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The 6 Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds - Fall 2023 Reviews

Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Sometimes, we all need a bit of peace. If you use your headphones daily for commuting or while in the office, you may want something that will do a good job of blocking background noise. In the past, you needed large over-ears to get good active noise cancelling (ANC), but now even small and portable in-ears or earbuds have impressive noise cancelling features. You can also passively achieve great isolation with some in-ear headphones that don't feature ANC due to them physically blocking your ear canals.

We've tested over 290 earbuds and in-ears; below are our recommendations for the best in-ear noise cancelling headphones to buy. Check out our recommendations for the best earbuds and in-ears, the best Bluetooth earbuds, or the best noise cancelling headphones overall.

  1. Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds

    The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless are the best noise cancelling earbuds we've tested. These premium buds have a top-tier ANC system. Whether traveling on a noisy plane or working in a busy office, they can isolate you from an outstanding amount of ambient noise. With their ANC on, they last well over six hours continuously. If you need to top them up, their carrying case supplies three additional charges. They have a more bass-heavy sound than our test rig measures due to the shape of our rig's ear canals.

    Subjectively, they have extra thump, rumble, and boom, which muddies vocals and instruments, but their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets, so you can adjust the sound to your liking. Unfortunately, despite having a high price tag, they lack features like multi-device pairing, so you can't connect them to numerous devices simultaneously. If you want a more dynamic noise cancelling performance, try the Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless. Once enabled via their companion app, the buds can automatically switch between noise cancelling and ambient sound, depending on your environment and activity.

    They also have a slight edge regarding general noise attenuation, largely due to their memory foam ear tips. Since they form a solid seal in your ear, they reduce a lot of high-pitched noise, but you may not notice a significant difference in isolation between ANC on and off at other frequencies. In comparison, the Bose's ANC can block out more bass and mid-range sound, making them a better choice for commutes and plane trips.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Noise Cancelling Earbuds

    If you're looking for a premium product with a less hefty price tag, consider the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. These earbuds are usually less expensive than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless and have been on sale lately. Although their ANC system isn't quite as powerful as the Bose's in reducing ambient noise like bus engines or office chatter, they still deliver an excellent overall performance.

    Since they're an Apple product, they offer a couple of ecosystem-unique features worth checking out if you already own a MacBook or an iPhone, like Spatial Audio for a more immersive audio experience and an H2 chip for seamless pairing with other Apple devices. With their ANC on, they last nearly six hours continuously, and their carrying case supplies an extra four charges. They have a comfortable fit, but the buds can wiggle out over time, which can be frustrating.

    Thanks to their adaptive EQ, they have a warm sound profile well-suited for genres like folk and jazz. They lack any sound customization features, so if that's important to you, you'll want to check out the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3, which have a companion app with an EQ and presets at a similar price point. Their ANC performance is comparable, but they're bulkier and less comfortable.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Noise Cancelling Earbuds

    The Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless are the best mid-range noise cancelling buds we've tested. They don't have the same premium build quality as the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless and aren't as stable or comfortable for most. They have a similar noise isolation performance and can easily cut down sounds like the rumbles from plane engines and chatty coworkers. They also last over seven hours with the ANC on, and you can top them up, thanks to the nearly two charges in their case.

    They support multi-device pairing, meaning you can connect them to your PC and smartphone simultaneously. They also have a decently comfortable fit but are bulky and can pop out of your ear over time, causing a drop in bass. Once you ensure a good fit, they deliver a touch of extra thump, rumble, and boom while vocals and instruments are bright and sparkly. You can even fine-tune their sound using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets.

    However, if comfort is a top priority, you'll want to consider the Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless instead. Their smaller, more lightweight design ensures you can wear them for long periods without experiencing fatigue. Their ANC also offers excellent overall performance, but it doesn't block out as much of the low rumble of car engines as the Google headphones.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Noise Cancelling Earbuds

    The best wireless noise cancelling earbuds we've tested in the budget category are the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless. Despite their affordable price tag, they offer as many features as the Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless and even better overall noise isolation performance. Their adaptive ANC easily reduces bass range noise like plane engine rumbles, making them a solid choice for travel. They also do an excellent job cutting out mid to high-pitched sounds, like office chatter and the hum of an AC unit. These versatile buds come with features like multi-device pairing and LDAC codec support, which is good for streaming Hi-Res content.

    These well-built buds have a warm sound profile that you can customize via the graphic EQ and presets in their companion app. They also last over eight hours continuously, which will get you through long days on the go, and their carrying case holds an extra four charges. Unfortunately, if you need to make calls, the integrated mic does a poor job of capturing speech clearly, so your voice sounds distant and sharp, which isn't very pleasant for the caller on the line.

    See our review

  5. Best Cheap Noise Cancelling Earbuds

    For something much cheaper, look at the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless. Finding ANC earbuds at this price point is uncommon, and finding these buds in stock can be tricky. As you might expect, they can't block out the same level of noise as the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless, either. Still, they're a solid choice for effectively reducing a wide range of ambient sound, including the rumble of plane engines and ambient chatter. You can't turn off the ANC entirely, though. You can only switch between this mode and transparency mode, which allows you to hear your surroundings without taking out your buds. They last over eight hours continuously, and their carrying case holds two additional charges if needed.

    These buds have a slightly V-shaped sound profile that delivers a touch of extra thump and rumble to your mixes and bright sibilants, like cymbals. That said, vocals and lead instruments are weak, and the headphones lack customization features to help you adjust their sound. Fortunately, they have a stable, decently comfortable fit and are certified IPX6 for resistance against immersion in water, making them a solid choice for sports and fitness.

    See our review

  6. Best Sounding Noise Cancelling Earbuds

    The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro True Wireless are the best in-ear noise cancelling headphones for sound quality we've tested. Out of the box, they have quite a neutral sound. They deliver adequate punch and warmth to basslines while vocals and instruments sound natural and clear. As a result, they're versatile enough for a variety of audio content. And, if you don't like this sound, their companion app offers EQ presets for customization.

    Their ANC does an excellent job of blocking background noise across the range. It easily tackles rumbly bus engines to chatty coworkers so you can focus on your audio. That said, with their ANC on, they last under five hours continuously, which is less than the similarly priced Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless. Their carrying case holds an extra 2.6 charges, though. They also have a comfortable fit suitable for long listening sessions.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC Truly Wireless: The Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC Truly Wireless offer nearly the same level of noise isolation as the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless, but have an ear stem design in contrast to the A40's round body. Their sound is much more bass-heavy, but it muddies vocals and instruments. See our review
  • Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro Truly Wireless: The Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro Truly Wireless are very similar in-ears to the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless. They have a great noise isolation performance, but their continuous battery life of 5.5 hours isn't particularly long-lasting. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Sep 27, 2023: We've replaced the Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless with the Soundcore Liberty 4 NC Truly Wireless in Notable Mentions, as the Liberty 4 NC offer a better noise isolation performance. We've also removed the 'Best Passive Isolating Earbuds' category to improve the quality of this article.

  2. Aug 28, 2023: We've added the Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless as an alternative to the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless. We've also added the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro True Wireless as the 'Best Sounding Noise Cancelling Earbuds', thanks to their flat default sound profile.

  3. Jul 31, 2023: We've replaced the Anker Soundcore Dot 2 Truly Wireless with the TOZO T10 Truly Wireless since the Anker are hard to find in stock, and the TOZO have better overall noise isolation.

  4. Jul 07, 2023: Added the TOZO T10 Truly Wireless as an alternative to the Anker Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless, which can be difficult to find in stock.

  5. Jun 14, 2023: Due to updated stock, we've replaced the TOZO T10 Truly Wireless with the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless as our pick for the 'Best Earbuds For Passive Isolation'.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best noise cancelling earbuds for most people to buy. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for noise cancelling earbuds and in-ears. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.