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Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for 2022: Top ANC Picks

Looking for active noise-canceling headphones? These are CNET's current top picks.

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Noise-canceling headphones have become increasingly available in recent years, and many headphones now offer noise cancellation to compete with Bose, the pioneer in the function. Noise canceling helps you listen to your music or podcasts with reduced outside noise. The space is competitive, which makes it better for all of us as there is no shortage of great noise-canceling headphones or noise-canceling Bluetooth earbuds if you prefer those. 

The best noise-canceling headphones tend to cost more than $200 -- and some premium models cost double that or more -- but you can find plenty of good ANC (active noise canceling) headphones and earbuds at more affordable price points. So, while some of the models on the list are indeed expensive, I've also included some value models that perform decently for not too much money. I've fully reviewed or had hands-on listening time with all the headphones on this list, which gets updated regularly as new models hit the market.

Read more: Best Noise-Canceling True Wireless Earbuds for 2022

David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life

Rated up to 32 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Over-ear wireless headphones

Water-Resistant

No IP rating

When you have a product that a lot of people love, change can be risky. Such is the case for Sony's WH-1000XM5, the fifth generation of the 1000X series headphones, which were first released in 2016 as the MDR-1000X Wireless and have become increasingly popular as they've improved with each generation. Over the years, Sony has made some tweaks to the design, but nothing as dramatic as what it's done with the WH-1000XM5. Other than the higher $400 price tag ($50 more than the WH-1000XM4), most of those changes are good, and Sony's made some dramatic improvements with voice-calling performance as well as even better noise canceling and more refined sound.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM5 review.

 

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Earfun

Battery Life

Rated up to 6 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Wireless earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX5 -- protection against low-pressure water streams)

In the past, we've recommended Earfun's AirPro SV and Air Pro 2 as excellent budget noise-canceling earbuds choices (they're still good values). But the new-for-2022 Earfun Air S may be the best of the trio, with multipoint Bluetooth pairing, the latest Qualcomm QCC3046 SoC (system on a chip) with the AptX audio codec for Android and other devices that support it. It has the same 10mm wool drivers as the AirPro SV and features surprisingly impressive sound for its modest price point. They also work well as a headset for making calls with decent background noise reduction.

The buds have an IPX5 water-resistance rating, which means they're splashproof and can withstand a sustained spray of water. Through Sept. 12, 2022, you can get them for $49 when you click the 5% instant coupon on the product page and apply the code AIRCNET2 to get a 13% bonus discount.

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David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life

Rated Up to 6 Hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Wireless Earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX4 -- Splash-Proof

Bose's second-generation QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are not only about 30% smaller than their predecessors, but their case is about 40% smaller and truly pocketable. They feature best-in-class noise canceling and improved sound, thanks to Bose's new CustomTune sound calibration system that customizes the sound for your ears. Voice-calling performance is also significantly better than that of the original QuietComfort Earbuds.

The other big change is to the ear tips. Bose has ditched its one-piece StayEar wing tips for a two-piece Fit Kit system that features separate ear tips and "stability bands" in three size options, giving you more flexibility to get a secure fit and tight seal. 

The buds initially ship in the Triple Black Color with the Sandstone color to follow later in the year.

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating -- splash-proof).

Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review.

 

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Battery Life

Rated up to 25 hours

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Over-ear wireless headphones

Water-Resistant

No IP rating

The Bose QuietComfort 45 essentially looks the same as its popular predecessor, the QuietComfort 35 II, with the biggest design difference being a USB-C port in place of the older Micro-USB. (At 238 grams, the QC45 weighs just 3 grams more than the QC35, which should be imperceptible.) And while the Bose 700 has plenty of fans, a lot of people, including me, think this QuietComfort design is slightly more comfortable and the headphones fold up and fold flat. It's arguably the most comfortable pair of headphones out there. 

They also sound very similar to the QC 35 II, with no change to the drivers. Where you'll see an improvement is with the noise cancellation (there's a transparency mode), which very well could be the best out right now. According to Bose, there's a new electronics package that powers the new ANC system, which now better muffles "unwanted sounds in the midrange frequencies" (voices) that you'd "typically find on commuter trains, busy office spaces and cafes."

I found that to be true and give these the slight edge over both the Headphones 700 and Sony WH-1000XM4 for noise canceling. That said, you can't adjust the level of noise canceling like you can with those models, which offer a more robust feature set, particularly the Sony. However, after a firmware update, you can now tweak the sound in the app with equalizer settings.

The headset performance has also improved, with better noise reduction during calls. And these offer multipoint Bluetooth pairing. That means you can pair the QC45 with two devices simultaneously -- such as a smartphone and PC -- and switch audio as needed. They're equipped with Bluetooth 5.1 and support the widely compatible AAC audio codec but not aptX.

While these have advantages over the Headphones 700 and Sony WH-1000XM4 and do sound quite good, those models sound slightly better: The 700 is slightly more natural sounding and tuned more for audiophiles, while the Sony has more dynamic bass. So that makes choosing between these three models that much more difficult. 

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Amazon

Battery Life

Rated up to 30 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Over-ear wireless headphones

Water-Resistant

No IP rating

Sennheiser updated its well-regarded 4.50BTNC noise-canceling headphones in 2020. The new headphone model is called the 450BT and it has some notable upgrades, including better battery life (up to 30 hours with noise canceling on), USB-C charging, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX support for devices like the Samsung Galaxy smartphones that support it and more comfortable earpads. The 450BT noise-canceling headphones list for $200, but usually cost around $150 although they have dipped to as low as $100 in flash sales (they're a very good value at that price).

The 450BT headphones don't have quite the clarity or bass definition of Sennheiser's Momentum Wireless 3 headphones, but they cost much less and deliver very good well-balanced sound that's easy to listen to for long periods. I thought the 450BT model also worked quite well as a headset making calls, with the sidetone feature that allows you to hear your voice inside the headphones.

The only potential downside is that regular headphones may not be the most comfortable for some people. I have a smaller head, so they worked fine for me, but they do clamp a bit and those with larger heads may find that to be an issue. Also, while the earpads have been upgraded, they're still covered in a faux leather material that doesn't breathe quite as well as some earpad coverings. Still, if you can't afford premium models in the $300 to $400 range, this is a more affordable option that's well built and delivers premium sound. The headphones fold up to fit into an included soft carrying case.

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David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life

Rated up to 30 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Over-ear wireless headphones

Water-Resistant

No IP rating

Sony has released its new WH-1000XM5 but the WH-1000XM4 remains on sale. While I prefer the WH-1000XM5 -- it's a little more comfortable and has improved noise canceling, more refined sound and significantly better voice-calling performance -- the WH-1000XM4 is still a great headphone and some people may prefer its slightly more energetic sound and how it folds up into a smaller case than that of the WH-1000M5. It also costs less, and we should see some nice discounts on it going forward.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 review.

 

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David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life

Rated up to 6 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Wireless earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX4 -- splash-proof)

Available for preorder now and shipping Sept. 23, the new AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) are powered by Apple's new H2 chip, which delivers more processing power while being more energy efficient, according to Apple. The new chip, combined with new low-distortion drivers, allows for improved sound that offers better clarity and depth. The noise canceling is also improved -- Apple says the new AirPods have "double" the noise canceling of the original AirPods Pro. Additionally, the new AirPods add an extra hour of battery life -- it's up from 5 to 6 hours with noise canceling on -- and a speaker in the case that emits a sound that helps locate your buds via Find My should they decide to hide from you.

Note that while Apple has discontinued the original AirPods Pro, they'll remain on sale at discounted prices until supplies are exhausted. However, most people should get this newer model if they can afford it.  

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating -- splash-proof).

Read our Apple AirPods Pro 2 review.

 

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Sennheiser

Battery Life

Rated up to 60 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Over-ear wireless headphones

Water-Resistant

No IP rating

Sennheiser's previous-generation Momentum Wireless headphones have always had a pretty distinct look that was part retro, part modern, and stood out for the exposed metal on their headband. For better or worse, that's all gone now, and the new Momentum 4 Wireless, Sennheiser's flagship noise-canceling headphones, look a bit more subdued and also a bit more like some of their competitors.

The Momentum 4 Wireless offers superior performance over the Momentum 3 Wireless in every regard, though the biggest gains are with noise canceling and voice-calling performance as well as battery life, which is outstanding -- up to 60 hours at moderate volume levels. There's also a transparency mode that allows ambient sound in, as well as the ability to create a custom sound profile in the Smart Control app for iOS and Android using the built-in EQ, sound modes and a new Sound Personalization feature that "assesses the user's listening preferences and adjusts the listening experience according to their taste." 

Equipped with 42mm drivers, Sennheiser says the Momentum 4 Wireless offer "best-in-class" sound, which is debatable, of course. I'd say the Momentum 4's sound quality is right there with other models in this price range -- they sound excellent, with the requisite well-defined, punchy bass, relatively wide soundstage (they sound pretty open) and smooth treble that brings out some of the finer details in well-recorded tracks. They're a pleasure to listen to.

Read our Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless first look.

 

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David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life

Rated up to 20 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Over-ear wireless headphones

Water-Resistant

No IP rating

Yes, they're expensive, but the AirPods Max deliver richer, more detailed sound than lower-priced competitors from Bose and Sony. They also feature arguably the best noise canceling on the market along with premium build quality and Apple's virtual surround spatial audio feature for video watching. While they're heavy, they manage to be surprisingly comfortable, though I did have to adjust the mesh canopy headband to sit a little more forward on my head to get a comfortable secure fit when I was out walking with them. They should fit most heads well, but there will be exceptions.

Read our Apple AirPods Max review.

 

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David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life

Rated up to 30 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Over-ear wireless headphones

Water-Resistant

No IP rating

No earbuds are perfect and not everybody will love the fit of the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds or be able to afford their high price. But if you're looking for great-sounding earbuds with great noise canceling, solid voice-calling capabilities and good battery life, these buds check all the boxes.

Bose's QuietComfort Earbuds also have top-notch noise canceling and sound quality, but the Sony is right there with the Bose for noise canceling (and some might say it's a touch better in that department), but the Sony offers slightly better sound quality and also has a more compact design, particularly for the case (though the Sony buds certainly aren't small).

Read our Sony WF-1000XM4 review.

 

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David Carnoy/CNET

Available in three color options (gray, blue and black), Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 headphones offer some significant improvements over the first-generation version. Not only are these headphones more comfortable -- they tip the scales at 307 grams -- but they sound better and have better noise-canceling and voice-calling performance with improved noise reduction. I don't necessarily think they're a better option than the lighter and even more comfortable Sony WH-1000XM5. But the PX7 S2 certainly looks and feels luxurious, with its sturdy design, and delivers very good sound with better voice-calling performance thanks to an upgraded microphone set up.

Bowers & Wilkins is also releasing a step-up model, the PX8, that features even better sound but costs more. 

Read our Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 first take.

 

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Hot on the heels of the third-generation AirPods, Apple has another new set of earbuds, this time from its subsidiary audio company, Beats. Technically, the new Beats Fit Pro ($200) aren't AirPods, but they're built on the same tech platform as the AirPods Pro. Unlike Beats' earlier and less expensive Studio Buds, the Beats Fit Pro include Apple's H1 chip and have most of the AirPods Pro's features, including active noise canceling, spatial audio and Adaptive EQ. I'd venture to call them the sports AirPods you've always wanted. And for some people, they might just be better than the AirPods Pro.

Read our Beats Fit Pro review.

 

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Battery Life

Rated up to 25 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Over-ear wireless headphones

Water-Resistant

No IP rating

The new Shure Aonic 40 noise-canceling headphones are a bit smaller and more affordable than the company's well-received Aonic 50 headphones ($299) that were released in 2020. My quick take: They sound quite good with clean, well-balanced sound that you can tweak in the Shure companion app for iOS and Android (you can choose from preset EQ settings as well as a customizable manual EQ setting).

The active noise canceling is solid but not quite up to the level of Sony's or Bose's and like the Aonic 50, they work well for making calls (Shure is known for its microphones) and you can connect them to your computer via USB-C. For those with aptX-enabled Android devices, the headphones support aptX HD Bluetooth streaming. 

You don't get extra features like ear-detection sensors that automatically pause your music when you take the headphones off your head and resume playback when you put them back on. However, the headphones have a dual-hinge design so they both fold up and fold flat, allowing them to have a more compact case than the Aonic 50's (its case is pretty huge). In other words, these are more travel friendly. Battery life is rated at 25 hours with noise canceling on.

They're very good headphones -- sturdy, too -- but I didn't find them quite as comfortable as competing models from Bose and Sony. For some people, the top of the headband may put a little pressure on the crown of your head (the headband's padding is OK but could be better). I pushed the headband forward a bit on my head to get a more comfortable fit. They're also available in white.

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The No. 5909 are premium audio brand Mark Levinson's first headphones and, yes, they're really expensive at $999. But they're also really good. They have a sturdy design without managing to feel hefty on your head (read: they're substantial but not too heavy) and they're comfortable to wear over long periods thanks to their nicely padded (and replaceable) leather-covered earcups and headband.

Not only do they feature good noise canceling and excellent sound, but their voice-calling performance is top-notch. Plus, they have multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can pair them with two devices, such as a computer and a smartphone, simultaneously.

The No. 5909 are high-res certified with support for Sony's LDAC and Qualcomm's aptX Adaptive codecs that allow for near-lossless streaming over Bluetooth. Apple's iPhones and iPads don't support those codecs while certain Android devices do. Using the No. 5909 headphones over Bluetooth on my iPhone 13 Pro, it sounded a tad more natural and refined than the AirPods Max (the No. 5909 had a touch more "pure" and accurate sound). 

I did notice a difference when I paired the No. 5909 to my Google Pixel 4 XL, which has support for LDAC, and using the Qobuz audio streaming service that offers high-res streaming. Overall, the sound had a little more depth and texture, and there's a touch more sparkle, definition and openness. 

Read our Mark Levinson No. 5909 review.

 

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The MW75 are Master & Dynamic's best full-size headphones yet. Needless to say, they're pricey at $599; most people will be quite satisfied with the $400 Sony WH-1000XM5, which are lighter and more comfortable, and which deliver best-in-class voice calling and noise canceling. But the MW75's build quality is hard to beat and they offer top-notch sound for a wireless model (I thought they sounded better than Apple's AirPods Max headphones), plus strong voice-calling and noise-canceling performance. With their support for aptX Adaptive, they have additional appeal for Android users, who can get a touch better sound quality with the right setup. But I was also quite happy streaming music with my iPhone 13 Pro using the AAC codec.

Read our Master & Dynamic MW75 first take.

 

David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life

Rated up to 50 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Over-ear wireless headphones

Water-Resistant

No IP rating

There's a bit of an old-school vibe to the Technics EAH-A800 -- and it's not just the Technics brand, which Panasonic resurrected in the last few years. Their design is something of a throwback but the headphones are comfortable and both fold up and fold flat. They feature a big, energetic sound with powerful bass and good detail (however, they take a day or two to break in).

They feature ear-detection sensors that automatically pause your music when you take the headphones off, as well as multipoint Bluetooth pairing (you can connect them to two devices at the same time like a computer and smartphone). Additionally, they have support for Sony's near lossless LDAC audio codec for Bluetooth streaming that's available on certain Android devices. I mainly listened to these headphones with an Android device and the Qobuz music service, which offers high-resolution tracks. That setup offers the best possible wireless sound quality.

The headphones are available in black and silver and according to Panasonic, can deliver up to 50 hours of battery life at moderate volume with ANC on. That's excellent, and the EAH-A800 also works well as a headset for making calls with eight onboard microphones for noise reduction and voice pickup. 

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Battery Life

Rated up to 9 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Wireless Earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX4 -- splash-proof)

Unlike the "open" LinkBuds, the LinkBuds S are traditional noise-isolating earbuds with tips you jam into your ears. They're more compact and lighter than Sony's flagship WF-1000M4 and also feature Sony's V1 processor. While their sound and noise canceling don't quite measure up to the WF-1000XM4's, they're close and cost less. They're the Sony buds for people who can deal with larger buds like WF-1000XM4 but are looking for 80 to 85% of those buds' features and performance for $80 less.

Read our Sony LinkBuds S review.

 

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The Pixel Buds Pro are Google's first earbuds to feature active noise canceling. While it's nice that they finally have a feature that a lot of true-wireless earbuds have had for a while, what ultimately sets the Pixel Buds Pro apart and makes them worth considering -- particularly for Android users -- is their distinct design and winning fit. That helps enhance their performance on both the sound quality and noise-canceling fronts. While not quite elite for voice-calling, they also performed well as a headset for making calls. A couple of features are missing at launch -- spatial audio and a five-band equalizer -- but are due to arrive later in 2022, according to Google.  

Read our Google Pixel Buds review.

$186 at Amazon
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Battery Life

Rated Up to 8 Hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Wireless Earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IP57 – Can Be Submerged for 30 Minutes Up to 1 Meter)

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offer improved noise canceling along with very good sound and voice-calling performance, plus support for high-resolution wireless audio streaming if you're a Galaxy device owner with the right setup. That said, their biggest upgrade may be their new design and smaller size, which make them a better fit for more ears. Aside from their somewhat high price tag, their only drawback is that some of their key features only work with Samsung Galaxy devices. They're fully waterproof with an IPX rating.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review.

 

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Featuring excellent sound, improved noise canceling and voice-calling performance as well a smaller, more refined design that includes stabilizing fins (so the earbuds stay in your ears more securely), the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 are among the best new true-wireless earbuds for 2020. They're also one of the best true-wireless earbuds overall, giving the Sony WF-1000XM4 a run for the money. 

Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review.

 

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David Carnoy/CNET

Battery Life

Rated up to 60 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Over-ear wireless headphones

Water-Resistant

No IP rating

As far as sound, comfort level and build quality, you'd be hard-pressed to do better than Anker's SoundCore Life Q30 for the money. It doesn't quite have the clarity or bass definition as some of the top premium models, but it's less than a third of the price and gets you about 75% of the way there in terms of sound (it's well balanced overall with punchy bass and there's an app that allows you to tweak the sound). Noise canceling is good for the price, though not up to the level of the Sony WH-1000XM4 or Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Battery life is rated at an impressive 40 hours with USB-C charging.

The only area where the Q30 falls a little short is for voice calls. It picks up your voice fine in quieter environments but it just doesn't reduce background noise all that well. 

Compared to the Q20 (see below), the Q30 does offer improved sound (it's not a huge difference, but it definitely is a notch up) and a more premium design. Anker often offers the Q20 at a $10 discount at Amazon. Eventually, we should see something like that on the Q30.

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Is it 'noise canceling' or 'noise cancelling'?

Short answer: both. Either spelling is correct, as "canceling" is more common in American English while "cancelling" is more common in British English. CNET uses "noise canceling" since the company is based in the US, but the noise is canceled just the same, regardless of spelling. If you're looking to see what different noise-impacting technology is out there for headphones, check out our article on noise-canceling versus noise-isolating headphones, which highlights differences in function (and not just a difference in spelling).

Honorable mentions

Sennheiser 450BT- Sennheiser updated its well-regarded 4.50BTNC noise-canceling headphones in 2020. The new headphone model is called the 450BT and it has some notable upgrades, including better battery life (up to 30 hours with noise canceling on), USB-C charging, Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX support for devices like the Samsung Galaxy smartphones that support it and more comfortable earpads. The 450BT noise-canceling headphones list for $200, but usually cost around $150 although they have dipped to as low as $100 in flash sales (they're a very good value at that price).

The 450BT headphones don't have quite the clarity or bass definition of Sennheiser's Momentum Wireless 3 headphones, but they cost much less and deliver very good well-balanced sound that's easy to listen to for long periods. I thought the 450BT model also worked quite well as a headset making calls, with the sidetone feature that allows you to hear your voice inside the headphones.

The only potential downside is that regular headphones may not be the most comfortable for some people. I have a smaller head, so they worked fine for me, but they do clamp a bit and those with larger heads may find that to be an issue. Also, while the earpads have been upgraded, they're still covered in a faux leather material that doesn't breathe quite as well as some earpad coverings. Still, if you can't afford premium models in the $300 to $400 range, this is a more affordable option that's well built and delivers premium sound. The headphones fold up to fit into an included soft carrying case.

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