The best noise-cancelling earbuds bring a useful reduction in outside noise in a pair of headphones that can easily fit in your pocket. Functionally, active noise cancellation (ANC) works in the same way on earbuds to how it does on full size over-ear headphones. Both styles employ built-in microphones to detect the level of external ambient noise around the wearer, and an identical audio signal of the surrounding noise is inverted and played back to the listener through the headphones. Listeners aren’t aware of this of course, as the inverted (or out of phase) signal effectively reduces or ‘cancels out’ the noise of the surroundings for the headphone wearer, effectively removing the external sound, which results in total silence, or at least a significant reduction in the level of intrusive sounds.
As with some over-ear headphones, the benefit from forming a complete seal around your ear, passively blocking out even more noise from your surroundings. But ANC earbuds can produce a similar effect by sealing your ear canal, minimizing the amount of external noise that can reach your ears and allowing you to enjoy your music and podcast without getting distracted by the world outside.
We test dozens of headphones each month, assessing them for sound, comfort and features including active noise-cancelling performance. This list demonstrates the wide variety of models we’ve seen at a broad range of prices spanning $60 to $300. These are the very best noise-cancelling earbuds we’ve tested. Read on to see our list of recommendations.
Top 3 best wireless noise-cancelling earbuds
What are the best noise-cancelling earbuds right now?
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds has a few faults that prevent it from being our pick for best wireless earbuds overall, but none of them are related to its ANC. As far as its noise-cancelling goes, it’s the best in the ANC earbuds business, and by some margin, managing a level of sound-silencing that even approaches that of the Bose 700. The latest software update enhances ANC performance by introducing new profiles designed for specific activities and places. Aware Mode is another addition that works with Transparency mode, automatically reducing “loud distractions as they happen” and returning to full transparency mode when they pass.
Sound quality, in general, is very good, and Bose gets another microphone win with the QuietComfort Earbuds’ excellent voice call performance. The buds are a bit big and don’t have the longest battery life, but with the charging case, you should easily be able to snuff out the engine sounds on a lengthy flight.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.
The PistonBuds Pro are a win for budget-conscious consumers who desire outstanding ANC and sound in a stylish, affordable package. Are they going to replace your AirPods Pro? No, but they are easily one of the best AirPods alternatives that can be had for a third of the price.
Okay, battery life isn’t anything to write home about, nor is call quality. But these shortcomings are forgivable when factoring in the audio and noise cancellation these buds deliver, and are enough to satisfy (especially at the $69 price) and give the Piston Buds Pro mass appeal.
Read our full 1More PistonBuds Pro review.
The old Sony WF-1000XM3 was a longtime member of the best ANC earbuds club, and the heavily upgraded WF-1000XM4 sounds even better. With the aid of a new Sony V1 chip, the noise cancellation on these buds is worthy of the high price tag, and a generally immersive sound helps you ignore distractions even more.
Battery life is up on the old model, too. The WF-1000XM3 could last for 6 hours at most with ANC on, while the WF-1000XM4 can comfortably manage between 7 and 8. The case also gets wireless charging capabilities, alongside a host of other tweaks and improvements to the buds themselves.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review.
As the top model in Apple’s wireless earbuds range, the AirPods Pro offers ANC where the standard Apple AirPods doesn’t. And that’s not the only benefit to this premium set of ANC earbuds, especially if you pair it with a recent iPhone or iPad.
Doing so gives you access to a range of features you wouldn’t get when used with an Android phone, such as fast pairing and Spatial Audio. The latter is particularly impressive: when watching videos with surround-sound support, the origin points of different sounds will stay consistent with the position of the screen, even as you move your head, creating a 3D effect. We’re hoping the rumored AirPods Pro 2 build upon the current earbuds, as well as bring in some innovations, as competition in the wireless earbuds arena is very tight.
Read our full Apple AirPods Pro review.
In the third generation of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 it has shrunk the earbuds, and tidied them up while it’s at it, and managed to hold the price down to a level most realistic rivals compete at. Battery life is good. Control options are both extensive and reliable, and the app is great. Noise-cancellation, especially where wind is concerned, is competitive. And the sound is a combination of fanatical attention to detail, a naturalistic approach to rhythms and tempos, and a very pleasant unity of tonality.
Read the full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review.
The Master & Dynamic MW08 actually beats a few of this list’s higher-ranked ANC earbuds on metrics like design, overall sound quality and battery life; it’s in this position because the effectiveness of its noise cancellation isn’t quite on the same tier as the likes of the QuietComfort Earbuds.
Even so, there’s plenty to recommend it. Crafted from polished ceramic and water-resistant to the IPX5 standard, it’s one of the best-designed pairs of earbuds in any category, and the powerful, bass-rich (but balanced) sound makes listening to any genre a joy. If you’ve got the cash to burn, the MW08 is a superb higher-end option.
Read our full Master & Dynamic MW08 review.
OnePlus’ first pair of ANC buds are a super-stylish design that offer good comfort levels in the ear and a durable build with IP55 water resistance. What’s more, you get incredibly quick Warp Charging that can give you 10 hours of use from just 10 minutes of charge, when using the supplied charging case.
Of the three main ANC modes on offer, Max gives you the best noise neutralization; it’s not quite as good as the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds or Sony WF-1000XM4, but it beats the AirPods Pro and does an excellent job of blocking out household disturbances. There’s also a Transparency mode that allows ambient sounds to filter through, and a Zen mode that plays calming white noise. Extra treats for OnePlus users include a gaming mode and fast pairing, and if you have a OnePlus phone then this is a fine choice to consider.
Read our full OnePlus Buds Pro review.
The Galaxy Buds Pro has its own version of spatial audio, called 360 Audio, though you’ll need a relatively new Samsung Galaxy phone for it to work. Still, even if you don’t have one you can take advantage of its ANC, which massively improves on that of the old Samsung Galaxy Buds Live.
This is a much better pair of buds in general, with a more stylish, better waterproofed design and upgraded sound output to complement that enhanced ANC. And it’s worth installing the Galaxy Wearable companion app for lots more features and personalization options.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review.
Another high-end option, the Jabra Elite 85t is one of the few pairs of noise-canceling earbuds that can come near Bose on ANC effectiveness. Three microphones on each earbud do some serious heavy lifting, resulting in anything from passing traffic to barking dogs sounding blissfully muted.
Battery life is middling, voice call quality is on the low side and there are some software bugs, but none of these can spoil the Elite 85t entirely. If you want top-quality ANC without the slightly bulky size of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, this could serve as a fine alternative. Plus for Prime users, they are $120 off on Prime Day.
Read our full Jabra Elite 85t review.
It’s shocking to see Beats release two pairs of wireless earbuds just months apart from each other. While the Studio Buds remain an impressive model with adequate ANC and great sound, the Fit Pro takes performance up several notches, while integrating minor changes to its sibling’s design. Adding wingtips is a huge plus for exercisers and those living active lifestyles, ensuring the buds remain locked on the ears when moving around. AirPods Pro features like active noise cancellation and Spatial Audio for 3D-like sound come part of the package, both of which perform at high levels. There are also the many perks that come tied to the H1 chip like automatic switching, audio sharing, and FindMy support to locate misplaced buds.
Android users end up losing out on several iOS-exclusive features like “Hey Siri” voice activation and head-tracking. The Eartip Fit Test also isn’t as accurate as the AirPods Pro’s version, granted the wingtips and bundled ear tips in different sizes should accommodate all ear shapes.
Read our full Beats Fit Pro review.
The Sennheiser CX Plus face stiff competition, but offer articulate, high-quality sound combined with normal playtimes, effective ANC, and dependable connectivity.
Sennheiser’s CX Plus improved on the noise cancellation capabilities of its predecessors, and handles higher frequencies better than its big brother — the Momentum True Wireless 2 (see below). Blocking out loud noises produced by landscaping tools (e.g., hedge trimmer, lawnmower) when working in the backyard was blissful. Other distractions like airplanes flying over the house, bird chirping, and even the sound from a portable speaker didn’t affect my workflow either. Indoors was just as rewarding, keeping chatter around the kitchen table silent and my toddler’s incessant crying outside of the play area to a minimum.
Read our full Sennheiser CX Plus review.
The Technics EAH-AZ60 is a bit of a bargain. Not only are you getting high-end sound enhanced via EQ or LDAC support, but also dynamic noise neutralization and a wide feature set that not many luxury models offer. The addition of Bluetooth 5.2 and intelligible controls for responsive operation add to the buds list of strong selling points.
Not all functions hit their mark, but any drawbacks are forgivable when you consider the excellent level of audio performance, making the Technics EAH-AZ60 well worth the investment for music lovers.
Read our full Technics EAH-AZ60 review.
When rumors first started swirling around the Beats Studio Buds, we weren’t sure if it would feature active noise cancellation at all. Against the odds, though, this pair of buds combines affordable pricing with full ANC — complete with ambient sound mode. Who knew Apple would come out with such a bargain?
The Studio Buds also surprise by being much more platform-agnostic than previous Beats headphones. That means that while there are some exclusive goodies for iOS users, Android owners can also take advantage of fast pairing and Google Assistant support. Whatever mobile platform you’re on, this is another good way to get ANC without premium pricing.
Read our full Beats Studio Buds review.
A cheaper (but still premium-priced) alternative to the PI7, the Bowers & Wilkins PI5 rivals even the AirPods Pro in noise-cancelling effectiveness. The ANC on these buds, which can switch to an equally impressive pass-through ambient mode, does a fantastic job of blocking out sound regardless of your immediate surroundings.
There are a few reasons why it’s not further up this list, like the underwhelming 4.5-hour battery life, the occasionally iffy controls and a fit that gets more uncomfortable as the hours tick by. If you just want top-notch ANC and are willing to pay for it, this is a worthwhile consideration.
Read our full Bowers & Wilkins PI5 review.
Replacing the Elite 7 Active in our list, the recently introduced Elite 4 Actives are an impressively good mid-range model with effective ANC, excellent call quality, rich sound, strong connectivity, and waterproof protection. Access to the Sound+ app for audio customization sweetens the deal even further.
The cheaper price tag means losing out on popular features like multipoint technology and wireless charging, as well as some of Jabra’s newer settings. However, the Jabra Elite 4 Active is the most convincing noise cancelling purchase for active lifestyle and fitness types on a budget.
Read our full Jabra Elite 4 Active review.
How to choose the best noise-cancelling earbuds for you
We’ve ranked these earbuds partly with respect to how effective their ANC tech is — but this doesn’t need to be the absolute most important thing to everybody. You may be willing to have slightly less effective ANC if it means getting a pair with the best general sound quality, or you may be a keen runner who needs extra stability and waterproofing as well as noise cancellation.
In any case you should think about which qualities are most vital to your own needs. Do you want headphones that sound a certain way, or to have perfectly neutral balance between the bass, mids and treble? Do you want the most comfortable buds possible so you can wear them for hours without discomfort? Do you have a particular phone that would pair well with specific earbuds, like the AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro do?
Only you can decide what your priorities are, though be sure to read the full reviews linked above if you want more detail on a particular quality.
That said, it’s worth going over a few earbud quirks here. Battery life can be a tricky one: some buds can last much longer than others, but with included charging cases, the total possible uptime might be much more competitive. Think about how long and how often you’d want to wear your headphones: for lengthy trips, a longer “per charge” battery life is better, but if you only want some entertainment on short commutes then this matters less, as you’ll probably be storing the buds in their case more often.
Pricing varies quite drastically. You simply can’t find effective ANC earbuds at true bargain-basement prices — the tech is costly to implement — but a “cheap” pair will usually run from $100 to $150. Premium buds are likely to cost anywhere between $200 and $300, but even our best performing models can be found for less, so check back regularly to keep track of models with the biggest discounts.
How we test noise-cancelling earbuds
When testing noise-cancelling earbuds, we test for comfort, ease of setup and use, sound quality and — yes — how well the ANC works in different situations. This might mean taking them into a busy store, or alongside a traffic-heavy road, or just wearing them while sitting near other people having conversations.
We always aim to test headphones over the course of a week, including sessions where we wear them for at least a couple of hours at a time. This lets us know how comfortable they are in extended use, and whether the manufacturer’s battery life claims stand up to real-life usage.
Each pair of headphones and earbuds is worn over the course of a week for 2 hours at a time. During this time, reviewers evaluate comfort and fit, ease of use, and audio. We test sound by listening to tracks across different music genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical, and pop. Volume, clarity, and fullness of sound are taken into consideration in our ratings. Movies, podcasts, and video games are considered, when necessary.
Find out what we listen for during our testing process and how to get the best headphone sound for you.
Finally, we’ll rate noise-cancelling earbuds on our five-point system, with 1 being the worst and 5 the best. If a pair is particularly excellent, with a robust range of qualities, we may award it an Editor’s Choice badge.
Next: Still undecided about which style of headphones are right for you? Check out our guides to the best over-ear headphones and the best noise-cancelling headphones overall to get a broader view of best available headphones on the market right now.
More: The eagerly anticipated AirPods Pro 2 not announced at WWDC — but there’s a cool new AirPods feature in iOS 16 and although the didn’t make the cut in our list here, see what we made of the latest ANC buds with LDAC codec support in our full 1More Evo review.