The 10 Best Noise-canceling Headphones of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 keep things exceptionally quiet.

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2 of the top noise-canceling headphones

Travel + Leisure / Sabrina Jiang

Whether you can’t get enough of music, podcasts, or audiobooks, a pair of the best noise-canceling headphones can significantly improve the quality of your listening experience — especially if you’re traveling on a plane, commuting on a busy route, or working amid an abundance of background noise. 

In our New York City lab, we tested 26 pairs of noise-canceling headphones from the industry’s leading brands, including Apple, Samsung, and Jabra. We performed a series of tests that evaluated ease of use, functionality, comfort, and, of course, sound quality. Our testers listened to a series of noises at different frequencies, such as a screaming baby, an airplane cabin, and a siren, to discover which headphones truly have the most ear-saving power. We also tested all of these headphones out in the real-world to guarantee the best results to guide you while you shop.

The best noise-canceling headphones we tested are the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700. These tried-and-true wireless headphones blew us away with the ability to silence any fracas with their active noise-canceling. On top of that, they are exceptionally comfortable to wear and are easy to set up and use. If over-the-ear headphones aren’t your style preference, we also have versatile earbud recommendations as well as verdicts on the best multi-use and budget options.

Best Overall

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

5
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Bose

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Functionality
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    5/5
  • Noise Cancelation
    5/5
  • Comfort
    5/5

Why We Love It: These have a unique adjustability with an expandable headband and ear cups that slide up and down for an even better fit.

What to Consider: They didn't feel as secure on the head as other headphones we tested.

The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 earned the top spot on our list for best noise-canceling headphones with superior performance across all of our testing categories. Most notably, these headphones blocked almost all outside sound with their active noise-canceling feature turned on. There are 11 levels of passive and active noise-canceling on this Bose model, and when our tester used the headphones at the highest setting, they couldn’t even hear their own voice talking. The right earcup has touch sensors to adjust the sound level and noise-canceling presets as well as power the headphones on and off. Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa can work with these Bose headphones to allow hands-free assistance for answering texts or changing music selections. They're simple and easy to set up, but users will need to download the Bose app to take advantage of the headphones’ full functionality. Additionally, they're comfortable to wear, but when our tester moved around a bit, they didn’t feel as secure as some of the other headphones we tested.

The lower levels of noise cancelation are transparent enough for surrounding awareness, while the highest setting renders complete silence. Our tester was able to hear some subway noise, a construction drill, and outside talking at 79.7 to 86.2 decibels, but for the most part, the active noise-canceling blocked out loud sounds effectively. The quality of the music also thoroughly impressed our tester, who said, “I could hear every instrument clearly as if I was hearing it live.”

Price at time of publish: $379

Battery life: Up to 20 hours | Bluetooth range: Up to 33 feet | Compatibility: Android and iOS

Best Budget

Anker Soundcore Life P3 Noise Cancelling Earbuds

4.4
Anker Soundcore Life P3 Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Functionality
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4/5
  • Noise Cancelation
    4/5
  • Comfort
    4.5/5

Why We Love It: The sound quality of the music is sharp and vibrant. 

What to Consider: The sound quality isn’t as good during phone calls. 

For a pair of noise-canceling headphones at such an accessible price, we were impressed with the excellent sound projected from the Anker Soundcore Life P3 during testing. According to our tester, “the sound quality of [the] music is crystal clear and quite impressive.” When they were listening to music at a low level, the active noise-canceling concealed all outside sounds, including the decibel tests with a baby screaming, a siren, subway sounds, and more. However,  during the phone test, our tester and the person on the other end of their call could hear outside sounds. If some background noise during phone calls doesn’t bother you, this shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s something to consider if your primary use of these headphones would be for something requiring no disturbances. The earbuds are comfortable to wear, and there are several different sizes of tips included. Users will need to download the Soundcore app to control the noise-cancelation settings, but the app was simple to use and the earbuds paired to our tester’s device immediately. 

Price at time of publish: $80

Battery life: Seven hours of playing time and another 35 hours with the case | Bluetooth range: Not listed | Compatibility: Android and iOS

Best Earbud Sound

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

4.8
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Functionality
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    5/5
  • Noise Cancelation
    5/5
  • Comfort
    5/5

Why We Love It: The headphones have crisp and clear sound quality.  

What to Consider: The price depends on the color — some are more expensive than others. 

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro headphones block out all surrounding noise and provide a vibrant sound, according to our tester. We love how lightweight and comfortable the earbuds are to wear, and they feel secure when you’re on the move. In testing, the active noise-canceling feature prevented almost all outside noises from being heard, except for some ambient noise at 84.5 decibels. Other than that, our tester couldn’t hear a siren, a baby screaming, an airplane cabin, or a construction drill at various decibel levels. Although Samsung is an Android product, our tester used their iPhone to pair with the earbuds and it was simple and hassle-free. Users can tap an earbud to adjust the active noise-cancelation and transparency levels as well as pause or play a song. Our tester said, “It does a great job of adding base to the song. It is very vibrant and I can hear the instruments being played! I am so impressed.” 

Price at time of publish: $200

Battery life: Up to 8 hours | Bluetooth range: Up to 30 feet | Compatibility: Android and iOS

Most Comfortable Overhead

Sony WH-1000XM5 Noise Canceling Headphones

4.6
Sony WH-1000XM5 Noise Canceling Headphones

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    2/5
  • Functionality
    4/5
  • Sound Quality
    5/5
  • Noise Cancelation
    5/5
  • Comfort
    5/5

Why We Love It: They completely block out loud sounds and background noises. 

What to Consider: The set-up can be tricky at first.

One tester called the Sony WH-1000XM5 “by far the most impressive all-around noise-canceling headphones I've ever used.” Another tester who used the headphones during their day-to-day activities after lab testing was equally blown away. They loved the lightweight and comfortable fit of the headphones, reporting that they aren't too snug or too loose but do appear slightly bulky on the head. During lab testing, these headphones impressed us with their automatic adaptive noise-canceling, which turns the noise-canceling on and off when someone starts speaking and allows users to easily skip or pause songs by tapping the side of the ear cups. When the active noise-canceling was turned on, it could prevent the sounds of a ride-on lawnmower from being heard while landscaping. And when another tester walked around the city, the headphones created a “bubble” where outside noises were completely tuned out. Both of our testers had difficulties setting up the headphones due to a lack of instructions included by Sony, but once the app was downloaded, it became a much more intuitive experience. While the setup was tricky, these headphones more than made up for the inconvenience with incredible active noise cancelation.

Price at time of publish: $398

Battery life: Up to 30 hours | Bluetooth range: Up to 30 feet  | Compatibility: Android and iOS

Sony WH-1000XM5 Noise Canceling Headphones

Travel + Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Most Comfortable Earbuds

Jabra Elite 85t Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

4.7
Jabra Elite 85t Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Functionality
    4.5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4.5/5
  • Noise Cancelation
    4.5/5
  • Comfort
    5/5

Why We Love It: The Jabra app has a tool that tests sound leakage and recommends which size of the rubber earbud tip should be used. 

What to Consider: You may have to read the directions to help connecting to your computer.

Earbuds can be uncomfortable to wear for long amounts of time, but the Jabra Elite 85ts come with several thoughtful features to enhance comfort. There are three different sizes of rubber earbud tips, and the Jabra Sound+ app has a tool that omits a noise to test for leakage so that it can recommend the best fit for improving sound and comfort quality. One of our testers loved how lightweight and secure the earbuds felt. There are 11 sound levels with active noise-canceling and a transparency mode for when you need to hear surrounding sounds better. You can toggle between six included sound settings and create custom presets on the app or by tapping the earbud. The sound quality was satisfactory while playing music and taking a phone call, but the bass in some songs was “slightly lacking,” according to one tester. During our noise-canceling tests, the headphones blocked out ambient noises like people talking, but the sounds of a screaming baby, subway noise, and car honks came through. Although some noise didn’t get blocked completely, we think these earbuds would be ideal for extended flights when travelers want to listen to music for long periods of time without having to worry about ear pain. 

Price at time of publish: $230

Battery life: Up to 25 hours | Bluetooth range: 30 feet | Compatibility: Android and iOS

Jabra Elite 85t Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Travel + Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best Splurge

Apple AirPods Max

4.7
Apple AirPods Max

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    4/5
  • Functionality
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    5/5
  • Noise Cancelation
    5/5
  • Comfort
    5/5

Why We Love It: The sound quality and noise-canceling are excellent during phone calls. 

What to Consider: They don't turn off unless they're in the case, so you have to always carry the case with you.

Apple’s first pair of over-the-ear headphones, the AirPods Max earned our fandom with noise-canceling abilities that blocked out nearly all outside commotion while providing crisp and vibrant sound for music and phone calls. One tester said, “I usually use my AirPod Pros and, being that these are just an over-the-ear version, you wouldn't think they'd be much better. However, I find the sound quality to be much higher, and the cancel/transparency range to be larger, which is important to me.” Another tester appreciated how intuitive the headphones are to use thanks to buttons along the earpiece that allow you to adjust the sound level, play or skip a song, and change the active noise-cancelation and transparency settings. During our decibel tests, the headphones only let in the sound of a screaming baby at 75.3 decibels; otherwise, the noise-cancelation blocked out sirens, talking, construction drills, and more. Even with the transparency setting on, our tester noted that the headphones provided a noise-blocking effect. The headphones are comfortable to wear and shaped nicely to our tester’s head without many adjustments needed, but they still not be the best option to use during your workouts. Although these Apple headphones have a higher price point than some, we think the sound and material quality match the cost for those who have a larger budget.

Price at time of publish: $549

Battery life: Up to 20 hours | Bluetooth range: 33 feet | Compatibility: Android and iOS

Apple AirPods Max

Travel + Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best Battery Life

Jabra Elite 85h Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones

4.6
Jabra Elite 85h Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Functionality
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4/5
  • Noise Cancelation
    4.5/5
  • Comfort
    5/5

Why We Love It: There are six preset equalizer settings, but you can save custom presets, too. 

What to Consider: The noise-cancelation didn’t feel as strong as other headphones we tested.

On one single charge, the Jabra Elite 85H has a 36-hour battery life with the active noise cancelation turned on — an ideal length for travelers that might not have regular access to a power-up. To pair the headphones and control the noise-canceling abilities, users will have to download the Jabra Sound+ app, which includes features like sleep mode and a headphone tracker to find them if they get misplaced. Our tester had no issues setting up the app and appreciated the tour the app gave that outlined how to use the headphones. Another tester said, "I use these headphones everyday no question. These have exceeded my expectations by a long shot. The audio quality is amazing, the noise cancelation and hear-through mode works like a charm, and I love them."

The noise-canceling feature also impressed us by blocking out ambient noise like the sounds of an airplane cabin. One tester was able to hear the highest-pitched sounds like a baby screaming, but thoughtful features like the ability to play white noise from the app help block out noise. The headphones are comfortable to wear but aren’t as lightweight as the others we tested. On the plus side for portability, they fold up and fit into a compact carrying case that is perfect for air travel. 

Price at time of publish: $250

Battery life: Up to 36 hours | Bluetooth range: 33 feet | Compatibility: Android and iOs

Jabra Elite 85h Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones

Travel + Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best for Apple Users

Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)

4.5
AirPods Pro

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4/5
  • Fit
    4.5/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Battery Life
    3.5/5

Why We Love It: It takes Apple users seconds and almost no effort to pair Apple AirPods Pro.

What to Consider: It doesn't have the longest battery life.

Apple users who are looking to stay within the iOS family should consider the AirPods Pros. While owners of Android devices can use these Apple headphones, the pairing process for Apple users takes minimal effort and almost no time at all. Our tester instantly paired their phone and was able to adjust the active noise-canceling and transparency features on their device. The sound quality of the headphones didn’t blow us away, but we were thoroughly impressed with the noise-canceling ability that silenced any outside noise, including our simulated tests with sounds like a siren, a screaming baby, and a car honking. Another tester was able to use these on a recent flight and was impressed with the quality. “I could use the noise canceling feature even when I wasn't listening to anything to drown out the loud airplane sounds,” they said.

To suit your size preference, the Apple earbuds come with three different earbud tips so you can customize how snug you want them to feel in your ear. Our tester picked the smallest option and said that the fit was so comfortable, “I could definitely wear these all day.” Another great feature for Apple users is the ability to track your earbuds if you misplace them by using the Find My Friends app on an iPhone. Android users can certainly enjoy a pair of AirPods Pros, but we think Apple users or people new to using wireless earbuds will appreciate the convenience of these headphones the most. 

Price at time of publish: $250

Battery life: Up to 5 hours | Bluetooth range: Not listed | Compatibility: Android and iOS

Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)

Travel + Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best Multi-use

Beats Fit Pro Noise Canceling Earbuds

4.6
Beats Fit Pro Noise Canceling Earbuds

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    4.5/5
  • Comfort
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    5/5
  • Battery Life
    4/5
  • Value
    4/5

Why We Love It: You can skip songs and adjust the volume level by tapping on the earbud. 

What to Consider: The control buttons aren't easy to locate, you may have to feel around to find them.

Whether you're traveling, commuting, or working out at the gym, you'll love how comfortable and intuitive the Beats Fit Pros are. Pairing the headphones to a phone is incredibly easy — all you have to do is open the case and the device will automatically connect via Bluetooth. These earbuds have special audio that allows users to adjust the sound transparency to completely block out noise or allow it to filter through while using the earbuds. "I really like the noise cancelling aspect of these earbuds," one tester said. "There is a noticeable change when you turn on the noise cancelling toggle. For instance, a noisy subway ride can be minimized by this function, allowing the music or voices to become more distinct and the noise level around me drops into the background." Another tester shared that the sound quality for playing music was powerful, and nothing leaked through the active noise-cancelation. However, when talking on the phone, you may not want to activate the noise-canceling feature, otherwise you may not sound clear on the other end. 

Price at time of publish: $200

Battery life: Up to 24 hours | Bluetooth range: 33 feet | Compatibility: Android and iOS

Beats Fit Pro Noise Canceling Earbuds

Travel + Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Best Customizable

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

4.3
Bose Headphones

Amazon

Why We Love It: We love the quiet mode for when you really need to focus.

What to Consider: They may not be comfortable for people with small ears.

When it comes to noise-canceling headphones, we usually focus on blocking out sound so you can hear your music or movie without distraction. These headphones take things one step further by allowing users to customize their own noise-cancelation mode from a full cancelation "quiet" mode to a fully aware mode that automatically adjusts based on your surroundings. There's also an app you can use to track you earbuds — not just the case — in case one gets lost. Our tester was also very impressed with the sound quality of these earbuds when listening to music. "It feels like a full surround system in my ears and the music is so clear," she said. The downside is that the left earbud doesn't work on its own since the Bluetooth actually connects to the right bud. Both earbuds also have tap controls, so these are best used together for optimal listening.

Price at time of publish: $199

Battery life: Up to 6 hours | Bluetooth range: 30 feet | Compatibility: Android and iOS

Other Noise-canceling Headphones We Tested

Four noise-canceling headphones came close to making our list of top performers, but the pairs below lacked features and qualities compared to our 10 winners. 

Bose QuietComfort 35 II: These headphones were comfortable to wear and easily blocked ambient sounds, but the sound quality didn’t impress us and we think there are better headphones out there for the same price or less. 

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX: These have a great battery life and the app is easy to use, but the price is high considering our tester couldn’t fully tell the difference between the active noise-canceling and transparency settings. 

Sony WH-1000XM4: Despite having excellent sound quality and noise-canceling abilities, the newer version of these headphones outperformed this older set during testing. 

OnePlus Buds Pro True Wireless Earbuds: These earbuds are simple to use, but they weren’t the most comfortable to wear and felt disorienting when listening to only one earbud at a time.

Our Testing Process


We gathered our product testers in our lab to find the best noise-canceling headphones through a series of tests that evaluated ease of use, functionality, sound quality, comfort, noise-cancelation, and overall value. We tested 26 earbuds and headphones from industry-leading tech and audio brands like Apple, Bose, Sony, and more.

Group of people testing top noise-canceling headphones

Travel + Leisure / Vicky Wasik

To test the ease of use, we had our participants unbox each set of headphones and note how easy it was to pair their cellphones to them. Some brands require an app to be downloaded that controls the features of each headphone, whereas others can be controlled by tapping on the earbud to adjust the settings. These features were tested for functionality to determine how difficult it was to navigate the headphones’ features. Next, our testers carefully considered the comfort of each pair of headphones and earbuds. Some earbuds came with multiple sizes of rubber tips, and the over-the-ear headphones could be adjusted to fit the shape of the user’s head. Our testers made a phone call to test the microphone and asked the person on the other end of the call how clear their voice sounded. 

Our testers used the headphones during a variety of noise-canceling challenges that included listening to music while walking around outside and participating in frequency assessments to listen for sounds at different levels with and without music playing. The decibel tests included a baby screaming, sirens, subway noises, construction drills, cars honking, and airplane cabin noises.

Group of people testing top noise-canceling headphones

Travel + Lesiure / Vicky Wasik

Tips for Buying Noise-canceling Headphones

Consider your primary use 

Depending on what you plan on using a pair of noise-canceling headphones for, be sure to consider factors like earbuds versus headphones, noise-canceling ability with phone calls versus music, and the price. If you’re planning on using a pair of noise-canceling headphones for work, consider prioritizing headphones that block out noise during phone calls specifically. For travelers, a lightweight pair of earbuds will be best for portability as well as long battery life and overall comfort for long journeys. 

Know the pros and cons of overhead versus earbuds

Overheard headphones and earbuds can both offer excellent noise-canceling abilities but differ when it comes to style, portability, and comfort. Travelers might find earbuds to be easier to carry around, but headphones that go over the ears may end up being more comfortable for longer amounts of time. Plus, while earbuds are small and discreet, headphones are noticeable and could get in the way of workouts or sleeping on your side.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What can and can’t noise-canceling headphones do?

    Noise-canceling headphones are designed to reduce background noise while listening to music or talking on the phone. While they can’t eliminate all surrounding sounds, active noise-cancelation can help with drowning out ambient noise and providing clear and crisp sound quality whether you’re listening to music or taking a phone call. Some headphones, like those from the Jabra brand, have white noise features that let users listen to sounds like ocean waves to help cover outside noise.

  • What is the difference between active and passive noise-cancelation?

    Active noise-canceling (ANC) neutralizes outside sounds through microphones built into the headphones that omit a sound wave to counteract ambient noise. Passive noise-canceling features are the physical design of the earbud or headphones that prevent outside noise. For example, the shape and cushion of ear cups and the rubber tips on earbuds are passive noise-canceling features. 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Anna Popp is a commerce writer at Travel + Leisure, where she writes and reviews travel products. She has been travel writing since 2018 and product testing since 2021. Anna worked with travel editors to determine the results for the best noise-canceling headphones based on a series of tests completed by our testers in our lab.

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Updated by
Taylor Fox
Taylor Fox, Commerce Updates Writer at Travel + Leisure
Taylor Fox is a Commerce Updates Writer at Travel + Leisure where she tests, researches, and writes about travel products. Taylor holds a Master’s in Geography and has been a writer and editor for over seven years.
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