The writers here at Audioaural.com have gone through a rigorous process of evaluating over 100 different headphones for purpose of identifying the best noise-canceling headphones in the world.
This has taken thousands of hours of testing in different environments. Without further a do, here is our list of the top 10 noise-canceling headphones.
1. Sony WH-1000XM3
The Sony WH1000 XM3 headphones are the upgrade to the Sony WH1000-XM2 headphones. Now the XM2’s were in my opinion the flagship wireless Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones along with the original Bose QC35.
So naturally, Sony was going to have to do one hell of a job to improve on those headphones.
Then Sony unveiled the WH1000XM3. Initially, I imagined that the only difference would be the 3 at the end.
Many people who purchased the XM2s stated that these headphones were very good at keeping out noise, but comfort was a problem.
I found the Sony WH-1000XM 3 to be absolutely amazing.
I should not show my bias, as this is meant to be an honest review, but the Sony is my favorite in the category of wireless noise-canceling headphones, closely followed by the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II.
2. Bose Quietcomfort 35II
Bose released the latest version of its signature active noise cancellation headphones the, Bose Quiet comfort 35 II (QC35II) which comes with google assistant and Alexa built in.
The Bose headphones also come with Bose AR audio augmented reality platform enabled.
A close second (I mean very close) to the Sony WH-1000XM3,
These headphones are the upgrade to the popular Bose Quiet comfort 35.
The QC 35 II, still offers a similar type of noise cancellation capability, audio performance and dual microphone as the original QC35.
The QC35 II also comes with a 20-hour battery life, just like its predecessor.
The biggest difference between the two headphones are the new action button located on the left ear cup.
This button gives you instant access to voice controlled tasks in countries where voice assistants (Amazon Alexa or google assistant) are available.
If Google assistant or Amazon Alexa are not available, clicking the action button allows you to quickly toggle through 3 different ANC settings.
Coupled with quick charging that gives you 2.5 hours of additional playtime hours with a 10-minute charge, and 11 preset languages, the Bose QC 35 headphones are a multifaceted, quality sounding, and well engineered set of cans.
3. Sennheiser HD 4.5 BTNC Review
For the second time on the list Sennheiser makes it onto the list of the top 10 noise canceling headphones in the market.
The first of Sennheiser’s Bluetooth noise canceling headphones to make it onto the list was the Sennheiser Wireless PXC 550.
This time around we are reviewing the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC, noise canceling headphones.
These cans are in the $200* and below price range of headphones.
Therefore, a direct competitor would probably be the JBL live 650 BTNC headphones which are also retailing for a price of roughly $200*, or slightly below depending on where you shop.
Naturally, I am going to be lenient on the features as I expect that for the headphones to retail at this price, the makers would have had to make some trade-offs.
Nevertheless, the cans still make the top 10 list because in typical Sennheiser fashion the cans are solidly built and really do offer an excellent value proposition.
4. Microsoft Surface Headphones Review
Microsoft is of course the computer giant better known for their operating software than their headphones.
Microsoft have previously attempted to enter the hardware space with limited success (Remember Nokia).
So how do they fare? Surprisingly pretty well.
Now to be perfectly honest these headphones form part of the surface suite of products, which include laptops and other related products.
There are a few teething issues that Microsoft need to focus on though, and if they do,
I believe in time, Microsoft will be a real contender in the wireless noise canceling headphone space.
When I saw them for the first time, I found them to be very appealing with the light Grey finish and sleek design.
You can just see that Microsoft were focusing on the tech here. Similar to the Sony there are only a few physical buttons, which are tactile in nature.
5. Bowers and Wilkins PX Review
Bowers and Wilkins is a British audio equipment company that has been in the industry for over 50 years.
This is their latest entry into the world of high end wireless noise canceling headphones.
I must say I am somewhat impressed by their attempt. Bowers and Wilkins are new to the wireless noise canceling headphone market.
Similar to Microsoft surface headphones they seem to have made a stellar attempt and will be a definite force to be reckoned with in the future.
When they came out they were priced at $400* (At time of writing), and the price seems to have been dropped by about $100* depending on the merchant that you buy from.
Naturally, if someone has $300* to spend on a set of headphones, then they will likely scrutinize the headphones a lot closely and also compare them to the premium headphones in this category.
6. Plantronics Backbeat PRO 2 SE Review
Plantronics is no stranger to the world of noise cancellation headphones’ and headphone technology.
With its foundations stating in the aviation industry, Plantronics has been delivering audio equipment for over 50 years.
With the Backbeat Pro 2 SE, Plantronics decided to compete at the $250* price range.
When I first purchased a pair I was looking for a value for money set of cans that would do the job without all the frills that come with the $350* and above headphones’.
In my view the Backbeat Pro 2 SE headphones’ delivered on and exceeded my expectations.
The noise cancellation is solid, but not perfect and the sound is quite impressive yet not overdone.
7. Sennheiser PXC 550 wireless Review
Sennheiser is an audio company that has been in the business for the better part of 70 years.
The latest addition to the Sennheiser noise canceling headphones offering are the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless (PXC 550).
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless headphones are designed with the travelers needs in mind.
We all know that when it comes to noise canceling Bluetooth headphones, there is usually some level of compromise (or at least there should be) between the specs and the price.
So when the PXC 550 came in at an asking price of $400*, the expectation was that these headphones would have all the bells and whistles and everything in between.
I am not sure what the thinking was in the pricing as this is at the upper end of the Bluetooth noise canceling headphone pricing segment especially given the nature of the competition (Think Sony and Bose QC 35 II).
The Price very quickly dropped to $350* as the market was not as responsive. But the price has subsequently dropped to below $300*, and at time of writing have been discounted all the way to around $250* and slightly higher depending on where you get them.
8. Beats studio 3 wireless Review
Beats has been around for some time as a brand.
The brainchild of Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine, beats’ has had a mixed reception from audiophiles and just pure headphone junkies alike.
Beats was acquired by Apple in 2014 in order for apple to gain an entry point into the competitive world of wireless headphones.
The headphones boast active noise cancellation circuitry and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Beats studio 3 wireless headphones are retailing at less than $300 at time of writing.
The Beats Studio 3 Wireless, is the latest addition to the noise canceling headphone complement of Beats by Dre.
These headphones are the successor to the mixed reviewed Beats Studio 2 wireless.
9. JBL LIVE 650BTNC Review
JBL has been a big name in the speaker market for some time.
The US based company has been designing audio equipment for over 70 years.
I myself have purchased many a JBL speaker and have been a very satisfied customer.
JBL is no stranger to the wireless noise canceling headphones market, having previously made headphones such as the Everest Elite 750NC.
I think they have learned their lesson and opted this time around to compete in the middle price category instead of the premium headphone category.
All this whilst maintaining the same signature sound of the Everest 750 NC and in some instances eclipsing the performance of those headphones.
This time around though I decided to have a look at the JBL Live 650 BTNC noise canceling headphones.
JBL have always positioned themselves as a more affordable option in the audio equipment market, unlike the premium priced the Bose.
This is where they decided to position themselves in the wireless noise canceling headphones segment with the release of the JBL Live 650 BTNC.
At time of writing the JBL 650 BTNC were retailing for $200.
So, I think that this review is for those who are looking for a pair of noise canceling headphones without having to shell out an extra $150 for a set of Sony or Bose headphones.
If you can afford top shell out the extra cash then I would suggest that you perhaps look at my review of the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II, as these are the best noise canceling headphones in the market at the moment.
So I when I purchased these headphones, I was looking for something decent that I could recommend, but I was actually quite impressed with the value for money proposition that I got with these cans.
10. AKG N700 NC Review
For those of you thinking that AKG is some newbie attempting to capture the wireless headphone market, think again.
AKG is a premium acoustics company with over 60 years of experience in the game. Located in Austria, the brand is now owned by listed electronics giant Samsung.
Basically AKG is, to Samsung, what beats is, to apple.
This is a pretty decent set of noise canceling headphones despite the fact that they do not have the reputation of a Sony or Bose.
You may remember that the AKG 700 NC headphones were released at IFA 2018 and even managed to win the best product award.
However, they do deserve to be on a top 10 list, and are pretty decent set of cans.
When you first see the AKG’s you will notice that they are built really well.
They really are a solid looking set of cans.
I kinda like the fact that they do not have the excessive bells and whistles of the Sony or Bose.
The AKG is simple and to the point.
However, for this price point you do want to be wowed, and unfortunately that does not happen with the AKG.