Sometimes you just need to shut the world out and enjoy a bit of silence. It doesn’t matter if you’re a regular traveller or a daily commuter – our pick of the best noise-cancelling headphones will cut you off from other people’s racket and wrap you in a lovely bubble of peace and quiet.
Related: Best Headphones
Noise pollution is a big problem, and sometimes it’s enough to drive you mad. The incessant natter of people in the office, the rumble of traffic in the street, the constant droning of an aeroplane. That’s where noise-cancelling headphones come in.
Active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones are rarely cheap, but consider the improvements they’ll bring to your commuter experience. Not only will ANC headphones let you enjoy your music free of disturbance, they also mean you don’t have to crank the volume up quite so high, helping preserve your hearing.
Thankfully, the sound quality of ANC headphones has improved over years too, so you’re not making so great a sacrifice in audio fidelity in exchange for tranquility.
Read on for our the best noise-cancelling headphones we’ve tested, as well as some handy buying advice to help you choose. You can also click through to read the full reviews of every model.
Related: Best Headphones
How to buy the best noise-cancelling headphones for you
When considering headphones like these, there are a few basic questions you need to ask yourself.
First and foremost, you need to decide on fit. Do you want a super-portable in-ear model or a larger over-ear or on-ear type? With most in-ear pairs, all the cancelling gubbins is packed into a little remote housing that’s built somewhere along the cable. They’re great for the gym but not always as isolating as their over-ear brethren.
Larger pairs, such as Bose or Sony’s popular models, fit everything into the earcups themselves, which makes them a lot neater and easier to live with – not to mention, more effective. You might want to keep an eye out for collapsible designs that make them more travel friendly though.
Also look out for battery life and make sure it seems enough for your needs. These days, you’re looking at around 20 hours on average, though some offer much more, particularly if you keep the wired cable nearby for emergencies. Be sure to double check this though – only some ANC headphones will work passively without any battery.
Finally, some ANC headphones include fancy tech ensuring you can still be aware of the outside world when need be, either by temporarily disabling the noise-cancelling or by toning it down. This is useful for pedestrians and cyclists, who need to be a little more aware of their surroundings.
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