The 7 Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds and Headphones in 2021
Hear only the sounds you want with the best noise-canceling earbuds and headphones in 2021.
The right noise-canceling headphones and earbuds can make a huge difference in how well you can focus or enjoy your music. It’s one thing to listen to studying music while in a crowded café; it’s another to do so when you have noise-canceling headphones blocking out distracting sound and letting you focus.
However, finding the right noise-canceling headphones or earbuds is tricky, particularly since everyone claims that theirs are the best. While we had a lot of contenders to go through, we found that the Panasonic Noise Canceling Over the Ear Headphones offers the perfect balance of quality, features, noise-canceling efficacy, and budget. We’d highly recommend them for just about everybody.
Take a look at our other top picks to see what else we found in our search for the best noise-canceling headphones and earbuds in 2021.
Panasonic HD805N Noise Canceling Over the Ear Headphones
Best Overall Noise Canceling Headphones
Why should you buy this? The Panasonic Noise Canceling Over the Ear Headphones are everything you could want in a set of isolating sound-ware: comfortable, capable, and easy to control.
Who’s it for? These are a great choice for anyone looking for a solid set of noise-canceling headphones without breaking the bank or compromising on quality at the same time.
Why we picked the Panasonic HD805N:
Ultimately, we chose these headphones because they have virtually no major downsides. They feature three levels of active noise control, which you can switch by using voice commands or finger switches on the side of the headphones. They connect using top-tier Bluetooth technology and allow you to take phone calls with a single voice command.
Furthermore, these headphones come with an ambient sound enhancer; this feature can let you converse clearly without taking off the headphones and will help you remain aware of your surroundings while facilitating excellent sound quality. These headphones are also super comfortable. One size fits everyone thanks to their design and plush material.
To make things even better, these headphones come with top-tier audio. 40 mm HD driver units are located in either earcup, making these a quality set of equipment not just for noise-canceling, but also general music enjoyment.
TaoTronics TT-BH060 Active Noise Canceling Headphones
Best Budget Noise-Canceling Headphones
Why should you buy this? The TaoTonics Active Noise Canceling Headphones are affordable and excellent through and through, with phenomenal battery time and to use controls.
Who’s it for? This is a great set of noise-canceling headphones if you don’t want to break the bank but also want a set of headphones with decent noise-canceling capabilities.
Why we picked the TaoTronics TT-BH060:
These headphones were chosen for budget because they don’t really compromise for their lower-than-average cost. For instance, they feature 40 mm drivers on either side of the headphone set, making smooth bass sounds that rival even dedicated audiophilic headphones. They’re also extremely easy to connect thanks to Bluetooth 5.0 technology. A CVC 6.0 microphone will allow you to take phone calls without broadcasting ambient noise.
These headphones are also great because they have active noise cancellation features that can easily let you immerse yourself in your favorite music. You can control this using hand buttons or voice commands at your discretion. They’re comfortable as well, featuring 90° rotatable ear cups and pillow-soft cushions on the inside of each cup.
These headphones are also great in terms of playtime. Charge them for five minutes and you get two hours of full-time sound, or charge them up to full for 30 hours playtime altogether.
TaoTronics TT-EP002 Active Noise Canceling Earbuds
Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds
Why should you buy this? The TaoTronics Active Noise Canceling Earbuds provide phenomenal sound quality and noise-canceling despite not having the surface area of a traditional set of over the ear headphones.
Who’s it for? These are a great choice if you want to immerse yourself in your favorite music but don’t like covering your ears entirely.
Why we picked the TaoTronics TT-EP002:
These earbuds bring the best noise-canceling functionality into a much smaller package. All in all, these earbuds can reduce environmental noise by about 25 dB and they last for 15 hours per single charge. Thus, you’ll be able to enjoy your music uninterrupted all day or all week on a single battery charge and without being uncomfortable in the slightest.
But they also have a monitoring mode you can engage if you need to hear airline or subway announcements or if you need to be aware of your surroundings. Furthermore, they have a noise-canceling microphone that lets you take phone calls and transmit your voice clearly whenever you like. Additional features include a noise-canceling slider, in-line controls for your volume, audio tracks and phone calls, and an airplane audio adapter.
The earbuds are made to last with an aluminum build in a metal alloy black matte finish. These are classy and durable through and through and should last you a long time even with heavy use.
COWIN E7 Active Noise Canceling Headphones
Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Travel
Why should you buy this? The COWIN E7 Active Noise Canceling Headphones are extremely high-quality and are designed for those constantly on the go.
Who’s it for? We’d recommend picking these up if you want a set of noise-canceling headphones that are durable enough to last for an entire business trip or vacation.
Why we picked the COWIN E7:
These headphones have a lot to like. For starters, their active noise canceling technology can get rid of ambient noise and allow you to enjoy your music, movies, or phone calls without interruption. This function works in wired and wireless modes for more versatility, and the headphones are powered by 40 mm-large aperture drivers. Thus, your music will sound excellent across the entire spectrum and you’ll enjoy deep bass sounds.
The headphones come with easy Bluetooth pairing, which provides a stable connection to your mobile device: an ideal function for those constantly on the go taking phone calls. It also comes with 30 hours of playtime per charge while in Bluetooth mode. But you can always plug these in and use their wired functionality if you need to use them for longer.
These are also great for travel because the ear cups can swivel up to 90° to fit any head size. The interior of the cups is soft and comfortable, so your ears won’t feel sore even after listening to music with these for several hours on end.
Bose QuietComfort 20 Noise Canceling In-Ear Headphones
Best In-Ear Noise-Canceling Headphones
Why should you buy this? The Bose QuietComfort 20 Noise Canceling In-Ear Headphones are some of the best hardware in the market, both because of their power and their functionality.
Bose QuietComfort 20
Who’s it for? Pick these up if you want to enjoy high-quality Bose sound and noise-canceling technology in a smaller package.
Why we picked the Bose QuietComfort 20:
All in all, these earbuds are a treat to listen to. They’re a wired set, and they’re designed for any type of mobile device or phone you can imagine. They feature comprehensive and effective noise-canceling technology and the buds include a listening functionality to let you hear your environment when you need to at the touch of a button. It only takes two hours to charge them from empty to full.
The earbuds are also great because of their audio quality. They deliver lifelike digital audio experiences thanks to excellent drivers and Active EQ technology. Controlling all your audio experiences is easy with the wired control buttons. There’s an in-line microphone and a one-touch answer or end button to let you seamlessly switch between your phone calls and your music.
We also want to mention the comfort of the ear tips, which are designed for long-lasting stability and user enjoyment. There are several different types of tips available so you can pick which one best fits your ear shape.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
Best Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones
Why should you buy this? The Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones are comfortable, high-quality, and demonstrative of the innovation we’ve come to expect from Bose.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Who’s it for? This is a great set of headphones if you prefer the Bose brand and want to go with something tried-and-true; this is arguably their flagship product.
Why we picked the Bose QuietComfort 35 II:
These headphones are top-tier in every way imaginable. They offer you three levels of world-class noise cancellation, enabling you to tune out your environment up to the level you desire. An additional setting will let in ambient noise when it’s convenient for your travel or when you need to have a conversation with someone without removing the headphones.
These can also be quite easily controlled with finger buttons or with Alexa enabled voice access for music and other control functions. The headphones connect via Bluetooth in an instant and you can personalize your connectivity settings or update schedule using voice commands or the buttons. The headphones also feature a dual microphone system that rejects ambient noise for clear phone calls and voice pick up.
But best of all, these headphones are enabled with Bose AR, so you can utilize the audio-only augmented reality software that Bose recently came up with. Pairing these with movies, games or any audio experience you can imagine is an auditory delight that no one should go without trying at least once.
Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones WHCH700N
Best Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones
Why should you buy this? The Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones WHCH700N are a great competitor product to Bose’s market domination thanks to their design, innovative features, and voice assistant access.
Who’s it for? This is a great set of headphones if you want to try out cutting edge AI-powered noise-canceling developments and don’t mind paying a little extra.
Why we picked the Sony WHCH700N:
These headphones are extremely impressive for their futuristic aesthetic and functions. For instance, these headphones’ noise canceling capabilities are powered by next-gen AI tech. Hold the noise-canceling button, and you get uniquely tuned noise-canceling settings based on your ambient environment. This calibrates as you walk around so your noise-canceling level is always perfect.
These headphones can also wirelessly connect quickly and easily and can be controlled via buttons or Alexa voice commands. The built-in microphone will allow you to take or make calls without letting in ambient sound. Even better, the headphones are designed for 35 hours of wireless playback and have a 10-minute quick charge capability if you need to grab them and go but forgot to charge them the night before.
They’re also quite comfortable with plush interiors and adjustable length. Ultimately, they’re a high-powered pair of noise-canceling headphones that are a worthy competitor for the top brands.
How we test
When we decided to find the best noise canceling headphones and earbuds in 2021, we knew that we could just settle for whatever headphones the big brands were suggesting. We needed to try things ourselves if we were going to get to the bottom of the real best headphones.
So we decided to try out the headphones across several metrics, including:
- Sound quality
- Noise canceling power and versatility
- Ease of use
We especially wanted to see which noise canceling headphones allow you to adjust the power of the noise canceling tech in question. For instance, it’s often useful to have lower amounts of noise canceling active at a time, particularly if you need to pay attention to your surrounding environment. That’s why we really ended up liking the Panasonic Noise Canceling Over the Ear Headphones as our top choice, for instance.
All in all, we think we found quality noise canceling headphones and earbuds for anyone’s unique needs.
Noise Canceling Earbuds and Headphones FAQ
What Are Noise Canceling Headphones?
Noise-canceling headphones are headphones that also incorporate an active bit of technology that blocks out ambient sound. These are great for listening to music and immersing yourself in your favorite auditory experiences, but they’re also usually paired with microphones for voice calls. Therefore, these can also be great if you need to have a phone call in a busy environment and can’t find a quiet space. They’re also popular for those who like to concentrate on work while excluding other noise.
How Do Noise-Canceling Headphones Work?
In a nutshell, noise-canceling headphones provide active noise canceling technology. They use a special microphone that can measure the ambient sound environment and create an artificial waveform that negates the incoming sound. They then mix it with the microphone that provides music to your ear, effectively erasing ambient sound while only leaving the sound you want to hear.
What Are Top-Rated Noise Canceling Headphones?
Top-rated noise-canceling headphones are those that have been found to be popular or excellent by other users. We paid attention to top-rated headphones when we were doing our own research. For instance, the Panasonic Noise Canceling Over the Ear Headphones initially caught our eye because they had lots of positive reviews. We added our own to the mix when we saw their reputation was warranted.
You should always try to go with top-rated noise-canceling headphones if you can, as you’re less likely to pick up a subpar pair that way.
Bose vs Sony Noise Canceling Headphones
Ultimately, both types of noise-canceling headphones are high-quality. Bose has been in the noise-canceling business a little longer and is more well known in the industry. But Sony noise-canceling technology (like what’s used in the Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones WHCH700N) is actually slightly better at blocking out higher frequency sound (think high-pitched noises) while Bose (like you see in the Bose QuietComfort 20 Noise Canceling In-Ear Headphones) is a little better at blocking out lower frequency sound. Use this and consider what ambient noise you will usually use your headphones to block out before making your purchase.
Noise Canceling Headphones vs Earbuds
Both noise-canceling headphones and earbuds can be effective and enjoyable. Headphones like the COWIN E7 Active Noise Canceling Headphones are a little heavier on your ears and usually provide slightly better noise-canceling functionality as a whole because the wider earcups produce a physical block for ambient sound. However, they may be a little less comfortable to wear for hours on end.
Noise-canceling earbuds, like the TaoTronics Active Noise Canceling Earbuds, are still quite good and are great if you don’t mind hearing a little ambient sound from time to time in exchange for greater comfort.