Best Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sergio Filho By Sergio Filho - March 19th, 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. 

But with so many options available, choosing the best ANC headphones can feel overwhelming. Fear not, fellow audiophiles! This guide will be your trusted companion as you navigate the exciting world of noise cancellation.

Now, 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, with a budget of $100, the Edifier WH700NB is one of the best choices for you. These over-ear headphones boast a star feature – a whopping 45 hours of battery life with ANC turned on. That's music (or podcasts, or audiobooks) to the ears of anyone who commutes, travels, or simply needs to tune out distractions.

Imagine escaping the constant hum of everyday noise, the ANC technology in these headphones aims to create a peaceful listening environment.

But it doesn't stop there. A dedicated low-latency gaming mode synchronises audio and visuals perfectly, minimising the distracting lag that can plague Bluetooth headphones. This ensures your in-game actions translate to sound instantly, giving you 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.

However, the Edifier WH700NB isn't without its drawbacks. While the sound quality is decent at an affordable price, some users might find it lacking in crispness compared to higher-end models. Moreover, over-ear headphones can get warm during extended wear, especially in warmer climates.

But truthfully, these are quite possibly the best value wireless noise cancelling headphones you can get. Check it out below or head over to our headphones & earphones department to browse our entire range.


Soundcore Life A3i

Craving that immersive audio experience without breaking the bank? Then the Soundcore Life A3i noise cancelling earbuds might be another great option for you. 

These in-ear headphones deliver amazing value, packing features typically in pricier models. 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.

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 the next-level headphones. They boast industry-leading noise cancellation that puts the mute button on everything in the outside world. 

The WH-1000XM5 features an Auto NC Optimiser that automatically will optimise the headphone's noise cancelling based on your environment and the wearing conditions.

In other words, they crank out crystal-clear, high-resolution audio, so you can experience every note and detail in your music. 

This technological marvel from Sony features two powerful processors controlling eight microphones for unmatched noise cancellation, all working in tandem with a specially designed driver unit to deliver pure, unadulterated sound.

Besides, 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 yet another titan among ANC headphones: the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4. Sennheiser's MOMENTUM range has always been synonymous with exceptional audio, and the MOMENTUM 4 takes it a step further.

Say hello to best-in-class sound quality thanks to a top-of-the-line 42mm transducer system. This powerhouse delivers brilliant dynamics, crystal-clear clarity, and unmatched musicality. It's like having a concert hall right on your head!

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.

And if you're short on time, fast charging gets you 6 more hours of listening in just 10 minutes and a total of up to 60 hours of battery life (insane!). Smart Pause and Auto On/Off features add even more convenience, automatically pausing playback when you take them off and powering up/down seamlessly for effortless control.

Actually, the MOMENTUM 4 headphones aren't just about incredible sound and battery life: they're about 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. 

In short, while the price of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 might lean towards the premium side, it's undeniable that its exceptional features and performance justify the investment.

Top ANC Headphones for Apple

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

Apple enthusiasts take note: the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) is a game-changer for audiophiles seeking premium sound quality while on the move.

The AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) boasts a complete overhaul, being the best noise cancelling true-wireless buds, from the sound chip powering the experience to the convenience features packed into the redesigned MagSafe Charging Case. 

The heart of the AirPods Pro 2's transformation is the new Apple-designed H2 chip. Imagine 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. 

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. 

Finally, for the level of convenience and performance they offer, the price is well worth it for Apple users.

Apple AirPods Max

If you crave top-notch, high-fidelity audio, the AirPods Max will immerse you in sound so rich and detailed, that 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.

Ready to hear everything? The delicate strum of an acoustic guitar, the breathy whisper of a vocalist, the thundering boom of a bass drum – all with unparalleled clarity and depth powered by spatial audio with dynamic head tracking.

Now 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.  

And thanks to the innovative rotating ear cups, AirPods Max conforms perfectly to the shape of your head for an optimal acoustic seal.

Struggling with wind noise on calls in windy Wellington, or anywhere in Aotearoa for that matter? AirPods Max can be your secret weapon. They use a total of eight microphones – six outward-facing to detect environmental noise, and two inward-facing to pick up what you're saying. 

In other words, beamforming technology helps isolate your voice, so even when the wind is howling, you'll come through crystal clear.

The magic doesn't stop there. One-tap setup connects them to your iPhone or iPad, and automatic switching lets you easily move between your devices. You can share an audio stream with a friend using Audio Sharing, and control everything with a touch or simply say "Hey Siri" for hands-free voice commands.  

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 optimal choice, offering a blend of affordability and premium features. Let's delve into what makes these earbuds stand out from the crowd.

First and foremost, let's talk about ANC, a feature that's 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 is key when it comes to earbuds, and Samsung understands this better than anyone. It features 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.

In short, if you're in the market for a pair of true wireless earbuds with top-of-the-line ANC capabilities, look no further than the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro.

Sony WF-1000XM5

Last but not least, we present our last 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. 

These earbuds go beyond just cancelling noise. Sony's advanced technology ensures a peaceful haven for your music, podcasts, or audiobooks.  A specially designed driver unit delivers exceptional audio, reproducing both deep bass and crisp highs with incredible accuracy.

Enjoy seamless integration with your Android devices. You can easily switch between your phone and laptop with a multipoint connection. Access voice controls and information with a simple tap using Google Assistant. 

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.

Plus, the Sony | Headphones Connect app keeps you informed on your battery status. Receive alerts when your case dips below 30% so you can plan your next charge.

Overall, the Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds offer exceptional noise cancellation, excellent audio quality, and convenient features like quick charging.

While the fit might not be ideal for everyone, these earbuds are a strong contender for Android users seeking a premium listening experience on the go.

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!

Written By

Sergio Filho

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1 comment


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

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30 days ago Reply Report