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Best noise-canceling headphones under $100 Credit: Anker Soundcore

The Best Noise Canceling Headphones Under $100 of 2022

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Best noise-canceling headphones under $100 Credit: Anker Soundcore

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Editor's Choice Product image of Anker Soundcore Space A40
Best Overall

Anker Soundcore Space A40

The Soundcore Space A40 set a new mark for earbuds under $100 thanks to their excellent ANC that's better than more expensive earbuds and great sound. Read More

Pros

  • Amazing ANC for the price
  • Customizable sound profiles
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Little sizzly out of the box
  • Lows can cover vocals
2
Product image of Anker Soundcore Life Q30

Anker Soundcore Life Q30

You'd be hard-pressed to find better over-ear ANC cans than the Life Q30. They have excellent noise canceling, great sound, and a full-feature app. Read More

Pros

  • Excellent ANC
  • Long-term comfort
  • Great app

Cons

  • Conversation gets through
  • Audio needs some tuning
3
Editor's Choice Product image of Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro

The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro stand out in the true wireless space as an affordable collection of stellar features and sought-after sound. Read More

Pros

  • Great sound for the price
  • Thick with features
  • Good noise canceling for the price

Cons

  • Not ideal for active usage
  • Limited controls
4
Product image of Phiaton BT 120 NC

Phiaton BT 120 NC

A great option for general listening, but serious audiophiles will likely be a bit disappointed. Additionally, the active noise cancelation doesn’t compare to others on the market. Read More

Pros

  • Fast Charging
  • Wide variety of ear tips and fins
  • Good sound quality

Cons

  • Neckband design may not appeal to everyone
  • Drivers heat up noticeably while in use
5
Product image of Mixcder E9

Mixcder E9

For the price, a decent option. The biggest problem: they feel fragile. Not like they’ll snap in half, but you can feel the material quality or lack thereof. Read More

Pros

  • Decent sound and noise cancellation for the money

Cons

  • Fragile design

While noise-canceling headphones have long been a key accessory for city commuting or taking a flight, they might be more important now than ever with so many folks working remotely. Fortunately, they're also more affordable than ever, meaning you don't need to shell out a huge amount of cash just to get some peace and quiet.

We've spent oodles of time reviewing great noise-canceling headphones from every major brand. If you don't want to spend a lot of money, we recommend the Anker Soundcore Space A40 (available at Amazon), which provide the best noise canceling for the money with great sound and an app full of features. If they aren't quite right, though, our list offers plenty more great budget picks, so you can block out the silence without breaking the bank.

These are the best noise-canceling headphones under $100:

  1. Anker Soundcore Space A40
  2. Anker Soundcore Life Q30
  3. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro
  4. Phiaton BT 120 NC
  5. Mixcder E9
  6. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70
A man wearing the Anker Soundcore Space A40 earbuds while standing outside in front of a tree.`
Credit: Reviewed / John Higgins

The Anker Soundcore Space A40 earbuds deliver the best ANC performance you can get for under $100.

Best Overall
Anker Soundcore Space A40
  • Battery life: 10 hours, up to 50 with the case
  • Ambient sound modes: Adaptive ANC, Transparency mode
  • Dust/water resistance: IPX4 rating

Noise canceling in inexpensive headphones has come a long way in the past couple years, and Anker has been leading the charge. With the Soundcore Space A40, not only are they leading the charge, Anker is competing above their price class. The Space A40’s ANC is at least as good as earbuds for $150, like the Jabra Elite 5.

The adaptive active noise canceling on the Space A40 ably handles low drones, such as airplane cabin noise or HVAC units. It even takes the edge off of midrange conversation that you’ll find at the local coffee shop. It doesn’t completely remove it, but if you’re listening to music at a low level it’s enough to keep you focused in your own world. Within the Soundcore app you can choose between two Transparency modes, one full range and one that puts the focus on letting voices through if you need to have a quick conversation.

Out of the box, the A40 have a nice sound profile, although their highs (especially cymbals) can be a tad piercing and mids are a little covered by the low end. Thankfully, the app includes an 8-band EQ to address these issues. There’s also HearID Sound, which profiles your hearing perception in each ear and creates an EQ curve customized to your ears. It works pretty well and delivers a nice improvement over the default profile. Hi-res audio and LDAC are both supported.

There are touch controls—single tap, double tap, and hold for two seconds—that can be turned on and off per control. They’re also fully customizable, assignable to volume, track controls, and for the two-second hold the added options of Ambient Sound Mode select, Voice Assistant activation, and Game Mode toggle.

Throw wireless case charging on top of the features pile and the Anker Space A40 set a new standard for earbuds performance under $100.

Pros

  • Amazing ANC for the price

  • Customizable sound profiles

  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Little sizzly out of the box

  • Lows can cover vocals

Other Noise Canceling Headphones We Tested

Product image of Anker Soundcore Life Q30
Anker Soundcore Life Q30
  • Battery life: 40 hours with ANC, 60 without
  • Ambient sound modes: ANC (three options), Transparency mode
  • Dust/water resistance: No IP rating

The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 over-ear headphones deliver some of the best noise-canceling performance for cost currently available. It won’t rival the noise canceling capabilities of our top noise-canceling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM5, but the Q30 are also less than a quarter of the price.

Within the Soundcore app are three different noise-canceling options; Transport, Indoor, and Outdoor. Overall, the Life Q30 delivers an impressive amount of low-end attenuation, limiting the amount of airplane drone or air conditioning you’ll hear, especially in Transport mode. They have some difficulty with conversation (which is true for almost all headphones on the market, regardless of price), and that will include the higher portion of the airplane sound to creep in, but switching to Indoor does thin the chatter out more than the other two. Effectiveness is more prominent in front of and behind the head, with more chatter frequencies directly on either side getting through the noise canceling. Noise canceling and transparency mode can be toggled by touching the right ear cup for one second.

The Default sound profile can be a bit muddy in the lows and cover vocals while listening to music, and some high frequencies are a little sizzly. The app has an 8-band EQ that helps alleviate those issues, and you can create up to a whopping 20 different custom settings. It’s not perfectly targeted to the troublesome frequencies, but adjustments are enough for an overall good sound.

For the price, it’s hard to compete with what the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 offer.

Pros

  • Excellent ANC

  • Long-term comfort

  • Great app

Cons

  • Conversation gets through

  • Audio needs some tuning

Product image of Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro
  • Battery life: up to 6 hours with ANC, 7 without; up to 26 with the case
  • Ambient sound modes: ANC, Transparency mode
  • Dust/water resistance: IPX4 rating

The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro have noise canceling that rivals that of the classic AirPods Pro—and at less than half the price. It might not hold up to some newer earbuds, but it’s still solid performance in this price range.

Where they do hold up is in their sound quality, which we found to be some of the best-sounding for under $100. The Liberty Air 2 Pro can be used with Anker’s HearID Sound feature in the Soundcore app to fine-tune the sound to your own ears, adding some clarity to the sonic performance. The built-in microphone array is also a more than capable solution for calls on the go.

The controls of the Liberty Air 2 Pro are as versatile as the Space A40, as they’re limited to double tap and two-second press, so you’ll have to choose between track and volume controls. Still, the ANC and sound performance make these a great portable choice.

Pros

  • Great sound for the price

  • Thick with features

  • Good noise canceling for the price

Cons

  • Not ideal for active usage

  • Limited controls

Product image of Phiaton BT 120 NC
Phiaton BT 120 NC
  • Battery life: up to 5 with ANC, 8.5 hours without
  • Ambient sound modes: ANC
  • Dust/water resistance: IPX4 rating

If you're interested in a pair of noise-canceling earbuds, the Phiaton BT 120NC should be on your radar. Designed as a sports product, the BT120 are flexible, light, and sweat-resistant, featuring a behind-neck band with conveniently placed controls. They also come with a solid selection of ear tip sizes, making it easier to get a tight seal to aid in their noise cancelation efforts.

These headphones sound good for general listening. The treble isn't of the highest fidelity, but then again, it's hard to complain at this price point. The active noise cancelation won't knock you out of the park, but it is a real improvement over what might be reproduced while using them passively. Pour in a little music at moderate levels and you'll be able to say goodbye to most distractions.

Pros

  • Fast Charging

  • Wide variety of ear tips and fins

  • Good sound quality

Cons

  • Neckband design may not appeal to everyone

  • Drivers heat up noticeably while in use

Product image of Mixcder E9
Mixcder E9
  • Battery life: up to 60 hours
  • Ambient sound modes: ANC
  • Dust/water resistance: No IP rating

The Mixcder’s E9 won't excite you, but for the money, they shouldn't have to. The best way we can describe the sound of these headphones is that they sound just fine, and there’s nothing that stands out as particularly bad. They just work. Nothing is especially punchy or particularly exciting, but nothing is offensive either, which could be just what you need to escape from work distractions or other noises.

We had no problems with connectivity during use, and noise cancellation worked as expected. We found these nice to use in a coffee shop, where there are a lot of different sounds. One issue to point out is that they feel fragile. It’s not like they’re going to snap in half, but you can feel the material quality or lack thereof. Otherwise, if you're going to treat them nicely, the Mixcder E9 are a solid, if not exciting, option.

Pros

  • Decent sound and noise cancellation for the money

Cons

  • Fragile design

Product image of Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 QuietPoint
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 QuietPoint
  • Battery life: up to 40 hours
  • Ambient sound modes: ANC
  • Dust/water resistance: No IP rating

Noise reduction headphones have to be able to 1) block out ambient noise and 2) function as headphones that transmit music to your ear canal. The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 do a pretty good job at both tasks, but there are some trade-offs. Without the ANC, the bass is really de-emphasized and sounds rather tinny and hollow. With the ANC, though, the reverse is true: the bass gets a boost, but the mids and high-mids are muddied and muffled.

On the other hand, these headphones have plush ear pads and a headband that doesn't feel like it's digging into your skull after a couple of hours. The controls are easy to use (even if you have to hunt around for the ANC button), and the ANC is powered by a single AAA battery.

These headphones can't be used for wireless playback, but they can be used as wireless isolators (if you really need just peace and quiet) by removing the cable. For those who prioritize comfort and noise cancellation over audio fidelity, the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 are a solid investment.

Pros

  • Active noise cancellation works well

  • Comfortable fit

Cons

  • Fidelity isn't great

  • Can't be used for wireless playback


How We Test Noise Canceling Headphones

The Testers

Contributors to this article include Reviewed's AV Editor, John Higgins, Electronics Managing Editor, Ryan Waniata, and Lee Neikirk, Reviewed’s former AV Editor. Together, they have multiple decades worth of experience testing and evaluating headphones.

The Tests

We listen to all noise canceling headphones we test with a collection of tracks—including airplane drones, crowd noise, pink noise, and our own collection of music we’re familiar with—to see how the ANC stacks up. We also wear each pair of headphones around town to get a sense of their features (like noise cancellation and transparency mode), sound quality, as well as short-and long-term comfort. Each part of the app (if there is one) is explored and tried out to be sure that we check full functionality to get a complete sense of the headphones experience.

Active vs. Passive Noise Canceling Headphones

Active Noise Canceling headphones (ANC) minimize exterior sound by using small microphones to analyze the sound frequencies in the environment around you and then flip their polarity to "cancel" them out. Passive Noise Cancellation (PNC), on the other hand, uses materials built into the headphones to muffle outside sound. A strong mix of both is generally preferred to create the most effective noise cancellation.

Because active noise cancellation may introduce additional sound when engaged, it can affect the sound quality of what you’re listening to (though this is becoming less of an issue with many newer models). Many noise cancellation headphones have an option to turn ANC on or off, while more advanced models allow for different levels of cancellation to adjust for the scenario and environment.

In-Ear vs. On-Ear vs. Over-ear Headphones

You've probably seen a bunch of different headphones in your everyday life, but what you may not realize is that headphones, while they have a number of different selling points, are primarily categorized into three types: in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear.

In-ear vs. on-ear vs. over-ear headphones.
Credit: Reviewed

Three popular types of headphones: in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear.

These types include everything from bulky over-ear models to tiny true wireless earbuds that easily fit in the palm of your hand. While still available, on-ear headphones, which utilize earcups that sit atop your ears rather than over them, are becoming less common in today's market.

Wireless/Bluetooth Headphones

Do you want wireless headphones? A pair of Bluetooth headphones will let you go completely without wires, while a set of "true wireless" earbuds are even more minimalist. 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.

Meet the testers

Lee Neikirk

Lee Neikirk

Editor, Home Theater

@Koanshark

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.

See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews
John Higgins

John Higgins

Editor, Electronics & Audio/Video

@johntmhiggins

John is the A/V Editor for Reviewed. He is an ISF Level III-certified calibrator with bylines at ProjectorCentral, Wirecutter, IGN, Home Theater Review, T3, Sound & Vision, and Home Theater Magazine. When away from the Reviewed office, he is a sound editor for film and musician, and loves to play games with his son.

See all of John Higgins's reviews
Nicole Carpenter

Nicole Carpenter

Contributing Writer

Nicole Carpenter is a reporter and reviewer based out of Massachusetts. For the past few years, she’s specialized in the technology and gaming sectors, reviewing a number of different headphones with a specialty in gaming gear.

See all of Nicole Carpenter's reviews
Ryan Waniata

Ryan Waniata

Managing Editor - Electronics

@ryanwaniata

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.

See all of Ryan Waniata's reviews

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