For a long time, awesome noise canceling lived almost exclusively in the realm of over-ear headphones. But nowadays, you can find a healthy number of true wireless earbuds that tamp down ambient noise just about as well as their bulkier, circumaural counterparts. We test noise-canceling earbuds all year to find the best ones, and here's what we recommend.
If you just want the best noise-canceling earbuds money can buy, check out the excellent Sony WF-1000XM4(available at Amazon for $278.00), which are true masters of ANC on top of just being awesome earbuds in general. If those are too pricy, we've also identified an awesome value pick: the Panasonic RZ-S500, which are easy to find for well under their retail price and net you some seriously good canceling. But there are ANC-equipped buds of all stripes, so we invite you to check out our full list below.
These are the best noise canceling earbuds we tested, ranked in order:
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Jabra Elite 85t
Apple AirPods Pro
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
Jabra Elite Active 75t
Amazon Echo Buds
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
How We Tested Noise Canceling Earbuds
What You Should Know About Buying Noise Canceling Earbuds
With incredible sound quality, innovative design, and noise-canceling that puts nearly all other choices to shame, the WF-1000XM4 are an easy choice as the best noise-canceling buds you can buy.
There’s only one pair of earbuds you’ll find that compares to the XM4's noise-canceling currently: Bose’s well-regarded Quietcomfort Buds. Both pairs have their pros and cons, but the XM4 outrank their rivals thanks to their smaller profile, next-gen battery life of up to 8 hours with active noise canceling (ANC) and a whopping 12 hours without it, and of course, their gorgeous sound.
It’s worth saying a bit more about that sound, as it’s among the best you’ll find in the genre. It’s sweet, smooth, accessible, and yet riddled with detail. And thanks to their powerful noise-canceling, it’s all the easier to enjoy. You’ll find tranquility with these earbuds on a level that’s hard to find with any headphones, let alone tiny earbuds.
The headphones also have plenty of features in concert with Sony’s Headphones Connect app, which lets you tweak the EQ to your heart's content (something Bose's buds don't offer), tinker with their many features, and even set the earbuds to swap between noise canceling 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 seal. They also offer intuitive touch controls, though that's where we’ll raise our primary complaint: unlike Bose's buds, the XM4 don’t allow you to use volume controls without giving up other integral functionality. In addition, they miss a few extras like Find My Earbuds and multi-point pairing, both features we’d like to see in this price range.
Still, with all their spoils and top performance, the XM4 are not only the best all-around noise-canceling earbuds, but also some of the best wireless earbuds, period. If you’re after a more affordable pair of Sony noise cancelers (and you don’t need water resistance), Sony’s WF-1000XM3 are still a great buy as well.
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 gone on super sale, making them an even better value.
The RZ-S500W serve up powerful 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 fun, letting you adjust everything from EQ to noise cancellation and transparency mode (AKA ambient sound mode, hearthrough mode, etc.) so you can choose exactly how much environmental sound you let in or keep out. With around 6 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. If you want a premium noise-canceling experience at a price that often falls well below $100, these are your best buds.
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.
Hi, I'm Lee Neikirk, Reviewed's Home Theater Editor. I've been testing products you watch and listen to—including headphones—since 2012. Over the years, I've gone from refusing to use anything but wired open-backed cans to becoming a big fan of tiny true wireless earbuds. Now that the little fellas have solid noise canceling, I think they're better than ever—but I still have a soft spot for big, bulky headphones, too.
Hi, I’m Nick Woodard, a tech journalist specializing in all things related to home theater and A/V. My background includes a solid foundation as a sports writer for multiple daily newspapers, and more recently I’ve spent multiple hours checking out the best headphones, soundbars, and other audio gear.
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, with a special focus on active noise canceling (ANC).
For sound quality tests, we put earbuds through some basic audio tests in our labs in Cambridge, MA to give us data on a few things such as max volume, passive and active noise attenuation (including active noise cancellation), and how well each earbud blocked 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.
For active noise canceling, we test the earbuds in a variety of environments, including using speakers blasting airplane engine droning, a pink noise generator, and crowd noise emulator in a confined environment with high-quality speakers. We also test them in real-world environments, including (when possible) traveling on airplanes, walking around busy streets, and multiple other scenarios.
Other features are all tested in real-life situations, including sweat proofing, short- and long-term comfort, battery life, microphone quality, and connectivity over distances and through obstacles like doors and walls.
Perhaps the biggest missing link in all headphone reviews is durability. It's simply impossible for us to test a single pair and come to a meaningful conclusion about how well they'll hold up over time and with regular use (and abuse). To account for this, we noted any major issues that popped up in user reviews (where available), though this didn't impact the final scoring. We also use these earbuds over a prolonged period and update their firmware when available to test out the latest features and update relevant articles and reviews with our findings.
The truth is that wireless earbuds across the board have struggled with durability, so this is a major cause of concern for us. Since some of these models are quite new, we are reserving 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 modern headphones, specifically noise canceling earbuds in this case, 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.
Active Noise Cancellation: Noise-canceling headphones, i.e those with active noise cancellation (ANC) aren't just for frequent flyers. Originally developed for pilots, this headphone technology reduces 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 in the office or at home. All of our picks here feature solid ANC, though obviously not all of them employ it in exactly the same way or with exactly the same effectiveness.
Bluetooth/wireless: Do you want wireless headphones? A pair of Bluetooth headphones will let you unplug from your source device, while a set of "true wireless" earbuds are even more minimalist, offering totally wire-free listening with no cable between the earbuds. If you're looking for an experience that won't tether you to your phone, tablet, or laptop, Bluetooth headphones are what you need—and fortunately, they're ubiquitous enough these days that you can find them in every style and price range.
Transparency mode: This feature goes by many names, including hear through mode, ambient sound mode, etc. All of these phrases refer to the same technology, which uses tiny microphones on the exterior of your headphones or earbuds to filter in sound from your environment. The purpose is to keep you aware of your surroundings, letting you play tunes while you jog or hike, while still being aware of dangers or alerts. Not all transparency mode is created equal, though, and how a headphone’s hardware and software handle things like wind gusts can make a serious difference in the feature’s utility.
IP: You'll encounter an "IP" rating across a wide array of electronics but the term is perhaps most important (in the headphone world anyway) when it comes to products designed to take 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—essentially how well the product stands up to ingress, and the higher the number the better. The second number is water resistance. The highest you'll likely see for headphones is "7" which means the product is certified to withstand being fully submerged in one meter of water (freshwater only) for 30 minutes. For headphones, anything from IPX4 (meaning the headphones can withstand splashes from any direction) and above should do the trick. You can find more info in our IP guide.
Other Noise Canceling Earbuds We Tested
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
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 matches brilliantly with Sony's WF-10000XM4 as the best in the genre. The QuietComfort also offer elegant design, clear sound, and a comfy and secure fit that keeps them in place under duress.
In order to get those 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. The extra-large earbuds weigh a gram more per bud than Sony's pair, and they come with a chunky charging case that offers only two recharges for a relatively low 18 hours of total battery in total. The stylized sound is good, but also 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 earbuds about a month after release via swipes up and down on the right bud. 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, though there are some features excluded we'd expect for buds like these, including some form of EQ to switch up the sound signature and the ability to skip songs backward from the 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.
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 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 their 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 Jabra's Elite 75t, their oval tips assure you won’t hear yourself chewing, walking, or jogging in the same way as more sealed eartips. And yet, 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, they’re 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 the keys (even while wearing gloves) lets you slide between jamming out in solitude and striking up a conversation. Multi-point pairing also makes it easy to switch between 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.
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 ultra-light 5-gram 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, their 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.
The Liberty Air 2 Pro’s offer surprisingly good active noise cancellation, the first of their kind from Anker's Soundcore line to do so. The noise reduction is not quite as impactful as some of the pricier options on our list, but for such a low price point, effective ANC with equally adequate transparency mode is a serious feat—especially considering their AirPods Pro-like, semi-open fit.
Soundcore makes both ANC and equalization fully customizable, but we found sticking to the earbuds’ Soundcore Signature setting delivered the kind of balanced sound that suits most musical genres.
Other features include IPX4 water resistance and solid battery life of around six hours with ANC and seven without. Those numbers are about middle-pack for this space, but that’s nice to see considering their cost. We do wish Soundcore had made these earbuds more secure for workouts and found a way to offer more comprehensive controls. That being said, those 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 styling, the Liberty Air 2 Pro are very tough to beat.
The Momentum True Wireless 2 serve up a rich, dynamic listening experience regardless of genre, thanks in part to their mid-level (but relatively effective) active noise cancellation. While it's not as powerful as our top picks, the earbuds' excellent passive noise isolation help them offer impressive tranquility to go along with world-class sound.
Speaking of which, the Momentum sound so good that you might find yourself discovering sonic details in songs you thought you knew like the back of your hand. Listening to music with these buds is an altogether inviting experience, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-sounding pair of wireless earbuds of any kind. They also offer transparency mode for environmental awareness alongside their active noise cancellation, though it's not as natural sounding as some of our favorites in the space.
The Momentum 2 offer a vastly improved selection of touch controls compared to their original pair, while Sennheiser’s Smart Control app has also improved, making the customization experience painless and surprisingly granular, allowing you to change up the controls in any configuration. Other features include Bluetooth 5.0 for a solid wireless connection and respectable IPX4 water resistance.
While the Momentum True Wireless offer better battery life than their predecessor, they top out at around seven hours (or a little over five with noise cancellation enabled). It's less than we'd like for their price point, and the buds also aren't quite as durable as some of the more sporty true wireless earbuds we’ve tested.
Still, Sennheiser's Momentum 2 are a fine choice if you're looking for solid active noise canceling to go alongside sweet and luscious sound.
The Jabra Elite Active 75t are a great set of noise-canceling earphones for just about anyone, but particularly folks who spend a lot of time running or working out. Their nimble design packs IP57-rated dust and water resistance, allowing you to safely rinse them off after a workout. (Tip: If you're looking for more like these, we have plenty to recommend in our Best Workout Headphones guide.)
The 75t's noise canceling, which arrived after launch in a firmware update, isn't the best out there, but combined with their excellent passive noise isolation it's pretty effective, and even allows you to tailor it. Apart from that, you'll get nearly every bell and whistle, from a finder function so you won't lose track of them to transparency mode to hear the world around you so you can stay aware in nearly any situation.
Their heavy, bass-forward sound signature won't be for everyone, and it might take some tinkering in the accompanying app to find an equalization setting that fits your playlist. Still, their sound performance will satisfy most casual listeners and power users alike, and it's bolstered by around 7 hours of battery life per charge (or around 5.5 hours with ANC).
Like the Elite 85t, their control buttons are easy enough to press without force, yet firm enough that they rarely get pressed accidentally. Jabra’s intuitive controls and customization (thanks to the loaded Jabra Sound+ app) make for one of the best user experiences in the true wireless game.
One small point of caution: Their small size and rigid plastic design isn't a great fit for everyone, and they also may wear on those with smaller ears after a few hours—though that's the case with most noise-canceling true wireless earbuds to some degree.
All in all, the Jabra Elite Active 75t are a great pick for folks looking for superb performance, durability, and a well-rounded experience. In addition, if you don't see the need for your earbuds to be fully submerged in water you can save a few bucks in the Elite 75t earbuds, which are nearly identical to their cousins, but with a less-rugged IP55 dust/water-resistance rating.
Amazon’s second attempt at true wireless earbuds, the Echo Buds (gen 2), offer fantastic value at their price point. Amazon revamped the new Echo Buds’ blueprint, improved both their sound and features, and add surprisingly effective active noise cancellation for their intriguingly low price point.
Amazon made its second pair of Echo Buds 20% smaller and far comfier. The seal in your ears is tight, which helps for cutting out noise around you and jostling movements like running or going to the gym. On the flip side, they’re comfortable enough to avoid substantial ear fatigue after long periods of listening.
The noise cancellation found in these buds may not be on par with our favorite options but it's enough to cut out the noise in even tough environments, and in a form factor that's more stable than picks like Soundcore's Liberty Air 2 Pro.
Like the originals, the battery life of the second-generation Echo Buds, at just 5 hours with ANC and 6.5 hours without, isn’t anything to write home about. There also aren't a lot of customization options when it comes to sound quality, and their midrange frequencies can come off a little flat and thin.
Besides that, though, Amazon’s second-gen Echo Buds are a workhorse pair of earbuds that provide a compelling combination of comfort, features, and sound quality to make them an impressive value. And that’s without mentioning the world’s favorite voice assistant which is, of course, a built-in feature that puts the “Alexa” in “Alexa, turn up the volume.”
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 those outside the Samsung family, too, 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 start of their features. They also offer adjustable ambient audio, which is boostable for super hearing, alongside offerings 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 once you download Samsung’s well-equipped Wear app. But Samsung also saved a litany of extra features for the Samsung faithful, including auto-pairing, Bixby wakeup, and even a 3D audio feature that’s saved for those with the Galaxy S21 and up. In other words, it pays to be heavily invested in Samsung’s ecosystem here.
Samsung does well to straddle both sides of that line, though, adding design traits everyone can enjoy such as class-leading 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 5 hours per charge with ANC). In addition, so far 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.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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 2013. 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.