The Best Noise Canceling Headphones 2019
Headphones with Active Noise Canceling (ANC) provide peace of mind when travelling by actively hiding environmental noise. The differences in price, features, sound and comfort are crucial when buying – WBITW audio expert Goerge introduces the best ANC models from Bose, Sony, Master & Dynamic, Libratone, Marshall and TaoTronics.
The best-in-class ANC over-ear headphones: Bose Headphones 700
Top-of-the-range model from the American manufacturer Bose, who long ago brought noise canceling from the professional sector (aircraft pilots) to the consumer market. The company’s many years of experience can also be seen in the “Headphones 700” model. The noise insulation is excellent and can be regulated in 11 levels, the sound while listening to music is great and matched to almost any genre of music. Thanks to Multipoint Bluetooth, it is easy to switch between connected devices (eg mobile phone and tablet) without the need for the Bluetooth menu. Detailed information can be found in the test of WBITW (rating: 88 percent) .
Advantages: Good and pleasant sound; Noise cancelling at the highest level; good sound quality even when making a call (headset function); Multipoint Bluetooth
Disadvantages: Relatively high price; Not collapsible; Comprehensive use requires installation of the associated smartphone app (Bose Music)
The best-performing ANC over-ear headphones: Master & Dynamic MW65
While most manufacturers rely on plastic, the buyer of an MW65 from Master & Dynamic gets finely processed aluminium and genuine leather. The sound is provided by 4 mm beryllium drivers – this too is a component that will certainly not be found in cheap models.
Advantages: Outstanding workmanship and fine materials; clear and dynamic sound; up to 24 hours runtime
Disadvantages: High price; Noise cancelling could be better
The best ANC over-ear headphones under 300 euros: Sony WH-1000XM3
Sony’s best noise-cancelling headphones were shown at the IFA 2018 in Berlin (RRP 379 euros) and have since fallen to an attractive level in terms of prices. He is easily found in the trade for less than 300 euros, making him a hot candidate considering the great sound and the effective noise reduction. For some users, it’s even the best model on the market at all – we find it shares the throne with the aforementioned Bose and Master & Dynamic headsets.
Advantages: very good noise cancelling; detailed and colourful sound
Disadvantages: Touch operation (instead of hardware buttons) is a disadvantage for some users; no multipoint Bluetooth
The best ANC over-ear headphones for less than 100 euros: TaoTronics TT-BH060
The TaoTronics TT-BH060 can be found on Amazon, the catastrophic name is: “Active Noise Canceling Headphones TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Wireless Headphone Over-Ear Headset ANC Deep Bass” . You can already tell from the title that you are dealing with a “cheap kiddie”. Also, the design of the headphones should be somehow familiar to some … All this does not matter, because at a price of 89.99 euros (sometimes even significantly reduced) is the TaoTronics an absolute blast for savers. Since the big brand manufacturers just can not keep up. No wonder the thing is a bestseller, which in the category Noise-Canceling Headphones * always makes it to first place on Amazon.
Advantages: It fulfils its purpose and for the low price even surprisingly well
Disadvantages: Clear compromises in terms of durability, sound quality and wearing comfort compared to premium models
The best compact ANC on-ear headphone: Marshall Mid ANC
For some users, over-ear headphones are too bulky, they prefer more compact on-ear models, where the ears are not completely enclosed by large enclosures. As with the Marshall MID ANC, here are the pads on the earcups. As usual with Marshall, special attention has been paid to the design – this headphone has a lot of style with its stage-inspired look and iconic branding and is a real eye-catcher. The sound is rocking and punchy, which fits wonderfully with corresponding music genres. Operation is via a multidirectional button that works similar to a tiny joystick. All information about the Marshall Mid ANC can be found in the test of WBITW (rating: 78 per cent).
Advantages: fun sound; effective noise cancelling; great design
Disadvantages: Sound tuning is not for lovers of musical subtleties; Comfort could be better
The Best True Wireless Earbuds with Noise Canceling: Libratone Track Air +
In-ear headphones usually provide a fairly high level of isolation from environmental noise because they seal the ear canals with silicone fittings. The Libratone Track Air + are slightly flatter than usual, giving them a less pronounced sense of “cork in the ears”. The special feature of the Track Air + is the additional integrated Active Noise Canceling, which means that especially low frequencies such as the rumble of the subway are filtered out electronically. The effect is not as strong as in the above-mentioned over-ear models (eg Bose Headphones 700), but still sufficient. All information about the Libratone Track Air + can be found in the test by WBITW (rating: 84 percent).
Advantages: Ordinary sound; active noise cancelling; compact design
disadvantages: Full functionality (eg regulation of ANC strength) requires the associated app (free) and a login
Active Noise Canceling: What to Remember When Buying Headphones
“Active” noise canceling means more than just a particularly good sealing headphone. Indeed, ANC models incorporate electronics that detect environmental noise and extinguish it in real time. The required technology consumes additional power, which is noticeable in practically all models. In practice, with over-the-ear models, around 20 hours of battery life when the ANC is on are the standard, while conventional Bluetooth headphones can sometimes reach 30 hours or more. In the end, however, the running time is completely sufficient for everyday use, at least for over-ear and on-ear models. Only completely wireless models (True Wireless Earbuds) currently barely last a full day, they are limited to around 5 hours.
For some users, the noise cancelling conveys a “feeling of pressure” on the ears, sometimes even a quiet background noise is noticeable. This perception is individually different, just as much that actually disturbs the wearer in everyday life. If you are sensitive, you should definitely try an ANC headphone before buying.
How does noise canceling headphones work?
All ANC headphones work in principle with two methods: First, with high passive insulation (insulation through housing and ear pad), which mitigates especially the high frequencies (eg birdsong) – so as with normal hearing protection. Secondly, counter-noise is used: this means that the headphone with external microphones analyzes the ambient noise and generates an upside-down sound signal. This signal then extinguishes the ambient noise in the ear of the wearer, so that the artificially generated silence is perceived here.
How much noise can ANC headphones actually shield?
How effective noise cancelling is depends on the manufacturer. The general rule is that if you spend more on your headphones, you will also get a better result. But that does not mean that cheap ANC models do not work – they serve the purpose as well, but not always as well. You can find out for yourself how the soundproofing sounds. Put on (normal) headphones and watch this video:
Finally, you have to be aware: Absolute silence like in a soundproof room – that does not create noise-cancelling headphones, no matter how expensive. Technically feasible is currently only a noticeable reduction in ambient noise, so that together with simultaneously played music creates the feeling that one is isolated from the noisy environment. Above all, low frequencies such as the humming in the plane are mitigated and make noise-cancelling headphones ideal travel companions, which you would not want to do without quickly.