Key Points

  • When choosing the best noise-canceling headphones, there are many factors to consider, including price, comfort, design, sound quality, durability, and features.
  • JBL Tune 750BTNC are the best noise-canceling over-ear headphones on a budget.
  • Sony WH-1000XM5 are the best overall noise-canceling over-ear headphones.

Earlier in the year, we did a list of the best noise-canceling earbuds of 2022. Earbuds have come a long way in the noise-canceling department, but they are still no match for their over-the-ear cousins. Noise-canceling in headphones is a pretty common feature which means the number of options ranges all prices. But not all noise-canceling headphones are built the same, so we are ranking the best of the best. The best headphones marry a comfortable, portable design with premium sound quality and a solid array of features. Below are the best noise-canceling over-ear headphones in each category worth mentioning.

Best Overall: Sony WH-1000XM5

Sale
Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Headphones with Auto Noise Canceling Optimizer, Crystal Clear Hands-Free Calling, and Alexa Voice Control, Black
  • Industry Leading noise cancellation-two processors control 8 microphones for unprecedented noise cancellation. With Auto NC Optimizer, noise canceling is automatically optimized based on your wearing conditions and environment.
  • Magnificent Sound, engineered to perfection with the new Integrated Processor V1
  • Crystal clear hands-free calling with 4 beamforming microphones, precise voice pickup, and advanced audio signal processing.
  • Up to 30-hour battery life with quick charging (3 min charge for 3 hours of playback)
  • Ultra-comfortable, lightweight design with soft fit leather

When it comes to noise-canceling headphones, Sony remains king. The WH-1000XM5 has stellar sound quality, best-in-class noise-canceling, and an array of neat features. They have a wonderful dynamic range, from the lowest lows to the highest highs, and they can pick out the smallest details with ease. Like the 1000XM4 before it, the noise-canceling is as good as it gets.

The understated design is top-notch as well. They are very lightweight and provide a snug, comfortable fit for all ears. The built quality is sturdy as well. Touch controls on the sides are very responsive and easy to use. Add in the stellar battery, and you’ve got some of the best headphones money can buy.

Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks to mention. Sony has done away with the foldable earcups, so they might be a little less portable than the 1000XM4 model. Also, while the sound quality is stellar, it isn’t much different from the previous model.

Best ANC: Bose 700

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700,Bluetooth, Over-Ear Wireless with Built-In Microphone for Clear Calls & Alexa Voice Control,Black
  • Powerful noise cancelling headphones: 11 levels of active noise cancelling let you enjoy music, podcasts, videos & calls without distractions
  • Astonishing sound: Crisp, clear details. Deep, full bass. These wireless headphones produce exciting, lifelike sound that’s full and balanced at every volume level
  • Unrivaled voice pickup: A revolutionary microphone system adapts to noisy and windy environments so your voice always sounds crystal clear on calls
  • Keep your head up and hands free: With easy access to voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant for music, navigation, weather, and more, and intuitive touch control on the earcups — you can stay connected without reaching for your phone
  • Premium design and comfort: With a lightweight stainless steel headband and earcups tilted for the perfect fit, you can comfortably wear these bluetooth headphones for hours
The Bose 700s look and sound great with its sleek design and 10 adjustable levels.

Sony might have taken the top spot in this list, but Bose is right on its heels with the Bose 700. Not to mention the incredible ANC performance and impeccable sound quality that Bose is known for. Bose 700’s ANC has ten adjustable levels and, at the highest, can block out almost all outside noise without sacrificing music or call quality.

They’re great-looking, too. The Bose 700 headphones have a sleek, slender look with svelte material for added comfort. They weigh about nine ounces which comes in just slightly over the Sony WH-1000XM5’s 8.8 ounces. The earcups can fold inward so the headphones can be more easily stored in a backpack or side bag.

The battery life does leave much to be desired. With ANC on, they only last 20 hours. With these headphones, you’re going to get the best ANC in the business, but at the cost of your battery life.

Most Comfortable: Bose QuietComfort 45

Sale
Bose QuietComfort 45 Bluetooth Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones - White Smoke
  • Noise cancelling wireless headphones – The perfect balance of quiet, comfort, and sound. Bose uses tiny mics to measure, compare, and react to outside noise, cancelling it with opposite signals.
  • High-fidelity audio – The TriPort acoustic architecture offers depth and fullness. Volume-optimized Active EQ maintains balanced performance at any volume, so bass stays consistent when turned down and the music remains clear when turned up.
  • Quiet and Aware Modes – Choose Quiet Mode for full noise cancelling, or Aware Mode to bring the outside into the around ear headphones and hear your environment and your music at the same time.
  • Personalize your audio. Adjustable EQ allows you to set the bass, mid-range, and treble levels to your personal preferences or select one of several preset options.
  • Up to 24 hours battery life – Enjoy 24 hours of battery life from a single charge. A quick 15-minute charge offers 3 hours when you’re on the go, or plug in the included audio cable to listen for even longer in wired mode.

The best noise-canceling in the world doesn’t mean much if the headphones are uncomfortable to wear. On that front, the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones have you covered. They are close in performance and feature set to the Bose 700, but they’re less expensive. The earcups have kept the same comfortable design as the previous QC35 II with a few notable upgrades.

They have improved ANC, a more durable design, and improved battery life. The ANC is the same best-in-class as the Bose 700, putting these headphones well above the competition in that regard as well. In addition, the collapsible design has been upgraded with metal hinges for better durability.

All in all, the QC 45 headphones are a great option for noise-canceling. However, they lack some of the features found in the Bose 700, like better sound quality and call quality and the ability to turn off ANC. Still, in terms of comfort, you really can’t get much better than the Bose QuietComfort 45.

Best for Sound Quality: Shure AONIC 50

Sale
Shure AONIC 50 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, Premium Studio-Quality Sound, Bluetooth 5 Wireless Technology, Comfort Fit Over Ear, 20 Hours Battery Life, Fingertip Controls - Black
  • PREMIUM WIRELESS STUDIO-QUALITY SOUND: Engineered from decades of professional experience. No cords. No wires. Just pure listening anywhere you go.
  • ADJUSTABLE NOISE CANCELLING & ENVIRONMENT MODE: Eliminate distractions for a truly immersive listening experience and hear the outside world with the flip of a switch.
  • BLUETOOTH 5 WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY:  Enhanced stability and a range of up to 30 feet (10 meters). Pairs to phones, tablets and laptops.
  • UP TO 20 HOURS BATTERY LIFE:  Uninterrupted audio wherever you go – on the train, on an airplane, at work or at home.
  • LONG-WEARING COMFORT & DURABILITY:  Built to withstand the rigors of the road. Folds flat for portability with protective carrying case.

Shure is a mainstay in the audio industry, and the AONIC 50 is an audiophile’s dream. The sound is crisp and detailed with tons of range, and it has excellent noise-canceling. The design is classic and sturdy. It can fold flat, making it good for travel or work. But the focus here really is on superior sound quality.

It supports all major audio codecs and features Bluetooth 5, which allows it to play hi-res files without loss in quality. The range is extensive and detailed, putting it easily at the top of this list in that category. From a complex full orchestra to a simple acoustic jam, you are going to get a rich, full sound with the Shure AONIC 50 headphones.

That said, they don’t really offer much in the way of features outside of sound quality. The noise-canceling is great, but there are others on this list that do it better. They also don’t have touch controls which makes them pretty paired down for the price. They do, however, come in nearly $100 cheaper than the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones. For the cheaper price and more detailed sound experience, they make a great option for the audio-obsessed.

Best Value: JBL Tune 750BTNC

JBL Tune 750BTNC - On-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with Noise Cancellation, Includes LED Flashlight Key Chain Bonus (Blue)
  • JBL Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with JBL Pure Bass Sound
  • 15H battery life with BT+NC and 2H recharging time
  • Active Noise Cancellation with Hands-free calls and Voice Assistants
  • Lightweight and foldable design
  • Included Components: Tune 750Btnc Headphone, Charging Cable, Qsg with LED Key Chain (Color May Vary)

For those looking for great noise-canceling headphones that won’t put you behind on rent, the JBL Tune 750BTNC is an excellent choice. They have great sound, impressive noise-canceling, and a clean, comfortable design.

The noise-canceling is powerful without impacting your sound quality. It can keep most of the outside noise blocked while keeping the sound crisp and balanced. You’re going to get punchy bass that still does a great job picking out detail.

They are built with plastic to keep the price low, but they don’t feel cheap. In terms of style, they are straightforward, bordering on the plain, so you aren’t going to be turning heads, but that’s a small gripe. A larger gripe would be the battery life which comes in at 15 hours with noise-cancellation on. That’s pretty abysmal compared to the other entries on this list, but the reduced price can help soften that blow.

How to Pick the Best Noise-Canceling Headphones: Step-by-Step

Picking the right noise-canceling headphones can be kind of a chore. Sound can be subjective when you are picking between several strong contenders. Also, comfort, portability, features, and connectivity will come into play. We outlined some of the key considerations you should be thinking about when selecting the right noise-canceling headphones for you.

Features

Noise-canceling is the key feature we are concerned with in this ranking, but there are others that are worth consideration. Depending on the model, you might have a lot of features, or it might be more paired down like the Shure AONIC 50, which are probably the most classic noise-canceling over-ear headphones on this list.

Having the ability to adjust things like EQ or ANC can make all the difference in your listening experience. For instance, Bose offers the impressive “Aware” feature that uses external mics to pinpoint and filter out sound depending on loudness. So, if you are in a quiet room, ANC is low and not distracting. But on a busy street or in a crowded gym, the ANC level goes up to block out more unwanted noise.

Depending on your situation, there are some features on each that might clinch the decision.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is one of the key categories people consider when selecting noise-canceling over-ear headphones. To determine good sound quality, there are a few things that are good to know. Dynamic range, or the range from high to low, is one such consideration. This will be dependent on the type of music you like. If you are a fan of bass-heavy music, you will want something with a great low end. For people that listen to all kinds of music, you are going to want something more balanced.

It also matters the types of codecs your headphones support. Codecs refer to the compression of your audio files.  MP3 is the most common, but for true audiophiles, there are countless codecs out there. If you are serious about getting a “hi-res” sound, knowing what type of codec your headphones support is important.

Connectivity

Connectivity factors into sound quality, comfort, and portability. Most of the noise-canceling over-ear headphones on this list are wireless, but the type of Bluetooth matters. In the old days of wireless audio, the debate was that Bluetooth didn’t have the bandwidth to render solid sound quality. Now, with advancements like Bluetooth 5, you can get a much better experience with true wireless. However, there are purists who prefer a 3.5 mm aux connection or USB.

Design

It may not seem as important as things like sound quality or features, but this is an important category, especially for noise canceling. Contrary to popular belief, noise-canceling over-ear headphones don’t block out all noise. Most use a digital process called Active Noise Cancellation to filter sounds out. That said, the fit is important.

For noise canceling to be effective, the headphones need to fit snugly around your ears, but you don’t want headphones that are too tight or too loose because they can impact more than just your comfort but also your sound quality and ANC as well.

The Bottom Line

Sale
Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Headphones with Auto Noise Canceling Optimizer, Crystal Clear Hands-Free Calling, and Alexa Voice Control, Black
  • Industry Leading noise cancellation-two processors control 8 microphones for unprecedented noise cancellation. With Auto NC Optimizer, noise canceling is automatically optimized based on your wearing conditions and environment.
  • Magnificent Sound, engineered to perfection with the new Integrated Processor V1
  • Crystal clear hands-free calling with 4 beamforming microphones, precise voice pickup, and advanced audio signal processing.
  • Up to 30-hour battery life with quick charging (3 min charge for 3 hours of playback)
  • Ultra-comfortable, lightweight design with soft fit leather

At the end of the day, the decision comes down to what you prefer. Most entries on this list come with impressive noise-canceling, but again not all over-ear headphones are created equal. For our money, the clear winner here must be the Sony WH-1000XM5 (big surprise there, right?) They deliver the best of everything from noise-canceling expansive, detailed sound and a lot of impressive features.

Finding the right headphones is still a challenge, but hopefully, this list can make the decision a little easier.

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Last update on 2022-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Best Noise-Canceling Over-Ear Headphones: Reviewed for 2022 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Which brand is best for over-ear headphones?

There are a lot of great brands when it comes to headphone manufacturers. At the top of our list are Bose, Sony, and Shure. For our money, the king of noise-canceling headphones has to be Sony with the WH-1000XM5.

Are there headphones that block all sound?

Not really, there are headphones that block up to 90% of sounds. Honestly, that’s not really how noise-canceling works. Most use a process that pinpoints external sounds and filters them out. So, you aren’t going to get a full block of all sound but you can still get a peaceful experience so you can focus on your music.

Is it worth buying noise-canceling headphones?

Absolutely, noise-canceling can make your sound experience even better. The best noise-canceling headphone can filter out unwanted noise without compromising your sound quality. So, for people who spend a lot of time in noisy environments, this can make all the difference.

Which noise-canceling over-ear headphones are most comfortable?

We ranked the Bose QuietComfort 45 as the most comfortable option and we are pretty convinced that’s the case. It has soft earcups that make for a snug but comfortable fit. The Apple Airpods Max has also been mentioned as a great option for comfort but they are expensive and don’t have the features of the QC 45.

Which noise-canceling over-ear headphones are the best value?

The JBL Tune 750BTNC ranked as the best value in this list and there really isn’t another headphone we found to challenge it. There are cheaper headphones out there but they don’t come close to the quality of the Tune.

Are noise-canceling headphones better than earplugs?

Earplugs are designed to block noise and protect your ears. As we stated earlier, headphones just filter noise and they shouldn’t be used for protection. That just isn’t how it works.

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