- Active Noise-Canceling, more commonly referred to as ANC, remains one of the primary features by which wireless Bluetooth earbuds are judged.
- The Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds might not be able to compare to Bose’s ANC capabilities but for the price they are a great alternative.
- Apple AirPods Pro is a great choice for users with smaller ears.
Active Noise-Canceling, more commonly referred to as ANC, remains one of the primary features by which wireless Bluetooth earbuds are judged. Those with the best ANC offer a smooth experience that blocks out unwanted noise while keeping your sound quality smooth.
There are a few things that make ANC work. First, the design of the buds is important. Earbuds are designed with a tip that can seal off the ear canal which does a lot of the noise-blocking work for it. But even the snuggest earbuds still let some sound through. So, most earbuds employ mics to digitally filter out the sound.
This means that ANC can be impacted by quite a few elements so it is important to understand some of the other components that go into the ANC-capable earbuds. With those things in mind, we’ve put together a list of the best noise-canceling earbud options:
- Best overall: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
- Best value: Jabra Elite 7 Active
- Most comfortable: Apple AirPods Pro
- Best feature set: Sony WF-1000XM4
- Best sound quality: Master & Dynamic MW08
Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
To date, no other earbuds come close to the Bose QuietComfort in the noise-canceling department. They have refined the process for noise-canceling to a razor-sharp edge that stands leagues above the competition. There are also features like Quiet Mode and Aware Mode that enhance the already powerful ANC of this device.
Aware Mode uses several sound profiles to identify and block out sounds as they happen. This blends with transparency mode to raise and lower the amount of ambient noise the buds let through. Quiet mode shuts out all sounds completely so you can focus on whatever you’re listening to.
Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks that might have you second-guessing. The battery life is not the best despite Bose promising six hours per charge on their website. The price is a little high as well. Not as high as others on this list but it is something to think about when weighing options.
All in all, if you are looking for great noise-canceling earbuds look no further but there are a few others that give it a run for its money.
Click here to check out Bose QuieetComfort Earbuds on Amazon.
Best Value: Jabra Elite 7 Active
- DESIGNED FOR A COMFORTABLE FIT — Elite 7 Active earbuds are designed to stay in place no matter how hard you work out, thanks to our unique ShakeGrip technology; IP57-rated waterproof and sweatproof...
- ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLING EARBUDS — Block distracting background noise with adjustable levels of Active Noise Cancellation and be aware of your surroundings by choosing from five levels of HearThrough...
- CLEAR CALLS — When it comes to taking calls, these in-ear Bluetooth earbuds offer amazing clarity; 6 microphones, covered with SAATI Acoustex mesh for wind protection, deliver outstanding call...
- LONG LASTING BATTERY — Up to 8 hours of battery and 30 hours with the case; And if you find yourself caught short, a speedy 5-minute fast charge gives you up to an hour of power; Use just one ear...
- POWERFUL SOUND — Balanced bass, radiating mid-ranges, nuanced treble; 6mm speakers give a rich, powerful music experience, helping you stay motivated and energized; Customize your mini wireless...
The Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds might not be able to compare to Bose’s ANC capabilities but for the price, they pack a hell of a punch. Priced at $179.99 on Jabra’s website these earbuds are a budget-friendly option for those still looking for great noise-canceling earbuds.
They have better battery life than Bose and they are IP57 water-resistant making them great for workouts and the outdoors. They have a rich, smooth sound enhanced by the ANC feature which does a great job of blocking out unwanted noise.
There are a few drawbacks, though. They have some issues with sound balancing and it has been reported that they get extremely loud at max volume which could cause damage to your ears if you listen at this volume for long enough.
Also, the feature set is not as robust as other options on this list but that is not always a drawback. For those looking for a great set of ANC-enabled earbuds on a budget, these earbuds are an excellent choice.
Click here to check out Jabra Elite 7 Active on Amazon.
Most Comfortable: Apple AirPods Pro
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Transparency mode for hearing and interacting with the world
- Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking
- Adaptive EQ automatically tunes the music to your ears
Like it or not, Apple AirPods Pro is a great choice for users with smaller ears looking for a comfortable fit. They have a great sound and are easy to use. And yes, you can use them on more than IOS devices.
AirPods don’t need any Apple-specific software to work, including ANC. But there are benefits to using it with IOS devices like spatial audio and fast pairing. This might be a mark against the buds for Android users looking for a rich feature set but for users looking for a comfortable fit, Apple AirPods Pro is a great choice.
Click here to check out Apple AirPods Pro on Amazon.
Best Feature Set: Sony WF-1000XM4
- IPX4 water- and sweat-resistance
- Up to 8 hours of battery life on a single charge
- Crystal-clear call quality with four built-in microphones
- Pair with two Bluetooth devices at the same time
ANC capability is nothing new to Sony and with the Sony WF-1000XM4, it’s better than ever before. Like the Bose QuietComfort Buds, the WF-1000XM4 does a great job of blocking out sounds and distractions from your music. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t do it as well.
When tested side by side the QC earbud are much more responsive and have a wider range than the WF-1000XM4. This isn’t to say the WF-1000XM4’s ANC isn’t amazing, it is, but Bose just has more of an edge. That said, the features that Sony brings to the table make it well worth the higher price tag.
Click here to check out Sony WF-1000XM4 on Amazon.
Best Sound Quality: Master & Dynamic MW08
- TRUE WIRELESS BLUETOOTH EARPHONES: The MW08 features Bluetooth 5.2 technology and a 100ft/30m connectivity range allowing for seamless and secure connection on the go.
- HYBRID ACTIVE NOISE-CANCELLING: Block out and isolate any unwanted noise with 2 modes of active noise-cancellation and 2 ambient listening transparency modes that make it easy to focus on the sounds...
- UP TO 42 HOURS BATTERY LIFE: Enjoy long listening sessions with 12 hours of earphone charge plus 30 hours in the case for up to 42 hours of total battery life.
- HIGH QUALITY MATERIALS: Crafted from ceramic, machined aluminum, and stainless steel with interchangeable, form-fitting silicone ear tips in 5 sizes for a comfortable and custom fit.
The Master & Dynamic MW08 earbuds are the most expensive on this list but you get what you pay for. The sound quality is impeccable with great dynamic range and powerful bass that doesn’t overwhelm. They are also beautifully designed and have a comfortable fit.
The $299 might scare off a few buyers but for users looking for premium sound quality, the Master & Dynamic MW08 is perfect.
Click here to check out Master & Dynamic MW08 on Amazon.
How to Pick the Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds: Step by Step
Hunting for the right earbuds can be challenging because there are so many factors to consider. ANC is only one of the metrics you should be looking at when considering a new set of Bluetooth earbuds.
First off, is it even worth getting noise-canceling earbuds? The short answer is yes. While it’s true that over-the-ear headphones still offer better overall noise-canceling than earbuds, there are some features and conveniences to earbuds that headphones lack. Earbuds are better for sleeping, much more portable, and overall earbuds are much easier on the budget.
Comfortable design is also a major factor when shopping for earbuds. After all, you are putting them in your ears. For earbuds to filter out noise effectively, they need to seal off your ear canal as much as possible. Some earbuds do this by designing tips that are a bit larger to achieve this.
This works well for some but for others with smaller ears, this can lead to a frustratingly loose fit. It is also important to note that even noise-canceling earbuds will not protect your ears from loud noises. So, if you are attending a concert or working in a loud environment be sure to use the proper safety equipment.
Sound quality is probably the thing that is hardest to judge. Sound is subjective so what sounds good to you might sound terrible to me. You should think about the type of music you like to listen to in order to make an informed choice.
What to Know Before Buying the Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds
It is important to understand the type of dynamic range your potential earbuds may have. For instance, if you are into more bass-heavy music then you are looking for buds that have a great low-end range.
You will also want to consider the budget and features in your decision-making process. Most wireless earbuds offer a lot more in terms of features than ANC, but it is important to make sure that you aren’t overpaying for features you don’t need. There are plenty of great options for any budget out there.
What Future Enhancements Can We Expect to See in Noise-Canceling Earbuds?
Manufacturers are constantly searching for ways to improve their products, both to entice consumers and to stay ahead of their competition. These are some of the enhancements you’re likely to see in noise-canceling earbuds in the next six to 18 months:
- Improved noise cancellation performance: As manufacturers develop even more advanced algorithms and hardware, earbuds will be able to block out even more ambient noise.
- More compact and lightweight designs: Lighter, more compact noise-canceling earbuds are more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
- Better battery life: Nobody wants their noise-canceling earbuds’ batteries to run out before they’re finished listening to their music. That’s why earbuds with a battery life of 12 hours or more on a single charge are probably right around the corner.
- Active transparency mode: Sometimes, like when you’re walking in the city or talking to someone, you want to be able to hear what’s going on around you even when you’re wearing noise-canceling earbuds. Active transparency mode allows you to hear such ambient noise while you’re wearing your noise-canceling earbuds. Enhancements to active transparency mode should make it more convenient to use.
- Customization options: If you want to adjust the noise cancelation level, the EQ settings, or the sound profile on your noise-canceling earbuds, these features and more are likely to be available on your next pair.
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