plug into their computer or other devices for wired listening instead of Bluetooth.
2. JBL Tune 750BTNC
JBL is a popular name in the world of music appreciation, and the JBL Tune 750BTNC headphones live up to the hype! The reputable JBL brand is known for providing users with sturdy, quality products that consistently get the job done.
The structure of these headphones may be plastic instead of the metal used by some other brands, but don’t let that scare you off: Most users enjoy the smooth, ergonomic feeling of the plastic frame and don’t think that the material feels cheap or low-quality at all.
One of the primary cons you’ll encounter if you get the JBL Tune 750BTNC headphones is that the hinges look exposed when you fold them for storage, which is a bit nerve-wracking for some users who worry about damaging their gadgets. Additionally, some users dislike the absence of reliable waterproofing. However, most people who try these headphones out feel that these are just minor setbacks and deem the sound quality worth it!
The JBL Tune 750BTNC headphones usually clock in at around a hundred dollars, meaning that they strike a pretty good balance between quality and price. They also come in a pleasant variety of colors, meaning that you can shop around a bit with your own personal style in mind. Many appearance-conscious users enjoy the sleek look of these headphones and state that they look more high-end than the price tag would lead them to expect. This product is also reported to be very comfortable, even during long listening sessions, thanks to the well-balanced weight distribution.
The controls for the JBL Tune 750BTNC are all located on the right side, and each earphone is clearly labeled on the inside with a large, easy-to-read letter. Additionally, the buttons used to control the headphones are compact and multi-purpose to avoid cluttering up the sleek look of the product. The on/off button also serves to control the noise cancellation feature, Bluetooth pairing, and volume adjustment. You can also use the same button to connect with Siri or Google Assistant.
Another great feature of the JBL Tune 750BTNC is the “Multi-Port Connection” feature, which allows users to connect with two different devices at the same time. This nice perk allows you to switch between two devices fluidly and easily, making for an improved experience.
3. Jabra Elite 85H
If you’re willing to drop around $300 on a pair of headphones that are deemed well worth it, then the Jabra Elite 85H might be just the thing for you! It comes a bit cheaper than some high-end competitors but offers comparable features, durability, and sound quality.
The sound quality of these headphones especially shines when it comes to phone calls. It uses Bluetooth 5.0, giving it superior range and battery efficiency compared to other sets, such as the JBL Tune 750BTNC, that only support Bluetooth 4.2. The battery life is also great to begin with and the headphones are USB-C rechargeable.
The noise cancellation on these headphones is great, utilizing eight different microphones to filter out ambient noise. This smart noise-canceling feature makes the Jabra Elite 85H a great pair of headphones for anyone who wants to study in public areas, get some peace and quiet during a long commute, or combat sensory overload in crowded areas.
These headphones also come with HearThru settings, which allow the user to remain tuned into their surroundings to varying degrees, even while filtering out excess ambient noise. By using this feature, the user can avoid missing calls for upcoming bus stops or other important announcements.
Some people who prefer to pay a bit more for similar headphones from brands like Sony or Bose may complain that the Jabra Elite 85H headphones are a bit heavy and bulky. However, most consumers who purchase the Jabra Elite 85H report that they are cushioned enough to prevent the weight from bothering them, even during longer periods of use. The large ear cups also serve to further improve the noise-cancellation capabilities of the headphones.
The Jabra Elite 85H headphones also provide loads of convenient perks, including one-button connectivity with Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa! The effective sound-cancellation and solid audio quality make these headphones a great buy if you’re looking for a good pair to use as a headset for communication on the go–especially if you tend to commute or spend a lot of time in crowded areas.
4. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
If you’re not interested in the visible control hardware featured by many other varieties of noise-canceling headphones, then the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700’s touch-sensitive gesture pad might be right up your alley! The gesture pad responds to a series of playback commands and is reported to work perfectly, alleviating the need for any buttons on the headset. The absence of noticeable buttons or knobs makes this set of headphones look incredibly sleek, giving a designer look to the product as a whole while keeping all the controls easy to use.
Additionally, these headphones come with subtly-positioned buttons for Bluetooth, noise cancellation, and digital assistant controls. This makes it easy to summon Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant without conflicting with the touch-sensitive playback commands.
One detail to note about these snazzy headphones is that they don’t have hinges that allow you to fold them up for storage, so you’ll want to keep them safe in a hardback carrying case when you aren’t using them. However, the earcups themselves do still rotate 90 degrees, enabling users to wear them around the neck when they want.
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is definitely beyond the idea price range of anyone on a super-tight budget, easily running $300 or more. However, the sound quality and the noise-canceling capability of these headphones make them worth the buy for those who can make peace with the price tag.
The noise cancellation comes with various levels that are fully adjustable and even work without any power! The sound quality is superb, and the strong Bluetooth 5.0 connection makes it easy to link to your devices. You can also switch between connectivity with various devices, a process that is made easier with the Bose Music app.
The Bose Music app provides the user with the ability to personalize their media and content by connecting to platforms such as Pandora and Spotify, as well as the opportunity to set customizations for multiple users. Additionally, the app serves as an alternative way to access basic headphone controls such as noise cancellation levels and media playback while also offering another futuristic perk: The Bose-AR, an audio-based augmented reality platform.
5. Sony WH-1000XM3 / Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds
No list of the most excellent headphones would be complete without a contender or two from Sony! Sony is well-known for its reputable, quality products that deliver a great user experience, and the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones are no exception.
These headphones go over the ears and the plush padding does a solid job of blocking out chaotic ambient noise before the noise-canceling technology even gets started. Sony boasts that these headphones also sport their HD Noise-Canceling Processor QN1, which is said to do a phenomenal job of filtering out background noise.
The sound quality offered once the noise cancellation kicks in is widely regarded as superior as well, with both music and phone calls coming through with superb clarity. The battery life of the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones is beyond satisfactory for most users, too, delivering up to 30 hours of use in between charging sessions.
The wireless WH-1000XM3s also sports perks such as touch control, Virtual Assistant activation, and Quick Attention. Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri are all supported via easy-to-use hands-free controls.
Now, while the original Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones are great all by themselves, it simply wouldn’t do to ignore their compact counterparts: the Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds. For many people, a low profile is central to their user experience, and even the sleek design of the original headphones still prevents them from getting the most out of their listening sessions.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds are recognized as one of the industry’s leading competitors with the Apple Airpods Pro, delivering comparable audio quality and maintaining a similarly low profile. They also tend to be a bit more affordable!
Some music enthusiasts who are new to the world of noise-canceling earbuds might question whether they work as well without the padded, physical barrier of over-the-ear headphones. If you’re considering the Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds, rest assured that users report that the noise cancellation still works wonderfully and often exceeds their expectations.
As always, one of the biggest downsides of opting for wireless earbuds is that they’re easy to lose track of. Another potential con is that these earbuds aren’t sweatproof, meaning that a hardcore gym session or a jog in the rain might not be the best setting for them.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds have a slightly more prominent design than competing wireless earbuds do, but most users confirm that they rest securely enough in the ears to alleviate fears of them falling out. These earbuds also boast better battery life and connectivity compared to previous versions, which delights many fans who tried out older models. These reliable earbuds do not support wireless charging or fancy controls from the buds themselves, but they offer great sound quality and good looks!
6. Bowers and Wilkins PX Wireless
Some people will never feel like dropping $300 or more on a pair of headphones, but for those who are willing to pay a bit extra for quality and style, the Bowers and Wilkins PX Wireless headphones are where it’s at! These sleek headphones deliver unparalleled quality and feel sturdy and satisfying when you hold them.
For starters, the look of these headphones is superb! The nylon and metal elements make for a very striking appearance, ensuring that you can recognize these Bowers and Wilkins PX Wireless headphones for the high-end gadgets that they are. This product doesn’t strive to blend into the background but instead makes a fashion statement all its own.
The metal components are strong and durable, and the tough ballistic nylon is of high quality as well. These headphones are built to last! Customers who use them are also generally pleased to report that the nylon glides over their hair without catching or getting stuck the way many plastic headbands do.
Another cool perk of these excellent noise-canceling headphones is that the stylish ear cups are affixed to the headband with strong magnets. This feature not only makes it easy to remove the ear cups and store the product but makes it more convenient to reach some of the controls as well. To top it all off, the headphones are smart enough to detect when you’ve removed one of the earphones and will pause playback until you replace it!
More practically-minded customers will be glad to know that the wireless connectivity of these headphones functions all but flawlessly, providing a stable connection that they can count on. The noise cancelling feature offers three different environment-based settings, enabling users to choose the preset that best fits their current location.
The battery life of the Bowers and Wilkins PX Wireless headphones also lasts a full 22 hours with key features such as noise cancellation turned on. The battery is not user-replaceable but is easy to recharge via USB-C for the duration of its life.
7. Marshall Monitor II ANC
Plenty of people fall in love with a brand and stick with it for years, reluctant to stray too far from their old favorites. If you’ve been a fan of Marshall headphones for years and want upgraded noise cancellation in a product that stays true to the classic style, then the Marshall Monitor II ANC may be your ideal buy.
One of the biggest selling points of these headphones is how sturdy and durable they feel. The pebbled leather headband and ear cup exterior feel as good as they look, and the 3.5mm cable is well-reinforced without feeling too bulky. These headphones have a nice, solid weight to them, and their superb balance and luxurious padding still make them comfortable enough to wear for hours without experiencing any fatigue. The ear cups also fold completely inward, making the headphones much more compact for easy storage, and the headband is flexible enough to withstand a bit of rough travel if necessary.
The cable is handy for anyone who wants to experience high sound quality with a device that isn’t quite modern enough to connect wirelessly, but the Marshall Monitor II ANCs support snappy Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity as well. The connectivity of these headphones is reported to be quite reliable, with users experiencing virtually zero issues or dips in sound quality.
More critical buyers will point out that the Marshall Monitor II ANC headphones don’t offer a lot of extra perks for the price point. However, those who have a fondness for the look and feel of Marshall headphones need not worry because the essentials are all there. Alongside Bluetooth connectivity and quality active noise cancellation, these headphones also feature a button to control the ACN and a golden knob to control just about everything else. Users generally find that the knob is intuitive and easy to use, making for a very pleasant experience with fluid playback controls.
8. Apple AirPods Pro
Plenty of consumers feel that, when it comes to wireless, sound-cancelling earbuds, Apple is the way to go. Die-hard Apple fans will be quick to point out that their primary complaint about the original Apple AirPods was the lack of active noise cancellation, and that that issue is completely resolved with the Apple AirPods Pro. What’s even better is that the Pro earbuds only cost around $50 dollars or so more than their previous counterparts while providing the rewarding upgrade of excellent-quality noise cancellation!
The fit and sound quality are also a jump up from the previous AirPods, with most users immediately noticing that the bass is better and the sound is much clearer overall. The improved fit of the noise-isolating silicone tips also makes the Apple AirPods Pro more secure and less likely to fall out. The superior fit combines with the effective sweatproof design of these earbuds for a final product that’s wonderfully suited for users who lead active, busy lives.
These new-and-improved earbuds don’t just outshine the original Apple AirPods: Apple fans have also reported that they prefer the intuitive controls and smart features of the Apple Airpods Pro over those of leading competitors like the Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds.
The Apple AirPods Pro have a futuristic feel and an elegant design to their controls. Features such as transparency mode and playback are controlled by pressing and squeezing the stems on the earbuds for a smooth experience that many users tout as unbeatable. The stems are also a bit sleeker than those of the original Apple AirPods and cut a more subtle profile when worn, which many style-conscious users appreciate.
By the way: If you’re curious about trying the Apple AirPods Pro but use an Android instead of an iPhone, never fear! These user-friendly earbuds can connect with Android phones as well. As you can imagine, there are bound to be some hiccups and limitations, such as the fact that you can’t connect to Siri or customize the gesture controls, but you’ll still be able to use main features, such as noise cancellation, even while your Apple AirPods Pro are paired with an Android device.
The superior hearing safety provided by the AirPods Pro is also well worth mentioning! One of the biggest noise-cancellation advantages of over-the-ear headphones is that they provide a physical sound barrier between your ears and the outside world that most earbuds simply cannot compete with. If you use earbuds that don’t fit well or don’t have silicone inserts, then you have no barrier and are more likely to damage your hearing by cranking up the volume so that it can compete with ambient noise. With the noise-isolating silicone tips of the Apple AirPods Pro that seal off your ear canals, you’ll be able to enjoy higher clarity at gentler volumes!
9. Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless
While claims that the noise cancellation of the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless beats out the Bose 700s might be somewhat inflated, these headphones still deliver crisp, quality sound in a classy package. If you like a good blend of comfort and style with great audio quality, then the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless could be a great match for you!
High-frequency and midrange background noises are especially well filtered out when using the Sennheiser Momentum 3s, making them a good option for anyone who travels a lot. The chatter from other passengers as well as the background hum of an airplane or a public commute are effectively hushed by the active noise cancellation, making any ride much more peaceful.
One of the major selling points of the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones is the overall look! The stainless steel yokes and soft, padded leather headband are certainly eye-catching, and the oval over-the-ear cups stay true to the classic, attractive design of previous Sennheiser headphones. The large, generously-padded ear cups also distribute the weight of these headphones very well, allowing for long periods of wear without fatigue.
Another great perk of this product’s comfortable design is that people who wear glasses report that there’s plenty of room to keep their specs on while using these headphones. So, if you wear glasses but don’t want to give up classic-style headphones for a pair of wireless earbuds, then you might just get the best of both worlds with these Sennheisers on the go!
The primary drawback of this product is that, unfortunately, the battery life of the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones doesn’t quite hold up against that of competing products. At 13-17 hours maximum, depending on whether or not the noise cancellation is turned on, some people find that these headphones simply don’t last long enough for them before needing a recharge. However, plenty of others find that this doesn’t impact their enjoyment of the product at all.
The voice assistant compatibility and controls of the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones are intuitive and easy to use, and are improved even further with the Sennheiser Smart Control app. These headphones also provide handy features such as auto-pause/play functionality, which pauses music when you remove the headphones and resumes once you put them back on.
Last but not least, the Sennheiser Momentum 3s feel durable and solid when you hold them and fold well for travel in their cloth carrying case. Most people who have these headphones report feeling confident that they’ll hold up just fine alongside their other gear without the need for any extra-special treatment.
10. Samsung Level In Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
At just a little over $150 bucks, the Samsung Level In ANC Headphones are a good option for brand loyalists who want enhanced compatibility with their Samsung phones! This comfy but compact pair of headphones comes with Samsung’s Ultra High Quality Audio feature, which provides much clearer audio quality through the Bluetooth connection with your Samsung phone. And, while these headphones work best while connected to a Samsung device, they’re also able to function well while paired with other Android phones or even iPhones.
One of the more debatable traits of the Samsung Level In ANC Headphones is that the ear cups rest on the ears, similar to how Beats headphones do, instead of fitting over the ear for a more effective physical sound barrier between you and the outside world. Some people find this to be way less comfortable since it places pressure directly on the ears instead of on the skull around the ears. However, other users are sensitive to the pressurized feeling that over-the-ear headphones can create, particularly while the noise cancellation feature is turned on, and find this style of ear cups to be far more comfortable.
The noise cancellation on the Samsung Level In ANC Headphones is lighter than that of more expensive competitors such as those put out by brands Sony and Bose, but that’s to be expected alongside such a lowered price tag. If you want refreshingly clear audio and call quality without your headphones feeling too heavy-duty or isolating, then these might be just right for you!
11. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
If you value comfort way more than you’ll ever value voice optimization or other extra features, then the Bose QuietComfort 35 II will seem like nothing less than a dream! The frame of these headphones is made from sturdy but lightweight plastic and comes with luxurious padding, which makes them extremely comfy to wear for long periods of time. Some people aren’t thrilled by the idea of plastic framework components when they splurge on a $300-or-more pair of headphones, no matter how sturdily they’re made, but the lightweight wearability of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones makes it clear why this material was chosen!
The noise cancellation in this pair of headphones is reported to thoroughly meet or even exceed users’ expectations. Alongside keeping you insanely comfortable, even during long listening sessions, the dense foam padding in the ear cups also does a superior job of blocking out external noise, allowing the noise-cancellation capabilities to work that much better.
The active noise cancellation feature in the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones utilizes a set of dual microphones to detect ambient noise to filter out. There are three different settings to pick from, allowing the user to choose how far they want their surroundings to fade into the background. These headphones also come with the usual competitive features such as dual-connectivity capabilities, as well as the ability to plug in for wired listening when the battery life runs out.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones are also ideal for communication, allowing you to tune into digital helpers such as Google Assistant for hands-free calling and texting. The audio quality is also pretty great, which is always a concern when it comes to Bluetooth connectivity. Users report that the Bose QuietComfort 35 II does a great job at preserving sound quality for calls, often blowing the competition out of the water.
It’s also worth pointing out that these headphones sport more classic button controls instead of a gesture pad. Some people don’t like accidentally changing playback settings or interrupting their music by moving around without thinking about it. Others feel that nothing can replace the satisfying, tangible click of pressing a button to control their device. If either of these are the case for you, then you’re bound to like the classic playback control button as well as the new button that summons Alexa or Google Assistant.
Consumers who love upgrading their gadgets to newer models with a distinctly different appearance may be somewhat disappointed by how similar the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones look to their predecessors. However, if you don’t place much importance on visual enhancements or simply enjoy the classic look of Bose headphones then mark these down as an excellent potential buy!
Obviously, the needs of every headphone user are different. Before you narrow down your options to a final list of contenders, consider jotting down what matters the most in terms of getting the maximum enjoyment out of your new product.
Determining whether you prioritize sound clarity, noise-cancellation effectiveness, style, or active wearability will help you decide which pair of headphones best suits your individual lifestyle. Most products can’t do it all. However, these 11 best noise cancelling headphones of 2020 come awfully close, and any of them are bound to be a great buy!
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.