For many years, Bose was the gold standard for noise-canceling headphones. But other companies have steadily chipped away at Bose's lead and now it's a competitive category with plenty of compelling noise-canceling options at different prices. I've collected the best noise-canceling headphones below, all of which I've fully reviewed or used hands-on over a period of time. I'll be updating this list as more options are released.
Sony's WH-1000XM3, the third generation of Sony's excellent wireless noise-canceling headphones, has a more comfortable fit and features even better performance than its predecessor. With a strong battery life, it's currently our top-rated noise-canceling headphone, edging out the Bose models on some key points. Read our Sony WH-1000XM3 review.
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Even if they don't sound as magical as you'd hope a $249 model would, the AirPods Pro still manage to be a great pair of truly wireless earphones. That's largely due to their winning design and fit, improved bass performance, effective noise-cancelling and excellent call quality. Yeah, they're expensive at $250, but the good news is you'll use them so much you'll probably wear the battery down -- it does degrade over time and isn't replaceable -- and have to buy a new pair in 18 to 24 months if you don't lose them first. Read our Apple AirPods Pro review.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to its QuietComfort 35 II models, may not be a quantum leap forward but they offer slightly better sound, call and noise-canceling quality. Alas, they cost $400, but they're a strong all-around performer with up to 20 hours of battery life. Read our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.
While they aren't water-resistant, Sony's new WF-1000XM3 true wireless earphones feature excellent sound, are great for listening to music with, and have something you won't find in Apple's AirPods: active noise cancellation. At $230, they're not cheap, but with a battery life lasting up to 24 hours, they are among the best new true wireless earphones of 2019. Read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review.
When Jabra first announced its new Elite 85h ($300, £280 or about AU$435 converted) over-ear premium wireless headphones, it touted how it would be equipped with always-on (hands-free) voice assistant control using Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant. Alas, that feature didn't make it into the final product -- apparently it affected battery life too much -- but the Elite 85h is nevertheless an excellent noise-canceling headphone that makes music sound great, with good audio quality, is comfortable to wear and also works well as a headset for making calls. Read our Jabra Elite 85h review.
When it comes to premium noise-canceling headphones, Bose and Sony have been the dominant players over the last few years. But now Sennheiser has turned up with its new Momentum 3 Wireless and it deserves some attention, particularly from folks who are fans of the Momentum line. It's available now for $400 (£369) -- the same price as Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
Not only does it feature improved noise- canceling features and excellent sound, but it also performs well as headset for making calls. While its noise cancelling and comfort level doesn't quite measure up to the Sony WH-1000XM3's, it has nicely padded ear cups covered with sheep leather and I had no trouble rocking it for a two-hour listening session. Read CNET first take.
When Bose released its new flagship Noise-Cancelling 700 Headphones it didn't drop the QuietComfort 35 II from its headphone line up and it remains a top noise-canceling headphone. While I think the 700 performs better overall, there are people who prefer the QuietComfort 35 II. It frequently goes on sale for less than its price so definitely look for it at a discount. Read our Bose QuietComfort 35 II review.
The Solo Pro the first Beats on-ear headphone to feature active noise cancellation and the first full-size Beats headphone to charge via Lightning. It uses the company's Pure Adaptive Noise Canceling (Pure ANC), "derived from the over-ear Studio3 Wireless, with updated tuning to accommodate the on-ear form factor," Beats says. With a tap of button, you can turn off that noise-canceling to save battery life or hit the button a second time to enter a transparency mode that allows you to hear the outside world.
Available in multiple color options, the headphone is equipped with six microphones, two of which are beamforming mics that are designed to hone in on your voice when making calls or talking to your voice assistant (Apple's H1 chip is on board for always-on Siri). The sound is smooth and well-balanced with punchy bass that isn't boomy. Quite comfortable for an on-ear model, its more compact design travels better than some full-size models on this list. I just wish it cost a little less. Read CNET first take.
Bang & Olufsen's Beoplay H9 doesn't get mentioned much in the discussion of top noise-canceling headphones because at $500, it's a really pricey pair of headphones. The latest third-generation version has been upgraded in a few significant ways that make it better than the earlier H9i. Battery life has improved to 25 hours, there's now a dedicated button for your voice assistant, the padding on the ear cushions and headband is cushier and the touch controls have been tweaked.
While its noise-canceling feature and comfort levels aren't quite on par with competing models from Bose and Sony, JBL's Live 650BTNC ($160) measures up well in terms of sound. These over-ear headphones are worth considering if you don't want to spend $300 or more on a noise-canceling headphone. Read our JBL Live 650BTNC review.
A lot of people don't think of the Beats Studio3 Wireless as a noise-canceling headphone but it does feature active noise-canceling and impressive sound. It's a little bit of an underrated headphone, with good battery life, quality audio and comfortable ear pads, and now that it's been out for a while it sells for less than its list price and sometimes significantly less. Read our Beats Studio3 Wireless review.
Truth be told this is the headphone I usually take with me on plane trips. The noise-canceling earbuds take up very little room in a bag, don't need a battery and are good for watching in-flight movies, whether they be on the airline's in-flight entertainment system or on your own device. They offer surprisingly good noise cancellation. Just don't forget your headphone adapter dongle if you have a phone or tablet that's missing the headphone jack. Note that this headphone has been out for a while. Since it's a wired model, it's unclear whether Bose will update it, but look for it on sale. Read our Bose QuietComfort 20 review.
If you can't afford some of the premium models on this list, consider a headphone like the Sennheiser HD 4.50. It offers great sound and a decent noise-canceling feature in an attractive, comfortable design that often sells for less than $150. Read our Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC Wireless review.
When it comes to noise-canceling headphones, most people go for a full-size model. But if you're looking for a set of headphones that is a little more compact, the AKG N60NC is an excellent on-ear headphone that also happens to feature active noise cancellation. Read our AKG N60NC Wireless review.