15 Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds In 2017

Sometimes, being alone with yourself and able to hear your own thoughts in the big cities of today seems impossible, unless you have a pair of best noise cancelling earbuds by your side. It really is difficult to stay focused while your personal comfort zone is constantly invaded by the surrounding noises: colleagues chatting in the office, transport rumble in the street, loud neighbors next door… What if you could cut off the external sounds with just a click of a button, and dive into the music of your choice, or remain in the silence? There’s a lot of noise cancelling earbuds that are capable of providing this luxury, and after extensive research, we present you the models that surely deserve your attention. But first, let’s take a closer look at the technology behind some of the best noise cancelling earbuds on the market.

Where And When Do You Need Noise Cancelling? 

Noise-canceling headphones are usually recommended for use on long trips. A typical advertising poster pictures a well-dressed middle-aged man flying in the business class; and to be honest, there’s nothing better than cutting off external noise during a long flight. Not only you can enjoy your favorite music, but thanks to some of the best noise cancelling earbuds you can sleep like a baby almost anywhere. Travelling by train is also the perfect situation to use them, as well as the subway which is equally noisy, and sometimes being in a busy city street during rush hour turns out to be a real nightmare for ears.

Of course, noise cancelling headphones are also very useful in home and business environment; you can listen to music and podcasts while your partner and the rest of your family can watch TV at the same time, even at full volume. At the office which buzzes like a hive during the day, you can work in peace and comfort while your colleagues envy the stillness of your mind.

Bottom-line: do you want to enjoy the silence, or your favorite music tracks and podcasts when there’s noise and mess all around you? Find a pair of best noise cancelling headphones for yourself, because there’s no better way to “turn off the environment” for a while.

Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Noise cancelling earbuds are a bit less popular on the market than the closed-back headphones with the same feature, probably because earbuds come with a battery unit and a sound processor which looks and weighs like an average MP3 player. Although the degree of noise suppression is known to be lower because of the relatively weak passive isolation, earbuds can be very effective, especially with properly selected ear tips. Their main advantage is that they can be worn for significantly longer periods of time at once and even can be slept with, compared to large headphones with a headband that will turn out to be quite uncomfortable as soon as you put your head on the pillow, or wear them for too long.

Aside from the regular wired earbuds we’ve mentioned earlier, there are also wireless earbuds for which the electronics and power supply system are usually placed in a separate device, or a neckband. The wires are still there, but the device itself is connected to a Smartphone or player via Bluetooth. The weak point of such devices is their limited autonomy, since the energy source is usually a miniature battery of low capacity. This is why models that use simple batteries are more practical – you can pack a few extra batteries into your bag and go with the flow.

Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds In 2017 – Top 15

Noise Cancelling EarbudsModelRatingPrice
Bose QuietComfort 204.4$230 - $260
Senso S-2504.2$20 - $50
Bose QuietControl 303.8$270 - $320
Sennheiser CX3.8$20 - $40
Symphonized NRG4.3$20 - $40
Panasonic RP-HJE120-K4.3$5 - $20
Audio-Technica ANC233.7$30 - $50
ISOtunes PRO3.9$70 - $100
TaoTronics3.8$30 - $60
Phiaton BTNC4.0$80 - $120
Sony NC31EM3.6$40 - $70
Audio-Technica ANC33iS3.6$60 - $90
Leophile Zero3.8$80 - $120
Phiaton BT 1003.2$50 - $80
Libratone Q3.8$120 - $170

The Importance of Finding The Perfect Earbud Nozzles

Among all other silicone ear tips, we simply mustn’t forget to mention the so-called “Christmas trees” (triple flanges). To get the most from the very popular Christmas tree ear tips, you need to insert them deep into the ear canal, because the silicone lobes should create at least two noise isolation circuits inside your ear. Simple silicone ear tips in classic shapes with gel or foam filling can also be very effective; gel ear tips are more dense and elastic, but they cause discomfort with prolonged wearing if the size isn’t adequate. In general, the isolation of external noise depends mainly on the ear tips and the way they fit your ears; either excessively large, or small ear tips won’t stay in place comfortably, so you better choose the size and shape as precisely as possible for a better seal.

If you manage to find the best noise cancelling earbuds that suit your needs, you will be awarded with absence of external noise and comfort with prolonged wearing, but also with clear sound and improved depth of low-end range. And most importantly – the more effective the ear tips, the less reasons to turn up the volume on your player. So, if you spend a lot of time on airplanes or trains, and want to listen to music without disturbance, or just enjoy the silence, get acquainted with these reviews of the best noise-canceling earbuds and find the perfect pair for yourself.

 Here is our list of 15 best noise cancelling earbuds in 2017


Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Approximate Price: $250.00

The Bose QuietComfort 20 earbuds are a truly great product with an excellent quality-price ratio, ideal for everyone who spends a lot of time in big cities and loud metropolitan areas. These earbuds are equipped with Acoustic Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology, which allows you to isolate yourself from the surrounding noises.

The technology in the Bose QuietComfort 20 consists of four microphones that allow noise cancelling, that is two microphones for each earbud that can capture the outside noise and send information to the system, which then acts to suppress it. The earphones also have a voice microphone, which makes the product ideal for talking on the phone by using a remote control that allows you to accept calls and set up other functions.

The QuietComfort 20 are slim and discreet earbuds, with nozzles developed by Bose and called StayHear + which are very comfortable and fit perfectly in the ears. The cable seems to be very robust and well-built, the autonomy is about 16 hours and is guaranteed by lithium-ion batteries that recharge in about 120 minutes via an included USB cable, but earbuds can also work if the ANC function is not activated. The remote control comes with two keys to manage controls for Android and Windows, while there is a special version with four control buttons for Apple devices. A soft carrying case with a zipper is also included in the package.

The sound properties of the Bose QuietComfort 20 earbuds are of  excellent quality and most of the credit is due to the noise cancelling that leaves a lot of room for listening to music. The intelligent design that already ensures a good passive isolation is accentuated when the Acoustic Noise Cancelling function is activated. Although they’re not comparable to closed-back headphones when it comes to the sound-stage effect and the overall ambience, tone equalization is rather balanced, although a slight prevalence appears to be for medium-low tones. The sound definition and acoustic precision are excellent thanks to TriPort technology which will amaze you if you’re listening to music that embraces a wide range of frequencies, from high to low, through medium tones. Basically, the QuietComfort 20 earbuds perform an excellent job, no matter if listening to jazz, classical or rock music, and thanks to the noise cancelling technology, we’re pretty sure that you’ll be satisfied with the experience.

Advantages:

Good sound quality

Very comfortable

Remote controller is simple and useful

Disadvantages:

The cable is a bit bulky

Voice microphone needs to be carefully positioned near mouth during calls


Senso ActivBuds S-250 Bluetooth Sports Earbuds

Approximate Price: $20.00

We’ve tested a lot of headphones so far, everything from low price over-ear headphones to latest high-quality professional models, but we could never forget Senso ActivBuds S-250 earbuds. All of us interested in different kinds of sports activities fell in love with these earbuds almost instantly, because of their extreme comfort and reliability, as well as great sound quality and long battery life.

The ActivBuds S-250 are semi-waterproof (don’t go swimming with them), Bluetooth 4.1 earbuds with three different sizes of ear tips made of silicone, and with very comfortable ear hooks that guarantee you’ll forget that you’re wearing them at all. And since the battery can support up to 8 hours of constant playback, we’re pretty sure that these earbuds would be able to reproduce the most amazing soundtrack while you’re running a marathon. Bluetooth 4.1 connection is flawless and without any lag between the devices, which means that you can enjoy movies with audio and video perfectly synced. Although the earbuds are bulky, they’re actually quite light weight and the fact that their wireless range is around 30ft long makes it up for it.

Their sound quality matches their comfort and reliability; although they’re far from some of the more expensive popular models on the market, the ActivBuds S-250 are probably the best noise cancelling earbuds for their price. Unlike many other earbuds from the same category, they offer a lot of bass which is deep and well-structured, and thanks to their frequency response of 22-20khz the mids and highs are sharp and clear, forming a beautiful soundscape. Needless to say, when you activate the CVC 6.0 noise cancelling function all of the unnecessary noise will be immediately cut out.

The sweat proof feature combined with the 30ft wireless range and long battery life means that you can easily run far from the playback device and completely immerse yourself in training. Battery recharging is very quick, and the built-in microphone allows you to take important calls at any time. We bet that this sounds appealing to all athletes out there!

In conclusion, the ActivBuds S-250 are designed for on-the-go music listeners who spend a lot of time and energy on training and exercise, while enjoying high-quality sound from the comfortable and reliable earbuds. If this sounds like you even remotely – don’t hesitate to try the ActivBuds S-250, because there’s a great chance that you too will agree that they’re really special.

Advantages:

Good sound quality

Very comfortable

Battery life is impressive

Disadvantages:

A bit bulky

Bluetooth range is too short


Bose QuietControl 30 Wireless Earbuds

Approximate Price: $300.00

You may be wondering if the QuietControl 30 earbuds are any different than QuietComfort 20 mentioned at the top of our list? The answer is simple: Bose QuietControl 30 earbuds still belong to the line of headphones with active noise reduction like the QuietComfort series, but for the first time they allow you to adjust the level of noise reduction using the appropriate iOS / Android software. Your next question may be: is it convenient to wear the QC 30 earbuds and is the quality of sound reproduction satisfying? Absolutely!

Adding wireless functionality made it possible to avoid having to release different models for iOS / Android, because the Bluetooth version is suitable for a variety of gadgets, without any problems with connection and compatibility. Bose solved a few typical issues with other earbuds by deciding to go with a neck collar on the QuietControl 30; first, it keeps the electronics board hidden. Second, a collar is very convenient for everyday use: if you don’t want to listen to music, just pull out the headphones and  nothing else needs to be removed and hidden. You can even sleep with the collar, which is always a very convenient feature. And third, being quite a technical and modern accessory, the QuietControl 30 earbuds look great with any clothes, because Bose likes to keep it stylish.

After a couple of months of daily use, we’re pretty sure that you’ll find the StayHear + nozzles very comfortable; they’re made specifically for Bose headphones, in a set of three different sizes, and allow you to carry the headphones for hours without discomfort (but it’s obviously very important to choose the right size of the ear tip). The battery life is about 10 hours and the Bluetooth range is short – around three to four meters is as far as you can go if you’re not holding the playback device in your pocket.

Despite their size, the QC30 are quite powerful and the overall sound experience is superb. Noise cancellation isn’t of exceptional quality, but it does a pretty good job isolating unwanted background sounds to a certain extent. Low frequencies, vocals and different kinds of instruments are all well-conveyed and natural. In general, the sound is definitely “branded”, so if you compare it to other company’s headphones (like the Bose QC 20, for example), you’ll immediately recognize some similar features. But most importantly, it really is a pleasure to listen to the Bose QC30, and together with very practical collar and great design, these earbuds could be one of your best options.

Advantages:

The collar is practical and stylish

Solid noise cancellation

Standard high-quality Bose sound

Long battery life

Disadvantages:

Short Bluetooth range

Unusable while charging


Sennheiser CX 300-II Precision Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Approximate Price: $30.00

The Sennheiser CX 300-II Precision can be safely called the best noise cancelling earbuds in their price category. The main attribute is sound quality, but as true fans of Sennheiser, we also greatly appreciate their outstanding durability, comfort and design. Although the CX-300 II Precision belong to the category of conventional earbuds, their technical characteristics are in no way inferior to most mid-class monitor headphones.

The CX 300-II have a very minimalistic design and excellent ergonomic properties. When you first get acquainted with these earbuds, you will notice the lack of any kind of mechanical volume control. As practice shows, the overwhelming majority of users hate adjusting the volume on the control wheel because of its high sensitivity, and also because headphones quite often become unusable due to the controller failure. Nevertheless, the build quality of all Sennheiser headphones has always been impressive, and the same goes for the CX 300-II earbuds; materials are of the highest quality, and the sturdy cable made of oxygen-free copper (OFC) guarantees many years of use.

Regardless of the color of the CX 300-II earbuds, they all come in a standard package which also includes a protective case for you to store and conveniently transport the earbuds, as well as a set of three silicone nozzles. They fit the ear perfectly without too much pressure, and are definitely capable of staying in place even after a few hours. If you’re not satisfied with the default nozzles, you can always replace them with the one that suits your ear. It’s worth mentioning that they also do a great job isolating the outside noise; only music is audible while wearing the CX 300-II earbuds, so external sounds won’t keep you from enjoying your favorite songs.

The sound quality is nothing but commendable; it’s not overwhelmed by midrange frequencies, the lows sound rather deep, while high frequencies are well detailed. In general, the amplitude-frequency response of the model is more or less balanced, though low frequencies sometimes overlap with other sounds. This is most likely because this model is intended for young people who enjoy loud and dynamic music on the go. So, if you need lots of bass supported by excellent noise cancellation – this is the model for you.

Advantages:

Great sound quality and isolation

Build quality

Nice minimalistic design

Comfort and durability

Disadvantages:

Bass can be too loud for some users

Overall volume is low


Symphonized NRG 3.0 Earbuds

Approximate Price: $25.00

Symphonized NRG 3.0 earbuds are by far one of the cheapest models on the market with exquisite sound quality for their price range, beautiful wooden case and overall design, as well as durable nylon braided cable. Not only that you can enjoy the music with solid noise isolation, but you can also receive calls and talk over the built-in microphone at any time. The Symphonized NRG 3.0 are a perfect fit for just $25.

It’s quite surprising to see that you can get handcrafted earbuds made of genuine wood for this price, and together with their specific design of the in-ear canal which fits the ear perfectly and blocks out the surrounding noise, you also get sharp sound and powerful bass at the same time. The first model Symphonized NRG 2.0 earbuds were already famous for their excellent sound quality, and now the Symphonized NRG 3.0 have improved balance, while the lows are still deep and punchy, in contrast to the crisp and clear high frequencies. Even if you turn up the volume to maximum, there will be absolutely no distortion of any other kind. Impressive!

We already said that external sound isolation is pretty good, thanks to the ergonomic features of the Symphonized NRG 3.0 earbuds. The fact that nozzles fit the ear comfortably is a part of the whole noise cancellation effect; although it does a very nice job, you still can’t expect to eliminate all of the environmental sounds like some bigger headphones with the same feature. Anyway, we were still surprised by the overall sound quality and noise cancelling feature, because who would’ve thought that $25 earbuds can be that good?

In conclusion, the Symphonized NRG 3.0 earbuds will please anyone looking for a well-designed piece of technology with authentic wooden feel, great sound quality and noise isolation that exceed our expectations, and all that within a low budget. Not many other headphones and earbuds in the market can offer so much for more than a reasonable price.

Advantages:

Great sound quality

Impressive noise isolation for a pair of cheap earbuds

Amazing build quality and wooden design

Disadvantages:

Can become uncomfortable after long use

Bass is muffled

Cables are too heavy


Panasonic RP-HJE120-K Earbuds

Approximate Price: $8.00

Most users will probably try to discredit the RP-HJE120-K earbuds from Panasonic because of their low price and basic appearance, but in reality, these earbuds are actually able to deliver some pretty solid sound quality and durability. There are good reasons why Panasonic is still one of the leading headphones manufacturers, and why the RP-HJE120-K have been the Amazon bestseller for a while.

The standard earphone package includes three sets of spare ear tips, so you can easily choose the right one for yourself, and the RP-HJE120-K earbuds that can be ordered in many different colors. Although we have to admit that the earbuds look quite cheap and unreliable at a first glance, as soon as you put them in your ears and feel the soft silicone nozzles that immediately cut out some of the external sounds, you realize that the RP-HJE120-K will be more than comfortable to wear, at least for a time.

Speaking of build-quality, the first impression is pretty much the same; for example, you’d say that the thin cord on these earbuds is unable to withstand anything, but you’d be amazed how strong and durable it actually is. After some online research including regular visits to audiophile forums, as well as reading numerous customer reviews and feedback, we came to the conclusion that the RP-HJE120-K earbuds are, in fact, among the top 10 most durable earphones in the same price category. Most users have also praised the “L” shaped plug which is becoming increasingly popular due to the fact that it doesn’t fall out that easily, and therefore it’s very practical for sports activities and such.

While you can’t expect miracles regarding sound quality if you’re looking to spend around $10 for a pair of headphones, the RP-HJE120-K do a very decent job keeping the frequencies well-balanced and isolating some unwanted noise from your surrounding. The sound isn’t leaking, the bass isn’t muffled and the mids and highs are not too crisp, like it’s often the case with other earbuds. To be honest, the sound quality isn’t perfect either, but it’s good enough to please undemanding users.

Anyway, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a pair of headphones, and yet you still expect to get at least mediocre sound quality with surprising durability and reliability, then the RP-HJE120-K could be the right choice.

Advantages:

Satisfactory sound quality

Strong cable

Affordable price

Disadvantages:

Sound isolation is poor

Earbuds tend to fall out of ears


Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint

Approximate Price: $44.00

The first time we heard that Audio-Technica is releasing a new model which will incorporate most of the amazing features that made the QuietPoint series so popular, plus some new additional improvements and fixes, we knew that the ATH-ANC23 earbuds won’t be a disappointment. Well, we got what we asked for and we can say that the ATH-ANC23 noise cancelling earbuds are definitely among the best ones we tested so far.

What makes the ATH-ANC23 earbuds so great? Each earbud packs a 13mm speaker and a single flange rubber nozzle that fits the ear and ensures solid sound isolation. There are three different sizes of these nozzles, and each one is designed to stay in the ear canal even during physical activity. Compared to some other models from the same category, the ATH-ANC23 have a noise cancelling box that will slowly drain the AAA battery, and after it runs out, the earbuds are capable of working for additional 60 minutes without any problems.

When it comes to noise cancelling feature, the manufacturer claims that the ATH-ANC23 earbuds can isolate about 90% of environmental noise, which is pretty impressive. We were quite astonished that their passive isolation is excellent due to the shape of rubber ear tips, and when the active noise cancellation is turned on you can really feel the suppression of external sounds. It’s easy to dive into your favorite music with such detailed and well-balanced sound, and amazing bass depth and clarity. Together with powerful noise cancellation, the sound from these earbuds is guaranteed to blow you away, like it’s usually the case with Audio-Technica headphones and earphones.

After all, we have to point out that these earbuds may not be for everyone. As we mentioned earlier, the performance of the ATH-ANC23 earbuds depends on the seal against the ear, pretty much like with any other noise cancelling earbud. Although the rubber nozzles are well-designed and give great sound isolation, some may find them uncomfortable because they’re bulky and heavy. They won’t keep falling out of your ears, especially if you choose appropriate nozzles, but if you’re looking for tiny earbuds that will disappear in your ear canal – it might be better to try other models. But if you’re a fan of Audio-Technica equipment like we are, or you’re generally looking for high-quality earbuds without restrictions – the ATH-ANC23 could be your best option.

Advantages:

Sound quality, powerful bass

Very loud output

Great noise cancelling

Nice earbud design

Disadvantages:

The noise cancellation control box is heavy

Cord is too short

Bulky and uncomfortable for some


ISOtunes PRO Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Approximate Price: $90.00

The relatively new company ISOtunes released the PRO model as a successor to the ISOtunes earbuds which already earned respect of many satisfied users. The PRO earbuds are an improved version, offering better sound quality and noise cancellation feature, as well as longer battery life.

At first glance, the ISOtunes PRO look huge which took us by surprise, along with the orange color that dominates the design. But after we opened the box and put the earbuds on, we realized there’s nothing unusual about their size, plus they’re actually very comfortable, though we still think they’d look better in black color. The housing is well-built and the plastic seems to be of high-quality, while the Comply ear tips have been known for their excellent grip. The memory wire coming out from the earbuds can be nicely wrapped around the ear and will allow many hours of comfortable use.

The company chose the slogan “Designed for consumers, tested for industry” during their marketing campaign for the ISOtunes PRO earbuds. That’s because this model has the OSHA certificate (Occupational Safety and Health Act) that guarantees these earbuds are perfect for noisy work environment, such as factories and construction sites. Together with ear tips made from Comply foam, the ISOtunes PRO have excellent noise isolation, just like a pair of professional earplugs.

And when it comes to noise cancellation, this model has yet another certificate – ANSI (American National Standards Institute), which proves that sound isolation is on the top level. Although these earbuds don’t have a strong output and because of if they’re not very loud, when the noise cancelling function is turned on you will be completely cut out of the environment, so there’s really no need to turn up the volume. Of course, the level of noise isolation greatly depends on how well you insert the Comply ear tips into your ears, which is mostly the case with all earbuds.

Sound quality is just above average, and it’s probably due to the fact that the company’s main focus was on the noise cancelling feature (job well done). Still, both mids and highs are clear and well-balanced while the bass is present, so when you turn on the noise cancelling you can enjoy the depth of sound nevertheless. The Bluetooth 4.1 connection is flawless most of the time, with the 33ft range, and the battery can support about 10-11 hours of constant playback, which is quite impressive for a pair of wireless earbuds.

Advantages:

Good quality to price ratio

Superb OSHA certified noise isolation

Long battery life

Disadvantages:

Mediocre sound quality

The design may not be appealing to some


TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Approximate Price: $46.00

We’ve recently tested a very interesting product – TaoTronics TT-EP01, yet another model featuring ANC certificate that offers amazing value for its price. While these earbuds can be found on Amazon for just $46, the competitors’ models with active noise canceling feature are at least double the price.

The TT-EP01 earbuds design is obviously inspired by Sennheiser, with the combination of colors such as silver and black that give them a professional and slick look. The cable has a three-button remote control for full audio playback, which can also be used for taking calls. Of course, there is also the Active Noise Canceling device with a 140mAh battery, which can power up the noise cancellation for up to 15 hours, depending on the environment and the volume setting. The package contains the usual assortment of manuals and flyers, a micro USB charging cable, an aircraft adapter, and a whole set of ear tips to choose from.

Build materials are also of surprisingly high quality – the casing is made of brushed aluminum and the earbuds have a 3.5 mm gold plated audio jack. The TT-EP01 are, therefore, a premium product when it comes to build quality and durability, all the while maintaining a reasonable weight.

The T-Tronics TT-EP01 earbuds are among the few to deliver exactly what the manufacturer promised; we’ve tested them in crowded places both in urban environment and at train stations and airports, and had to conclude that their active noise reduction is very effective. The feature allows you to completely block out all of the external noise and interferences, so you can enjoy the music in full audio quality. Obviously, the active noise reduction depends a lot on the ear tips you use and the way they fit your ears, so always use the right ones! The overall sound quality of the TT-EP01  is satisfying, with solid bass and crisp medium frequencies, as well as intense highs which are still not overwhelming.

After all, we’re proud to say that TaoTronics TT EP-01 are one of the best active noise canceling earbuds we tested so far, as they’re built with care and attention to details, with remarkable audio quality and highly affordable price. They’re well worth the money and can easily challenge some of the more expensive earphones with the same features.

Advantages:

Excellent noise cancellation for the price

Very nice sound quality, great bass

Well-built, yet affordable

Disadvantages

Cord is too long and gets tangled easily

High frequencies are sometimes too sharp and tiring when the noise cancellation is turned on


Phiaton BTNC 220 Bluetooth Earbuds

Approximate Price: $94.00

Phiaton PS210 BTNC are delivered in a mighty package made of thick, high quality cardboard. It’s like the box itself is a captivating teaser for the very popular product placed inside on the authentic pedestal. The PS210 BTNC are truly remarkable earbuds that deserve to be in our list.

In addition to the standard package with a micro-USB cable for recharging, a set of ear tips (four pairs of silicone nozzles – XS, S, M, L and one foam nozzle) and an instruction manual, there’s also a nice leather neck strap and a stylish case for earbuds included. Phiaton designers have put the battery, controls and Bluetooth 3.0 module into a separate unit, made of a non-glossy silvery plastic that’s quite pleasant to touch. On the side of the module there’s a couple of sliders: one of them is used to turn on the active noise reduction system, and the second locks the joystick.

Thanks to the use of an external unit, the PS210 BTNC earbuds are packing a rather capacious 300 mAh battery, which is sufficient for 11 hours of use with noise reduction turned on, and about 14 hours without. Of course, you can use the sleep mode with noise cancellation only, and this way the earbuds can work up to 50 hours without recharging. The headphones themselves have an unusual shape, which is due to their large 14.3-mm speakers, with a frequency range from 15 to 25000 Hz, and a resistance of 32 ohms. The main part of the casing is made of metal, and although the earbuds are quite large, they’re actually very light (8.3 g) and fit the ears nicely.

The manufacturer claims about getting rid of 95% of the noise, but in reality the PS210 BTNC are not that good. We did manage to cut off most of the external noise while listening to music in the city center, but as soon as we turned on the noise cancelling at the local train station, the roaring sound of the incoming train couldn’t be stopped. Nevertheless, the volume of the earbuds is quite high, so you can always turn the music up if you really want to cut off everything from your surrounding.

Phiaton PS210 BTNC are comfortable to wear, have excellent battery life, their sound quality is above average and the noise cancellation is solid. But because of the special shape of these earbuds, they may not be suitable for everyone, so we strongly suggest that you try them before you decide to buy them.

Advantages:

Great noise cancellation

Loud and clear sound

Impressive battery life

Disadvantages:

Remote cable is too short

Earbuds are bulky and can be quite uncomfortable for some users


Sony MDR-NC31EM Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Approximate Price: $55.00

The MDR-NC31EM earbuds come from a famous manufacturer, and because it’s no secret that today’s market offers a lot of different headphones of all kinds, Sony is doing their best to stand out and justify company’s worldwide reputation.

These earbuds have a specific ear tip design that fits the ear and stays in place with a firm, yet comfortable grip, they come in three different sizes and each size has its own color: S – orange, M – green, L – blue. The package also includes an adapter for use with a camera, and a special carrying bag with several pockets. The length of the cord is 1.5 m, which is quite long, we have to admit; if the earphones are connected to the phone in your pocket, the cord can reach your knees, so you can reduce its length with a special cord length regulator thanks to which you can reel up to 40cm. This a very neat feature that we didn’t have the chance to see until now.

Speaking of the noise reduction system, we have to say that Sony has once again proved to be the leading manufacturer of the best noise cancelling earbuds, promising up to 87% of external noise cancellation in loud environment. When you turn on the function without playing the music, you can hear a slight hiss and feel the vacuum that covers your whole ear canal. The noise levels will then gradually decrease and the system works really well, but unfortunately, it somewhat affects the music that is being reproduced; the sound volume is lower, so you can’t hear the mids and highs, while the low frequencies become dominant. External sounds remain audible, but the difference with the noise cancelling function turned on and without is quite obvious, especially the moment when it’s switched on or off. And of course, it’s always nice when you can continue listening to music even when the battery for noise cancellation runs out.

The sound quality is average and we honestly didn’t find anything either commendable, or repulsive about it – it’s just that, average. But if you are not an exquisite audiophile or a professional sound engineer, the MDR-NC31EM earbuds will surely satisfy your needs. These earbuds are perfect for those who like to experiment with various innovations on the market, and who are always willing to try new models from renowned manufacturers.

Advantages:

Powerful noise cancellation

Well-built and durable

Cord length regulator is very handy

Disadvantages:

Poor sound quality

Overall volume is low when noise cancellation is turned on

The control unit is bulky and keeps falling off clothes


Audio-Technica ATH-ANC33iS Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Approximate Price: $79.00

The ATH-ANC33iS vacuum earbuds from the legendary Japanese manufacturer Audio-Technica are ideal for those who are constantly on the move, and yet want to listen to the music without any distractions. Thanks to the advanced active noise cancellation feature, even long trips by subway won’t keep you from enjoying your favorite tracks and audio books.

In addition to earbuds, the package includes a standard airplane adapter, few sets of replaceable ear tips, an AAA battery (for noise reduction control box), and a simple, yet stylish earbud carrying bag in black color.

The cable looks a bit cheap and unreliable, with a length of 1.3 meters and standard 3.5 mm audio jack  (mini jack). The manufacturer also equipped the ATH-ANC33iS with a microphone, which makes it possible to use them as a standard headset. Accordingly, there’s a small button that allows you to answer incoming calls, or control the music playback while driving. Earbuds are made of durable plastic, but as usual, spare rubber nozzles are included in the package. Remember that earbuds should always create a vacuum effect in your ears if you want to fully exploit passive noise isolation, and therefore get better sound quality.

Taking the earbud design and price into consideration, the sound quality is quite satisfying; the ATH-ANC33iS have a solid frequency balance and average sound detail, with impressive bass that is even more accentuated when the noise cancellation is turned on. The resistance is 32 ohms, which allows you to get good sound when using a standard MP3 player, but in order to get the best out of this model it’s recommended to use a more powerful sound source, for example Hi-Fi player and additional amplifier. In general, the ATH-ANC33iS earbuds have great technical characteristics and mediocre sound quality, with noise cancellation that works just fine; we tested the earbuds in more than one occasion, and they proved to be suitable for all kinds of noisy environments, though there’s room for improvement.

The ATH-ANC33iS earbuds are an excellent option for listening to a variety of music styles while travelling or spending time in loud areas. Although they don’t give as much of a high-quality sound like some of the professional-level models, they do a pretty solid job overall and, of course, their price is very reasonable.

Advantages:

Great noise cancellation

Excellent bass

Disadvantages:

Might be uncomfortable after a few hours

Sound quality could be better


Leophile Zero Bluetooth Earbuds

Approximate Price: $99.00

The Leophile Zero earbuds are probably one of the best examples of stylish earphone design and build quality on the market, and all of that for more than a reasonable price. The first time we tried a Leophile product, the EEL neckband headphones, we were astonished by their sound quality and level of comfort, but with the new model Zero you can expect a much better sound and solid active noise cancelling system.

The neckband seems to be of premium quality, made from a combination of plastic and metal, padded with black leather. It’s unbelievably comfortable to wear and doesn’t irritate the skin, it takes all weight from your ears to your shoulders which is great, and of course, it’s way more convenient for operating the noise cancellation than the usual remote controls used for other models. As usual, the package includes spare ear tips, USB charging cable, leather carrying bag and a useful Audio USB to Audio Jack cable. Battery life is commendable: you can expect about 20 hours of playback without noise cancellation, and 15 with this feature is turned on, which is quite impressive for a pair of earbuds. The neckband can also vibrate when you have an incoming call, and this is a cool feature that proved to be very useful in noisy environments.

In comparison to the EEL neckband headphones, the Zero earbuds are not that convenient for sports activities because of their weight, and they’re lacking waterproof feature. On the other hand, the Zero earbuds have better sound quality; bass is now more defined and gives quite a punch, mids and highs are clear and the overall volume is loud without distortion at higher levels. Noise cancellation is above average; it does eliminate some of the external sounds, but if you really want to cut out all of the environmental noise, you just have to turn up the volume. So, the noise cancelling feature works fine, but it’s definitely not the strongest feature, and the equalizer app for sound customization would be a valuable addition.

The bottom line is – we love the Leophile Zero earbuds! They may not be the best noise cancelling earbuds on the market, but they look and feel amazing, their sound quality is more than satisfying and they are sure built to last. If you’re looking for high-quality sound and noise cancellation, you should probably add about $150-200 to their price and look for other models; but if you like the Zero neckband and overall build quality like we do – don’t hesitate to try these earbuds.

Advantages:

Great design and build quality

Solid sound quality for the price

Long battery life

Very comfortable and easy to use neckband

Disadvantages:

Poor noise cancellation

Although it’s great, the neckband is a bit heavy


Phiaton BT 100 NC Earbuds

Approximate Price: $56.00

Here is another neckband-style model that got our attention – the Phiaton BT 100 NC earbuds. We decided to put them in our list mainly because of the superb quality to price ratio,  as they have a lot to offer to those who are looking for a decent pair of earbuds for a low amount of money.

First of all, we love the ear tips which are designed to be safely tucked in the neckband, which of course leaves hollow spots when they’re out of the socket and in use. Ear tips are made of silicone and are quite comfortable to wear, and if you’re not satisfied with the default setting, you can always choose another pair from the set of four spare ear tips which are included in the package. The BT 100 NC earbuds are available in white, blue and gray color, they have an IPX4 certificate which means they’re resistant to water splashes, and they can be used in wired mode, which is a rare feature for Bluetooth models.

Among other useful features, there’s a neckband vibration for incoming calls, and although it sometimes vibrates for unknown reasons, it’s quite handy either way. The earbuds also have an inline microphone of decent quality, which can be used for taking voice memos on iPhone. Battery life is about 10 hours in our experience, although Phiaton promises about 7-12 hours depending on volume levels and the use of noise cancelling feature.

When it comes to noise cancelling, we definitely think it could be better, but at the same time it works okay blocking some of the environmental sounds and nearby voices. Its performance is far from that of the more expensive models, but like we said at the beginning of this review, it’s adequate for the BT 100 NC price range. Sound quality is a different story; these earbuds have an impressive depth of bass and high and mid range clarity. We really enjoyed listening to different types of music on the BT 100 NC, from hard rock and orchestral themes, to modern hip hop and techno.

In conclusion, the Phiaton BT 100 NC earbuds are great choice for undemanding users who are not willing to spend more than $100 for headphones. They will certainly stay on the market for a while because of their perfect balance of quality and affordable price.

Advantages:

Bright sound and deep bass

Interesting design

Splash proof and lightweight

Disadvantages:

Poor noise cancellation

Some may find the bass too “fat”


Libratone Q Adapt Earbuds

Approximate Price: $150.00

Everyone was surprised when Apple introduced its latest model of a very popular Smartphone series without the 3.5 mm audio jack. That’s right, we’re talking about iPhone 7 which started a whole new trend on the market, and as a result, a lot of headphone manufacturers began to advertise their wireless models. Other companies, like Libratone in this case, decided to go with Apple’s Lightning connector for their headphones, and The Q Adapt is its first model without the famous 3.5 mm jack.

The Q Adapt earbuds feature the Danish design at its best; the combination of light metal and rubber coating makes the earbuds very fancy-looking, and incredibly soft and comfortable to wear. The best side of this design is that the earbuds are well-built and weight only 20 g, and the ear tips don’t have to be pushed deep into the ear canal. Once you find the right size out of six pairs of different sized earbuds, you’ll notice that the ear tips are amazingly comfortable to wear, and have a great seal for the ears at the same time.

The noise cancelling, or CityMix how Libratone calls it, can be adjusted and there are four levels to choose from. All of these levels are quite effective and will work nicely in urban environment, but the best part is the clever use of battery; the Q Adapt earbuds use the iPhone battery through a Lightning connector for noise cancelling. The process doesn’t even drain the phone’s battery more than the regular 3.5 mm headphones.

And if you think that all of this was already good enough to spend $150 on the Q Adapt earbuds, we have yet to tell you what we think about their sound quality. Much to our surprise, these earbuds have such an impressive ambience and depth of sound, that for a moment you can easily mistake them for a pair of large closed-back headphones. The sound is very gentle, yet vibrant and clear, while the warm low frequencies fill out the whole space nicely.

Without any doubt, the Q Adapt are worth the price, considering all of the amazing features: elegant design and build quality, as well as enjoyable sound and powerful noise cancellation. We highly recommend them to anyone looking for reliable and comfortable ear buds.

Advantages:

Fantastic design and build quality

Rich sound

Great low-end performance

Solid noise cancelling

Disadvantages:

Made just for iOS devices with a Lightning port  

The highs are sometimes too crisp


Before You Buy Noise Cancelling Earbuds

It would seem that the use of technology of active noise cancelling should significantly improve the life of avid music lovers who want to continue listening to their favorite tracks at work, during long walks and leisure time. The number of models equipped with Active Noise Cancelling is rapidly increasing, and the market offers headphones of various price categories and technical characteristics: from inexpensive compact earbuds to weighty, professional studio monitors. The noise cancellation system is being improved every day, the quality of music playback too, and the manufacturers are always looking for new marketing solutions for their products with ANC.

Nowadays, everyone can examine dozens of online reviews before making a purchase, so we strongly suggest you to spend some time and look for the best noise cancelling earbuds with appropriate features and parameters.

Noise Cancelling And Battery Use

Since the mandatory components of the ANC system are the amplifier and converter, it can’t work without the power source which is usually some type of battery. Many older models don’t function when the noise cancellation is turned off, meaning that the playback stops as soon as the battery is discharged. Newer models are equipped with a system that usually allows you to bypass the ANC and continue to listen to music without using the battery.

As you can see from our reviews, some earbuds work for longer periods of time with the ANC system turned on than without it due to the built-in amplifier. After all, earbuds with ANC are most often used with smartphones or with portable players, because the output power of such devices is low, and the built-in amplifiers contribute to the higher volume and better quality of sound.

Engineers and designers have been working very hard trying to tackle the problem of additional power source, coming up with various solutions such as increasing the battery capacity, using specialized units with standard batteries, and using additional power channels for portable players, which led to a series of non-standard connectors. Libratone Q Adapt earbuds, for example, don’t require an additional power source, as they use the iPhone’s Lightning connector to get power from the Smartphone battery.

How Effective is Noise Cancellation?

First of all, we should say that the ANC system doesn’t work qualitatively in the entire frequency range, but in the interval from about 100 to 1 KHz, which means that earbuds of good quality can reduce noise to -30 dB. In the lowest sound range, which is up to 100 Hz, a person perceives sound vibrations not so much by ears, as through the whole body, so theoretically, there’s no earphones that can’t eliminate all of the external noise completely. In the range above 1 KHz, the system can even add a little noise, like a subtle hissing, which is very quiet and almost impossible to hear under normal conditions. In the range of 100-1000 Hz, the ANC system is capable of significantly reducing the external sounds, so with a pair of high-quality noise canceling earbuds, it’s possible to feel like you’re in a quiet, empty room while you’re in the middle of a crowded city center.

Some earbud models have an amazing noise cancelling system. For example, some of the newest Bose (QuietControl) and Phiaton models (BT 100 NC), as well as older Sony models, especially MDR-NC31EM, feature an incredibly effective ANC system that completely cuts off external noises. At the same time, there’s a lot of budget earbuds on the market (e.g. Symphonized NRG 3.0 and TaoTronics) that are also capable of providing a pretty decent noise cancelling experience, because technology is constantly improving and the ANC isn’t such an exclusive and expensive feature anymore. It all depends on your personal preferences and budget.

Advantages And Disadvantages of Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Despite the sufficient number of advantages, earbuds with active noise cancellation also have some drawbacks.

The advantages include:

  1.  Active noise reduction by itself;
  2. Good passive sound isolation;
  3. No need for increasing the music volume (more than 90 -100 dB) in noisy places, and risking to damage your hearing over time;

Essential disadvantages of ANC systems are:

  1. The need for additional power source for noise reduction;
  2. The possibility of additional negative effects (headache, discomfort during listening);
  3. When used in crowded streets and heavy traffic, the likelihood of an accident is higher because the listener can be unaware of the environment.

Among the reviews about the ANC headphones and earphones, there are some complaints that after long periods of listening to music with the ANC turned on, various side effects are noticeable, for example, headaches, physical and psychological discomfort. This is because 5-7% of subjects who regularly use earphones simply don’t tolerate active noise cancelling system. The main reason for this is that people get used to a certain level of noise during life, and because music significantly differs from other sound stimuli, the difference causes the brain to adapt to the new silent background of the ANC earbuds. In addition, the operation of the active noise cancellation system can be accompanied by a high-frequency noise background, and in a number of situations the long-term effect of this can be accompanied by a headache and discomfort when listening to music.

Official scientific research on this topic has not been conducted yet, but there are no specific reasons for concern at the moment. The number of overall users who have complained about headaches and nausea is insignificant compared to the number of those without any health related issues.

Noise Cancelling Earbuds Are Ideal For Sports Activities

Music plays an important role during sports, fitness and any other type of outdoor activity, but keep in mind that it can be dangerous to run in the street with noise cancelling earbuds, because you should be aware of your surrounding at all times. Some earbuds can be easily removed and operated by the remote control, others can be safely tucked in the neckband. In any case, the most important feature of sports earbuds is the possibility of bending and adjusting to a perfect position. Recently, a lot of compact earbud models with both fixed or flexible neckband have appeared on the market.

Buying a pair of Bluetooth ANC earbuds is always a good option, as they’re usually lighter than wired models and have additional features. There are some models with a built-in MP3 player which basically eliminates the need of having a portable device with you, but the sound quality of these earbuds is significantly lower than of standard models. In general, wireless headphones are predicted to be actively developed in the upcoming years, and the removal of the 3.5 mm audio jack by some large Smartphone manufacturers will significantly contribute to this trend.

Undoubtedly, wireless earbuds give much more freedom of movement and that’s why they’re ideal for all kinds of sports activities. Just don’t forget to recharge the battery before you go out, or take an extra pair of disposable batteries with you depending on the model.

In Conclusion

Earbuds with active noise cancelling system are definitely very convenient for listening to music in a loud, urban environment, as well as during indoor activities during which you either don’t want to be disturbed, or you don’t want to disturb others. They’re ideal for those who are accustomed to listening to music all the time, while working in noisy conditions, or those who spend a lot of time walking, jogging and taking long rides around the city. Even if you don’t want to listen to music, but you still want to get a break from the city noise, you can simply turn on the noise cancelling system and relax in silence in the middle of a crowded metropolitan area.

But aside from the quality of noise cancelling system, make sure that your also satisfied with the overall  quality of your new earbuds. Examine their build-quality and try them to check how tight is the seal on your ears, then check if the bass depth is right for you, and pay attention to how accurately the earbuds can reproduce the sounds of various instruments. There are hundreds of different models, but if you decide to buy the best noise cancelling earbuds following our reviews and tips, rest assured they will serve you well.


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