fbpx

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones in 2022: Current Top Picks

You are looking for active and best noise-cancelling headphones. Indeed, if the Covid year has taught us anything, it’s the value of fabulous noise-cancelling headphones.

They block out your neighbour’s lawnmower when you’re working from home and help your kids attend online classes with limited distractions.

There are a lot of options out there.

Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones in 2022

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony’s earlier WH-1000XM3 model was great. But if it had a weakness, that was voice calling, particularly in noisier environments. The WH-1000XM4 model has improved in that area and also adds multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect to two devices — such as your phone and PC — at the same time. That means that if a call comes in while you’re using the headphones with your computer, the audio will switch to your phone when you answer the call.

Bose QuietComfort 45

The Bose QuietComfort 45 essentially looks the same as its popular predecessor, the QuietComfort 35 II, with the biggest design difference being a USB-C port in place of the older Micro-USB. At 238 grams, the QC45 weighs just 3 grams more than the QC35, which should be imperceptible. And while the Bose 700 has plenty of fans, a lot of people (including me think this QuietComfort design is slightly more comfortable and the headphones fold up and fold flat. It’s arguably the most comfortable pair of headphones out there.

Mark Levinson No. 5909

The No. 5909 are premium audio brand Mark Levinson’s first headphones and, yes, they’re really expensive at $999. But they’re also really good. They have a sturdy design without managing to feel hefty on your head and they’re comfortable to wear over long periods thanks to their nicely padded and replaceable leather-covered earcups and headband.

Beats Fit Pro

Hot on the heels of the third-generation AirPods, Apple has another new set of earbuds, this time from its subsidiary audio company, Beats. Technically, the new Beats Fit Pro ($200) aren’t AirPods, but they’re built on the same tech platform as the AirPods Pro. Unlike Beats’ earlier and less expensive Studio Buds, the Beats Fit Pro include Apple’s H1 chip and have most of the AirPods Pro’s features, including active noise canceling, spatial audio and Adaptive EQ. I’d venture to call them the sports AirPods you’ve always wanted. And for some people, they might just be better than the AirPods Pro. Read our Beats Fit Pro review.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to Bose’s QuietComfort 35 II model, may not be a quantum leap forward, but these headphones offer slightly better sound and noise cancellation along with top-notch headset performance for voice calls. They’re a strong all-around audio performer with up to 20 hours of battery life and a more durable design than their predecessor. At launch, they cost $400, but they’ve recently come down in price. We’ve seen the white version dip as low as $299 while the black and silver versions have hit $340.

Apple AirPods Pro

Even if you won’t encounter a sound quite as magical as you’d hope to from a top end model, the Apple AirPods Pro still manages to be a great pair of true-wireless earphones with noise cancellation. That’s largely due to their winning design and fit, improved bass performance and effective noise canceling — and now they’ve been updated with spatial audio, a new virtual-sound mode for watching movies and TV shows. They’re an excellent choice when you want to make a call or listen to music during your workout. Yeah, they’re expensive, but the good news is they tend to sell for 25% off their list price.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EQ

Bang & Olufsen’s earlier Beoplay E8 earbuds were good, but underwhelming for their high price. The new Beoplay EQ are also rather expensive, but they’re among the very best true wireless earbuds available right now, with top-notch sound, adaptive noise canceling and a natural sounding transparency mode. Multipoint Bluetooth pairing means you can simultaneously connect them to a smartphone and computer. They have three microphones on each bud and are good for voice calling, though not exceptional. The premium design elements are here: The aluminum-shelled case opens and closes with precise smoothness, and the buds themselves have an aluminum accent on the outer surface where the touch controls live.

Anker SoundCore Life Q30

As far as sound, comfort level and build quality, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Anker’s SoundCore Life Q30 for the money. It doesn’t quite have the clarity or bass definition as some of the top premium models, but it’s less than a third of the price and gets you about 75% of the way there in terms of sound. Noise canceling is good for the price, though not up to the level of the Sony WH-1000XM4 or Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Battery life is rated at an impressive 40 hours with USB-C charging. The only area where the Q30 falls a little short is for voice calls. It picks up your voice fine in quieter environments but it just doesn’t reduce background noise all that well.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

In many ways, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are excellent true wireless earbuds, particularly when it comes to their sound and to their noise canceling, which is among the best out there right now in a set of earbuds. In performance they clearly have a leg up on Apple’s bestselling AirPods Pro true wireless noise-canceling buds. However, the AirPods Pro’s smaller design, somewhat more comfortable fit and superior voice-calling capabilities make it hard to declare the Bose the straight-up champ. Ultimately, it depends on what your priorities are.

Apple AirPods Max

They’re expensive, but the AirPods Max deliver richer, more detailed sound than lower-priced competitors from Bose and Sony. They also feature arguably the best noise canceling on the market along with premium build quality and Apple’s virtual surround spatial audio feature for video watching. While they’re heavy, they manage to be surprisingly comfortable, though I did have to adjust the mesh canopy headband to sit a little more forward on my head to get a comfortable secure fit when I was out walking with them. They should fit most heads well, but there will be exceptions.

Shure Aonic 40

The new Shure Aonic 40 noise-canceling headphones are a bit smaller and more affordable than the company’s well-received Aonic 50 headphones ($299) that were released in 2020. My quick take: They sound quite good with clean, well-balanced sound that you can tweak in the Shure companion app for iOS and Android. The active noise canceling is solid but not quite up to the level of Sony’s or Bose’s and like the Aonic 50, they work well for making calls and you can connect them to your computer via USB-C. For those with aptX-enabled Android devices, the headphones support aptX HD Bluetooth streaming.

Final Thoughts: Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Start to replace an old pair of headphones to dive into the noise-canceling pool for the first time.