Loved by office workers, commuters, students, and all other people who need to have a way how to separate themselves from their noisy surroundings, noise cancelling headphones are a worthy investment that can help you be more productive, achieve your goals faster, and unwind with your favorite music whenever necessary.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones
|Sennheiser||Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2.0 Headphones||499.95|
|Bose||Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones||349|
|Bose||Bose QuietComfort 20 Earbuds||249|
|Audio-Technica||Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B QuietPoint||99.95|
|Monoprice||Monoprice Noise Cancelling Headphones||79.99|
In the recent years, the noise cancelling headphone market has exploded in size, and it almost seems that every company that has anything to do with electronics or music has released a model or two. Because we don’t want you to get lost in this jungle, we have selected top 5 best noise cancelling headphones for your Android smartphone. The headphones on this list greatly reduce the amount of outside noise, can be worn for long periods of time without any comfort issues, and, above all, sound utterly fantastic.
Noise Cancellation Versus Noise Isolation
You don’t have to spend a long time shopping for noise cancelling headphones for you to notice that manufacturers use two potentially confusing terms to describe headphones with the ability to reduce the amount of outside noise: noise cancellation and noise isolation.
Would you be surprised if we told you that all headphones are, to some extent, noise isolating? You could be, if you didn’t know what it really means. Noise isolation refers to the physical ability of headphones to block sound from reaching your ears. Those huge earmuffs used by construction workers when using loud tools or machinery actually offer some of the best noise isolation that you can get. The same is true when it comes to those cheap earplugs that some people like to use when travelling by plane.
In both cases, a thick layer of acoustic foam stops sound, which is just a mechanical wave of pressure, dead in its tracks or makes it much quieter. And since all headphones and earbuds introduce some sort of barrier between the outside world and your ears, marketers can call just about any headphones “noise isolation”, no matter how effective they really are.
But noise cancelling headphones work differently. First patented by Paul Lueg and later used to cancel the noise in helicopter and airplane cockpits, noise cancelling headphones use microphones to record ambient noise, which is subsequently analyzed by various algorithms to generate a signal that will either phase shift or invert the polarity of the original signal.
The headphones then play a sound wave that’s, essentially, a mirror image of the unwanted sound, thus effectively cancelling it altogether. It’s like when the good guys save the galaxy in a sci-fi movie by shooting a matter-antimatter annihilation weapon at the bad guys. Except that it’s a very real technology that has been over the years perfect by companies such as Bose, Audio-Technica, or Sennheiser.
Because the noise cancelling technology is powered by complex electronic components that require electricity to function, all noise cancelling headphones come with a built-in battery. Most modern models will continue functioning even when the battery is completely depleted, but the noise cancellation feature will always stop working.
Bose QuietComfort 35
Founded in 1964 by Dr. Amar G. Bose, Bose currently employs well over 11,000 people and produces some of the best noise cancelling headphones. The Bose QuietComfort 35 are a new wireless version of their flagship model, Bose QuietComfort 25. They kept the same proven design, but the real question is whether they also sound as good as the predecessor.
To answer that question, we can unanimously say that they do. Bose is using the latest Bluetooth technology to wirelessly deliver excellent sound, and they also take advantage of NFC for fast and simple pairing. Users can choose between wired and wireless listening, with both modes being indistinguishable in terms of sound quality.
The bass extends very deep but never feels bloated. There’s just enough of it to make the music feel lively and enjoyable. Lovers of roaring bass might feel a bit disappointed at first, but it takes just a few seconds to adjust the bass using an equalizer in your Android smartphone or tablet. Suddenly, the QC 35 become able to stand face-to-face with headphones from Beats or Koss. The mids and highs are clear, accurate, and have this lovely, airy feeling to them, courtesy of the spacious soundstage.
The noise cancelling technology that made Bose famous has seen some minute improvements, as well. The dual-microphone system captures outside noise and converts it to electronic information, which is then processed inside the headphones. You get the best results on a plane, inside a train, or when simply walking outside. Human voices are probably the most problematic for the noise cancelling technology, but that applies to all noise cancelling headphones, not just the QuietComfort 35.
What’s impressive is that Bose manage to squeeze up to 20 hours of wireless listening on a single change. Even more, charging the headphones back to their original capacity takes just a little over 2 hours. How do you know how much battery power you have left? The headphones tell you every time you turn them on.
Since these are high-end headphones, after all, the Bose QuietComfort 35 come with an impressive set of accessories. The highlight is the hard-shell cover with an internal pocket for the provided 3.5 aux cable, USB charging cable, and airplane adapter.
- State-of-the-art noise cancellation
- Excellent comfort
- Wired mode
- Slightly heavier than the QC 25
Bose QuietComfort 20
The Bose QuietComfort 20 are the closest thing you can get in terms of noise cancellation to the QC 35. There are other in-ear noise cancelling headphones on the market, but nothing tops what Bose’s engineers came up with here.
Bose ships the QC 20 in a stylish cardboard box protected by a paper sleeve. Once you remove the sleeve and pop the earbuds from the plastic tray they rest in, you immediately notice their lightweight construction and remarkable build quality. At 1.5 ounces, all plastic materials feel surprisingly stiff and strong. There are no parts that flex where they shouldn’t, no leftovers from the injection molding process, or defects in the black and silver finish. All you get is excellent craftsmanship and great attention to detail.
The same attention to detail carries over to the sound of the QC 20. If you are on the fence whether you should get the larger QC 35 or this compact alternative, sound quality – and bass in particular – is definitely not what will help you decide. For such a small pair of earbuds, their sound is surprisingly big. We would even say that the bass, at times, even outshines the QC 35 when it comes to its impact and depth. Where the QC 35 have the upper hand is the size of their soundstage. Still, we have yet to meet a single person who would find the Bose QuietComfort 20 inadequate for daily music listening.
There are two ways Bose could have incorporated the noise cancelling electronic components into the earbuds. First, they could have integrated the components directly into each individual earbud, just like you see on Bluetooth earphones. Second, they could have packed everything together and placed it somewhere along the cable. Bose went with the second option, and we think they’ve made a good choice.
The control pod is located a few centimeters above the “L-shaped” jack, and it’s just the right size for you not to be constantly reminded of its presence. Inside the box is a Lithium battery, which is rechargeable via a microUSB port. The battery lasts up to 16 hours of uninterrupted playback, and it takes approximately two hours to charge it to its maximum capacity. That’s quite an achievement for earbuds with advanced noise cancelling functionality.
- Great sound quality
- Long battery life
Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2.0
Sennheiser’s experience from the on-ear Momentum headphones has served the company well when they were designing this new wireless model. A welcomed new addition is the ability to fold the headphones for storage purposes into the provided carrying case. But don’t expect that you will want to keep the headphones folded for too long. Their timeless design and ample cushioning invite you to put them on and experience their sound.
And what a sound it is. There’s a good reason why Sennheiser is widely known as the go-to brand for serious music listeners and audiophiles. After all, the Sennheiser HE 1 is considered to be the best sounding headphone system in the world. Mind you, the world of high-end audio equipment can sound completely differently than what you are used to from low- or mid-range headphones and earbuds.
For starters, the sound is balanced and accurate. That means no bloated bass or artificially enhanced sub-bass. The Momentum 2.0 Wireless present music just as it was recorded. Nowhere else is this more apparent than when you listen to underground hip-hop. So many producers get it wrong and create harsh-sounding mixes with sibilance. But when you do find an album that has been produced by someone renowned for his or her trained ear and attention to detail, the listening experience is worth every penny.
The bad news is that we are talking about a lot of pennies. The Momentum 2.0 from Sennheiser are more expensive than the QC 35, and even those are considered to be expensive. At least, the cost is well-justified by the fantastic build quality that makes you feel like you are using a truly premium product. The large earcups use very fine pleather to make your ears feel like they are being cuddled with softness from every angle.
All controls for the active noise cancellation are located directly on the earcups, and there’s even a 3.5mm connector for the provided aux cable, allowing you to switch to wired listening. When you do, the maximum loudness increases, but the audio quality stays just as great as it is when listening over Bluetooth. The only difference, when compared to noise cancelling headphones from Bose, is that the Momentum 2.0 don’t allow you to turn the noise cancellation off.
- Folding design
- Sturdy build quality
- Capable noise cancellation
- Super sound quality
- Wired option
- Noise cancellation is always on
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B QuietPoint
After three rather expensive noise cancelling headphones, the Audio-Technical ATH-ANC7B QuietPoint are the first truly affordable pair of headphones on this list. In this case, affordable certainly doesn’t mean low-quality – quite the opposite. The ATH-ANC7B have what it takes to stand face to face with the QC 35 from Bose or the Momentum 2.0 from Sennheiser. That’s because Audio-Technica has cut corners in places where you are least likely to notice.
There are no fancy, expensive materials anywhere on these headphones – everything is made from plastic and pleather. But not from just any plastic. The ATH-ANC7B are actually tough as a nail, and the beautiful black and silver finish makes them look much more expensive than what they actually cost.
The earcups can rotate to better accommodate the shape of your head, and the soft cushioning prevents discomfort even after multiple hours of uninterrupted music listening. You can even fold the headphones flat for storage and travel. The included case is sturdy enough to protect them even when you happen to drop them on a hard surface.
Compared to older models from Bose, the advantage of the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B is the fact that they keep on playing even when you turn off the noise cancelling functionality. The sound becomes slightly muffled, but not to the point where you would want to take the headphones off your head.
A very enjoyable sound is delivered by a pair of large, 40mm drivers with neodymium magnet systems for impactful bass and extended treble. The sound is slightly less accurate than what you get from the Momentum 2.0, but that doesn’t make it less fun. These are the sort of headphones that you can use with just about any music genre and be rest assured that they will always make you smile and nod to the rhythm.
- Effective noise cancellation
- Powerful bass
- Not as detailed as some of the most expensive models
Monoprice Noise Cancelling Headphones
Monoprice is an American online retailer that sells generic branded consumer electronics, always striving to achieve a very good balance between price and quality. The company was founded in 2002 and is currently based in Rancho Cucamonga, California. They are known for their incredibly inexpensive in-ear headphones that rival models that often cost 10x as much. The Monoprice Noise Cancelling Headphones are their take on the noise cancelling market, which is currently dominated by premium brands, such as Bose and Sennheiser.
So, what do they bring to the table? A price under $100 and respectable noise cancellation. Powered by a single AAA battery, the Monoprice headphones last up to 50 hours on a single cell and can also be used in passive mode. The noise cancellation isn’t as effective as what you get from the more expensive competition, but it’s still effective enough to make a long day in the office bearable and daily commute more enjoyable.
As for the sound quality, it’s decent. Some compromises clearly had to be made, but nothing that should deter you from giving these a chance. The bass comes with a good kick and highs are not fatiguing even after hours of listening.
- Bargain price
- Good build quality
- Detachable cable with inline remote
- Glossy finish
- Average sound quality