For anyone who often travels by air, active noise cancellation technology in headphones is a boon. This helps to minimize strain on your ears by blocking out the loud hum of the airplane engines, and it also makes it a lot easier to listen to audio through your headphones. Despite the fact that the technology has a tendency to work best in an airplane cabin, there are many other use cases where it works as mannered, including on a commuter train or bus, in an office surroundings, or even at home to block out the hum from your ceiling fan or air conditioner.
Headphones that offer active noise cancellation are not most often affordable, and the most productive performance is priced at a premium. Then again, we’ve seen some recent launches that offer decent active noise cancellation at more fair prices. This feature also is not in large part restricted to over-ear headphones anymore; we’ve seen some impressive in-ear and true wireless earphones with active noise cancellation recently. Here’s our list of the most productive active noise cancelling headphones and earphones that you’ll buy at this time, up to date in September 2020.
What is active noise cancellation?
Before we get to the list, we will have to start with an explanation of the technology itself, and how it works. Active noise cancellation functions by picking up the sounds of your environment and creating ‘reverse’ frequencies — the headphones emit sounds at the same amplitude but with an inverted phase in comparison to the original sound. This combines with the waves of the background sound, to form new waves in a process called ‘interference’, which effectively cancels out the sound going into your ears.
In consequence, you hear less of the background ‘noise’, and in some cases with good active noise cancellation, you might hear nothing at all. It works best with sounds that are stable, since the microphones can pick up and reverse these frequencies easily without interfering with what you in truth wish to hear. Irregular sounds such as voices, honking, and anything that is not flat, would possibly not get cancelled by the system, and you’ll be able to still be capable of hear it. Subsequently, active noise cancellation is not the same as sound-proofing; it simply reduces noise in sure environments.
For a more detailed explanation, take a look at our guide on getting started with active noise cancellation.
Why will have to you buy active noise cancelling headphones?
One of the best ways to listen to music is with no other sounds in the background, so you’ll be aware of what you’re listening to and pick up on ins and outs that might differently get drowned out. Unfortunately, and particularly with headphones, this is not all the time imaginable; out of doors sounds will filter in and take absent from the experience, no matter how good the passive noise isolation is. Noise cancellation aims to fix this by cutting out noises that can slip through even the most productive padding and isolation.
It is also an effective way to receive some sleep in a noisy surroundings. Many frequent fliers swear by active noise cancelling headphones, but the technology works in many situations on the ground as mannered.
The most efficient active noise cancelling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4
Once the most productive active noise cancelling headphones you’ll want to buy, the Sony WH-1000XM3 recently missing out to newer and better competition. Then again, Sony has now launched the WH-1000XM4, which sees the crown go back to the Japanese electronics specialist. Priced at Rs. 29,990, the Sony WH-1000XM4 combines excellent noise cancellation with class-leading wireless sound quality.
Despite the fact that Sony has used the same noise cancelling processor on the WH-1000XM4 as on its predecessor, tweaks to the algorithm have made a small but noticeable difference that puts the headset in large part on par with, and every now and then, even above the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 in relation to the quality of the noise cancellation. Thanks to the excellent companion app, the level of noise cancellation and hear-through are adjustable, along side more than a few other aspects of the headset.
Where the Sony actually triumphs is in audio quality; this is an insightful, detailed, and very entertaining twosome of headphones that captures the essence of virtually any track you play. Much of this is thanks to make stronger for the LDAC Bluetooth codec, which lets the headphones extract as much as imaginable out of your audio tracks. It is not reasonably as insightful as the Shure Aonic 50, but is a lot more engaging, with more character.
Possibly the only drawback of the Sony WH-1000XM4 is its lack of make stronger for the Qualcomm aptX codec, which will affect sound quality when used with source devices that do not make stronger the LDAC codec. The Sony WH-1000XM4 gets everything else correct, and is our new top pick among wireless active noise cancelling headphones.
Runner-up – ANC quality: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Bose is widely regarded as the leader in relation to active noise cancellation on consumer headphones, and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is indeed one of the best you’ll buy. Priced at Rs. 34,500, this is without doubt one of the most effective and customisable active noise cancellation implementations we’ve heard on any headphones, offering the absolute starkness of total silence, translucent ambient listening, or anything in between.
A key feature here is the ability to adjust the level of noise cancellation, so users can make a choice precisely how strong the effect is. Despite the fact that we liked the starkness of the ‘level 10′ setting, we see the appeal of having ten adjustment points for people who might wish to tone things down a notch and take care of some awareness of their environment.
We spent numerous time the use of the ‘level 5′ setting since this gave us a bit of ambient awareness while still bringing noise levels down to a comfortable point. It’s most effective with loud droning sounds such as airplane engines, but it worked effectively even in on a regular basis situations such as commuting, in the office, and at home. The level of quietness achieved was once refreshing, and also helped us hear things such as dialogue in movies and TV shows more clearly, aside from making music more immersive and distraction-free.
The downside of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is that no advanced Bluetooth codecs are supported, which is a key consideration that puts the Sony WH-1000XM4 ahead for us. While sound quality is good, it falls short of the capabilities of many other competing options in relation to detail and cohesiveness. Nonetheless, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is a superb pick, purely based on the quality of its active noise cancellation.
Runner up – premium sound: Shure Aonic 50
Professional audio brand Shure is best known for its studio-grade equipment, but the Shure Aonic 50 is a part of a new approach by the brand to appeal to retail consumers. Priced at Rs. 33,999, the Aonic 50 is a technically advanced wireless headset that offers everything you’ll want to want from a twosome of top of the range headphones.
There are two levels of active noise cancellation, which will also be customised through a companion app for the headphones. A slider switch on the headphones permits you to quickly move between ambient sound mode, active noise cancellation, and no effect, and the differences in sound are audible and distinct. The ‘Max’ level of noise cancellation is effective, but we found it a bit too stark; the ‘Normal’ level offered a more comfortable listening experience. Active noise cancellation is good on the whole, but just a little short of the better all-round experience offered by the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
Where the Shure Aonic 50 actually comes into its element is sound quality. With make stronger for all major codecs including advanced options such as LDAC and Qualcomm aptX HD, along side excellent studio-grade tuning, the Shure Aonic 50 is the most analytical, revealing, and detailed twosome of wireless headphones we’ve heard. It is also built beautifully, and offers an exceptional all-round listening experience that combines contemporary features, technical superiority, and great sound.
Best true wireless noise cancelling earphones: Apple AirPods Pro
Till final year, the idea of good active noise cancellation combined with the true wireless form factor wasn’t regarded as realistic. Then again, more than a few options have proven that it may be done, including the Apple AirPods Pro. Priced at Rs. 24,900, the Apple AirPods Pro offers effective and highly functional active noise cancellation despite the small size.
All of this is carried out by more than one microphones and Apple’s custom H1 chip, which processes data from the microphones to properly cancel out noise. Despite the fact that the result naturally doesn’t come near to the stark silence of the Bose and Shure options, there is an audible discount in noise which makes this a sensible option provided its price and form factor. Another big pro is the transparency mode, which offers the most natural hear-through effect we’ve heard on any wireless headset.
To top it all off, the AirPods Pro sounds pretty good as mannered. These true wireless earphones from Apple are responsive, bendy, and consistent in relation to sound quality, offering good performance across genres and source devices. Some functionality is limited to Apple’s own devices, but you’ll use the AirPods Pro effectively even with Windows PCs and Android devices.
Best mid-range noise cancelling headphones: Sony WH-CH710N
The successor to the Sony WH-CH700N, the WH-CH710N offers effective noise cancellation for less than Rs. 10,000. The noise cancellation is not anywhere close as effective and stark as with the premium options in this list, but it’s entirely usable and functional both indoors and outdoors.
Sound quality on the Sony WH-CH710N is decent as mannered, and you get class-leading battery life, with the headphones running for over 30 hours with active noise cancellation switched on in our tests. This is our top pick among wireless headphones priced under Rs. 10,000, and good noise cancellation is a huge reason for it.
Best Affordable Noise Cancelling Headphones: Oppo Enco W51
Active noise cancellation on a budget has most often been far below the standards of even mid-range headsets with the feature, but things changed in 2020. Numerous new headsets launched at fair prices with functional ANC, including the Oppo Enco W51. This Rs. 4,999 twosome of true wireless earphones offers an all-round experience, with decent sound, and features such as wireless charging, and active noise cancellation.
Despite the fact that still far at the back of the more capable noise cancelling experience offered by premium headsets such as the AirPods Pro or Sony WF-1000XM3, the Oppo Enco W51 headphones are a step in the correct direction, and offer excellent value for money. Average battery life and unreliable controls do hold these headphones back a bit, but the detailed and energetic sound does make up for this.
How we picked these noise cancelling headphones
We’ve limited our picks for this guide to what we imagine the most productive options for active noise cancellation. While there are more affordable options to be had with the technology as mannered, we’ve chosen only the top-rated products in our primary picks, based on reviews and our experiences with them and this technology through the years.
Active noise cancellation is still an expensive technology, and the most productive options remain slightly pricey as in comparison to most unusual headsets. Affordable options do exist, but don’t reasonably offer as good an experience in our opinion, and it can be better to save up and invest in a good option later, fairly than simply buy into the technology with a sub-par headset.
Nonetheless, we have mentioned probably the most other options in the category below. These is also to be had at lower prices and could be worth having a look at in case you are on a tight budget.
Sony WH-1000XM3: Still widely regarded as one of the best wireless noise cancelling headphones around, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is unfortunately dated and not reasonably the top dog anymore. The Sony WH-1000XM4 is expected soon, and could mannered match up to the Bose and Shure options in relation to both sound quality and active noise cancellation.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2: Purely on musicality and the listening experience, there is no better twosome of true wireless earphones you’ll buy at this time than the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2. Good active noise cancellation is an added bonus.
Sony WF-1000XM3: Only recently launched in India, the Sony WF-1000XM3 brings its flagship-level active noise cancellation to the true wireless form factor. There’s also a promise of very good battery life with these earphones.
Realme Buds Wireless Pro: Despite the fact that the ANC on this wireless neckband-style headset negatively affects sound quality, at Rs. 3,999, the Realme Buds Wireless Pro is still one of the best sounding pairs of earphones with the feature at the price.
Huawei Freebuds 3i: Priced at Rs. 9,990, the Huawei Freebuds 3i is the most affordable twosome of true wireless earphones with active noise cancellation around (that we realize of). You also get gesture controls and up to 3.5 hours of battery life on the earphones.
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Affiliate links is also automatically generated – see our ethics remark for details. Ali Pardiwala
Ali Pardiwala writes approximately audio and video devices for Gadgets 360 out of Mumbai, and has covered the industry for a decade now. Ali is a Senior Reviewer for Gadgets 360, where he has often written approximately televisions, home entertainment, and mobile gaming as mannered. He’s a firm believer in 4K and HDR on televisions, and believes that true wireless earphones are the way forward for the personal audio industry. Ali is to be had on Twitter as @AliusPardius and on email at email@example.com, so do send in