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Best Noise Cancelling Headphones to buy 2015

Andrew Williams


bose quietcomfort 25

If you're after the best noise cancelling headphones to drown out the sound of your morning commute, you've come to the right place. We've picked five of the best to buy.

It's worth investing in a good pair of noise cancelling headphones if you travel to work via train, bus or tube and like to listen to music or watch movies while you go. While noise isolating earphones are great, they can't match the best active noise cancelling pairs when it comes to silencing that rumble of engines, announcements and hurried footsteps.

Hit the dropdown menu above to head straight to our short reviews or read on for more buying advice.

Video: Trusted Explains – What type of headphones should you buy?

See also: Best Headphones

Noise Cancelling Headphones – What to look for

When considering headphones like these, there are a few basic questions you need to ask yourself.

First and foremost, do you want in-ear models or the over/on-ear type? With in-ear pairs, all the cancelling gubbins is packed into a little remote housing that lies on the cable. It generally gets a bit annoying, unless you wear clothes that are happy to accommodate a shirt clip. Larger pairs, like Bose's mega-popular models, fit everything into the earcups themselves. They're therefore a lot neater and easier to live with.

A quirk of Bose ANC (active noise cancelling) headphones is that they will not output any sound at all unless cancellation is switched on. Run out of battery and you're well and truly stuffed. Some alternatives pull the same trick, while others don't. Bear this is mind if you know you tend to spend a long part of your day away from a charger.

However, the battery life of ANC headphones is improving. These days, you're looking at around 20 hours, though some offer up to 50 hours of use. Similarly, while many pairs use custom rechargeable units, plenty of others rely on good old AA/AAA batteries.

Last, but by no means least, there's the question of sound quality. Buying into this sector, you'll just have to accept that the sound won't quite match the very best non-ANC headphones at the price. It's not a tech that can simply be slotted in for free.


September 25, 2012, 8:14 pm

Absolute rubbish. Bose headphones are very poorly made and their customer support equally appalling. Avoid like the plague.


October 5, 2012, 9:04 pm

I mostly agree with this review.
These headphones are well made, very comfortable to wear and easy to adjust. They block out low frequencies really well and highs moderately so.
They can give high quality sound, but need 48 hours to burn in, and, in common with many headphones, perform much better when driven by a moderately powerful headphone amp, such as the FiiO E11 or E17. In this situation the bass is deep and well controlled, mids are clear and well imaged and highs sweet and never strident. Listening straight out of an MP3 Player, without additional amping, the bass is a bit woolly and the highs a bit weak.
What I don't like is Bose's inability to provide basic information such as the maximum power input, impedance or sensitivity. You have to give your personal address to contact them by e-mail and within a few days the junk mail starts being delivered. Very unprofessional, and actually unworthy of the technology they have created.
With decent input power they sound like good £150-175 cans, the extra is what you pay for the quiet background. For me they are worth the money.


December 14, 2012, 1:57 pm

I just called Bose customer support - about replacing the ear cushions - on a free number (UK), and spoke to a friendly and helpful person after less than a minute of waiting, following a blindingly simple automated menu. Query resolved at no cost in virtually no time. I have also found the headphones themselves to be superb, both for sound and noise cancellation, and never take long-distance flights without them, where they are especially useful to replace the free headsets handed out for films and music. The words "absolute" and "rubbish" might be better applied to the comment above.


December 16, 2012, 10:38 am

Why these are missing from this comparison?


Nick Jones

March 23, 2013, 6:19 am

I've used Bose headphones for over 10 years. I upgraded to the 15s as soon as they were available & Bose gave me a 50% price reduction for trading in my old 3s. They really are the very best when flying long haul which I often do. They provide a world of quiet solitude in which to work & sleep & are incredibly comfortable. The customer support is absolutely top notch. Highly recommended.


December 9, 2013, 5:41 am

FALSE. My qc's are way more durable than any other headphones I've tested. I can make a pretzel out of them and they do not break. Customer service is second to none. Sounds like another bose hating troll

Person chap

October 11, 2015, 2:13 pm

really? My bose headband starting flaking and looks messy after 2 years of light use.
Also the noise cancel can't be turned off.
Also the headphones don't standby if u forget it switched on. Flat AAA battery has happened a few times.

Aaron Pritchett

December 11, 2015, 7:17 pm

IMO the NoiseHush i9's are the best bang for your buck. Comparable to my Bose Headphones but wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy cheaper.

Tomi Stallard

March 5, 2016, 5:51 pm

Hello Aaron. Any idea where I can get the NoiseHush i9's in the UK online? They look awesome. Cheers.

william smith

May 6, 2016, 11:49 pm

My Audio Technica ANC9's (not reviewed) are excellent, and I believe level with the Boses's. I have used them for a 75 minute train commute for over a year (so probably worn them for 600+ hours), they still and work like new, and I would buy another pair tomorrow if they broke. If you can, buy them in America, where they are greatly cheaper than in the UK.

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