Just using a decent pair of earbuds isn’t enough anymore. In a noisy world, drowning out the sound of public transport or crowds of people may be the only way to fully enjoy your music. In this article, we look at the best noise-canceling earbuds.
Noise-canceling earbuds are in-ear headphones which are designed to have high fidelity audio, but also to create a block between your ears and the rest of the world. This can help if you need to concentrate or if you just don’t want the noise of other peoples’ conversations interrupting your favorite album.
Our top-rated noise-canceling earbuds are presented as a top 10 list, and our products have been nominated with their own unique benefits. For instance, some are on the list due to being great value-for-money, others are the best wireless option, and so on. There is something for everyone’s needs.
As well as our list of the top noise-canceling earphones, we’ve included a shot buying guide to allow you to learn more about the features needed to make a top-notch product in this field and what you should be looking out for when you make your purchase.
In fact, the two main questions answered in this article are:
Spending a little time doing some research is vitally important so that you aren’t disappointed when you make your purchase.
Here are the best noise-canceling earbuds 2020:
- Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort 20
- Best for Battery Life: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H3 ANC
- Best Wireless: Sony WI-SP600N
- Best Value: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33iS
- Best for Phone Calls: Sony WF-SP700N
- TaoTronics TT-EP008
- Bose QuietControl 30
- BYGZB Noise-Canceling Earbuds
- Linner NC50
- Plantronics BackBeat GO 410
Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort 20
Not many brands have made noise-canceling technology their USP quite like Bose. Their over-ear headphones are incredibly good at this, but the QuietComfort earbuds are fantastic, too.
Some really high-tech features are on offer and though this is one of the most costly models we reviewed, they’re definitely worth considering if high fidelity audio and control over external noise is your priority.
Overall, if you are looking for excellent audio quality and the ability to immerse yourself and drown out the world with the press of a button, the QuietComfort 20s are one of the very best options.
Best for Battery Life: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H3 ANC
Bang & Olufsen, sometimes referred to as just “B&O” are one of the highest quality audio brands out there, and this is reflected in the price of the H3 ANC model.
H3 models of these headphones have been on the market for some time and had some unbelievable reviews, and the ANC variation is simply to help with the noise-canceling capabilities.
The very intelligent active noise cancelation feature uses a microphone to detect noise and then use this as a sort of template to reject outside sounds that aren’t wanted in your listening experience.
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H3 ANC earbuds are another option with exceptional audio quality and if you need a battery life which can last for long periods of listening such as flights then this could be the choice for you.
Best Wireless: Sony WI-SP600N
Sony is an absolute powerhouse brand when it comes to audio equipment, so it is inevitable that they offer some of the best active noise-canceling earbuds.
The WI-SP600N has had mixed reviews, but they’ve got some very good features making them an excellent choice for exercise or for those who love to boost the bass frequencies when they’re wearing their headphones.
These earbuds aren’t as highly rated for features as some of the alternatives and the audio fidelity could be a little clearer, but if you like boosted bass and to disappear into your own little world in the gym or when running then this could be the option for you.
Best Value: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33iS
Audio-Technica is a very prolific brand which makes headphones, microphones and more audio gear. They are good value-for-money and the ATH-ANC33iS is one of the best options for earbuds if you’re on a budget.
As well as being high quality, they are easy to control with an inline controller to allow you to make changes to the music you’re listening to and even to answer phone calls.
In a blind audio test against some of the very top rated noise-canceling earbuds, the ATH may not win the day. However, consider the price and suddenly these look like a great option.
They are the best noise-canceling earbuds under $50. The noise-canceling is decent, and the value-for-money on offer is excellent.
Best for Phone Calls: Sony WF-SP700N
To look at these earbuds you could easily confuse them for a hands-free kit for your phone. The Sony WF-SP700N are more expensive than the Sony WI-SP600N due to the fact they are far superior for making and receiving phone calls.
They share a lot of similarities with their sibling product, however, and the audio quality is pretty similar. This is truly one of the top options if you are looking for Bluetooth noise-canceling earbuds.
For control over EQ and phone calls, the Sony WF-SP700N headphones have a good range of features if you don’t mind a little extra bulk being carried around with you. The battery life is good and though they’re quite costly, these earbuds offer plenty of great features.
There are some brands on this list which are not as mainstream or well known, but actually create some of the best options out there. This is one example of this, with TaoTronics (hardly a household name) creating some noise-canceling headphones which are good value and rival the big brands.
It has a built-in mic, loads of control and the ability to cancel background noise pretty reliably when you consider the price.
Overall, for value-for-money and a decent set of earbuds which offer some top features. Even though the brand may not be as well-known, these earbuds have the quality of products far more expensive.
Bose QuietControl 30
This makes our list of the top 10 best noise-canceling earbuds. To tell the truth, these in-ear noise-canceling headphones are pretty much identical to the QuietComfort 20 model we’ve already reviewed above. However, these are created to be wireless.
Due to their exceptional features and amazing noise-canceling functionality, Bose has a lot of fans of their products. If you want a Bose set of earbuds and don’t mind paying for the quality, these are the wireless option to go for within their range.
BYGZB Noise-Canceling Earbuds
If you are looking for the best cheap noise-canceling earbuds then the BYGZB Earphones give an in-ear choice.
These are wired, and as you would expect from the best noise-canceling earbuds under $30 the sound quality is not quite as high as the choices from Bose or other top brands, but it is plenty good enough for day-to-day use and taking to the gym.
Generally speaking, if you are in the market for a cheap option of top noise-canceling earbuds and you’re on a budget, then the BYGZB are fine for everyday use. You probably won’t want to be mixing or composing music on these, but for listening, these are a good cheap option.
Linner is another brand which may not be hugely well-known around the world, but their in-ear headphones are some of the best wireless earbuds for the money, and definitely among the best noise-canceling earbuds under $100.
They are great for exercising, and they are very ruggedly made, with top noise-canceling technology which can rival some of the very top brands in the market today.
This is a very good choice for exercising, the comfort of the Linner earbuds is one of the big plus points, though if you want long charge for using on planes and not having to charge regularly it might be worth looking elsewhere.
Plantronics BackBeat GO 410
Plantronics is another headphone brand you may not have heard of! The BackBeat GO 410 have been well-reviewed, and are recommended by many.
These earbuds have some very good features including the long-lasting battery which have made them a real rival for some of the bigger brands making noise-canceling headphones and earbuds.
Overall, the very clever features regarding customization and battery life give this its place on our list of best in-ear noise-canceling headphones.
How to Choose Noise-Canceling Earbuds?
To help better understand the features and help you to make a decision you are happy with, we’ve created a buying guide to discuss some of the features. This means you can decide which you need to prioritize.
Where You Use Your Earbuds
This is definitely something you will want to consider before making you choice. Some are better for use in the gym (think of all the noise going on around you that will need to be canceled out).
Others have considered a lot of features aimed at travel use, such as long battery life, adapters for use on planes and connectivity with a lot of different devices.
Your budget is bound to play some part in the decision of which earbuds you purchase and it is fair to say that the price range is absolutely huge.
There are options of cheap noise-canceling earbuds for around $20-30 but you can easily pay ten times this price for a top quality brand. The price tends to go up a lot if you want wireless functionality.
Many earbuds now come with their own apps which can be installed on your devices to help to give more control. This can mean altering the EQ, volume, and noise-canceling functionality of the earbuds.
This extra level of control can add to your listening experience and means you can tailor the response to different genres or your own hearing and personal preference.
This is another absolutely huge feature and consideration. Modern technology has improved the battery life on our devices a lot, and you will need your earbuds or headphones to have a huge amount of life if you intend to use it for long periods of time.
For instance, if you are a distance runner, or if you regularly take long journeys and want to listen to music or other audio such as podcasts or audiobooks.
Some of the options on our list can offer 12-15 hours of battery life between charges. Others will die after a few hours, which may be suitable if you just want to go to the gym and then you can put them back on charge, but for long stints of listening then they are simply not going to cut it.
If you’ve ever had a pair of earbuds that are uncomfortable you will know the benefits of not having to go through this.
Some earbuds have neckbands which can chafe and rub, others don’t fit in the ear nicely and this means they can start to become very annoying after a few hours of use.
To increase the comfort, many manufacturers also offer extra tips which are interchangeable and can be suited to your own ears.
Noise-Canceling Earbuds vs. Headphones
This is a subject of some debate. Noise-canceling headphones (larger cans which can cover your whole ear) have been around for a long time, and these have the advantage of being able to work by physically blocking sounds from getting into your ears.
Earbuds don’t have this, and work in a different way. Normally, the active element will mean they sense the sounds around and use this as a template to drown out these frequencies.
People may tell you that headphones are better for noise canceling and this may be correct. However, taking a huge set of headphones around with you isn’t always logical. This is why the market for earbuds which can block sound out is growing hugely.
The best product on the list overall, the Bose QuietComfort 20, is a wonderful option for drowning out the sound around you and giving you a huge amount of clarity.
The only big downside of this product is the fact that you will pay extra for the Bose reputation and exceptional build quality.
Fortunately, there are other options too. By working out the environment in which you will be mainly listening to your earbuds and matching up the features, you can make sure you’re happy with your decision.
Consider whether you’re on a budget, what sort of battery life you need, whether you want to be able to control EQ and make calls. In a growing market for noise-canceling earbuds, there are a lot of products to suit your unique needs.