cancel external noise through an electronic neutralization process. This happens by creating a mirror image sound wave right in your ear that makes the noise appear “canceled out” to you. This technology can be very useful for travelers as it can cancel out the sounds of jet engines.
The truth is, budget headphones aren’t as good for listening to music and other types of audio as they are.from Sony, Bose and others, but you can find some pretty decent noise-canceling models for a lot less money. Here’s a look at some of the best cheap noise-canceling headphones I’ve tried, all costing under $100, and some even costing under $50. All of these headphones offer decent sound quality, of active noise and a comfortable headset to boot (not a headset to be seen in this list).
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As far as sound, comfort level and build quality go, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Anker’s SoundCore Life Q30 for the money. It doesn’t have the same clarity or bass definition as some of the top premium models, but it costs less than a third of the price and takes about 75% of the way there in terms of sound. It’s well balanced overall, with strong bass, and there’s an app that lets you adjust the sound. The noise canceling is good for the price, though not up to the level of the Sony WH-1000XM4 or Bose noise canceling headphones 700. Battery life is estimated 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 well in quieter environments, but doesn’t reduce background noise very well.
Compared to the Q20 (see below), the Q30 offers improved sound (not a huge difference, but it’s definitely a notch) and a more premium design. There’s also the new Life Q35 ($130), which adds support for Sony’s LDAC audio codec for streaming high-resolution audio with music services that support it. I’m not sure it’s worth the $50 more upgrade, but I’m hoping the Q35 will drop in price over time.
Edifier’s makes some good sounding PC speakers and wireless headphones and has done a good job with their W820NB noise canceling headphones. The first thing you’ll notice about them when you put them on is that they’re comfortable – the earcups are well-padded and the earcups fit your head perfectly. They also sound good for the price, offering enough clarity and decent bass performance. Their sound didn’t surprise me, but I was fine listening to these headphones for a while; they sound pretty nice.
There’s also an ambient mode that lets in external sound, and a low-latency gaming mode. They’re decent enough for voice calls and the battery life is pretty impressive, with up to 49 hours of battery life on a single charge at moderate volume levels (and noise canceling).
Some things are missing. There’s no carrying case or headphone jack – they’re just Bluetooth. But the 820NB headphones are still a good value.
Anker’s SoundCore Life Q20 is arguably the best value in noise-canceling headphones. Not only do these noise-canceling over-ear headphones look decent enough for their regular list price of $60 (they usually sell for $10 less with an instant coupon on Amazon), they’re also comfortable to wear. use thanks to the puffy ear pads. Expect the price to drop further as Anker has released the SoundCore Life Q20 Plus which adds app support and USB-C (instead of Micro-USB) charging.
No, the Life Q20 doesn’t sound as good as premium Bluetooth headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4, but the audio quality sounds pretty good, which is all you can ask for in noise canceling headphones. at that price. It’s fairly balanced with a decent amount of clarity and chunky bass that isn’t bloated or muddy (there’s a Bass Boost or BassUp mode if you want some extra bass help with your music). Also, the noise cancellation is acceptably effective at reducing noise and blocking out ambient sound and is decent enough as a headset for making calls. Battery life is good at 40 hours. A simple carrying bag is included.
Founded by four ex-Amazon employees, Wyze is known for its value security cameras, but is now doing a good job with value headsets. Their noise-canceling over-ear headphones provide a comfortable fit with deep memory foam ear cushions and solid overall performance. The noise cancellation is pretty good, although you do get some additional passive noise isolation from the tight seal that ear cushions provide (your ears will be quite humid in warmer climates). They’re Alexa-enabled, so all you have to do is press a button to access Amazon’s voice assistant, or use your phone’s native voice assistant if you prefer. There’s also a transparency mode that lets in ambient sound.
As for sound quality, they’re on the warmer side – they’ve got plenty of bass and a pretty open soundstage, though they don’t have that extra clarity and definition you get from higher-end models (the bass is a little loose). In other words, the sound is pretty good for the money, but not ridiculously good.
Battery life is rated at up to 20 hours at moderate volume levels, and I found the headset’s performance to be decent too. A cloth carrying bag is included along with a USB-C charging cable and cable for using them as wired headphones.
There aren’t many noise-canceling headphones. The Beats’ Solo Pro is one of the best, but it’s pretty pricey at $300, although we’ve seen it on sale for half that price. Meanwhile, these cheap noise-canceling headphones, the JLab Studio ANC, cost less and offer solid overall performance for a budget model with decent sound quality, noise-cancelling, and battery life (28 hours with ANC on). While they might not be great for making calls, they work well as a headset – callers said they could hear me clearly even with some outside noise around me. A carrying bag is included.
The Studio ANC headphones are reasonably comfortable for an in-ear model (I prefer over-the-ear), but those with larger heads may feel that it’s a little too tight.
Tribit makes one of our favorite pairs of headphones for sound quality – the Tribit XFree Tune. However, this is not an active noise-canceling headset. This model is. You can find similar wireless ANC headphones from other generic headphone companies on Amazon (Taotronics, for example, has a similarly designed model), but this headphone looks pretty decent and its noise canceling works great. well and eliminates a lot of ambient noise and background noise. It doesn’t sound as good as the XFree Tune with music, but it’s among the best sounding budget models in this roundup and it also has USB-C charging. Also, it has a decent battery life: battery life is rated at 30 hours.
Panasonic calls the style of its RP-HTX90N Bluetooth headphones “retro-modern” and that’s exactly what it is. Based on one of our favorite wired headphones pairs, the RP-HTX80, this wireless version with active noise cancellation is comfortable and lightweight. These are warmer closed-back headphones that lack treble clarity and aren’t very dynamic, but the audio quality is pleasant overall. Battery life is rated at 24 hours of playtime and a 15-minute quick charge gives you two and a half hours of juice.
Noise cancellation is decent, though not stellar. Ultimately, for its slightly higher price, the biggest reason to buy this model is its design and comfort level.