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Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds 2022: Top picks to block out noise

The world of noise-cancelling earbuds is one that grows bigger each day, with a wide range of manufacturers releasing candidates to tempt you to their products.

Our team of reviewers test a big number of noise cancelling earbuds every year, and from those tests and real world experience we’ve compiled this list of the best noise cancelling earbuds.

Of course, not every set of buds is going to be right for everyone, so we’ve made sure to include a wide selection from premium options, the gym ready efforts and those who are those on a budget. We’ve focused on how good any ANC to how well they fit and how comfortable they are to wear, and of course how they sound, of course.

To get the best results we use wireless earphones for several days, listening to a range of music with noise cancelling modes on and off to gauge if there’s any difference. We’ll also be considering how much noise they suppress in a variety of environments to determine how effective they are, as well as listening to how clear and detailed the transparency mode is. All these aspects of an ANC earbud are relevant to assess whether they live up to their claimed potential.

We’ll be updating this page as and when we test headphones that deserve to be on this list. If you find you’re not fond of wireless earphones in general, we have lists for the best wireless headphones, best running headphonesbest wireless earbuds and best overall headphones.

How we test

How we test headphones

Not just anybody can review a pair of headphones. You don’t need superhuman hearing to tell what’s good, but you do need to know what to listen out for.

Our headphone tests are done by some of the best and most prolific reviewers in the industry, with years of experience listening to everything from the plasticky freebie earbuds that come with your smartphone, to five-figure beasts of glass and marble. We love music and we want your tunes to sound good, too.

So we listen every pair of headphones we can get on or in our ears. We use a variety of sources, from basic MP3s playing on a laptop to high-quality tracks on dedicated hi-res audio players.

Our test tracks are wide-ranging to give headphones a thorough challenge. They’re also familiar, so we know every track backwards, and we know which bits might trouble the lesser performers.

We listen again and again, and we do that for weeks in case the sound changes – because it usually does. Then we’ll listen to similarly priced rivals and come up with a verdict that reflects the performance and features for the money.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Best overall noise cancelling earbuds
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Pros

  • Class-leading noise cancellation for an earbud
  • Neutral sound quality
  • Comfortable fit
  • Excellent transparency mode

Cons

  • Average battery life
  • No higher quality Bluetooth codecs
  • Design affected by wing noise

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are a particular favourite of ours, by dint of offering truly fantastic noise cancellation. 

The sound quality is not the best on this list, Sony’s WF-1000XM4 and Sennheiser’s Momentum TW3 are better in that department, but what the QuietComfort Earbuds do offer is plenty of power and neutrality to the sound, with their clean and detailed approach. Bass has powerful but doesn’t become overbearing, while the top end bears Bose’s sharp and bright approach to sound. 

They’re comfortable to wear with their StayHear tips that we found produced a secure fit that didn’t cause any discomfort. The fit produced a good seal as a starting point for blocking out sounds, and along with their IPX4 rating they could be used them for workouts or more energetic fitness activities.

We’d say that the ANC on offer here is best in class given how much noise they blocked out during testing. Busy junctions were brought to an almost imperceptible hush, even without any music playing, voices, trains and big crowds were all satisfactorily blocked, at times the QuietComfort Earbuds presented an almost eerie silence.

The only significant disappointment here is the comparatively low battery life. The QuietComforts only have enough endurance to last 18 hours with the charging case included, which is less the WF-1000XM4 and every other wireless earphone on this list. 

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM4

Best sounding noise cancelling earbuds
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Pros

  • Impressively rich sound
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Compact design
  • IPX4 rating
  • Comprehensive feature set

Cons

  • Beaten by Bose for noise cancellation
  • More expensive than before
  • Call quality suffers in noisy areas

The Sony WF-1000XM4 s are Sony’s best premium wireless earbuds so far, which we feel offer one of the best all round experiences money can buy today. 

The sound here is truly excellent when a balanced profile with a rich midrange and measured high-frequency performance. Listening to them with a range of music from Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain to Regina Spektor’s As My Guitar Gently Weeps, they prove to be a versatile sounding pair of earphone, their description of instruments is naturalistic in tone and their feel for vocals brings out more emotion than you’d find from the QuietComfort Earbuds.

They’re compact than their predecessors, the WF-1000XM3, and their smaller size leads to a tighter, more robust fit that offers an excellent foundation for some great ANC. The active noise cancelling is impressive, better than previous models we’ve tested and the transparency mode is open, detailed and clear, making it feel as if you’re not wearing any earbuds at all. However, despite their impressive suppressive skills, for the best noise cancellation we’d recommend the Bose effort. For sound, the Sony beat that pair hands down. 

Battery life here is a marked improvement over the older model with12 hours (ANC off), plenty of smarts carried over from the over-ear WH-1000XM4 and an IPX4 rating that means they could survive some wet weather or be used for exercise.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WF-1000XM4

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3

Best Sennheiser noise cancelling earbuds
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Pros

  • Rich, expressive sound
  • Improved design
  • Very good noise cancelling/transparency modes
  • Excellent wireless connection
  • Cheaper than previous model

Cons

  • Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are better for noise cancellation
  • Sony’s XM4s are better for sound
  • Some app features locked behind account registration

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3s are an excellent set of wireless earbuds which we found to be a great choice for those wanting especially rich, engaging audio.

They are a more dynamic sounding effort than their TW2 predecessor, with vocals brought further forward, and the earphones displaying a natural description of vocals and instruments than the older models. There’s good bass depth that doesn’t feel over-egged by comparison to other cheapy earbuds that go for the big bass, while we found the top-end sounded particularly bright when listening to classical music.

The Sennheiser’s ANC performance is very good, not far off best in class, but they offered a satisfying performance in blocking out persistent noises and voices, and with their specific anti-wind ANC mode they’re excellent at taming the wind on blustery days. The Transparency Mode here is fantastic with great clarity and detail, a performance that’s up there with the likes of Bose and Sony.

The aptX Adaptive Bluetooth connection is super, with no noticeable dropouts or latency when we walked through busy signal areas. Sennheiser’s Smart Control app has been redesigned with a layout that’s more logical and easier to navigate. Some features are locked behind account sign-up though, and that may annoy some people. Nevertheless, if you’re a Sennheiser fan, you’ll love what the German has to offer with these noise cancelling earphones.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3

JBL Reflect Flow Pro

Best cheap workout noise cancelling headphones
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Pros

  • Dynamic sound performance
  • Good fit and comfort levels
  • Strong IP rating
  • Wide range of features

Cons

  • Unremarkable looks
  • Not the strongest noise cancellation

If you’re in need of a pair of fitness earbuds with a great feature set, then the JBL Reflect Flow Pro are an affordable option.

These wireless earphones come in a compact design we found comfortable to wear, producing a strong seal and secure fit during workouts to ensure they didn’t fall out during runs. 

Their audio offered a good level of detail and dynamism, with a big soundstage with plenty of space for instruments to play in, while the the high frequency sounds particularly crisp with vocals sound nice and clear. They’re a solid souding pair of wireless earphones

The noise cancelling on off here is fine, with most of work being done by the design’s passive noise isolating qualities, meaning ANC is the sprinkling on top. As long as the seal is maintained then the Reflect Flow Pro it’s a robust performance. The Reflect Pro also have a good feature set with 8 hours of battery life with ANC, which is better than the likes of the Beats Fit Pro.

And as a pair of gym-focused noise cancelling earphones, they’re IP68 rated to guard against dust, sweat and dirt, as well as being submerged in 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes, which shows these ANC earbuds can tough it out no matter what condition they’re used in (just don’t swim with them).

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: JBL Reflect Flow Pro

Lypertek PurePlay Z5 ANC

Best cheap noise cancelling earbuds
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Pros

  • Great, comfortable fit
  • Balanced audio
  • Strong noise cancelling/ambient sound modes for the money
  • Easy to operate

Cons

  • Call performance susceptible to noise
  • Battery life weak with ANC
  • Choppy connection in busy areas

For more of an affordable choice for earbuds with ANC, the Lypertek PurePlay Z5 ANC are one of the best in the $120 / £120 area.

For that price, they sound very good and solidly balanced, with a clear mid-range and punchy bass, though with the Loudness EQ setting there’s more depth, energy and definition to the music we heard through the Lypertek, making for a more engaging listen. Compared to the similarly priced Beats Studio Buds, they produced a wider and broader soundstage, though the Beats offer more clarity and sharpness. 

Adopting the AirPods Pro school of design, they slotted comfortably into our ears forming a good seal, which worked in the PurePlay Z5 ANC’s favour with its convincing levels of suppression. The sound of cars are reduced to hums; it works great on transport and deals well when faced with blustery conditions, the only issue being sudden sounds can cause some distortion. The performance isn’t Bose levels of noise cancellation, but better than the Sennheiser CX Plus, strong enough to quell most sounds that come its way.

Operation is good, as we found the touch controls worked simply and well for playback and media, while the transparency mode is clear passing sound through naturally. The Auto-Ambient mode is useful for instantly bringing awareness to what’s around you when you pause playback.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Lypertek PurePlay Z5 ANC

Beats Fit Pro

Best premium workout noise cancelling headphones
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Pros

  • Stable fit and good comfort levels
  • iOS and Android support
  • Useful noise cancelling
  • Physical controls

Cons

  • Can’t customise sound/noise cancelling
  • No wireless charging
  • Tough competition

The Beats Fit Pro are a very good premium set of earbuds if you’re wanting a useful all rounder that you can use casually and well as for workouts. 

Their design differs from Apple’s own wireless earphones, with a wingtip that not aids in creating an excellent seal and helps ensure the earphones won’t get dislodged. With IPX4 water resistance they’ll be able to withstand sweaty gym sessions with no real qualms at all. 

The Beats Fit Pro’s audio feature a similar balanced sound to the Studio Buds, with the bass performance presented with good weight and authority. The mids and highs are reproduced clearly and with solid detail, with no sibilance or harshness.

The adaptive noise cancelling varies its performance depending on how much noise it detects, and it deals well with blocking out most ambient noises, although we found that some louder noises from cars and larger vehicles did managed to penetrate through our ANC bubble.

There are some exclusive iOS features with the Fit Pro supporting the same dynamic head tracking as the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro. For Android users the feature set is less complete with no spatial audio support, but there is the Beats app to manage noise cancellation and updates. The battery life here is a solid six hours per earbud, and another 21 in the case with ANC on, which is actually better than the AirPods Pros can muster. 

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Beats Fit Pro

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FAQs

What is active noise cancellation?

Active Noise Cancellation uses an array of microphones in a headphone to detect the frequency of the sound coming at the listener, with the ANC chip creating an inverse wave (i.e. opposing sound) to suppress any unwanted external noises.

What is feedfoward ANC?

With feedforward ANC the microphone is placed on the outer edge of the ear cup, which analyses the noise and creates the anti-noise signal before sending if off to the headphone’s speaker to block the noise.

What is feedback ANC?

Feedback noise cancellation is the opposite of feedforward ANC. The microphone is placed inside the earcup and in front of the drive unit, and can hear the same noises the listener does. It blocks noise across a broad range of frequencies (though it can’t deal with higher frequencies as well).

Comparison specs

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Manufacturer
IP rating
Battery Hours
Wirless charging
Fast Charging
ASIN
Release Date
Model Number
Audio Resolution
Driver (s)
Noise Cancellation?
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Headphone Type
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