Today we run down the 10 best noise canceling headphones available to buy in 2017. Noise cancelling headphones are different from noise isolating headphones in that they use technology to actively try and cancel unwanted external noise. Isolating headphones just try and reduce the external volume by blocking that sound via insulation. For more information about the technology you definetley want to read this article about how noise cancelling headphones work but if you are just here for a list of the best headphones then keep reading below.
Noise Cancelling vs Noise Reduction
If you want to get into the geeky side of things you will want to read our full article on how noise cancellation works. However if you just want a quick over view then know that Noise Cancelling usually involves a process called ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) where the consistent external noise is picked up by a microphone inside your headphones and then an algorithm matches that sound wave and plays it back inverted thus cancelling out the external noise. Noise Isolating works by just isolating you from that external noise via a good fitting seal on earbuds or via a closed back design and insulating materials on full size headphones.
Where do Noise Cancellinng headphones work best?
So noise cancelling headphones contrary to popular belief do not cancel out all external noise. The work to reduce consistent and predictable noise. This makes noise cancelling headphones perfect for flying as the algorithm can latch on to that consistent hum of the engines and block it out almost entirley. However if someone is to suddenly shout or drop something you are probably going to hear it because the noise cancelling algorithm cant catch up in time to implement a canceled sound wave.
Top 10 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones
- Sony WH-1000XM2
- Bose QC35 II
- Plantronics Backbeat Pro
- Fiil Diva Pro
- Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
- AKG NC60
- Sony MDR-ZX770BN
- Parrot Zik 3.0
- Bang & Olufsen H8
- Bohm Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
1. Sony WH-1000XM2 - The Bose Killers
While Bose may still be the kings of comfort Sony definitely have murdered them with everything else. The WH-1000XM2 is Sony's feature-packed Noise-Canceling flagship.
The performance of the noise canceling is simply incredible and I have to admit a step ahead of the Bose QC35II. They also have insanely good sound quality for a set of ANC headphones. Then there is the touch controls, ambient adaptive noise, and a custom app. Basically, they might be on the pricey side of the spectrum but you sure feel like you get your moneys worth.
I thought it would be impossible but I have to say that finally, someone has managed to dethrone Bose from their long running number one position in this space
Out of all the headphones we tested this year this one gets my pick for the best headphone of 2017.
2. Bose QC35 II - Comfort and Silence
Until the Sony WH-1000M2 came out the Bose QC35II was the best noise cancelling headphons on the market. Even though I think Sony slightly edges them out on the performance side of things Bose still reign supreme in terms of comfort.
A massive step up for the old Bose QC25 the 35's now have some vastly improved sound quality and one of the best ANC systems on the market. The new II version is essentially the same as the original 35s but has an integrated google/siri assistant button built in.
The battery life is solid, the warranty and after sales support is great and they are one of the lightest and comfiest headphones on this list.
3. Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 - Best Bang for Buck ANC Headphone
Plantronics have gained a solid reputation in the audio world for offering a lot of value for money throughout their headphone line.
The Backbeat Pro are no exception. If you are looking for all the top end features but don't want to pay through the teeth for them then these are well worth checking out.
Noise cancelling is great and comfort level is right up their with the best.
For the price they represent the absolute best value for money as well as excellent sound and build quality.
4. Fiil Diva Pro - Best On-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphone
We reviewed the Fiil Diva Pro last year and were hugely impressed. The Diva pro almost seem to come from the future and are one of the most packed and feature rich headphones available in 2017.
Users will not only be able control differing strengths of noise cancellation from the iPhone and android apps but they will also be able to alter and shape the sound to there own style.
In built controls on the headset and the ability to play music directly from the headphones internal storage make them outstanding value for money.
5. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless - A Classy Option
My vote for the best looking set of noise canceling headphones goes to the Sennheiser Momentum ANC Wireless.
If I didn't already own a set of QC35 then I would be picking these up right away. The are built like tanks and have a real premium feel to them thanks to the companies use of metal and leather.
Sound as you would expect from a set of premium Sennheiser headphones is excellent.
6. AKG N60 NC - One for the travellers
If you are after a set of on ear headphones and the Fiil Diva aren't quite your cup of tea then I suggest the AKG N60.
These headphones won us over with their excellent built quality and the fact that they fold flat to make for easier transit when not in use. A solid option if space is at a premium.
7. Sony MDR-ZX770BN
The Sony MDR-ZX770BN are the companies value minded noise cancelling headphone option for those people that don't want to break the bank on the MD-1000's. The are still a mighty fine headphone with typically excellent Sony build quality and some very strong noise cancellation tech inside. They are quite bass heavy with their sound so should go well with a lot of hip hop and electronic music.
8. Parrot Zik 3.0
The Zik from Parrot were at one point the closest contenders to Bose's crown as king of the noise cancelling headphones. Whilst the design has remained similar throughout the years there has been a number of advancements in the technology inside.
Users have a bunch of high end option to implement from integrated touch controls and a custom app to control settings.
9. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8
Whilst we were left feeling massively underwhelmed when we reviewed the B&O H9 earlier on this year the same cant be said for the brilliant H8.
The premium feel shines throughout these headphones with outstanding build quality and materials and the sound is very good. The only thing holding them back from top marks is a poorly integrated touch control system.
10. Bohm Active Noise Cancelling - Best Cheap ANC Headphone
The ANC might not be as strong as the Sony or Bose headphones but its still pretty impressive and one thing no other manufacturer has managed to do is compete with BOHM on price. Despite the budget tag on these headphones they still feel like a quality design. Build quality is good, sound is good and comfort for an on ear is excellent. The might not win out on features but if you are looking for a cheap set of noise cancelling headphones for travel then these can't be beat.