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Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones 2024: The best ANC headphones tested

Want some peace and quiet when you’re out of the home? Then you’ll want to take a look at our list of the best noise-cancelling headphones.

With noise cancelling technology across headphones both affordable and premium, there’s more choice than ever in picking a new pair of ANC headphones. But not every headphone is equal, and some with offer better noise-cancelling than others, which is where we come in to offer our help.

We’ve looked at countless noise-cancelling headphones , testing them in real world conditions to determine which pair of noise cancelling headphones is worth your cash. We assess the noise-cancelling by testing them in various settings such as on public transport and in busy areas, as well as evaluating their design (comfort), the wireless performance and, of course, the sound. The list below are the best noise-cancelling headphones we’ve come across.

If you’re after a specific type of headphones, you can always have a look at our round-up of the best wireless earbuds or best wireless headphones in general. If you’re looking for noise-cancelling in-ears then check out our best noise-cancelling earbuds, and if you want the best of the best, look at our best headphones page.

Best noise-cancelling headphones at a glance

How we test

Learn more about 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.

Sony WH-1000XM5

Best noise-cancelling over-ears
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  • Excellent comfort
  • Musical, rich audio performance
  • Impressively clean and natural noise cancellation
  • Superb Ambient Mode
  • Great call quality


  • Non-foldable design
  • Connection gets choppy in busy areas

Sony’s WH-series of wireless headphones have been some of the best we’ve tested, especially on the noise cancelling, and the WH-1000XM5 are Sony’s latest and greatest effort yet.

Improvements to the noise cancellation bring refinements over the WH-1000XM4, with Sony claiming they deal with voices and higher frequency sounds better than previous generations did. We found that large crowds were silence and commutes were noticeably quiet, though we’d say that with voices the XM4 dismiss them slightly better, though in the XM5’s favour is that the tone of their noise cancellation is much cleaner. The Sony Headphone app offers 20 different levels of noise cancellation, with the Ambient Mode much clearer and more expansive in its performance than the older models.

The biggest change is the look of the headphones, with redesigned earcups (now more oval in shape to fit more ears), tweaked earpads for comfort. They carry a more modern look and like the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and the AirPods Max, they can no longer be collapsed and folded. It’s a change that some won’t like but comparing it to the XM4 model we did feel that it helped reduce the impact of wind noise.

There’s a lot to appreciate with regards to its feature set, the XM5 plunders the best features from the XM4 by carrying over the Quick Attention (which filters outside sound for a brief moment) and Speak To Chat (which pauses music when you’re speaking.

Despite including new V1 processor that lengthened battery life for the WF-1000XM4, the battery life (with ANC) is the same as the older models at 30 hours. With noise cancelling off the XM5 ekes out a couple of hours more than before at 40 hours. Over the course of testing, we managed to get a week’s use before we felt the need to charge, so it’s still plenty enough to last a while.

The steady rate of small, but useful improvements continue in the audio department, with the WH-1000XM5’s mid-range sounding richer, the soundstage more spacious and a low-end of the frequency range that has more depth and texture to it. It’s not a complete overhaul of the sound but in terms of audio quality, they’re still above the likes of the Bose QuietComfort 45 and Technics EAH-A800 we’ve tested.

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

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

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


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

When it comes to the best noise-cancelling earbuds, the QuietComfort Earbuds II from Bose leave the competition in its wake.

The noise-cancellation performance here is class-leading as the QuietComfort II zaps away noise with impressive confidence. Not every sound is removed but these buds aren’t not far from off from total silence. During testing we found there were gains over the original QuietComfort Earbuds in terms of suppressing people’s voices and the noise-cancelling sounded more natural than before.

Walking in and around London, there was a wonderful sense of calm and isolation from the outside world, but the one minor issue we noticed was some minor wind noise to contend with, which we had hoped was eradicated with the new design.

The Aware mode also impresses, piping in a clear, detailed, and natural sound, and Bose’s ActiveSense technology works in a similar manner to the AirPods Pro 2‘s transparency mode, automatically reducing background noises in the Aware mode to stop the wearer from being startled by sudden, loud sounds. This worked very well on the London Underground.

Sound quality has been improved with the top end of the frequency range brighter and bass is bigger and punchier than before. Vocals carries slightly more weight too, and there’s a better sense of depth and space than we can recall with the original.

When it comes to features, the QuietComfort Earbuds II aren’t stacked with as many as its rival, but we are pleased to see a three-band EQ in the Bose Music app. The wireless connection is excellent with barely a dropout when walking around London, and battery is on more competitive terms with the Sony WF-1000XM4 with 24 hours in total if you include the charging case. If there’s a fault, it’s that call quality is not the most impressive. The Bose can let a lot of sounds through which made it harder for the person on the other end to hear what was said.

Despite that, at this moment in time, the QuietComfort Earbuds II are the best noise-cancelling buds you can buy.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Bowers and Wilkins Px8

Best stylish noise-cancelling headphones
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  • Improves on the PX7’s audio quality
  • Confident noise cancellation
  • Graceful looks
  • Tremendous wireless performance
  • Very good call quality


  • Expensive
  • More natural-sounding and dynamic headphones from Focal and DALI

The Bowers and Wilkins Px8 headphones are some of the best-sounding and best-looking headphones on the market.

Launching in Black and Tan leather versions (although there are McLaren racing and 007 special editions), both of those options look very classy and feel very sturdy in terms of their build quality. We thought they were comfortable to wear for long periods of time, with the oval shape helping to assist in presenting a more natural soundstage.

These headphones come with adaptive ANC and we felt they were effective at suppressing noise on the underground, hushing voices and managing wind noise to acceptable levels, without needing to sacrifice audio quality. Even in noisy environments, the Px8 headphones condense the volume of a crowd into a more manageable sound, being robust enough to usher in a sense of calm wherever you are.

With 40mm dynamic full-range carbon cone drive units, these headphones offer a large and expansive soundstage, a big improvement on their predecessor, the Bowers and Wilkins Px7. Bass frequencies have massive definition and punch, with a sharp and open midrange that complements a lot of genres. High frequencies are distinctive and bright, making the Bowers and Wilkins Px8 a clean, precise and dynamic pair of headphones.

Call quality here is also nothing to sniff at. While they are not as clear as the Sony WH-1000XM5, they were among the best on the market at the moment, with voices coming across clearly and background noises being kept to a minimum thanks to the dedicated call microphones.

The main drawback of these headphones is the high price point, coming in at £599 / $699. If you’re looking for something more affordable that still features ANC, the Final UX3000 may be the better option, but any audiophile will want to experience the high levels of detail and wide soundstage, alongside the stylish and premium design.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Bowers and Wikins Px8

Apple AirPods Pro 2

Best Apple noise-cancelling earbuds
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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

It’s not as if Apple has launched many true wireless earbuds with noise cancellation – two in fact – but in the AirPods Pro 2, Apple has, in our opinion, made one of the best noise cancelling true wireless available.

The design is not much different than the original AirPods Pro, carrying the same look but feature an extra ear-tip size (XS) to fit a wider range of ears. The force sensor also has the ability to tweak volume levels, though we found using it was not always the most reliable option. IPX4 resistance against moisture remains, so these earphones could be used for exercise as well as listening to music.

And in terms of sound quality, they’re an improvement over their predecessor. Bass has a richness and warmth to it, but there’s still good clarity to vocals within the soundstage and instruments are defined with more detail.

The star of the show, though, is arguably the AirPod Pro 2’s noise cancelling prowess. Used on the underground and compared to the WF-1000XM4 and they edged the Sony buds with how much high frequency noise and rumble of the train that they removed.

The noise cancellation is adaptive, ramping and down depending on how much noise is detected in the surrounding environment. The same is true of the transparency mode, which has been improved. We found it piped through a clearer, more realistic impression of the world around us. Again though, the lack of control over the noise cancelling/transparency is a bug bear.

Battery life is good at six hours per bud and 30 hours overall. That’s a better figure overall than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II (6 and 24 hours) and around similar to the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 (7 and 28 hours). There are much cheaper noise cancelling buds, such as the JBL Live Pro 2, that offer more longevity (10 and 40 hours).

If you’re an iOS user in need of a ANC true wireless then arguably no other integrates as well as the AirPod Pro. Non-iOS users will want to look elsewhere, as many of the features such as Spatial Audio are exclusive to the iOS ecosystem.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full Review: Apple AirPods Pro 2

Final UX3000

Best affordable noise-cancelling headphones
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  • Good comfort
  • Effective ANC
  • Rich, warm sound
  • Solid battery life
  • Simple operation


  • Stripped-down feature set
  • Minimalist looks may be interpreted as bland

The Final UX3000 demonstrate the point that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get solid noise cancelling headphones.

The UX3000 is not the most feature-packed of headphones, lacking a transparency mode and app support, but the active noise cancellation is solid for the price, dealing with busy road junctions and crowds of people well. You can even use noise cancellation without powering the headphones if you just want some peace and quiet. We’d recommend turning the ANC on if you’re listening to music, as much like the Ausounds AU-XT ANC, they are a pair that sounds better with it on.

We also found battery life here to be good enough for around a week when used for a few hours a day, the battery rated at 25 hours with the ANC on and up to 35 with it off. The design is minimalistic and simple, the UX3000 proved comfortable to wear for extended periods, which we found made them a good partner for commutes into work.

The finish is what Final refer to as ‘Shibo’, an old Japanese term that refers to wrinkled paper or leather. and here it is used to repel dirt and dust. With no touch or gesture controls in sight, Final has utilised a handful of physical buttons for volume, ANC, and media playback, which makes this an accessible pair of headphones to operate.

The audio here is some of the best you’ll find for less than £150, producing a confident, musical performance with weightiness to the bass, expressive highs and rich mids. The warmth of their sound means they’re quite as detailed or incisive as while the Cleer Enduro ANC model, but overall we found the UX3000 to have a better handle over music, showcasing a good depth, solid dynamics and decently wide soundstage.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Final UX3000

Microsoft Surface Headphones 2

Best noise-cancelling headphones for the office
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  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Smooth, textured mid-range
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Rotary dial controls
  • aptX Bluetooth support


  • Could be more exciting
  • Soft bass performance
  • Battery life could still use improvements

In need of noise cancelling headphones for the office? Well there’s a familiar name who’ve produced a pair of headphones that would make for a great choice in an office environment.

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 might not be the flashiest pair or grab the headlines, but these cans do impress with their performance. The design is excellent, offering tremendous levels of comfort with soft earpads and a lightweight frame. We feel these headphones could easily be worn for hours without discomfort.

For office users (and indeed Office users) there are Windows specific features that includes dictation in Word, Outlook mailbox and PowerPoint. The Play My Emails in Outlook feature is iOS compatible but requires a subscription and seems to only be available in the U.S.

Battery life isn’t massive at just around 18 hours, which is much less than the Sony WH-1000XM5‘s 30 hours or the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless‘s 50 hours. With regular use our reviewer felt like the battery loses charge much quicker than it should.

On much better terms are the controls, which we felt were wonderfully intuitive to use. The rotary dials on each earcup made it simple and easy to adjust the volume and noise cancelling levels at a moment’s whim, with bleeping sounds to indicate whether you’ve gone up and down.

There are 13 levels of noise cancellation, which does sound like overkill but does offer ample room to find a level that suits you. We found the ANC to be formidable. General sounds close by evaporated as we walked past, vehicles were reduced to less distracting ‘whooshing’ sounds and with music playing at normal levels, we couldn’t much of what was around us. This is an excellent noise cancelling performance.

And the headphones also sound very good too. Bass errs to being warm and soft and can sound tubby from time to time when more punch is required. The mid-range is rich and expressive with good clarity and dynamism with voices that draws a listener in. They’re not as aggressive or as exciting as the WH-1000XM5 can be, but for those who enjoy a laid-back sound, these are a good showcase for that approach.

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

JBL Live Pro 2

Best affordable noise-cancelling in-ears
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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 are of the best noise-cancelling earbuds we’ve tested at their price, better than the Beats Studio Buds and an improvement on our previous favourite around this price, the Lypertek Z5 ANC.

Walking through Westminster tube station and we found background noise was reduced to little more than inconsequential rustle. Compared to the Z5 ANC, we found the JBL was slightly better at numbing people’s conversations, and when subduing bigger crowds in busy areas. It’s a very impressive performance for its price.

These buds proved very comfortable to wear over long periods of time, with our reviewer noting that they never experienced any discomfort during use. 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. 

There are a few issues with the Live Pro 2 buds, namely their wireless performance and call quality. We experienced a choppy connection in busy areas like Victoria train station, but it also occurred in areas when there was fewer people were around. We didn’t feel there fared too well with phone calls, especially in busier areas, as despite their noise-cancelling prowess, with calls they have a tendency to let in lots of noise like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, making it harder for the person on the other end of the phone to hear what was said. 

In terms of their sound quality, the JBL favour a balance tone that’s not necessarily the most exciting, but we quite enjoyed the sound. They boast a weighty bass, a midrange that is reproduced with clarity and a clear and distinct treble performance. We thought that this made them easy to listen to across a range of genres, though the volume needs to be turned up to widen the soundstage and give the bass richness. 

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: JBL Live Pro 2

We also considered…

We’ve reviewed

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What are the best noise cancelling earbuds?

Our vote goes to the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II. No other earbud we’ve tested offers as much suppression as they do, though it comes at the cost of reduced battery life compared to rivals. You can get the still excellent original for nearly half the price.

What are the best noise cancelling over-ears?

Sony’s WH-1000XM5 still tops out list of the best over-ears. with a superb noise cancelling performance that suppresses most sounds very effectively.

What are the best noise cancelling headphones for the office?

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are a good shout for office use with their Swift Pair functionality for Windows 10 PCs.

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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