When it comes to active noise-cancelling technology, most think of large, over-the-ear headphones. However, there are significantly smaller, more discreet options available. Read on to see our picks for the best earbuds with the best active noise-cancelling.
1. Apple AirPods Pro
It’s no secret that Apple’s AirPods have been a smash success. Despite their popularity, there were some criticisms directed toward the overall sound quality. With the AirPods Pro, Apple has largely eliminated these concerns, all while including some impressive premium features. First and foremost is the active noise-cancelling (ANC) technology. This significantly reduces ambient sound while including a transparency mode that allows users to hear outside sound. This is a good option for when completely cancelling out noise might be a safety issue.
In addition to upgraded sound quality and ANC, the AirPods Pro have better call clarity compared to the standard AirPods. Furthermore, the AirPods Pro have decent battery life, rated at approximately 4.5 hours per charge. That being said, the AirPods Pro are pretty expensive. At the time of this writing, they’ll run you $250. For some people, that price tag will be a deal-breaker.
2. Amazon Echo Buds
Amazon isn’t exactly known for high-end audio equipment. However, that hasn’t stopped the retail giant from stepping into a crowded space dominated by Apple’s AirPods. The Echo Buds are Amazon’s attempt to sway consumers considering AirPods, and for the most part, they succeed. At $130, the Amazon Echo Buds are over $100 cheaper than the AirPods Pro. Additionally, they feature active noise reduction (ANR) by Bose. While this isn’t the same as active noise-cancelling technology as found in Bose-made headphones, ANR does a decent job of eliminating ambient noise like traffic and conversations.
Furthermore, the Echo Buds are a true wireless stereo system, meaning they are free of wires. They are housed in their own charging case and come with a variety of silicone tips to accommodate most ear canals. Amazon’s Echo Buds are compatible with Siri and Google Assistant; however, you will need to use your phone to activate them at this stage. However, Alexa can be used totally hands-free.
3. Bose QuietComfort 20
The Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones feature Bose’s signature active noise-cancelling technology. Bose is an industry leader when it comes to ANC, and these headphones manage to shrink down that performance into a compact package. This makes the QuietComfort 20s very tempting for those looking for something smaller than the standard over-the-ear ANC cans. Furthermore, the ANC in the QuietComfort 20s is delivered by a rechargeable battery that provides an impressive 16 hours of noise cancellation.
While the Bose QuietComfort 20s offer superior ANC and a comfortable fit, they have a few drawbacks. First, they are not wireless, so you’ll be wrestling with a cord in addition to recharging the battery responsible for the ANC. Additionally, the QuietComfort 20s are pretty pricey at $250, a hefty price tag for non-wireless ear buds.
4. Sony WF-1000XM3
Sony is no stranger to noise-cancelling headphones, nor are they charting unfamiliar territory when it comes to true wireless stereo earbuds, so it comes as no surprise that Sony has married these two technologies and developed one of the best ANC earbud systems available. The Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds are a true wireless option that delivers excellent sound quality and ambient noise cancellation.
Furthermore, they boast truly impressive battery life. Sony estimates that users will get about six hours of listening time with the noise cancelling turned on and eight hours with it turned off. Either way, you’re getting better performance on a single charge than most competitors. Unfortunately, the Sony WF-1000XM3s are fairly bulky and are housed in a chunky charging case. Additionally, while they are good value for what you’re getting, they’re still pricey.
5. Plantronics Backbeat Go 410
The Plantronics Backbeat Go 410 earbuds are unlike the others on this list due to the fact that they feature a neckband design. While these types of Bluetooth headphones may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the flexible neckband provides stability and added comfort. Furthermore, the Backbeat Go 410s have a few interesting features up their sleeve.
First up is the “smart magnet” feature. When the earbuds snap together, the headphones automatically shut off, conserving battery power. Additionally, the Backbeat Go 410s have a USB charging cable that doubles as a 3.5mm audio cable. This allows users to convert the Backbeat Go 410 into a pair of wired headphones. While the Plantronics Backbeat Go 410 deliver decent sound quality, their active noise cancellation leaves a bit to be desired. That being said, for about $100, they are a solid choice for those looking for budget ANC earbuds.
Are you interested in purchasing active noise-cancelling earbuds? Which ones would be your choice? Let us know in the comments!