Investing in the best noise-cancelling earbuds is a serious commitment. You’re not just looking for wireless earbuds that can block out ambient noise effectively. The goal is to purchase something that can also rewards you with high-end sound and special features. And with the category growing immensely since the AirPods Pro came to market, there’s a plethora of options that are an Amazon 1-Click order away from arriving at your front door.
Apple isn’t the only name on the noise-cancelling block that puts out excellent true wireless hardware. The king of ANC, Bose, remains a primetime player, as well as premium audio staples such as Bowers & Wilkins and Sony. Let’s not forget newcomers like Edifier and Samsung either, two brands that have established their place among the category elite.
After testing every major release, we’ve compiled a ranking of the best noise-cancelling earbuds based on performance, price, and purpose. Keep scrolling to see which models guarantee peaceful listening.
What are the best noise-cancelling earbuds?
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In first place on our list of the best noise-cancelling earbuds is the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2. No surprise, considering how Bose improved their class-leading ANC technology and integrated it into a more compact and ergonomic design. The first-gen QC Earbuds wireless earbuds aren’t too far behind, harnessing many of the 700 Headphones’ hallmarks, including adaptive noise-cancelling technology and superb call quality.
A close second is the Sony WF-1000XM4. While nearly flawless, its noise-cancelling capabilities, which are excellent, fall slightly short of the QuietComfort Earbuds. On the other hand, the WF-1000XM4’s battery life, feature set, and sound quality are superior. The fantastic redesign doesn’t get the credit it deserves either.
The Momentum True Wireless 3 comes in third place and marks a huge leap for Sennheiser’s wireless earbuds series. A handful of sound features were added to enhance sound quality and there is adaptive noise cancellation that intelligently tweaks noise reduction to your surroundings. This version has even received a gorgeous facelift with a fancier exterior, new shape, and improved touch controls.
Apple’s latest noise-cancelling earbuds, the AirPods Pro 2, made the cut and introduce a variety of upgrades. Some of these include Adaptive Transparency, Personalized Spatial Audio, and FindMy compatibility with the MagSage charging case to easily locate the device when lost or misplaced. New skin-detecting sensors and touch volume controls simple operation, while increased ANC playtimes extend playtime.
Keep reading for more extensive feedback on the best noise-cancelling earbuds.
The best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy today
Just when we thought Bose couldn’t outdo themselves, they upped the ante with their latest noise-cancellers. The QuietComfort Earbuds 2 improves on everything that made its predecessor an ANC goliath, using new technology called CustomTune to calibrate both noise neutralization and the sound frequency profile to the unique properties of your ears. Results are fantastic, with the buds blocking out slightly more ambient noise than the original QC Earbuds. Furthermore, new features like ActiveSense let you hear music and ambient noise equally well when enabling Aware mode.
The controls don’t demonstrate the best touch accuracy, and the price is higher than any Apple and Sony noise-cancelling earbuds. Then again, no one said category-leading ANC comes cheap.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review.
Bose may have the best buds for ANC, but Sony has the better overall model, and noise cancellation that doesn’t fall too far behind. The new V1 processor enhances performance on all fronts, allowing for more accurate noise neutralization, while clearing up the soundstage for rich and detailed results. 360 Reality Audio gives music an immersive feel and DSEE Extreme upscales lo-fi records for higher fidelity. You’re getting some of the longest playtimes with ANC on at 8 hours, which can be extended to 12 hours when disabling the mode. Features are also plentiful via the Sony Connect Headphones app, which offers numerous ways to customize the buds.
Sony gave the WF-1000XM4 a complete makeover with an oval shape and steampunk-like aesthetic, but its bulkiness and the memory foam tips cause stability issues. For $279, Sony could have included a Find My Buds function as well; a software update should be able to fix that.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review.
The QC Earbuds are an incredible true wireless ANC debut for Bose. They figured out how to stuff its elongated buds with the same ANC technology as their flagship headphones, nearly matching the 700’s elite noise neutralization with half the mics. The same warm sound signature has been carried over as well, with the company’s Active EQ and proprietary drivers manning audio duties. And if you’re someone who spends most of their days on phone calls and video chats, then take solace knowing the QuietComfort Earbuds will treat you better than any other pair of wireless earbuds out there.
Keep in mind that battery life is subpar and enabling any of the listening modes will drain juice quickly. Also, the charging case is massive and carries a smaller number of charges than its formidable competitors.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.
If you’re asking for a model that can go toe-to-toe with the Sony WF-1000XM4 in key categories – ANC, sound, and special features – the Momentum True Wireless 3 is it. Priced lower than Sony’s flagship buds, Sennheiser’s latest creation is an aesthetic and sonic beauty that blends superb hi-res audio into an award-winning design. New features like Sound Check are essential for fine-tuning audio to your ears. Adaptive noise cancellation puts a muzzle on ambient noises across the frequency spectrum, especially high-frequency sounds. We’re also appreciative of the buds receiving aptX Adaptive codec support to dynamically scale the bitrate and adjust what you’re hearing on the fly.
It’s still a mystery why Sennheiser has yet to introduce a Find My Buds function. More disappointing is the call quality. Nonetheless, look past these two shortcomings and you’ll find the Momentum True Wireless 3 is a superb upgrade.
The AirPods Pro 2 replaces the original as Apple’s best noise-cancelling earbuds. ANC is stronger, blocking out close to 90 percent of noises across the frequency spectrum, specifically high-pitched noises. Adaptive Transparency is arguably the category’s best ambient listening mode, engineered to keep listeners aware of their surroundings and reduce harsh environmental noise at the same time. Not to mention Apple offers other cool alternatives such as Conversation Boost (to increase vocals during chats) and Live Listen, which transforms your iPhone into a live mic that captures and sends external sounds to your AirPods.
Sound is enriched, battery life receives a nice boost, and features like Precision Finding are now integrated into the MagSafe charging case to pinpoint the device’s location when lost via Find My (AirPods) app. Talk about a masterful sequel.
Read our full AirPods Pro 2 review.
Edifier equipped their flagship wireless earbuds with superb audio technologies, including 10mm drivers, a Knowles balanced moving iron coil, customizable EQ, and LDAC and LHDC codec support. The latter is beneficial for streaming lossless music at the highest transfer speeds. A low-latency Game Mode also comes part of the package, improving audio synchronization when playing games and watching videos. Noise cancellation is just as impressive and blocks out enough ambient noise to enjoy music in peace. The Ambient Sound mode is also powerful, providing greater awareness of your surroundings and letting you eavesdrop on conversations from several feet away.
Battery life isn’t anything to brag about, especially since it is only 30 minutes longer than the AirPods Pro. The lack of certain modern features like on-ear detection and wireless charging seems like a questionable decision as well. Either way, $89 for this type of sound performance is not something you stumble upon frequently.
Read our full Edifier NeoBuds Pro review.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro replaces the excellent Galaxy Buds Pro as Samsung’s flagship entry. These buds welcome numerous upgrades, including stronger noise cancellation, versatile sound performance, and a revamped design that creates more effective airflow to accommodate longer listening sessions. Samsung’s new custom coaxial 2-way speaker produces wide, detailed sound and 3D Audio gives music and movies a more immersive presence. Perks like PowerShare for reverse wireless charging and one-tap Easy Pair are greatly appreciated, but Samsung’s scalable codec (SSC HiFi) is the model’s killer feature, enhancing sound significantly when listening on a Galaxy smartphone.
Battery life disappointments with only 5 hours of ANC playback, placing it in the same company as the AirPods Pro. Bixby voice activation doesn’t live up to its billing either and often fails to activate when speaking out its wake word phrase (“Hi Bixby”). Despite these flaws, the upside of owning these buds is still positive.
Android-philes wanting the best Google experience possible will want to pair the Pixel Buds Pro with their current Pixel smartphone. Services like Google Assistant, Translate, and Notifications all work flawlessly on these buds. A custom 6-core audio processor was developed to deliver versatile sound, which can also be personalized via Volume EQ; bass and treble frequencies are increased when listening at low volume levels. ANC is just as impressive, blocking out many ambient noises in different settings and reducing wind presence. Pairing is instantaneous on Android devices, thanks to one-tap Google Fast Pair, though the buds also connect quickly to iOS/macOS devices.
Those who are constantly on the move will find the Pixel Buds Pro’s loose fit problematic. On top of that, you’ll want to keep your own USB-C cable on hand because Google does not include one with the purchase.
Read our full Google Pixel Buds Pro review.
The second entry in the LinkBuds series is a major upgrade over the original. Ditching the unique open-ear design for a more traditional oval in-ear design helps deliver fuller, natural sound. Features like DSEE improve low-fi recordings and LDAC codec support streams content at a faster bitrate. Sony’s 360 Reality Audio platform makes select music sound more immersive. On top of that, you get a plethora of audio personalization tools in the companion app to tweak sound to your liking. The noise cancellation is also worth celebrating since it reduces external sounds at a high level, while also granting 20 levels of adjustable ambient noise to increase your awareness of surroundings.
Battery life has always been a strength of Sony’s, and though a single charge holds up well for modern standards, the charging case doesn’t with just 20 hours of extra playtime.
Read our full Sony LinkBuds S review.
JBL continues its hot streak of great ANC true wireless releases, impressing us with the Reflect Mini NC, then the Club Pro Plus, and now its latest offering, the Live Pro Plus. Multi-setting listening modes, wireless charging, and energetic, customizable sound are packed into a familiar design, which can sustain sweat, rain, and splashes. There are three ANC modes engineered for use in different ambient settings, along with one of the strongest Transparency modes available to hear external sounds more distinctly. Battery life shouldn’t be overlooked either with the buds generating 6 hours of playtime with ANC on, which can be extended to 7 hours when turning off all features.
Not everything runs smoothly though, as bass does become overaggressive on boom-heavy records, while connectivity isn’t as reliable as other Bluetooth 5.0-enabled models; you might experience the buds disconnecting and reconnecting sporadically.
See our full JBL Live Pro Plus review.
How to choose the best noise-cancelling earbuds for you
ANC is the most crucial attribute when seeking out the best noise-cancelling earbuds. You want active noise cancellation, not passive noise cancellation. There is a huge difference between the two. PNC uses the design to seal out unwanted noise, whereas ANC uses microphones and speakers to reduce background and surrounding noises. Essentially, look for a pair that can do the latter at a high level and offers an ambient sound mode to increase environmental awareness, when necessary.
Audio quality is second on the checklist. Explore models with powerful drivers and customization settings to personalize how you hear all media formats. Bonuses like an EQ, presets, or spatial audio are greatly appreciated, but not vital.
Be mindful that special features suck up lots of power, so any model that can grant you solid listening times with ANC on is clutch. The industry-standard battery life is 5 hours for noise-cancelling earbuds and 24 hours for charging cases, though you can find models that generate double these playtimes.
What about wireless functionality? More wireless earbuds are supporting Bluetooth 5.0 versions, giving users faster connectivity, increased range (est. 120 meters max), longer battery, and even multipoint technology to pair two audio sources simultaneously. Add digital assistance (Siri, Google, Alexa, Bixby) to this section as well.
How we test the best noise-cancelling earbuds
Our testing process for determining the best noise-cancelling earbuds consists of evaluating several factors, including design, comfort, sound, and value. All selections are compared to similar products in the category in terms of features, fit, and pricing.
Noise-cancelling earbuds are worn over the course of a week for 2 to 3 hours at a time. During this period, we assess comfort, ease of use, and audio quality. Reviewers listen to sample tracks across several music genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, and classical, while analyzing clarity, depth, imaging, and volume. Audiobooks, games, podcasts, and videos are also accounted for.
Furthermore, models featuring the latest audio codecs (e.g., aptX, LDAC) and spatial audio are tested using compatible hi-res streaming services (e.g., Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal).
To learn more about how these services can improve the sound quality on your laptops and mobile devices, here is an expert audio codec FAQ on everything you should know about FLAC files, MP3s, and all other audio file codecs.
Once testing is completed, every model is rated based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that is truly exemplary is awarded an Editor’s Choice.