Best Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) Headphones

Sergio Filho By Sergio Filho - updated April 29th, 2024
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Is your brain a constant game of Tetris, trying to fit in work, studying, and that pesky neighbour’s drum solo? Whether it's the drone of an airplane engine, the chatter of a busy office, or the roar of city traffic, Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) headphones offer a blissful sanctuary for your ears.

ANC headphones can be your escape hatch, blocking out distractions and creating your zone of peace. They're a powerful tool for enhancing concentration and productivity. This makes them a focus booster for anyone who needs to concentrate, regardless of profession or lifestyle. 

With so many options available, choosing the best ANC headphones can feel overwhelming! That's where the guide steps in, sharing wit you our best recommendations for active noise cancelling headphones. Let's explore some of the top contenders in the ANC arena, catering to a range of budgets and priorities.

Top ANC Headphones On a Budget

Edifier WH700NB

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, the Edifier WH700NB is a hot choice, coming in at less than $100! These over-ear headphones boast a star feature – a whopping 45 hours of battery life (with ANC turned on). That's music (or podcasts and audiobooks) to the ears of anyone who commutes, travels, or simply needs to tune out distractions.

But it doesn't stop there. This affordable pair of headphones also feature a dedicated low-latency gaming mode which synchronises audio and visuals perfectly, minimising the distracting lag that can plague Bluetooth headphones. This ensures in-game actions translate to sound instantly, giving gamers a competitive edge.

Comfort is key for extended listening sessions and the Edifier WH700NB delivers it. The lightweight design and plush ear cups ensure your ears won't feel fatigued even after hours of use. Additionally, the headphones fold for easy portability, making them ideal for travel or throwing in your bag.

Considering the incredibly affordable price, the Edifier WH700NB isn't without its drawbacks. While the sound quality is decent, some users might find it lacking in crispness compared to higher-end models. But at this price, you can't really complain. And all-in-all, these are quite possibly the best value wireless noise cancelling headphones you can get.

 

Soundcore Life A3i

If you're looking for an in-ear options that's easy on the wallet, the Soundcore Life A3i noise cancelling earbuds is one we recommend. These earbuds deliver amazing value, packing features typically found in pricier models, including Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)! Experience the world of quiet thanks to the hybrid ANC that effectively cuts out up to 35dB of ambient noise. 

Plus, 10mm drivers with BassUp Technology ensure rich, superior sound that brings your favourite tunes to life. Additionally, Life A3i doesn't just bring quiet, it conquers conference calls too. Four mics with built-in smarts ensure crystal-clear conversations, so you can chat without a hitch – even in noisy environments.

And I have to say when it comes to battery life, these earbuds are marathon runners, not sprinters. Enjoy a solid 9 hours of playtime on a single charge, and the compact charging case extends that to 36 hours. On top of that, a quick 10-minute charge fuels you with 2 hours of listening – perfect for those times when you need a pick-me-up without the wait. 

With all this packed into a sleek and affordable package, the Soundcore Life A3i is a true contender for the title of best noise cancelling earbuds for budget-minded music lovers.

Top Premium ANC Headphones 

Sony WH-1000XM5 

Get ready to be obsessed because Sony's WH-1000XM5 are our pick for the Top Premium ANC Headphones. They boast incredible sound and industry-leading noise cancellation that puts the mute button on everything in the outside world. 

The WH-1000XM5 features an Auto NC Optimiser that will automatically optimise the headphone's noise cancelling based on your environment and the wearing conditions. Additionally, two powerful processors controlling eight microphones for unmatched noise cancellation, all work in tandem with a specially designed driver unit to deliver pure, unadulterated sound.

Along with top-tier noise cancellation, these headphones crank out crystal-clear, high-resolution audio, so you can experience every note and detail in your music. 

Additionally, you don’t need to worry about running out of juice with the WH-1000XM5. These headphones pump an epic battery life that lasts for 30 hours, but even if you're caught short, a quick 3-minute charge via USB-C delivers a full 3 hours of playback. And for those times when a cable is nowhere to be found, the included 3.5mm cable lets you plug straight into your device for uninterrupted listening.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4

Now let's delve into another titan among ANC headphones: the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4. Not only do these headphones offer fantastic Active Noise Cancellation, but they also have brilliant dynamics, crystal-clear clarity, and umatched sound quality thanks to a top-of-the-line 42mm transducer system.

But that's not all - the MOMENTUM 4 puts you in control of your sound. Tailor the audio to your hearing with the built-in EQ, presets, sound modes, and a revolutionary Sound Personalisation feature. No matter your musical taste, you can create a listening experience that's perfect for you.

Need to hear the world around you? No problem! The versatile Transparency Mode lets you tune back in with a tap. Hear announcements, and have conversations, all without taking off your headphones. The MOMENTUM 4 seamlessly blends uncompromising noise cancellation with situational awareness, making it suitable for any situation.

Short on time? Fast charging gets you 6 more hours of listening in just 10 minutes out of the total of up to 60 hours of battery life (insane!). These headphones aren't just about incredible sound and battery life: they also offer pure comfort. The lightweight design combined with lavishly padded headbands and earpads creates a wearing experience so comfortable, that you'll forget you have them on. 

Top ANC Headphones for Apple

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

So you're an Apple fan? Apple has some great options for you to choose from, our top pick being the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation). You’ll dive into a world of richer audio, smarter noise cancellation, and a personalised listening experience. Packed with smart features like Transparency mode and Spatial Audio, these earbuds are the perfect on-the-go companion for calls, music, and movies. 

While over-ear headphones often reign supreme in noise cancellation, the AirPods Pro pack a surprising punch. Apple's H2 chip is the secret weapon here. It analyses external sound waves at a staggering rate and generates counteracting noise to diminish distractions. This technology is surprisingly effective, even rivaling some over-ear options. 

Additionally, the chip is at the heart of the AirPods Pro sound quality. Crisp, clear highs and deep, rich bass delivered with stunning definition – that's what you get with the H2 chip working in harmony with a custom-built driver and amplifier. Every note and every detail are rendered with unparalleled fidelity, immersing you in a world of pure sonic bliss.

The redesigned MagSafe Charging Case keeps the magic going. Enjoy up to 6 hours of listening time on a single charge with ANC enabled, and a massive 30 hours total with the case. The U1 chip enables effortless tracking with Find My, and a lanyard loop ensures you never lose your audio haven. AirPods Pro 2 seamlessly integrate with your Apple ecosystem. Easy pairing, voice control with Siri, and Audio Sharing elevate the user experience. 

Apple AirPods Max

If you're after the over-ear form factor, the AirPods Max is the choice for you. These headphones will immerse you in sound so rich and detailed, it'll feel like you're in the front row of a cinema. Apple's custom-designed driver is the heart of this experience, meticulously crafted to deliver a wide frequency range.

AirPods Max also delivers industry-leading Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). These headphones use strategically placed microphones to detect external noise; before generation anti-noise to effectively block out distractions, allowing you to focus solely on your music, movies, or calls. Your audio experience becomes truly yours, undisturbed by the outside world. 

Next, become more immersed with ultimate comfort. Imagine pillows for your ears. That's the feeling AirPods Max delivers with their custom-designed mesh and memory foam ear cushions.  The knit canopy distributes weight evenly, so you can listen for hours without feeling any pressure. Additionally, rotating ear cups conforms perfectly to the shape of your head for an optimal acoustic seal.

Let's be honest, AirPods Max represents a premium investment. For Apple users who demand the best in audio quality, and seamless integration within the Apple ecosystem, these headphones are a worthwhile spend.

Top ANC Headphones for Android

Galaxy Buds2 Pro

For Android users, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro emerges as the top choice, offering a blend of affordability and premium features. The ANC is better than ever with the Galaxy Buds2 Pro. Equipped with three high SNR microphones, these earbuds meticulously track and eliminate a wide range of outside sounds, from the rumble of traffic to the gentle rustle of wind. With such precision, you can enjoy your music without interruptions, no matter where you are.

But ANC is just the beginning of the story. Samsung takes your listening experience to new levels with Intelligent 360 Audio technology. By leveraging advanced algorithms and Dolby Atmos support, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro create an immersive soundscape that feels incredibly lifelike. 

Comfort doesn't take the backburner either. Comfort is key when it comes to earbuds, and Samsung understands this better than anyone. The Buds2 Pro feature an ergonomically designed shape that fits snugly in your ears, ensuring hours of comfortable listening. Plus, with enhanced wind flow technology, these earbuds alleviate ear canal pressure and minimise unwanted noise, giving you a crystal clear audio experience without discomfort.

Sony WF-1000XM5

Last but not least, we present our final contender in the lineup of top-tier noise cancelling headphones, which certainly doesn't lag in the competition. The WF-1000XM5 builds upon the legacy of its predecessor with superior noise cancellation. In addition to this, Sony's advanced technology ensures a peaceful haven for your music, podcasts, or audiobooks. The specially designed driver unit delivers exceptional audio, reproducing both deep bass and crisp highs with incredible accuracy.

On top of that, the WF-1000XM5 earbuds won't leave you hanging. Enjoy up to 8 hours of listening with noise cancelling on a single charge. Need more? The charging case holds an additional 16 hours, giving you a total of 24 hours of playback time. Even if you're in a rush, a quick 3-minute charge provides up to 60 minutes of playback, perfect for those last-minute commutes or workouts.

Further, enjoy seamless integration with your Android devices. You can easily switch between your phone and laptop with a multipoint connection, adding a tonne of convenience. You can also effortlessly access voice controls and information with a simple tap using Google Assistant.

Congratulations! You've explored a range of top-notch ANC headphones, from budget-friendly options to feature-packed powerhouses. Remember, ANC technology can be a powerful tool to enhance your focus, allowing you to conquer study sessions, work deadlines, or simply unwind in peace. 

While some headphones might represent a significant investment, the return on focus and productivity can be substantial. Let us know in the comments below which headphones piqued your interest, or share your own ANC headphone recommendations! Check out our Top Active Noise Cancelling headphones and more over at our Headphones & Audio department!


Written By

Sergio Filho

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2 comments

MiraA2

This first model Edifier has a great cost benefit, I have it, and it's really cool

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2 months ago Reply Report