For years, great active noise cancelation (ANC) was reserved for over-ear headphones, but that’s no longer the case. Now true wireless earbuds offer surprisingly good noise canceling, perfect for all kinds of use cases. We test dozens of pairs each year to find the cream of the crop.
If you want the best all-around noise-canceling earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM4(available at Amazon for $278.00) are true ANC masters, while also providing a good feature set and incredible sound. But there are plenty of other top performers listed below at multiple price points, so you can find the perfect pair to grant you the lovely sound of silence.
These are the best noise-canceling earbuds we’ve tested:
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
Jabra Elite 85t
Beats Fit Pro
Apple AirPods Pro
Jabra Elite 7 Active
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Battery life: 8 hours with ANC, 12 hours without, two full case recharges
Ambient sound modes: ANC, Transparency Mode
Dust/water resistance: IPX4
With fantastic sound quality, innovative design, and noise-canceling that stands above almost every other set of ANC earbuds we’ve ever tested, the WF-1000XM4 are the best noise-canceling buds you can buy.
Currently, there’s only one pair of earbuds with noise-cancellation that’s comparable to the XM4's: Bose’s well-regarded QuietComfort Buds. However, the XM4 outrank the Bose QuietComfort, thanks to their smaller profile, next-gen battery life of up to eight hours of listening on a single charge with active noise canceling on (or a whopping 12 hours without it), great features, and gorgeous, user-customizable sound.
The Sony XM4 offer the best sound you’ll hear from a set of ANC earbuds. It’s sweet, smooth, accessible, and riddled with detail. And, thanks to Sony’s powerful noise cancelation technology, the audio they produce is all the more accessible. You’ll find tranquility with these earbuds on a level that’s hard to find with any headphones.
The XM4 are incredibly customizable, thanks to Sony’s Headphones Connect companion app, which lets you tweak its EQ (something Bose's buds don't offer), along with a variety of other features, to your heart’s content. With the XM4 connected to Headphones Connect, the earbuds become smart enough to know when to swap between noise cancelation and ambient audio, based on your routines and locations. They also offer standard IPX4 water resistance.
Their design includes comfy foam tips for a stable in-ear seal and accurate touch controls. We wish that Sony had put more thought into the latter, however: the XM4s allow you to map their volume controls to their touchpad using the Headphones Connect app, but only at the expense of losing access to other functionality. In addition to this, we would have appreciated seeing a few extras like Find My Earbuds functionality and multipoint pairing–features we expect from a set of ANC earbuds in this price range. Despite these minor complaints, the XM4 are not just the best all-around noise-canceling earbuds you can buy but also some of the best wireless earbuds you can buy, period.
If you’re after a more affordable pair of Sony noise cancelers (and you don’t need water resistance), the company’s WF-1000XM3 are still a solid buy as well.
Battery life: up to 6 hours with ANC, 7 hours without, up to 26 hours total with case
Ambient sound modes: ANC, Transparency Mode
Dust/water resistance: IPX4
The Liberty Air 2 Pro’s are the first earbuds from Anker’s Soundcore line to offer active noise cancellation. We were pleased to find that the ANC they provide is surprisingly good. The amount of noise reduction is not quite as impactful as you’ll experience while wearing some of the pricier earbuds in this guide, but given their low price point, the Liberty Air 2 Pro’s effective ANC with equally adequate transparency mode is a serious feat—especially considering their AirPods Pro-like, semi-open fit.
Soundcore allows users to customize the earbuds’ ANC and equalization settings. However, we found sticking to the earbuds’ Soundcore Signature setting delivered the kind of balanced sound that suits most musical genres.
The Liberty Air 2 Pro feature IPX4 water resistance and a solid battery life of around six hours with ANC turn on and seven hours without it. Those numbers are about middle-pack for this category, but that’s nice to see considering their cost. We do wish Soundcore had made these earbuds fit more securely for workouts and found a way to offer more comprehensive controls. That being said, these are small transgressions for an otherwise value-packed pair of true wireless earbuds.
If you're looking for a budget pair of noise cancelers with impressive performance and AirPods-like styling, the Liberty Air 2 Pro are very tough to beat.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds were designed from the ground up for one thing: brilliant active noise cancellation. On that front they succeed immensely, offering world-class ANC that’s at least equal to the ANC offered by Sony's WF-10000XM4. QuietComfort users will enjoy their elegant aesthetic, clear sound, and their comfy, secure fit that keeps them in place under duress.
In order to get these features, however, you’ll have to deal with a hefty price tag and some compromises elsewhere in the design, which keeps them from the top of our list. What’s more, the QuietComfort weigh a gram more per ‘bud than the Sony XM4 do. Additionally, they come with a chunky charging case that offers only two recharges for a relatively low 18 hours of total listening time. Their stylized sound is good but doesn't quite match our favorite earbuds at this price point, sometimes becoming a bit sharp in the upper register.
On the other hand, we applaud Bose for adding onboard volume control to the QuietComfort, which can be accessed via swipes up and down on the right earbud’s touchpad. The Bose Music app allows you to adjust noise cancellation levels in multiple ways, the loudness of your own voice during phone calls, and other parameters. However, there are some features Bose excluded that we'd expect from ANC earbuds like these, including some form of EQ to switch up their sound signature and the ability to skip songs backward from using the QuietComfort’s on-earbud controls.
While we wish Bose would have thrown in a bit more for your money, what you're really paying for is a comfortable and stable fit and killer noise cancellation, and that's exactly what you get.
Sennheiser’s latest true wireless buds offer everything we like about the previous iteration while improving on the Momentum line’s active noise canceling in a big way. While the ANC was passable in the Momentum TW 2, the TW 3 go back to the drawing board for responsive and powerful adaptive noise cancellation that allows these earbuds to stand tall with the best noise-canceling earbuds in the business.
Happily, the Momentum 3 keep our favorite aspect of the previous generation in their line, namely, their fantastic sound quality. The Momentum 3 offer a more stylized soundstage that’s a bit brighter than we’ve seen in previous generations, but also a smidge clearer with more attention to detail. If you don’t love the sound as is, the three-band EQ allows for basic adjustment (though we wouldn’t have minded more control there). Battery life is competitive at seven hours per charge and 28 total with the charging case.
Other notable features include adjustable controls–including volume controls, which are switched on by default–a new wireless charging case (finally), and standards like auto-pause and the ability to use one earbud at a time. They also offer advanced audio codecs like aptX Adaptive and AAC for improved sound for Android or iPhone respectively.
While the Momentum 3 keep the same IPX4 water resistance as their predecessor, their new design makes them sportier and more comfortable to wear, thanks to multiple ear tips and fins options. They may not be your go-to running buds, but they’ll work in a pinch for most any activity. Perhaps the best news is that all the improvements come with a lower MSRP than Sennheiser’s previous pair—you can thank a competitive market there.
As for downsides, we still don’t find these buds quite as comfortable as semi-open pairs like the Jabra Elite 85t and Apple AirPods Pro, and their charging case is both heftier and bulkier than most competitors. Like Sony’s WF-1000XM4, there’s also no earbuds finder available and the buds don’t yet offer multipoint connectivity (though it’s something Sennheiser plans to add in a firmware update).
Sennheiser’s latest cook up a winning combination, mixing lots of features, a slimmer and sportier design, and powerful noise cancellation to go along with excellent sound.
Jabra’s Elite 85t really have it all: smooth and balanced sound, comprehensive controls, a compact form factor, great features, and, of course, impressive active noise cancellation (ANC). While it's not on par with what you’ll enjoy from Bose or Sony's top models, it's just a tier below them, and more than strong enough to make them a great choice as your go-to noise cancelers.
The 85t's robust ANC is all the more impressive given the earbuds’ semi-open design, which keeps your ears feeling comfortable for long periods. While a more bulbous design means the fit isn’t quite as secure as other Jabra buds, their oval tips assure you won’t hear yourself chewing, walking, or jogging in the same way as more sealed ear tips often allow for. Despite this, music and noise canceling are intimate and effective, respectively.
That makes the Elite 85t direct competitors to Apple’s open-style AirPods Pro, but with more features for either side of the mobile aisle, and a more active-ready design to boot. Since they’re device agnostic, you can choose any of the major voice assistants (or none), and they offer all the controls you need (including volume control by default) for whichever mobile device you prefer.
Speaking of controls, the Elite 85t’s are customizable through Jabra’s excellent Sound+ app, allowing you to configure the buds’ two easy-push buttons as you see fit. Also customizable are noise cancellation and transparency mode, the latter of which is among the most natural-sounding you’ll hear on the market to keep you aware of your environment in style—again, a direct shot across the AirPods Pro bow.
The word "natural" keeps coming up when using the Elite 85t, and it's a big key to their success. You can wear them for hours, even when you’re not listening to audio, and never miss a beat thanks to how seamlessly they transition between noise canceling and transparency mode; a few taps of their buttons (even while wearing gloves) lets you slide between jamming out in solitude and striking up a conversation. Multipoint pairing also makes it easy to switch between listening to audio from your computer and your mobile device.
As for downsides, the battery isn't as good as what you'll get from Sony's WF-1000XM4, and, as referenced above, the fit isn't as stable as purpose-built workout buds. Finally, while you can use one bud at a time, only the right one will pull off the trick, which makes them less versatile in this use case than some competitors.
Otherwise, they've got just about any feature you can dream up. If you're looking for killer noise canceling and a brilliant range of features for less cash than our top pick, the Elite 85t deliver good sound, great features, and the best usability on the market.
It’s been a long time since Apple AirPods Pro hit the scene, but they’ve long maintained their status as the most popular true wireless earbuds for pairing with iPhones. But for savvy buyers, the Beats Fit Pro have finally usurped them as the best choice for most iOS users. And, like the AirPods Pro, they're also surprisingly solid noise cancelers.
Along with having similar noise canceling and transparency modes to their AirPods cousins, they also offer some clear advantages. They provide longer battery life (six hours with noise canceling, seven without), a more secure fit thanks to their rubbery fins, and comparable if not better sound quality. They're also a much better choice for Android users, thanks to the dedicated Beats app.
The Fit Pro also offer the full library of iOS features. There’s iCloud/Music Sharing, Hands-Free Siri, Spatial Audio with Dynamic Head Tracking, and Find My tracking so you won’t lose them. Right down to Apple’s H1 chip, the Fit Pro are essentially the AirPods Pro in a sportier, updated package.
That’s not to say the Fit Pro are perfect. During testing, their audio wasn’t quite as clear as the AirPods Pro when making voice calls in a windy environment. You also can’t wirelessly charge their case, and they can occasionally be finicky on Android phones.
But that's mostly nitpicking. While the AirPods Pro are still a great choice, the Beats Fit Pro are our favorite iPhone companions right now—and they do a great job of holding back the noisy world around you, too.
Battery life: 4.5 hours per charge, 24 hours with charging case
Ambient sound modes: ANC, Transparency Mode
Dust/water resistance: IPX4
Apple's AirPods Pro take everything we love about the traditional AirPods and ramp things up a notch (or three). That includes impressive noise canceling in a light and comfortable form factor. If you're all Apple, these should be (and no-doubt already are) high on your list.
Alongside their solid noise reduction, the AirPods Pro sound better than all Apple earbuds before them, and also add proper water resistance (finally). What’s more, these are the first Apple earbuds with swappable silicone ear tips, making it simple for just about anyone to get a comfortable fit. Their semi-open design and ultra-light weight makes it easy to wear them for hours.
The AirPods Pro's Transparency Mode is among the most effective and natural-sounding we’ve experienced, allowing you to pipe in the outside world for those times you want to be aware of your surroundings. The call quality—which uses dual microphones plus digital distortion reduction—is also excellent. The design also makes them incredibly easy to pair, particularly with Apple devices, allowing you to swap between anything linked to your iCloud.
If there's a downside to their feature set it's that most extra features like their Spatial Audio, auto-pairing, and Siri on-demand only work with Apple gear, as there's no dedicated app for Android users to tap into. They also don't offer onboard volume control, requiring you to ask Siri for help instead. At two years old, battery life is also getting less competitive at only 4.5 to 5 hours, though the pocket-friendly charging case holds multiple recharges for 24 hours total listening time, and 5 minutes of charge gets you an hour of listening.
The AirPods Pro's noise canceling isn't the best you'll find and does introduce some white noise, especially in extra-loud situations. But they're still a great pick for iPhone users, acting as your go-to headphones for everyday use, long trips by train or plane, working from home, and even light workouts. It's for all these reasons that they're some of the most popular earbuds on the planet.
Battery life: up to 8 hours with ANC; 35 hours with the charging case
Ambient sound modes: ANC, Transparency Mode
Dust/water resistance: IP57
The Jabra Elite 7 Active, which step in to replace the Elite Active 75t, are the best workout headphones we've tried thanks to their nimble design, stable fit, and hearty IP57-rated dust and water resistance that lets you safely rinse them off after a sweaty session. But this is no one-trick pony—these buds also offer plenty of excellent usability features, including solid active noise canceling.
On top of that, the Elite 7 Active will net you nearly every bell and whistle you might need. A finder function makes sure you won't lose track of them. Transparency mode lets you hear the world around you, so you can stay aware in nearly any situation. Their mid-tier noise canceling is customizable for your environment, and Jabra even released a firmware update that adds multipoint pairing so you can pair them to your phone and work computer at the same time.
The Elite 7 Active offer solid audio performance, though their brighter sound signature may need some EQ to smooth things out. Still, their sound will satisfy most casual listeners and power users alike, especially once you take Jabra's personalization sound test.
The Elite 7 Active's signature Jabra playback controls are intuitive and customizable (thanks to the loaded Jabra Sound+ app) to make for one of the best user experiences in the true wireless game. The updated design, while more intrusive, proved more stable and comfortable than the 75t in our testing. They also offer around seven to eight hours of battery life per charge with ANC (and 35 hours with the case), which is a good step up from their predecessors.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active are a great pick for your workout and more, offering superb overall performance, durability, and a well-rounded user experience. In addition, if you need improved calling the Elite 7 Pro are nearly identical to their cousins but trade the grippier exterior of the Active model for additional calling software.
Either way, you'll be getting a great pair of durable earbuds that don't just cancel the noise, but also take on virtually any scenario you can throw at them.
Panasonic's RZ-S500W won our favor with a brilliant combination of great sound and top-notch noise canceling at a price that easily undercut major competitors upon release. Since then, the buds have gotten plenty of competition, but they're still a very solid option in their own right.
The RZ-S500W serve up powerful noise cancellation across frequencies for a comforting realm of sanctity from barking dogs, yelling kids, and much more. From vacuuming to lawn mowing, they're up to the task.
While their treble region can occasionally be slightly tinny, the sound overall is clear and balanced, offering high-quality listening across musical genres, podcasts, and more. Panasonic’s app adds to the package, letting you adjust everything from EQ to noise cancellation and transparency mode (AKA ambient sound mode/hear-through mode) so you can choose exactly how much environmental sound you let in or keep out. With around six hours of playback per charge, the RZ-S500W aren't the tops for battery life, but it's still better than you'll get from Apple's AirPods Pro.
As for drawbacks, their charging case only holds two charges, meaning you’ll have to top it off more frequently than most rivals. On top of that, while we found the RZ-S500W quite comfortable, their fit can be tricky for some due to their somewhat bulky design. Even when they're properly sealed, they tend to jostle during rigorous activities, making them a much better fit for your office (home or otherwise) than your daily jog.
That said, the RZ-S500W offer generous features and good build quality, including IPX4 water resistance, positioning them as a fantastic value even at their original MSRP.
Battery life: up to 5 hours with ANC, 8 hours without; up to 18 hours with charging case with ANC, 28 hours without
Ambient sound modes: ANC, Transparency Mode
Dust/water resistance: IPX7
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro represent Samsung's obvious attempt to create a pair of earbuds just as special and impressive for Samsung phones as Apple’s AirPods Pro are for iPhones. And the gambit worked pretty dang well. Samsung has loaded up a feature-packed pair of earbuds bespoke for the Samsung faithful that offer plenty for other Android users, including solid active noise canceling.
While their ANC isn't top of the charts, it's good enough to make these versatile buds a worthy choice. It does a great job with low-end drone noises, though it does have a bit more trouble with higher register sounds.
But that’s just the tip of their feature set. They also offer adjustable ambient audio, which is boostable for super hearing, alongside stalwarts like the ability to use one bud at a time, a wireless charging case, and a Find My Earbuds function. One particularly interesting feature is Voice detect, designed to pause ANC and engage ambient mode when you speak so you can keep in touch with those around you hands-free, though we found it can be overzealous at times.
Most of the Galaxy Buds Pro’s top features will work for any phone with Samsung’s app (unfortunately, not for iPhone users), but Samsung also saved some extras for the Samsung faithful, including auto-pairing, Bixby wakeup, and even a 3D audio feature for the Galaxy S21 and up. In other words, it pays to be heavily invested in Samsung’s ecosystem here.
The earbuds offer excellent water resistance (IPX7) and impressive, well-balanced sound that’s as good at bumping beats as it is carving out ultra-clear detail or serving up phone calls.
There are some downsides, including a fit that can wear on the ears over time (and can jostle during some activities), and battery life that’s just so-so (less than five hours per charge with ANC). In addition, we’ve found the case doesn’t charge the earbuds as quickly as advertised, meaning you’ll have to wait longer once you lose juice.
That said, Samsung has created a winner here thanks to a well-rounded feature list, impressive audio performance, and a great price that make its Galaxy Buds Pro ANC contenders—especially if you’re toting around a new Samsung phone.
We'd also be remiss if we didn't give honorable mention to Samsung's more affordable Galaxy Buds 2. While they don't offer as many features as their pricier siblings, they offer solid ANC for their low price point, as well as a gorgeous design and impressive, snappy sound.
Hi, I’m Ryan Waniata, Managing Editor of Electronics at Reviewed. For over a decade now headphones have been a passion for me, from my time in recording studios with audiophile cans to my first pair of true wireless earbuds, the Bragi Dash. I’ve listened to hundreds of headphone models in my career, and I still get excited every time I unbox a fresh pair.
Other contributors to this list include Reviewed's former Home Theater editor, Lee Neikirk, and Reviewed contributor Nick Woodard, a tech journalist specializing in smart home products and all things related to home theater.
For this list, we focused on several key pain points that consumers typically run into when buying both wireless and “true wireless” earbuds (those completely free of any wires): battery life, ease of use, controls, wireless range, sound quality, sound isolation, and comfort. And, of course, we put a laser-sharp focus on active noise canceling (ANC).
We put the earbuds through a battery of basic audio tests to judge noise canceling across low and high frequencies, as well as passive and active noise attenuation to see how well each earbud blocks outside noise. From there, we use all the earbuds extensively, playing a wide variety of test tracks ranging from classical to hip-hop, rock, jazz, and more.
We further test the noise canceling in a variety of environments, including using professional speakers blasting airplane engine drone, a pink noise generator, and a crowd noise emulator in an acoustically treated environment. We also test them in real-world scenarios, including (when possible) airplane travel, walking around busy streets, and yard work like mowing the lawn or using a leaf blower.
Other real-life tests include sweat proofing, short- and long-term comfort, measuring a full charge of battery life at medium volume, taking phone calls, and testing connectivity over distances and through obstacles like doors and walls. All of this data is compiled in our master rubric to determine rankings as scientifically as possible.
To account for durability, we noted any major issues that popped up in user reviews (where available), and retest the earbuds after firmware updates. We also use these earbuds over a prolonged period and update their firmware when available to test out the latest features.
Wireless earbuds across the board have struggled with durability, so this is a major cause of concern for us. We always reserve the right to re-evaluate our conclusions as we become aware of any major issues or pain points as time goes on.
What You Should Know About Buying Noise-Canceling Earbuds
Knowing the basic terminology of headphones, including noise-canceling earbuds, is the best way to estimate what you need. This will guide you toward deciding on which features you truly need, and where you may want to compromise to fit your budget. Below are a few important terms to know before you shop.
What is Active Noise Canceling?
Originally developed for pilots, noise canceling technology utilizes tiny microphones to reduce the impact of ambient noise around you using phase cancellation of unwanted frequencies. ANC headphones have become a mainstay for travelers, public transit commuters, gym-goers, and those working in distracting environments. All of our picks here feature at least mid-level ANC, though their effectiveness across frequencies varies.
What is transparency mode?
Called hear through mode, ambient sound mode, or transparency mode, this feature uses tiny microphones just like noise canceling, but in this case they pipe in sound to keep you aware of your environment. Not all transparency mode is created equal, and how a headphone’s hardware and software handle things like wind gusts can make a serious difference in the feature’s utility.
What are Bluetooth headphones?
Bluetooth headphones let you unplug from your source device, while "true wireless" earbuds offer totally wire-free listening with no cable between the earbuds. Bluetooth range defaults at 33 feet in its current iteration, though effectiveness will vary based on many factors, including antenna strength of both your source device and your headphones, as well as barriers like doors or walls.
Dust and water resistance ratings
IP is a rating used across a wide array of electronics designed to signify how well the device takes on the elements. You'll often see the code "IPX" with a number at the end, or you may see codes like IP67, etc. The first number is dust resistance—how well the product stands up to ingress/ The second number is water resistance. The higher those numbers, the better. You can find more info in our Water resistance guide.
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2012. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.
Nick Woodard is a tech journalist specializing in all things related to home theater and A/V. His background includes a solid foundation as a sports writer for multiple daily newspapers, and he enjoys hiking and mountain biking in his spare time.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.