Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Looking for a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds to drown out the world with your favourite tracks? You’ve come to the right place. 

We’ve compiled this list of the best noise-cancelling earbuds to help you find the perfect pair for your style, needs and budget. 

Every pair of earbuds on this list has been thoroughly tested and scrutinised by our reviewers. We look at various criteria from the design and fit of the earbuds to the sound quality and battery life longevity. We also test any additional features found on board, including transparency modes, voice assistants, companion apps and, of course, noise-cancelling. 

Active noise cancellation – or ANC – is a feature commonly found in earbuds and over-ear headphones. ANC suppresses noise and distractions from the outside world, whether that be the rumble of the train during your morning commute, busy traffic on the street, the clanking of weights at the gym or chatter in the office. 

However, just because a pair of headphones is labelled as having ANC, that doesn’t guarantee that the noise-cancelling is necessarily effective. This is why we recommend checking our reviews before splurging on a new pair of earbuds. 

In this list, you’ll find the best of the best when it comes to noise-cancelling earbuds. We’ve also broken down our favourites into categories to help you choose the right pair for your needs. This includes the best noise-cancelling earbuds for sound quality, the best for Apple users, the best premium workout earbuds and the best noise cancellers under £50, to name a few. 

Keep reading to find our top picks at a glance, or scroll down further for more detailed descriptions with pros, cons and links to our complete, in-depth reviews. 

If none of the earbuds on this page stick out to you, don’t worry. We have plenty of other audio best lists worth visiting for further buying advice, including the best noise-cancelling headphones, best wireless headphones, best wireless earbuds, best headphones and best in-ear headphones. 

If you’re looking for something a bit more specific, we’ve also compiled guides to the best cheap headphones and best running headphones. 

Best Noise-Cancelling Earbuds at a glance:

How we test

How we test headphones

Not just anybody can review a pair of headphones. You don’t need superhuman hearing to tell what’s good, but you do need to know what to listen out for.

Our headphone tests are done by some of the best and most prolific reviewers in the industry, with years of experience listening to everything from the plasticky freebie earbuds that come with your smartphone, to five-figure beasts of glass and marble. We love music and we want your tunes to sound good, too.

So we listen every pair of headphones we can get on or in our ears. We use a variety of sources, from basic MP3s playing on a laptop to high-quality tracks on dedicated hi-res audio players.

Our test tracks are wide-ranging to give headphones a thorough challenge. They’re also familiar, so we know every track backwards, and we know which bits might trouble the lesser performers.

We listen again and again, and we do that for weeks in case the sound changes – because it usually does. Then we’ll listen to similarly priced rivals and come up with a verdict that reflects the performance and features for the money.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Best noise cancelling earbuds

Pros

  • Top-tier noise cancelling and ambient modes
  • Improved sound over the original
  • Slimline design
  • AptX support on the way
  • Improved battery capacity

Cons

  • More expensive than before
  • Average call quality
  • Still susceptible to wind noise

Taking the top spot from the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds is its sequel – Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds II.

We haven’t heard a true wireless that can suppress sounds as well as the QuietComfort Earbuds II, not even the Sony WF-1000XM5 (which do come very close).

A good sign of how powerful noise-cancellation was is taking the earphones out and hearing our loud the outside world is, and with the QuietComfort Earbuds II, the outside world sound incredible loud. While not every sound is removed, these buds weren’t far off from total silence, and they’re than the impressive original at blocking out people’s voice.

The Aware mode is just as good letting the surrounding noises with clarity. Bose’s ActiveSense technology works similarly to the AirPods Pro 2 in automatically reducing background noises when in transparency mode. It works well at suppressing sudden spikes in sounds around you. Our only issue with the ANC is that there is some wind distortion in blustery conditions. It’s minor but considering the performance, we expected it to be better in this respect.

The sound quality is better than before with the top end of the frequency range brighter and bass is bigger and punchier. Vocals carry more weight too, and there’s a better sense of depth and width than there is on the original. It’s not as finely-balanced as the WF-1000XM5, but if you enjoy plenty of bass wallop to your trucks, then the Bose is better than the Sony in that department.

The design has been changed from the original QuietComfort Earbuds, ditching the bulbous shape and Stay Hear tips for a shape that fits into the ear better. It’s not as compact as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 but still fits well into the ear, and there are different sized ear-tips and wing-tips for a more secure fit.

Features-wise, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II aren’t kitted out with as many features as their rivals but there is a three-band EQ to change the sound of the buds in the Bose Music app, and some customisation of controls and noise-cancelling modes. The wireless performance is excellent, consistently reliable with not dropouts.

They have been replaced by the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, which are more expensive but add support for Bose’s immersive audio technology and aptX Adaptive/Snapdragon Sound Bluetooth.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Sony WF-1000XM5

Best noise cancelling earbuds for sound quality

Pros

  • Smaller, lighter design
  • Powerful noise-cancellation
  • More detailed, balanced audio performance
  • Plenty of smart, convenient features

Cons

  • Bose a smidge better for ANC
  • Slightly odd call performance

The Sony WF-1000XM5 replace the WF-1000XM4 as Sony’s best premium wireless earbuds so far. The biggest difference is in how they sound, the rich midrange performance of before has been replaced by a more balanced performance across the frequency range.

There’s not as much bass as its predecessor, they don’t sound quite as ‘fun’ as before, but there’s more clarity throughout the frequency range, with finer detail in the midrange and higher levels of clarity and sharpness at the top end that we found to be a worthy trade.

The noise-cancellation is an improvement over the WF-1000XM5, better at suppressing the environment around the listener and better at reducing the impact of people’s voices too. The performance of the Ambient mode is around the same as the XM4 model, though we would the older buds are a touch clearer. Compared to the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, we do feel that the Sony is slightly less impressive at muting everyday sounds, though we would say that the WF-1000XM5 cancels noise with a more natural tone.

Elsewhere battery life is the same as before with eight hours (24 hours in the case) with noise-cancelling on. They are packed with features with many carrying over from the WF-1000XM4 and some new ones added into the mix. The new ones include gesture controls with calls, simultaneously use of LDAC and Bluetooth multipoint, and a new ‘Find My Equalizer’ feature that allows the user to shape the sound by picking from a selection of presets.

We found them an improvement over the WF-1000XM4, and they maintain a similar price as before at £259 / $299. While we don’t rate them as the best buds for noise-cancellation, they are the best-sounding noise-cancelling earphones we’ve listen to.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WF-1000XM5

Apple AirPods Pro 2

Best noise-cancelling earbuds for Apple users

Pros

  • Excellent ANC
  • Rich, warm sound
  • Charging case gets some neat features

Cons

  • Many of the best features are iPhone and Mac only

Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 are the best noise-cancelling earbuds for iOS users deep in the Apple ecosystem. They keep a rock-solid connection with iPhones and iPads, connect to all your Apple devices instantly and get frequent software updates. They also sound great – much better than the first-gen pair – and have some excellent ANC that tones down the outside world.

We found that compared to the Sony WF-1000XM4 the AirPods Pro 2 were able to clear away slightly more noise when used on the Underground (although it’s worth mentioning that the even better WF-1000XM5 have since arrived on the scene), but the AirPods Pro aren’t as strong as either the Sony of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II. The transparency is improved over the original too, piping through a realistic sense of the outside world.

Disappointingly, Apple hasn’t included any means to manually adjust the noise cancelling or transparency mode, with both features automatically adapting the strength of the noise-cancellation and transparent to what’s around the listener.

Elsewhere battery life is good but not class leading with six hours in each bud and 30 hours with the charging case. MagSafe wireless charging is supported, and the earphones can even be charged by an Apple Watch charger if you can’t find a Lightning cable to hand. The wireless connection is fantastic with not even a hint of a dropout as our reviewer was passing through Waterloo station at rush hour times.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full Review: Apple AirPods Pro 2

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3

Best Sennheiser noise-cancelling earbuds

Pros

  • Rich, expressive sound
  • Improved design
  • Very good noise cancelling/transparency modes
  • Excellent wireless connection
  • Cheaper than previous model

Cons

  • Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are better for noise cancellation
  • Sony’s XM4s are better for sound
  • Some app features locked behind account registration

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 are an excellent pair of wireless earbuds we found to be a great choice for those who want rich, engaging audio.

They sound more dynamic than their TW2 predecessor, with vocals brought further forward within the soundstage and closer to the ear. There’s good bass depth that doesn’t feel over-egged while at the other end of the frequency range, we found the earphones sounded sweet and bright.

The Sennheiser’s ANC performance is very good, not far off best in class. The earbuds slot in the ear easily, the smaller, lighter design makes the very comfortable to wear during use. The seal they create aids the noise cancelling performance, which is very good at blocking out persistent noises and voices. With their anti-wind ANC mode, they’re also excellent at taming the wind on blustery days. The Transparency Mode here is fantastic with great clarity and detail, though not quite as high-performing as the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II.

The aptX Adaptive Bluetooth connection is reliably solid, with no noticeable dropouts or latency when we walked through busy signal areas. Sennheiser’s Smart Control app has been redesigned with a layout that’s more logical and easier to navigate with the option to customise the headphones EQ and touch controls available. If you’re a Sennheiser fan, you’ll enjoy what the German brand has done with its latest noise cancelling earphones, and at a cheaper starting price than much of its competition.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3

JBL Live Pro 2

Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds under £150

Pros

  • Genuinely impressive ANC for the money
  • Good snug fit
  • Long battery life
  • Weighty and smooth audio

Cons

  • Weak call quality
  • Choppy connection at times

The JBL Live Pro 2 earbuds offer fantastic ANC for their price point. While they are not as effective as the Sony WF-1000XM4 in that department, our reviewer thought that they offered some of the best ANC for the price, outshining previous favourites like the Beats Studio Buds. Using them in busy environments like a tube station reduced ambient noise to little more than a rustle, and they were able to suppress conversational noise in crowds. 

In terms of sound quality, they boast a weighty bass, a midrange that is reproduced with clarity and a clear and distinctive treble that made for an enjoyable experience. We thought that this made them easy to listen to across a range of genres, although we did note that you need to up the volume to properly broaden the soundstage, and give the bass richness. 

These buds are very comfortable to wear over long periods of time, with our reviewer noting that there was never any discomfort or cramps during use. They come with three different ear-tips so you can find your perfect fit, and the IPX5 water make them more robust than most noise-cancelling earbuds, so they can be used during a workout or when it’s raining. 

The main downfall of the Live Pro 2 buds is their connection to smart devices. We experienced a choppy connection in busy areas like Victoria train station, but it also occurred in areas where fewer people were around. They are also not great for phone calls, especially in busier areas, as the person on the other end of the phone would be able to hear too much background noise. 

The JBL Live Pro 2 have fallen to less to £100 in places, going up against the likes of the EarFun Air Pro 3, and despite the EarFun also boasting a very noise-cancellation performance, the performance of the Live Pro 2 would get our vote. 

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: JBL Live Pro 2

JBL Reflect Flow Pro

Best cheap workout noise cancelling headphones

Pros

  • Dynamic sound performance
  • Good fit and comfort levels
  • Strong IP rating
  • Wide range of features

Cons

  • Unremarkable looks
  • Not the strongest noise cancellation

If you’re in need of a pair of fitness earbuds with a great feature set, then the JBL Reflect Flow Pro are an affordable option. These wireless earphones have a compact design we found comfortable to wear, producing a strong seal and secure fit during workouts to ensure they didn’t fall out. 

Their audio performance offers a good level of detail and dynamism, with a big soundstage that presents plenty of space for instruments to play in. The high frequency sounds particularly crisp with vocals sound nice and clear. The JBL don’t have the most extravagant audio performance, but they are a solid sounding pair of wireless earphones

The noise cancellation here is fine, with most of work being done by the design’s passive noise isolating qualities, making the ANC the sprinkling on top. As long as the seal is maintained the Reflect Flow Pro produce a reliable performance. The Reflect Pro also have a good feature set with 8 hours of battery life with ANC, which is better than the likes of the Beats Fit Pro, along with voice support and transparency mode (which is serviceable but can change the tone of audio) .

And as a pair of gym-focused noise cancelling earphones, they’re IP68 rated to guard against dust, sweat and dirt, and they can be submerged in 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes, which shows these ANC earbuds can tough it out no matter what condition they’re used in (just don’t swim wearing them).

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: JBL Reflect Flow Pro

Earfun Air Pro 3

Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds under £100

Pros

  • Strong noise-cancellation
  • Solid call quality
  • Robust wireless connection
  • Enjoyable audio
  • Snug, comfortable fit

Cons

  • Battery life doesn’t quite reach claimed levels
  • Audio lacks dynamism, not the most detailed performance

If the premium area of the ANC market is not for you, then at the more affordable end of the market are the EarFun Air Pro 3 for less than £100 / $100.

They offer one of the best noise-cancelling performances we’ve heard for the money. The passive noise-isolating design works well to keep ambient sounds away, and on top of that the hybrid ANC performance thins out people’s voices, traffic and large crowds. It’s not the level of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, though it is very effective at dealing with a wide range of sounds and suppressing them.

The transparency mode is fine in terms of creating a greater sense of awareness, but more expensive models can offer more clarity and detail.

It comes with a wealth of features that includes Bluetooth multipoint, aptX Adaptive Bluetooth that helps maintain a strong connection to an Android mobile device in busy areas, and a claimed seven hours of battery life, though we found in our tests that it was closer to five. There is a simple to use app that offers further customisation of the Air Pro 3’s performance. The EarFun boasts the type of features we’d expect from a more expensive true wireless pair.

The audio quality is warm, with a thick, rich bass profile and a smoothness to its sound across the frequency range. It’s not the sharpest, clearest, or most defined performance; but it does extract enough detail from music to make for an entertaining listen, and its smooth quality does avoid sibilance with vocalists. We would say for audio quality that the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC provides more clarity and detail to the tracks we listen to, even if its noise-cancelling isn’t quite as strong.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: EarFun Air Pro 3

Beats Fit Pro

Best premium workout noise cancelling headphones

Pros

  • Stable fit and good comfort levels
  • iOS and Android support
  • Useful noise cancelling
  • Physical controls

Cons

  • Can’t customise sound/noise cancelling
  • No wireless charging
  • Tough competition

The Beats Fit Pro are a very good premium set of earbuds if you’re wanting a useful all rounder that you can use casually as well as for workouts. 

The design differs from Apple’s AirPods range, with a wingtip that aids in the creation of a strong seal and ensures the earphones don’t fall out. With IPX4 water resistance they’ll be able to withstand sweaty gym sessions with no real qualm. 

The Beats Fit Pro’s audio take on a similar signature to the more affordable Studio Buds, with the bass performance presented with good weight and authority. The mids and highs are reproduced clearly and with solid detail, with no sibilance or harshness.

The adaptive noise cancelling varies its performance depending on how much noise it detects, and it deals well with blocking out most ambient noises, although we found that some louder noises from cars and larger vehicles did managed to penetrate through the ANC bubble.

There are some exclusive iOS features with the Fit Pro supporting the same dynamic head tracking as the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro. For Android users the feature set is less complete with no spatial audio support, but there is an Android app to manage noise cancellation and updates. The battery life is a solid six hours per earbud, and another 21 in the case with ANC on, which is actually better than the original AirPods Pro managed. 

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Beats Fit Pro

Ugreen HiTune T3

Best Noise Cancelling Earbud under £50

Pros

  • Rich, warm sound
  • Effective noise cancellation
  • Good comfort levels
  • Stable wireless connection
  • Really good value

Cons

  • Bass performance is a little hard
  • Battery life not quite at quoted levels
  • Noise cancellation affected by wind noise

If you’re after a pair of earbuds that won’t break the bank then the Ugreen HiTune T3 may be the buds for you. These earbuds were comfortable to wear and come with four ear-tip sizes so you can find a fit and seal that works best for you. The IPX5 resistance rating also makes them strong enough to resist rain water or sweat from a workout. 

The HiTune T3 earbuds thrive when it comes to bass, producing an emphatic presence with its frequency range and a wide soundstage even at lower volumes. We found that ear fatigue can set in over time if you listen to too many bassy tracks, however, they can still provide a warm and inviting presentation with clear highs and likeable levels of detail alongside clear vocals. While we would not recommend these buds for any true audiophiles, those who prefers a bassy presence will definitely be happy with the Ugreen HiTune T3. 

When it comes to active noise cancellation, we found that they could tackle the bassy sound of the train and general ambient noise. While they can’t provide the same level of ANC as earbuds like the Sennheiser Momentum TW3 or Bose QuietComfort, for the price they offer a very efficient performance. 

The battery life here is a tad misleading, as we found that these buds could last up to 5 hours with a mix of ANC turned on and off, rather than the 7 hours quoted by Ugreen. They do offer fast charging, with 10 minutes providing an hour of playback. 

While the JBL Live Pro 2 are another great pick for ANC audio on a budget, these are even cheaper at just £35.99/$39.99. If you’re just stepping into the world of ANC and want to see what it has to offer, the Ugreen HiTune T3 are the perfect pick. 

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Ugreen HiTune T3

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FAQs

What is active noise cancellation?

Active Noise Cancellation uses an array of microphones in a headphone to detect the frequency of the sound coming at the listener, with the ANC chip creating an inverse wave (i.e. opposing sound) to suppress any unwanted external noises.

What is feedfoward ANC?

With feedforward ANC the microphone is placed on the outer edge of the ear cup, which analyses the noise and creates the anti-noise signal before sending if off to the headphone’s speaker to block the noise.

What is feedback ANC?

Feedback noise cancellation is the opposite of feedforward ANC. The microphone is placed inside the earcup and in front of the drive unit, and can hear the same noises the listener does. It blocks noise across a broad range of frequencies (though it can’t deal with higher frequencies as well).

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