Listening to music on solitude can be one of the best feelings in the world which makes finding the best noise cancelling headphones in 2020 a necessity. Some people are fine with an abrasive train or bus ride full of uncomfortable interactions and assorted cacophony. Others wish to be transported to an auditory soundscape with all the dramatic notes of their favorite artists. Your headphones are much more than a cheap piece of plastic that should simply be used and replaced repeatedly. The right headphones can change your day-to-day for a lifetime or at least a few years of auditory bliss. This is your key to the top-rated noise cancelling headphones so you can level up your state of being.
This is the in-depth noise cancelling headphones review for helping you easily navigate towards what your ears want to hear. Finding the right headphones can depend on a wide assortment of factors. Head size, ear size, what genres do you enjoy? From the basic to the most eclectic everyone has different needs. We tried to make each section easy to navigate so you can jump ahead and quickly revolutionize your air travel. Would the Wright Brothers have made their inventions if they knew the future terror of crying babies? All jokes aside the difference between good noise cancelling headphones and great noise cancelling headphones can be hard to decipher. Luckily, when we’re through you’ll be able to make confident decisions for yourself along with easy gift ideas for others.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones List
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
For a long time, Bose’s flagship noise cancellation headphones the QC35 II’s combine the previous generations’ sound quality with Google Assistant. This gives you extra control over your situation while you enjoy crystal clear sound. The sound quality of these headphones is a bit soft but well balance for an experience superior to normal headphones. Bose augmented reality adds an extra bit of emphasis to your favorite songs.
With a simplistic businesslike appeal on the base model, you can find multiple colors through Bose. The Bose QuietComfort35 II slide comfortably under the radar as quality noise cancelling headphones hiding a lot beneath the surface.
Light feel with a comfortable headband and understated design the 1000xm3 check pretty much every base. The only issue is a call quality that isn’t much of a step up over a normal phone.
Bose Headphones 700
The Bose nc 700 have built-in Alexa for voice control from your volume to setting appointments. With only a few minor issues peaking through the high price tag is about the only thing that keeps these headphones down.
Cowin E7 Pro
While comfortable leatherette earcups that swivel to 90 degrees give you full over-ear coverage. They are suitable for use in communication as well as listening to music thanks to a built-in mic. The whole look comes together with chrome earcups and a smooth flexible headband. The Cowin E7 Pro does everything you need to give noise cancellation a try.
Origins of Noise Cancelling Headphones How Do They Work?
Like many great inventions creating good noise cancelling headphones started with something you’d usually throw away. Dr. Amar Bose was maybe the first person annoyed on an airplane with the ability to do something about it. In 1978 he was riding on a plane in such a situation when he sketched out the original idea on an airplane napkin. An inspiring story for company lore no doubt, Bose is no longer all there is in noise cancelling headphones. Many companies have risen since to add their own spin and features to make a very competitive market. Today you can even find noise cancelling headphones with wireless.
There’s a science behind great noise cancelling headphones that makes them a legitimate way to improve your listening experience. They aren’t crude with a singular purpose like you might expect from thick ear pads. This means true noise cancelling headphones aren’t limited by size or shape. The technology works by directly counteracting the exterior sound. This is done by emitting what is called an out-of-phase sound wave. When matched up with the exterior sound this out-of-phase sound effectively cancels out the exterior sound. The best reference to think of is positive and negative numbers. When you add one with a negative one the answer is always nothing or zero.
How to Choose the Right Noise Cancelling Headphones
This wouldn’t be a noise cancelling headphones review without the step by step breakdown. There are many attributes to keep in mind for finding your top-rated noise cancelling headphones. Whether they are product defining like noise cancelling headphones with wireless or just something that you would like to have. Here you can find the ranges you need to watch for so you aren’t wasting your money. Technology is constantly improving making it near impossible to stay aware. Don’t fret though because we got the info to make sure you don’t miss a beat. (Disclaimer: All puns are completely unintentional)
A Quick Note on Noise Isolating
You don’t want to get confused with the difference between noise cancelling and noise isolating. Noise isolating is an often cheaper way of blocking exterior noise with some sort of physical impedance. It is also known as passive noise cancellation thanks to the lack of actual technology. By creating a snug fit between your ear and the headphone a strong seal is produced. Always over the ear and thickly padded comfort is an absolute necessity for this style of headphones. The major disadvantages here come in a lower volume design due to their intent to muffle exterior noise. They also will seriously limit you ability to hear your surroundings.
Brands used to matter a ton when it came to finding the top-rated noise cancelling headphones, however, much has changed over time. Traditionally there have always been a few ways to go where you can’t go wrong. Bose invented the market and continues to make high-quality products with the latest in technology. Sony was its major competition with innovative features along with quality designs. Then there’s Bower & Wilkins with top of the line science and audio technology focused towards immaculate products. Of course, you can’t forget Apple/Beats who combined attention to detail with exceptional marketing for the final piece of Mt. Rushmore. It’s hard to go wrong with any of these brands’ higher-end models though the prices always match. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to reach for something from a brand like Jabra or Taotronics. As technology has improved many lower-priced brands have emerged with their own superior products.
Personal preferences make prescribing the perfect sound type for every individual an exercise in futility. There are however basics and beyond to look for to ensure you can listen to what you want to listen to at peak efficiency. Much like a computer, high-end headphone’s abilities can often be determined by the processor. The better the processor the more powerful the headphones noise cancellation technology is. This almost always coincides with the headphone’s audio processing capabilities. The faster it works, the cleaner the sound quality is a simple way to think of it.
Sound quality can also vary based on the level of noise cancellation so the more options you have often the better. As you scale up from in-ear to over-the-ear headphones you can also expect an increase in sound quality. Sound quality is largely influenced by a headphones drivers. Smaller drivers often don’t have the same range for sound detail. There is a sad reality that you’ll have to face even with great noise cancelling headphones. At the price of technology, you will never quite reach the sound quality of high-end models that forego its abilities. True audiophiles might want another model for those quiet moments where the other guys can run wild.
Your headphones will always only be as good as your perseverance to wear them. Whether you go over-the-ear, on-ear, or in-ear every design has its hangups when it comes to weight. In-ear headphones are the best here of course with the main issue being how they feel in your ears. On-ear headphones are rarely too heavy with most the issue being how they feel on your ears. A tight headband is something to consider here along with testing the padding if possible. Over-the-ear headphones are the biggest perpetrator here with you paying for every single head bob. In general look for headphones under 10 ounces if you’re worried about weight being an issue.
What your headphones are made of can make a major difference in the overall value they provide. From the casings and the headbands to the actual things you put on, over, or in your ear each part adds up. The casing while mainly cosmetic needs to be made of material durable enough to last. Are you going to sit calmly listening to music in your lazy-boy? Maybe your more the type who likes to get up and dance? You’ll also want to avoid stiff headbands that limit how long you’re able to enjoy listening. As far as the actual part you listen from a difference in material is pretty huge, particularly for on-ear. You don’t want something that feels cheap. This is also a good spot to mention the warranty. Looking for at least a year is never a bad way to go.
You might be confused with thinking about battery life for your headphones, but noise cancelling is quite the draining feature. Regardless of whether you go wireless or wired, you’ll want to keep this in mind. Some headphones have the ability to turn off their noise cancelling feature for a “passive” mode. This won’t run any battery allowing your headphones to still serve so use. You should look for at least 25 hours of battery life on your headphones. That’s the healthy average though you can find options ranging between 15 and 40 hours.
Earbuds are a different matter however with much shorter battery lives often between 4 and 10 hours. Don’t forget to recharge your headphones whenever it is possible.
This isn’t always an issue anymore with technology advancing to a world where good noise cancellation headphones with wireless are possible. However, it isn’t exactly the most affordable technology yet. Double dipping in space-age technology might not be the nicest weight on your wallet. For those who can’t afford to take the leap, the correct cable length can be crucial. The one difference between artfully moving to the music and looking at a broken music player on the floor in silence. In a few years this probably won’t be an issue at all but for now, look for at least 3.5 feet. Moving up to 4 feet will give you a greater range of motion for individuals 6 feet and taller.
If you are able to make the step up to noise cancellation headphones with wireless the range will come into consideration. The great thing about wireless though is it is much less of an issue than the corded design. This is due to the ability of Bluetooth to greatly increase range while still delivering clear and crisp sound. This also makes the general range your looking for relatively formulaic across all models. The standard Bluetooth allows for a 30 foot or 10-meter range. This is quite considerable though you can find options that reach beyond that or have optional extending accessories.
Whether having good sound or hearing anything at all is important to you, the price is always a valid consideration. You can expect the quality and features to scale with the price but you don’t want to skimp if you can manage it. The differences will certainly be noticeable as you move into different price brackets. There are pretty much three ranges to consider when shopping.
The lowest starts around $70 as unless you’re getting a deal the technology starts to cease to be worth it. You can find many good noise cancelling headphones for under a hundred dollars though they’ll often lack other features. The next price range starts around $200 and rises to $300. If you’re spending between $100 and $200 you’ll want to pay extra attention to the value your getting. The second range is where you will find most of the best options for price vs value. You can expect to find great noise cancelling headphones here that might be missing in an area. The final price range is $400 and up. These headphones will have superb audio, noise cancellation, and an interesting list of features. If you’re spending this much you better expect the cream of the crop.
There isn’t much of a point to any headphones if they don’t sound good. You might not consider how noise cancellation might affect how headphones are able to operate. Some headphones have various levels of noise cancellation technology. Switching between these different levels can sometimes have drastic effects on how things sound. The top-rated noise cancelling headphones are able to give you an extreme level of quiet while sounding stellar regardless. Lower quality noise cancelling headphones will often have a hissing sound accompanying their noise cancellation feature. Traditionally over-the-ear models have better design in combination with noise cancellation abilities. Though recently many in-ear and on-ear models have emerged as relevant competition.
Built-In Mic and Controls
Some headphones are more than just listening for music and also have the ability to operate as a headset as well. While not exactly common a built-in mic can add a ton of versatility to your headphones. Though since it isn’t priority even some of the higher-end models can lack in call quality with this feature. Extra controls are another thing you won’t find in every good noise cancelling headphone set.
Some headphones have their own apps and other programs to help you regulate their functionality. Change things like sound levels, noise cancelling levels, and audio effects. You won’t always find these abilities but it’s important to know they’re out there if you are interested.
Bluetooth functionality is almost a necessity if you’re looking for headphones these days. While it can be hard to fit Bluetooth and noise cancellation into a headphones price range. Having the two of them together is also generally the baseline for any headphones worth investment for 2020 and beyond. Bluetooth opens the door for a wide variety of features that can’t be underestimated. It’s absolutely necessary for any of the newer wireless headphones. It also often coincides with apps that increase your headphone’s functionality. A high-quality Bluetooth system can also drastically affect your headphones mic capabilities.
Advanced Features of Noise Cancelling Headphones
Beyond everything mentioned above the pace of technology allows some companies to make extra innovations. One of these might be the key to your great noise cancelling headphones that you’ve been missing. In the past few years, adaptive noise cancellation has emerged as a unique addition to higher-end headphones. Some headphones have the ability to adjust their performance to your surroundings. Others go even further actively sensing for changes in your environment. Make sure you differentiate between adjustable and the more exotic adaptive technology. Imagine your headphones reacting to flight take off or living in high altitude conditions. Another feature to look out for is the ability to hear environmental sounds. While it might seem counter-intuitive slightly hearing the action around you is safer. Definitely something to keep in mind if you live in a place like New York City where the unexpected happens. Some models also call this feature Transparency mode.
Resistance is hardly ever a bad attribute to have and that is quite true for headphones as well. Features like water-resistance, heat-resistance, and sweat-resistance can come in handy if you’re especially active with your headphones.
Test the Waters If You Can
Ok, so you understand the many different attributes of the top-rated noise cancelling headphones. How do you condense your knowledge to make sure you make the right purchase for yourself? The first thing you want to do is test them out first if possible. Any search for new headphones should start with loading up your phone or device with songs and heading to a local sound store. Different headphones and brands build their devices to handle different types of music differently. Even if you intend to purchase later online familiarizing yourself with what’s out there never hurts.
You will want to turn on the noise cancelling feature inside of the store to test it out. Many people buy noise cancellation headphones for blocking out sound not just listening to music. Listening to the feature alone without music will give you a good sense of their ability. Bringing someone along can also help with having a willing test subject making noises at different distances. Trying them on first will also pay dividends where fit is concerned. Figuring out just how long they will last before they become uncomfortable is important. Along with knowing how much a cord will get in your way while you’re moving around. Searching down similar brands and products in the physical can save you some time online.
Finding the Right Noise Canceling Headphones for You
So what are the basic questions you need to ask when you start searching for your headphones? The perfect pair of headphones check every square for mobility, purpose, design, and price. Will you be moving around a lot? In-ear or the in-between on-ear is the most portable with their collapsibility. If you’re still, the purpose is likely the sound quality where the over-the-ear design really excels. The design includes features like wireless functionality cable length and how easy it is to use. Finally, the price is the limiting factor that will likely decide where you bend and break at other points. With enough effort or time for making more money, there’s no way to not find an amazing pair of noise canceling headphones in 2020.
Do noise canceling headphones block out voices?
Yes, many noise canceling headphones have the ability to block out voices. Of course, this will depend on the quality of noise cancellation and frequency of the voices. The technology isn’t perfect though as even some great noise canceling headphones will allow sound through. This is generally limited to sudden loud sounds, however.
Are noise canceling headphones better than earplugs?
In many ways, noise canceling headphones are superior to earplugs. Earplugs are a version of passive noise control while noise canceling headphones provide active. While they won’t prevent every sound, a quality active noise canceling system does have other uses. On top of being more comfortable on average, some also have transparency technology for greater safety.
Where to buy noise canceling headphones?
You can find noise canceling headphones at pretty much any location the sells electronics. Whether online or locally good noise canceling headphones have become popular enough to be found at almost every location. You can find pretty much every brand in the book on Amazon and eBay. At the same time stores like Best Buy, and Target are probably the best place to start nearby.
Whats is better noise canceling or noise isolating?
Without question, noise canceling will be better in almost every circumstance. You are often paying for comfort with the tight fit necessary for noise isolating. Noise isolating is better, however, if you are on a budget. If you’re limited to spending under $80 for your headphones you probably want to choose noise isolating. A pair of $40 noise canceling headphones is likely to be more trouble than its worth.