Noise Cancellation is a feature that can be a game-changer for those who need to work or live in loud environments. They can be useful for everything from listening to music or watching a movie, making a call, or just to shut out ambient noise when you want to get some peace and quiet.
There are hundreds of headphones on the market today, with dozens of models that offer varying levels of noise cancellation. This can make it overwhelming to figure out which ones are the best for you.
How to Pick the Right Headphones
For noise-cancelling headphones to work their best, they need to be built from durable materials that fit snugly on your ears. This will prevent leakage, which can cause unwanted background noise to enter the headset and affect your experience.
Portability is another factor that should be considered when buying noise cancelling headphones. This is especially important if you are planning on traveling with them. Some models have ear cups that twist or fold into a pancake-like shape to fit into their case, while others are much larger and more bulky.
Comfort is also a big consideration when buying noise cancelling headphones. This is because everyone's ears and heads are different, and one model may feel comfortable to you but uncomfortable to someone else.
You should always try on the headphones before purchasing to be sure they will be comfortable to you. This will ensure that you are not disappointed in your purchase when it comes time to use them.
What You Should Know About Noise Cancellation
The best noise-cancelling headphones are those that provide active noise cancellation, which uses a special mic and processor to identify ambient sounds like traffic, construction, or a ride-on lawnmower. The microphones then work with a series of sound waves to cancel out the noise, blocking it out of the headphones and giving you a clearer experience of your favorite music or podcasts.
They will often come with a variety of features that you can control from the headphones or through an app, such as how well they can suppress continuous noise and short-duration incidental noises. Some also offer voice assistance, which is useful when working in a noisy environment or on the go.
We reviewed noise-canceling headphones from Apple, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Sony, and more to see which ones were the best for each category. We looked at each headphones' level of noise cancellation, size, battery life, comfort, and portability.
When it comes to buying noise-canceling headphones, there are a few things you need to know. The first is whether you need passive or active noise cancellation, and the second is whether you need wireless or wired headphones.
Passive (also known as "noise isolating"): This type of noise-cancelling uses physical features such as shape and materials to block out external sounds, like wind and road noise. It is a great option for people who want to use their headphones to listen to music or watch movies, but don't need the full range of sound that active noise cancellation provides.
Most active noise-canceling headphones use microphones that pick up ambient noise and then invert the soundwaves internally to cancel out the unwanted sounds. Depending on the model, you can also choose between adaptive or automatic modes that tailor the strength of the noise-canceling system to your environment in real time.
Some models even have the ability to fine-tune your noise-canceling settings via companion apps and voice assistants such as Alexa. This means that you can say something like, "Alexa, turn on the noise cancelling mode."
You'll need to decide whether you'd prefer earbuds or over-ear headphones when it comes to picking out your new pair. Earbuds are often smaller and lighter than over-ear headphones, but you'll have to consider the size of your ears and the comfort level of the earcups.
If you're not sure which type of headphone is right for you, try listening to different styles and brands before deciding. You can do this by asking friends, listening to a demo or trying them on yourself.
Over-ear headphones are larger and heavier than earbuds, but they're usually comfortable and come with the added bonus of a better seal around your ears. They can sometimes be more expensive than earbuds, but they're worth it for the extra convenience and noise-canceling power.
The best over-ear headphones are the ones that fit well around your ears and are breathable enough for long listening sessions. Some headphones are designed with a tight fit and some have adjustable ear pads, so you can find the ideal one for your personal preferences.
Some over-ears have touch-sensitive controls, which let you adjust EQ and access various smart assistants and features. These features are especially useful for traveling by air or bus, where you'll need to be able to adjust the headphones in order to avoid being exposed to outside noise.
You'll also want to be sure that the headphone's battery life is good for the use case you're planning on using them in. Most over-ears will offer at least 25-30 hours of noise-canceling on a charge, while true wireless earbuds will typically get about 5-10 hours.
If you're going on a long trip, you may also want to check out headphones that come with hard clam shell cases for protection against light scratches or nicks. Some models even zip shut to protect them from small bumps or drops.