The best noise-canceling headphones for 2024

For many wireless headphones, active noise cancellation (ANC) is a key feature, especially in the mid-range to premium range. ANC is a popular tool, especially for headphones that you’ll be using in a variety of locations and settings. To help you cut through the noise of all the options on the market, we’ve compiled a list of the best noise-canceling headphones you can buy right now. Evaluated primarily in terms of ANC performance, this guide not only offers suggestions for various scenarios and prices, but also advises what to look for in a spec sheet when shopping.

How to choose the best noise canceling headphones for you


When shopping for a pair of wireless headphones, the first thing you need to decide on is the style. Do you prefer on-ear or over-ear? For the purposes of this guide, I’m focusing on the over-ear style because that’s what most noise-canceling headphones are today. Sure, you can find on-ear models with ANC, but over-the-ear, noise-canceling headphones are more effective at blocking out sound because your ears are completely covered.

Type of noise cancellation

Next, you may want to look at the type of ANC that a range of headphones offer. You’ll come across terms like “hybrid active noise cancellation” or “hybrid adaptive active noise cancellation,” and there are key differences between the two. The hybrid ANC setup uses built-in microphones and on the edge of the device to detect and cancel ambient noise. By analyzing input from both microphones, the hybrid system can handle more noise than “regular” ANC, but does so at a constant level that doesn’t change.

Adaptive ANC takes the hybrid setup a step further by continuously adjusting noise cancellation for changes in your surroundings and any leakage around the earcups’ filling. Adaptive ANC also does a better job with wind noise, which can really kill your vibe when using the headphones outdoors. For the purposes of this best headphones list, I’m only reviewing products with hybrid ANC or adaptive ANC setups, as these are the most effective at noise cancellation.


You’ll also want to check if the ANC system on a prospective headset offers noise cancellation or preset levels. These can help you dial in the amount of ANC you need for different environments, while also helping to save battery life. For example, Master & Dynamic has ANC presets that provide both maximum noise blocking and more efficient power-saving cancellation. Other companies may add sliders to their add-ons that allow you to adjust the ANC level to your liking.

How we test noise-canceling headphones

The main way we test headphones is by wearing them as much as possible. I prefer to do it within a week or two, but sometimes deadlines don’t allow for that. During this time I listen to mixed music and podcastsbut also when using the headset to receive voice and video calls.

Since the battery life for headphones can be 30 hours or more, I drain the battery with looping music and the volume set at a comfortable level (usually around 75 percent). For longer battery counts, I’ll usually turn the headphones off a few times and leave them on while I’m browsing. This simulates real-world usage and saves me from having to constantly monitor the process for more than 24 straight hours.

I use the headphones in a variety of environments, from noisy coffee shops to quiet home offices, specifically to test ANC performance. I use them during air travel when my schedule allows because airplane noise is a huge distraction for both work and leisure. Even if I can’t get on a flight, white noise machines, bathroom fans, vacuum cleaners, etc. I will simulate a constant hum with I also note how well each device blocks out human voices, which is a major stumbling block for many ANC headphones.

ANC-related features are another thing to consider. Here, I thoroughly review the utilities, testing each feature while working with the software. It is double-checked for any improvements or regressions left over from previous models. If the headphones I’m testing are an updated version of the previous model, I’ll spend time reacquainting myself with the old set. That’s the case for the closest competition for every new set of headphones I’ve looked at.

Photo: Billy Steele / Engadget

Link: Bluetooth | ANC type: Hybrid Adaptive | Customizable ANC: Yes | Maximum battery life with ANC: 30 hours | Transparency mode: Yes

Read our full review of the Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony chose two sound chips 1000XM5 the headphones add the V1 Integrated Processor along with the QN1 HD noise-canceling processor chip to prevent distraction. The company equipped the M5 with eight common microphones and doubled the number of distraction-detection microphones. Plus, there’s an automatic ANC optimizer that adjusts in real-time to ensure you’re always getting the best performance, even as the headphones adjust and the noise level around you changes. The result it’s the best noise-canceling setup available in terms of pure sound blocking – and thanks to Sony’s tweaks, the M5 is even better in the frequency range where human voices are included.

Sony has been packing flagship headphones with features for years, so you get a lot of convenience in the 1000XM5 that other companies don’t offer. Things like auto-pause with Speak-to-Chat, Quick Focus mode, 360 Reality Audio support, and DSEE Extreme audio enhancement that combats compression. There are tools available here on other Sony headphones, such as Adaptive Volume Control, which automatically changes settings based on your activity or location, so you can tailor them to your preferences.

Somehow, Sony found a way to enhance the M4’s already excellent sound profile, although the improvement is mostly noticeable in the fine details of songs. There’s more depth, so everything sounds more impressive, but the overall sound also has better clarity. It brings the texture of an acoustic guitar or the subtleties of Jake White’s trademark guitar sounds to your ears in a new way. The headphones also offer plenty of bass, but only boom when needed and not a drop more.


  • High comfort
  • Great sound
  • Strong ANC
  • 30 hours of battery life

  • More expensive than the M4
  • Random sound issues on macOS

$349 on Groupon

Photo: Billy Steele / Engadget

Link: Bluetooth | ANC type: Hybrid Adaptive | Customizable ANC: Yes | Maximum battery life with ANC: 24 hours | Transparency mode: Yes

Read our full review of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra

Bose’s unique approach to spatial audio may be its headline feature QuietComfort Ultra headphonesbut the company did not ignore the ANC about it model. Described as “the quietest” available in any headphone, the ANC here is noticeably better than the Bose 700 and popular QuietComfort headphones. This is partly due to microphone improvements that improve call quality. The changes are especially evident when dealing with the frequency range that is difficult for humans to speak. The company also offers ANC, a transparency mode, and presets that mix its spatially immersive sound, allowing you to quickly change the sound to suit your surroundings.

Although the surround sound feature is a bit of a mess, the backup tuning in the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones is still good – even before you turn on Immersive Audio. Bose generally lags behind the competition in terms of sonic prowess, but these headphones show that the gap is closing. There’s a dash more bass to boost the standard sound profile, which is warmer, clearer and more engaging than previous Bose models. When Immersive Audio hits, it’s amazing. But the company relies more on signal processing than custom content, so results vary.


  • Excellent ANC
  • Improved audio
  • Clearer transparency mode
  • Comfortable

  • Expensive
  • Immersive Audio is inconsistent
  • No USB-C audio

$429 at Adorama

Photo: Billy Steele / Engadget

Link: Bluetooth | ANC type: Hybrid | Customizable ANC: Yes | Maximum battery life with ANC: 35 hours | Transparency mode: Yes

Read our full review of the Sony WH-CH720N

The WH-CH720N won’t win any design awards, but what do you get worth some aesthetic sacrifices for the price. Due to the all-plastic construction, the CH720N are super light and comfortable, allowing you to wear them for hours at a time. The ANC isn’t as robust as in more expensive headphones, but it’s above average for products in this price range. Throw in the customization and handy transparency, and you’ve got a solid device that costs just $150, which regularly costs around $100.

In addition to decent noise cancellation for a small investment, the CH720N has 35 hours of battery life, physical controls, DSEE upscaling, and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio. You can also adjust both EQ and surround sound. Plus, the company’s always-on Adaptive Sound Control can automatically change sound settings based on your activity or location. Finally, the overall sound quality is really impressive for headphones at this price. The audio has plenty of detail and subtlety; you can really hear the gritty texture of distorted guitars and clean acoustic instruments.


  • At an affordable price
  • It is light and comfortable
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Some useful features

  • The ANC struggles in certain environments
  • Lots of plastic
  • No automatic pause
  • Advanced features are reserved for more expensive models

$150 on Amazon

Photo: Billy Steele / Engadget

Link: Bluetooth | ANC type: Hybrid Adaptive | Customizable ANC: Yes | Maximum battery life with ANC: 60 hours | Transparency mode: Yes

Read our full review of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Of course, there are headphones that will last longer Sennheiser’s Momentum 4 Wireless, but they don’t offer the combination of battery life, ANC, and sound quality you’ll find here. In this model, the company has made major improvements in active noise cancellation, catching up with competitors such as Bose and Sony. In particular, the ANC in the Momentum 4 handles constant distractions more effectively than previous models in the series.

I don’t care for the Sennheiser design presented In Momentum 4, the company abandoned a completely new look in favor of something more generic and plastic. However, the change comes with the bonus of increased convenience. You’ll also get great sound quality, in fact it’s some of the best you’ll find in wireless headphones. There’s noticeable depth to the audio profile, with a wide soundstage that complements all genres. You may even discover finer details that you previously missed. And of course 60 hours of battery life with the ANC That’s twice what many flagship headphones offer today.


  • An impressive 60 hours of battery life
  • Better ANC performance
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Improved comfort

  • The pinch gesture seems unnecessary
  • Gone is the great design
  • Automatic on/off work is required

$300 on Amazon

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