The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones For Airplanes, Gaming, and Music 2023

The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones For Airplanes, Gaming, and Music 2023

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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-cancelling 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.  

2023 Noise-Cancelling Headphone Deals

We’ve made it easy to find the best deals on noise-cancelling headphones. Our deals update daily so you don’t miss a beat, and we’ve got your back through with our price match guarantee, 60-day returns, easy financing, and free shipping. Don’t see what you want on sale? Give us at 1.866.961.7781 or chat with an expert.

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1. Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Overall: 

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones

$398.00

The WH-1000XM5s (“XM” for short) are over-ear, closed-back and wireless. They’re 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. This model replaces Sony's best-selling WH-1000XM4 and the WH-1000XM5 boasts a handful of upgraded features. They have a slightly larger carrying case, with a storage case inside for cables or a portable headphone amplifier. The XM5s come with a USB-C to USB-A for charging and a 1/8" analog audio cable. They've got a different form factor - a lay-flat design, more soft material of the top of the band to go further down and the band is thinner, while weighing slightly less than the XM4s. Sony improved the touch reaction and controls with the XM5s, too.

The WH-1000XM5s last around 30 hours with noise-cancelling switched on, or around 40 hours with the tech switched off. The USB-C port is for charging only, and a 3-minute quick-charge will give you three hours of playtime - that alone makes these headphones worth a look. The new WH-1000XM5s feature 4 noise-cancelling sensors on each earcup, which means more environmental data Sony can use to increase performance. The WH-1000XM5 come equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 and aptX HD for processing hi-resolution audio up to 24bit/96kHz – Sony’s own best-in-category proprietary format.

But the biggest two reasons they made our “best” list: they sound absolutely incredible – and after years of incremental progress, Sony’s noise-cancelling tech now rivals their competitors. So yes, it’s a tough choice, but easily solved with a coin toss.

Also check out our in-depth Sony WH-1000XM5 Noise Canceling Headphones review.

WH-1000XM5 Wireless Over-Ear Noise Canceling Headphones

  • Dimensions: 8.85" x 10.36" x 3.03" (W x H x D)
  • Weight: 0.55 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Style: Over-Ear, Wireless
  • Noise Cancelling: Yes
  • Battery Life: Up to 30 Hours
  • Cable Length: 3.94 ft
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$999.00

For the avid traveler, it’s important to have a pair of headphones that can make your trip more enjoyable. We deemed the Mark Levinson No. 5909 headphones as our choice for travel headphones because of their versatility. Crafted from premium materials, the No. 5909s offer up to 34 hours of playback, a nice selection of adaptors (including an airplane audio adaptor), and a hard-shell case.

These headphones are durable; the No. 5909s are constructed with core aluminum components and the earcup pads are replaceable. If you’ve ever owned and loved a pair of headphones for years, you know that the earcups will eventually start to show signs of wear, and this is a great way to keep up with your investment.

Another determining factor for travel headphones is how they feel, especially on longer trips. The No. 5909s’ soft, black leather headband and leather earcups feel luxurious and are comfortable in all the right places, plus the earcups provide plenty of room for your ears to breathe and stay cool.

And now for the most important feature for traveling: noise cancellation. The No. 5909s have an array of (4) microphones to allow for adaptive active noise cancelling. They have three different settings of Active Noise Cancellation (depending on the level of noise in your environment) and an Ambient Aware mode that lets you easily talk to those around you without having to remove your headphones (which comes in handy when flight attendants stop by your row).

As expected with any pair of premium headphones, Mark Levinson did not skimp on materials or design, with a serious focus on comfort - making the No. 5909s a great packable travel companion for music lovers on the move that will appreciate the incredible level of audio reproduction.

Want to know more? Check out our full review of the Mark Levinson No. 5909 headphones .

No. 5909 Premium High-Resolution Wireless Adaptive ANC Noise Cancelling Headphone

  • Dimensions: 7.9" x 8.1" x 2.6" (W x H x D)
  • Weight: 0.75 lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Style: Over-Ear, Closed-Back Wireless
  • Noise Cancelling: Yes 
  • Battery Life: Up to 30 Hours
  • Cable Length: 4.1'
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$799.00

Focal headphones are a statement piece; they stand out visually just as much as they do audibly. And the Bathys are no exception. They are both fashionable and functional. Making the Bathys travel-friendly was a primary concern for Focal. They had a target weight of 350g, so components were designed and decided on specifically for that point. The Bathys are made with a Black/Silver aluminum and magnesium construction and have been designed to share the same aesthetics as their fellow Focal closed-ear headphones, like the Celestee or Stellia

For the sound, they chose to invest in magnesium for the driver and then use aluminum mechanical construction. The Bathys are tuned to the Focal sound so the naturally are dynamic. They reproduce a nice full sound and when the bass hits it’s present but not too boomy. You can listen to them for hours at end without feeling ear fatigue. However, you don’t have to listen to them loud to enjoy them.

Technologically, the Bathys are Bluetooth 5.1 with multipoint (meaning it can connect to multiple devices so you can pick up a call from your phone and listen to music from your computer) and they’ve moved to some of the latest Bluetooth Codecs. The Bathys have the standard SBC connection (which is universal among Bluetooth headphones), AAC for iPhone connectivity, and AptX as well as AptX Adaptive for Android devices (with AptX Adaptive being capable of up to 24bit/96kHz sources). The Bathys have 8 microphones for their Active Noise Canceling and they can be used for phone calls or virtual meetings. There (4) mics per ear cup. (1) for Bluetooth. (1) for ANC and (2) set inside to monitor the output of headphones to reduce total harmonic distortion per ear cup.

The Bathys are an exceptional set of Bluetooth headphones and sound great wirelessly. But if you want to be extra, Focal created a DAC mode. Just connect the Bathys to your phone or computer via a USB-C cable, and you can listen to music up to 24bit/192kHz. Focal wanted to make sure they weren’t just making one of the best Bluetooth headphones on the market, but they wanted to make sure the Bathys didn’t disappoint if you went deep into listening to them.

Check out Brian's full review of the Bathys for more details and nerdy specs.

Bathys Over-Ear Hi-Fi Bluetooth Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancelation

  • Dimensions: 9.45" x 8.46" x 3.35" (W x H x D)
  • Weight: 0.77 lbs
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Style: Over-Ear, Closed-Back, Hi-Res, Wireless
  • Noise Cancelling: Yes
  • Battery Life: N/A
  • Cable Length: 3.94' (1.2m)
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4. The Best Headphones for Phone Calls: 

Bose QuietComfort 45 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones

$329.00

Few noise cancelling headphones can eliminate the demanding conditions of a phone call on the go, 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 2023 Gear Guide.

Many other features make these headphones ideal for phone calls, 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.

QuietComfort 45 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones

  • Dimensions: 6.18" x 7.68" x 3.15" (W x H x D)
  • Weight: 0.98 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Style: Over-Ear, Closed-Back Wireless
  • Noise Cancelling: Yes 
  • Battery Life: Up to 24 Hours
  • Cable Length: 42"
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5. Best Designed Noise-Cancelling Headphones: 

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2

$399.00

We’ve said it before: Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) is the luxurious, beautifully crafted, music-is-your-life alternative to industry mass producers like Sony. And though a pair of B&W Px7 S2s is typically a little more expensive than Sony – and not as good at noise cancelation (though still excellent) – they soar, musically, by comparison. Some B&W fans claim their Px7 S2s are on par with headphones that cost three and four times as much, and they may have a case.

The Px7 S2’s ear-cups are made with memory foam and do a good job of walling-off noise from the outside world. The buttons are easy to find by feel, and they’re tactile as opposed to “touch,” which many customers prefer. Also, according to B&W, Px7 S2s are the first headphones to support Qualcomm's aptxHD Adaptive codec, which is designed to deliver robust, low latency, high resolution wireless technology. Meaning: higher fidelity music overall (compared to Bluetooth) and no stalling when gaming or streaming hi-res, 4K video. (See the complete spec list on our Px7 S2 product page.) If you like the look of the PX7 S2, but are looking for Active Noise Cancellation, you'll need to step up to the PX8 to get that feature. 

Though it’s hard to describe how music sounds under different headphones, we listened to Cody Fry’s “Want Me Back" on B&W’s Px7 S2s and they were so clear, rich, and spacious – there’s no going back.

Also check out our B&W Px7 comparison review

Px7 S2 Wireless Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones

  • Dimensions: 9.2" x 2.5" x 7.45" (W x H x D)
  • Weight: 0.68 lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Style: Over-Ear, Closed Back, Wireless
  • Noise Cancelling: Yes
  • Battery Life: Up to 30 Hours, 7 hours with 15 min charge
  • Cable Length: N/A
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Still not sure? We got this.

If you’re still not sure which noise-cancelling 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...

World Wide Stereo is home to some 90+ industry-leading audio/video professionals who love what they do and talking about it, too. We opened our doors in 1979, gained a small yet die-hard following, won a slew of national awards for everything from killer car audio installations to customer service, grew the business online… and today we enjoy a faithful following of like-minded TV-watching, music-listening, gear-loving defenders of fun for the whole family. Our only rule: no one leaves unhappy.

Plus, shopping with us means you get Happiness Guarantee, which includes perks like free shipping, 60-day returns, award-winning support, and service long after the sale — always. Hence our rule: "no one leaves unhappy."

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