The 9 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones of 2021
Block off any unwanted noise
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When working in noisy environments, the right noise-canceling headphones allow you to work, take calls, or participate in video conferences without getting distracted. There are many different styles of headphones that fit almost any preference and need: over-ear, on-ear, and earbuds. Most headsets feature built-in microphones that are optimized for use with virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa. They also feature rechargeable batteries that can give you hours' or days' worth of use before needing to be plugged in—some even come with audio cables for hardwired connections and infinite power when charging isn't possible. That said, we've gathered our top picks to help you choose the right noise-canceling headphones for your work needs.
Best Overall: Sony WH1000XM3
The Sony WH1000XM3 headphones feature industry-leading noise cancellation technology: they intelligently listen to ambient sound to boost noise cancellation when needed. Each audio driver has a frequency response range from 4Hz to 40,000Hz for the best range of sound possible. The headphones weigh just over 8 ounces and feature cushioned ear cups and headband for all-day comfort.
The built-in microphone is Alexa-enabled, giving you hands-free controls over your smartphone, tablet, or computer. With Quick Attention Mode, you can cover the right ear cup to automatically lower the volume of your conference calls or media. The rechargeable battery gives you up to 30 hours of listening time, and a 10-minute quick charge gives you up to 5 hours of life—perfect for when you need power in a pinch.
Best Wireless: Bose QuietComfort 35 II
A leader in noise-canceling headphones, Bose's QuietComfort 35 II model is one of the best wireless headsets in the market. These headphones feature three levels of noise cancellation with the ability to switch between them, so you can adjust your audio to your environment. The dual, noise-rejecting microphone array gives you clear, crisp audio for taking calls or video conferencing. The headset uses Bose's new Bose AR technology to offer the most lifelike 3D audio listening experience possible.
The headphones' action button can be set to activate Alexa virtual assistant for expanded hands-free controls. There is also a multi-function button that can be used to mute the microphones or access your mobile device's assistant, like Siri. With Bluetooth connectivity and the Bose Connect app, you can use this headset with iOS and Android mobile devices or Bluetooth-enabled computers. Plus, the rechargeable battery gives you up to 40 hours of listening time.
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Best Earbuds: Bose Quietcontrol 30
If you prefer earbud-style headsets, opt for the Bose QuietConrol 30. With both Bluetooth and NFC pairing, you can use these earbuds with mobile devices and Bluetooth-enabled desktops and laptops. You can customize your levels of noise cancellation to suit your environment, and the volume-optimized equalizer app gives you a clean, rich sound no matter how loud the audio is.
The rechargeable battery gives you up to 10 hours of listening time, while a 15-minute quick charge gives you up to 1 hour of use. Even more, the noise-rejecting dual-microphone array lets you take calls with clear audio. The earbuds weigh just 2.24 ounces and come with three different sizes of silicone tips for maximum comfort and a secure fit.
Best for Travel: Srhythm NC75 Pro
For those who frequently travel for work, consider the Srhythm NC75 Pro headset. These noise-canceling headphones cancel out up to 92 percent of ambient noise, giving you clean, rich sound without distractions. The built-in microphone is compatible with both Siri and Google Assistant, giving you hands-free control over your smartphone, mobile device, or laptop. With Bluetooth connectivity, you won't have to worry about dropped signals or disconnecting from your devices.
The rechargeable battery gives you up to 40 hours of listening time, and a 5-minute quick charge gives you 2 hours of use; a 3.5mm audio cable is included for a hardwired connection when needed. The ear cups rotate up to 100 degrees and the frame folds up for compact travel. There is also an airplane power adaptor included so you can use your headset on domestic or international flights.
Best for Comfort: Bose 700
Designed for lasting comfort, Bose 700's soft ear cups are made from a synthetic protein leather to reduce clamping pressure and strain on your head. The noise-canceling headphones are water-resistant so you won't have to worry about an accidental spill ruining them. The headband is made of stainless steel for durability and strength, though it also features the same synthetic protein leather cushioning for all-day comfort.
The built-in microphone is optimized for use with both Alexa and Google Assistant for hands-free controls. It also isolates your voice and reduces background noise while making calls for clear conversations. With 11 levels of noise cancellation, you can even work in all but the very loudest of environments. The rechargeable battery gives you up to 20 hours of listening time, and you can get a time-based report of your headset's power consumption to improve performance and preserve battery life.
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Best Budget: Cowin E7 Pro
For anyone who needs a good set of noise-canceling headphones but is working with a limited budget, the Cowin E7 Pro delivers great features at an affordable price point. The ear cups are made with a synthetic leather cushion, fitting over your ears to ease clamping pressure and reduce fatigue during long wear. They also rotate 90 degrees to adapt to your head for added comfort or more compact storage. Each ear cup features a 45mm sound driver that gives a deep, accurate bass response for richer, fuller sound.
The built-in mic allows you to make video conference calls or phone calls from your smartphone. The rechargeable battery gives you up to 30 hours of listening time, and the headset comes with a 3.5mm audio cord for a hardwired connection when needed. Multiple colors are available to fit your personal or professional style.
Best with Voice Control: Sennheiser Momentum 3
Get through the workday via your favorite virtual assistant and voice controls with the Sennheiser Momentum 3 headset. The built-in microphone is optimized to work with Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana to give you total hands-free control over your mobile devices, desktop, and laptop. With three levels of active noise cancellation, you can tailor your audio to your environment. The headset also features a transparent listening mode that helps you be aware of your surroundings, so you won't miss important announcements in the office.
These noise-canceling headphones automatically pair to your devices with Bluetooth 5 and NFC connectivity for reliable and secure connections. In addition to the matte steel arms, the genuine leather cushioned headband and ear cups are built for long-lasting strength and durability. Plus, the rechargeable battery gives you up to 17 hours of listening time.
Best for Apple Users: Apple AirPods Pro
The Apple Airpods Pro offers diehard Apple users a sleek and powerful option for noise-canceling headphones. Each earbud has an outward-facing microphone that monitors ambient noise, which is countered with perfectly tuned anti-noise to cancel it out before you even hear it. The inward-facing microphones monitor the inside of your ear and use the same anti-noise technology to cancel out unwanted sound.
With the built-in force sensor, you can switch between noise cancelation and transparent listening modes to stay aware of your surroundings. The built-in microphones allow you to make hands-free calls and access Siri with a wake word. The earbuds come with three sizes of silicone tips for a secure fit and are sweat- and water-resistant for durability in light rain and hot environments. Even more, you get up to 4.5 hours of listening on a single charge, and the charging case can give you up to 24 hours of use.
Best Quick-Charging: JBL Live 650
Instead of waiting for your headphones to charge, the JBL Live 650 headset offers up to 30 hours of listening time, reaching a full charge in as little as 2 hours, and a 15-minute quick charge lets you use them for 2 hours. The noise-canceling headphones come with a 3.5mm audio cable for a hardwired connection and infinite power. The ear cups have 40mm audio drivers that deliver deep bass responses and clean mid- and high- tones for clear conversations and media playback.
An ambient aware mode lets you listen to travel announcements and quick conversations for catching important information on-the-go. With on-ear button controls, you won't have to fumble with finicky touch controls or accidental inputs. The built-in microphone can be used with your favorite virtual assistant for hands-free voice control over your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. Additionally, the JBL app lets you customize your equalizer settings for the perfect audio experience.
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Meet the Expert
Taylor Clemons has been reviewing and writing about consumer electronics for over three years. She has also worked in e-commerce product management and marketing for both home and business products.