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

Looking for a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds to drown out the world with your favourite tracks? We’ve compiled this list of the best noise-cancelling earbuds to help you find the perfect pair for you. 

Every pair of earbuds on this list has been thoroughly tested by our reviewers. Just because a pair of headphones has ANC doesn’t guarantee the noise-cancelling is the most effective. We’ll test ANC and transparency modes in a variety of situations as well as against other pairs to determine how good they are,

But there are other criteria to look at too, from the design and fit of the earbuds to the sound quality and battery life longevity. We also test any additional features found on board, including voice assistants, companion apps and any other features these earbuds offer. 

If none of the earbuds here spark your interest, we have plenty of other audio best lists worth visiting, including the best noise-cancelling headphones, best wireless headphones, best wireless earbuds, best headphones and best in-ear headphones

If you’re looking for something a bit more specific, we’ve also compiled guides to the best cheap headphones and best running headphones

Best Noise-Cancelling Earbuds at a glance:

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 Ultra Earbuds

Best noise cancelling earbuds
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  • Comfy to wear
  • Very good noise-cancellation
  • Excellent wireless performance
  • Engaging audio quality


  • Average call quality
  • Noise-cancellation seems slightly diminished compared to previous gen
  • More expensive than previous model

Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds II has been replaced by the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, which boast a few new features in Immersive Audio 3D tech and aptX Lossless support.

These new additions do come at a higher price (£299 / $299) but the rest of the feature set is the same as before. The QC Earbuds II were the best wireless earphones for noise-cancellation. The QC Ultra Earbuds aren’t quite as good in the noise-cancelling department.

They’re still the best in a range of situations, but the gap between it and the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM5, Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 and Jabra Elite 10 is not as big as before.

Much like the previous mode, while not every sound is removed, these buds do an impressive job of quelling sounds around us, reducing ambient noise and blocking out people’s voices. Yet again, there is wind noise in blustery conditions. It’s minor but we expected better.

The Aware mode is just as good letting the surrounding noises with clarity. Bose’s ActiveSense technology works similarly to the AirPods Pro 2 in automatically reducing background noises when in transparency mode. It works well at suppressing sudden spikes in sounds around you.

The sound quality is remains the same with the top end of the frequency range brighter and bass is bigger and punchier. Vocals carry more weight too, and there’s a better sense of depth and width than there is on the original. It’s not as finely-balanced as the WF-1000XM5, but if you enjoy plenty of bass wallop to your trucks, the Bose is better than the Son.

Features-wise, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds have been upgraded to aptX Lossless/Snapdragon Sound to transmit higher quality audio over Bluetooth. The wireless performance is excellent, consistently reliable with not dropouts.

There’s also the Immersive Audio feature which offers a wider soundstage and more depth, but isn’t as detailed or as sharp as listening in stereo mode. The head-tracking is a neat effect, maintaining the illusion of sound following you when you move.

These buds are just about the best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy, though we’d still recommend the QuietComfort Earbuds II if you can find them.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM5

Best noise cancelling earbuds for sound quality
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  • Smaller, lighter design
  • Powerful noise-cancellation
  • More detailed, balanced audio performance
  • Plenty of smart, convenient features


  • Bose a smidge better for ANC
  • Slightly odd call performance

The Sony WF-1000XM5 replace the WF-1000XM4 as Sony’s best premium wireless earbuds so far. The biggest difference is in how they sound, the rich midrange performance of before has been replaced by a more balanced performance across the frequency range.

There’s not as much bass as its predecessor, they don’t sound quite as ‘fun’ as before, but there’s more clarity throughout the frequency range, with finer detail in the midrange and higher levels of clarity and sharpness at the top end that we found to be a worthy trade.

The noise-cancellation is an improvement over the WF-1000XM5, better at suppressing the environment around the listener and better at reducing the impact of people’s voices too. The performance of the Ambient mode is around the same as the XM4 model, though we would the older buds are a touch clearer. Compared to the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, we do feel that the Sony is slightly less impressive at muting everyday sounds, though we would say that the WF-1000XM5 cancels noise with a more natural tone.

Elsewhere battery life is the same as before with eight hours (24 hours in the case) with noise-cancelling on. They are packed with features with many carrying over from the WF-1000XM4 and some new ones added into the mix. The new ones include gesture controls with calls, simultaneously use of LDAC and Bluetooth multipoint, and a new ‘Find My Equalizer’ feature that allows the user to shape the sound by picking from a selection of presets.

We found them an improvement over the WF-1000XM4, and they maintain a similar price as before at £259 / $299. While we don’t rate them as the best buds for noise-cancellation, they are the best-sounding noise-cancelling earphones we’ve listen to.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WF-1000XM5

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4

Best Sennheiser noise-cancelling earbuds
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  • Rich, clear and detailed performance
  • Comfortable fit
  • Feature-laden customisable app
  • Impressive noise-cancellation
  • Excellent wireless performance


  • Not the best ANC
  • Call quality could be better

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 are an excellent pair of wireless earbuds we found to be a great choice for those who want rich, engaging audio.

The Sennheiser’s ANC performance is very good, not far off the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds when used in environments such as airplanes and public transport. The earbuds slot in the ear easily, the smaller, lighter design makes the very comfortable to wear during use. The seal they create aids the noise cancelling performance, which is very good at blocking out persistent noises and voices.

With their anti-wind ANC mode, they’re also excellent at taming the wind on blustery days. The Transparency Mode here is fantastic with great clarity and detail.

The aptX Adaptive Bluetooth connection is reliably solid, with no noticeable dropouts or latency when we walked through busy signal areas. Sennheiser’s Smart Control app comes with a bundle of features such as being able to automatically alter the noise-cancelling performance when you enter certain places (though the magic of geolocation) as well as the ability customise the headphones EQ, touch controls, and more.

If you’re a Sennheiser fan, you’ll enjoy what the German brand has done with its latest noise cancelling earphones, which we think are its best yet.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4

Apple AirPods Pro 2

Best noise-cancelling earbuds for Apple users
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  • Excellent ANC
  • Rich, warm sound
  • Charging case gets some neat features


  • Many of the best features are iPhone and Mac only

Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 are the best noise-cancelling earbuds for iOS users deep in the Apple ecosystem. They keep a rock-solid connection with iPhones and iPads, connect to all your Apple devices instantly and get frequent software updates. They also sound great – much better than the first-gen pair – and have some excellent ANC that tones down the outside world.

We found that compared to the Sony WF-1000XM4 the AirPods Pro 2 were able to clear away slightly more noise when used on the Underground (although it’s worth mentioning that the even better WF-1000XM5 have since arrived on the scene), but the AirPods Pro aren’t as strong as either the Sony of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II. The transparency is improved over the original too, piping through a realistic sense of the outside world.

Disappointingly, Apple hasn’t included any means to manually adjust the noise cancelling or transparency mode, with both features automatically adapting the strength of the noise-cancellation and transparent to what’s around the listener.

Elsewhere battery life is good but not class leading with six hours in each bud and 30 hours with the charging case. MagSafe wireless charging is supported, and the earphones can even be charged by an Apple Watch charger if you can’t find a Lightning cable to hand. The wireless connection is fantastic with not even a hint of a dropout as our reviewer was passing through Waterloo station at rush hour times.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full Review: Apple AirPods Pro 2

JBL Live Pro 2

Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds under £150
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  • Genuinely impressive ANC for the money
  • Good snug fit
  • Long battery life
  • Weighty and smooth audio


  • Weak call quality
  • Choppy connection at times

The JBL Live Pro 2 earbuds offer fantastic ANC for their price point. While they are not as effective as the Sony WF-1000XM4 in that department, our reviewer thought that they offered some of the best ANC for the price, outshining previous favourites like the Beats Studio Buds. Using them in busy environments like a tube station reduced ambient noise to little more than a rustle, and they were able to suppress conversational noise in crowds. 

In terms of sound quality, they boast a weighty bass, a midrange that is reproduced with clarity and a clear and distinctive treble that made for an enjoyable experience. We thought that this made them easy to listen to across a range of genres, although we did note that you need to up the volume to properly broaden the soundstage, and give the bass richness. 

These buds are very comfortable to wear over long periods of time, with our reviewer noting that there was never any discomfort or cramps during use. They come with three different ear-tips so you can find your perfect fit, and the IPX5 water make them more robust than most noise-cancelling earbuds, so they can be used during a workout or when it’s raining. 

The main downfall of the Live Pro 2 buds is their connection to smart devices. We experienced a choppy connection in busy areas like Victoria train station, but it also occurred in areas where fewer people were around. They are also not great for phone calls, especially in busier areas, as the person on the other end of the phone would be able to hear too much background noise. 

The JBL Live Pro 2 have fallen to less to £100 in places, going up against the likes of the EarFun Air Pro 3, and despite the EarFun also boasting a very noise-cancellation performance, the performance of the Live Pro 2 would get our vote. 

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: JBL Live Pro 2

Earfun Air Pro 3

Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds under £100
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  • Strong noise-cancellation
  • Solid call quality
  • Robust wireless connection
  • Enjoyable audio
  • Snug, comfortable fit


  • Battery life doesn’t quite reach claimed levels
  • Audio lacks dynamism, not the most detailed performance

If the premium area of the ANC market is not for you, then at the more affordable end of the market are the EarFun Air Pro 3 for less than £100 / $100.

They offer one of the best noise-cancelling performances we’ve heard for the money. The passive noise-isolating design works well to keep ambient sounds away, and on top of that the hybrid ANC performance thins out people’s voices, traffic and large crowds. It’s not the level of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, though it is very effective at dealing with a wide range of sounds and suppressing them.

The transparency mode is fine in terms of creating a greater sense of awareness, but more expensive models can offer more clarity and detail.

It comes with a wealth of features that includes Bluetooth multipoint, aptX Adaptive Bluetooth that helps maintain a strong connection to an Android mobile device in busy areas, and a claimed seven hours of battery life, though we found in our tests that it was closer to five. There is a simple to use app that offers further customisation of the Air Pro 3’s performance. The EarFun boasts the type of features we’d expect from a more expensive true wireless pair.

The audio quality is warm, with a thick, rich bass profile and a smoothness to its sound across the frequency range. It’s not the sharpest, clearest, or most defined performance; but it does extract enough detail from music to make for an entertaining listen, and its smooth quality does avoid sibilance with vocalists. We would say for audio quality that the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC provides more clarity and detail to the tracks we listen to, even if its noise-cancelling isn’t quite as strong.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: EarFun Air Pro 3

Beats Fit Pro

Best premium workout noise cancelling headphones
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  • Stable fit and good comfort levels
  • iOS and Android support
  • Useful noise cancelling
  • Physical controls


  • 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 as well as for workouts. 

The design differs from Apple’s AirPods range, with a wingtip that aids in the creation of a strong seal and ensures the earphones don’t fall out. With IPX4 water resistance they’ll be able to withstand sweaty gym sessions with no real qualm. 

The Beats Fit Pro’s audio take on a similar signature to the more affordable 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 the 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 an Android app to manage noise cancellation and updates. The battery life is a solid six hours per earbud, and another 21 in the case with ANC on, which is actually better than the original AirPods Pro managed. 

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Beats Fit Pro

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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

IP rating
Battery Hours
Wireless charging
Fast Charging
Size (Dimensions)
Release Date
Model Number
Audio Resolution
Driver (s)
Noise Cancellation?
Frequency Range
Headphone Type
Voice Assistant

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