The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones of 2021
Last updated on December 15, 2021
No Noise Here. Just Great Sound.
We asked our World Wide Stereo audio experts to apply their decades of experience to pick today’s best over ear noise-canceling headphones and here is the list they came up with broken into their individual winning categories.
Questions along the way? Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and talk to one of our audio technicians at 1.866.961.7781 or email us here. We love this stuff and want to help.
Here Are Our Picks for the Best Noise-Canceling Headphones of 2021:
The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones Overall:
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones For Travel:
Bose QuietComfort 45 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones
The Best Designed Noise-Canceling Headphones:
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Phone Calls:
Bose Headphones 700 Noise-Canceling Bluetooth Headphones
Best Wireless Studio Headphones:
Shure AONIC 50 Wireless Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones
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$399.00 – $499.00
Save: $100.00 (25%)
Regular Price: $399.00
Save: $20.00 (5%)
1. Best Noise-Canceling Headphones Overall:
The Sony WH1000XM4 headphones are super comfortable, not too tight, mushy in all the right spots, and the touch-sensitive buttons and voice control (Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant) are as good as it gets. Plus, they sound freaking awesome. This model replaces Sony's best-selling WH1000XM3 and, while they look similar, the WH1000XM4 boast a handful of upgraded features. They're a tad lighter, the earcups are a little cushier and about 10% larger. They've got a host of "smarter" technology built-in that can better tune and optimize for adaptive sound control. They can connect to two devices – such as your laptop and phone – simultaneously. And, they feature Sony's brand new audio processor – the DSEE Extreme.
Both the XM3s and XM4s last around 30 hours with noise-cancelling switched on, or around 38 hours with the tech switched off. Both have USB-C charging too. A 10-minute quick-charge will give you five hours of playtime - that alone makes these headphones worth a look. The new XM4s feature Wearing Detection, which automatically pauses the music when you take them off - extending the battery life even further than the XM3.
- Battery Life: Up to 30 hours
2. The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones For Travel:
Few noise cancelling headphones can eliminate the demanding conditions of a road trip, but the Bose Quiet Comfort 45 headphones excel at this particular challenge. When our experts travel, they tell us that they spend almost as much time talking with friends, family, travel agents, and us (stuck back at the showroom), as they do listening to their favorite tunes. If this is true for you, you’ll appreciate the new four-microphone system, which will make your voice so clear that your friends at the other end of calls will have a hard time believing you’re traveling. Bose has upgraded their noise cancelling as well, so that your side of the conversation will have virtually no extraneous sounds in it, just your voice. If you’re trying to enjoy music in a busy cafe or a crowded terminal, the Quiet Comfort 45s will do a fantastic job of targeting and eliminating the sound of voices around you. If you do need to hear instructions from airport personnel, the new Aware Mode will let those announcements through, so you won’t miss your flight. You can read more about the QC45s in our Best Headphones of 2021 Gear Guide.
Many other features make these headphones ideal for travel, not the least of which being the amazing 24-hour battery life. And even that can be easily extended by using the headphones in wired mode with your devices. You can also get an extra two-and-a-half hours of battery life from a quick 15-minute charge. They’re also remarkably comfortable, and with double-hinged ear cup holders, they fold up tightly to take up much less space in your luggage. With physical buttons, we think these will be much easier to control in the confines of a small airplane seat when the cabin lights are out. These cans can’t wait to join you on your next adventure.
- Battery Life: Up to 24 hours
3. Best Designed Noise-Canceling Headphones:
The PX7 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones are designed for you to experience music at its highest level. Bowers & Wilkins has crafted some of the best-sounding noise-canceling over-ear headphones on the market. Discover a pair of wireless headphones that are so well-crafted you'll never want to take them off. With these headphones, everything is designed to be seamless, enhancing the way you traditionally listen to your music. The PX 7 obeys your every move. Lift an ear cup to hear what’s happening around you, and the music automatically stops. The 43mm drivers in the PX 7 are the largest in our headphone collection, built and tuned by the same engineers behind the Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond speakers used in Abbey Road Studios. These headphones have a 30 hour battery life. You can do a lot in 30 hours. You could fly from California to London and back, with some time to spare. You could also start a band or see every stage at the festival, twice. Listen uninterrupted on a single battery charge. And if that’s not enough, a 15 minute quick charge gets you six more hours.
4. Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Phone Calls:
Save: $20.00 (5%)
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 delivers everything you expect — and things you never imagined possible. Bose has redefined what headphones can do, so you can get the most out of your smartphone while it stays in your pocket. Keep your head up to the world with easy access to voice assistants — perfect for music, navigation, weather, and more. Plus, you can confidently take a call or speak to your voice assistant anywhere. The headphones feature a four-microphone system that picks up and isolates your voice while canceling the noise around you. It adapts to your surroundings so you’ll hear, and be heard better than ever — even in noisy environments. They are optimized for the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa so that you can choose the right service for you. Bose has even improved on what it is most known for. Instead of one level of noise-canceling, these have 11 — so you can truly master your environment. As you increase the noise cancellation, you incrementally minimize the distractions you hear in loud places. Alternatively, decrease noise canceling to the point where you hear the world as if you weren’t wearing headphones at all. For quick interruptions, use Conversation Mode, which pauses the music and utilizes the microphone system to let surrounding noise in with the press of the button — perfect to quickly place a coffee order or speak to a coworker.
Check out our full review of the Bose 700 headphones here.
- Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
5. Best Wireless Studio Headphones:
$399.00 – $499.00
Save: $100.00 (25%)
Shure’s expertise in professional sound shows in these premium, high-quality headphones. The first-rate sound quality is enhanced by several helpful features. First, the Aonics support the latest codecs that facilitate the playback of high-definition, full-spectrum uncompressed audio. Second, Shure’s companion mobile app, ShurePlus Play Mobile, is itself a music player that handles uncompressed audio formats. In addition, Play Mobile has a graphic equalizer (EQ) mode that is intuitive yet effective, allowing you to dial in the EQ curves that suits your ears and music — it’s one of the best graphic EQ apps we’ve seen for headphones.
Third, the folks at Shure know what they’re doing when it comes to driver design and construction. Most music fans are likely to be very happy with the default EQ settings: The bass is warm and well-defined, but not overpowering. Highs are clear, and the sound field separates parts but keeps the blend. The headphone cups have a real leather covering, which is gentle on the ears, yet isolates you nicely. Shure’s active noise cancelling (ANC) is excellent, right up there with the leading ANC headphones. An Environment Mode pipes in sound around you, so you can stay aware of your surroundings.
The Aonics may be made of plastic, but the build quality and design are fantastic. These look and feel like high-end audio devices. They don’t fold down at all, and their carrying case is one of the largest headphone cases you’ll find. Even so, these would be ideal headphones for commuting, long flights, working in noisy office environments, or just relaxing with your music anywhere.
- Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
Still not sure? We got this.
If you’re still not sure which noise-canceling headphones are best for you, give us a call or send us an email. Tell us a little about how you will use them, and we will help you pick the perfect pair of headphones for you.
One more thing:
A last word of advice: buy your new headphones from a trusted dealer. The more experience and longer the track record, the better. A good dealer will take care of you in the event anything happens.
Speaking of trusted dealers...
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