The best noise-cancelling earbuds are essential for music lovers who want the clearest, purest sound. You no longer need to invest in large, over-ear cans to block out unwanted noise for that immersive, forget-about-the-world listening experience. Instead, you can get that with a smaller, more convenient set of earbuds, which you can then put back in their pocket-sized charging case.
Some of the best noise-cancelling earbuds in this guide even rival the models in our best noise-cancelling headphones guide in terms of performance and features. It’s no wonder many rank in our best earbuds guide too, our ultimate list of the best buds today. We’ve put a lot of true wireless earbuds in our ears and through their paces, so we know what makes an excellent pair. From sound quality to features and comfort, we’ve selected only the best options.
To help you hunt through all the different options, we’ve gathered our top picks of the best ANC earbuds here including affordable buds and more premium options. If you're specifically looking for totally wireless buds, check out our best true wireless earbuds guide.
Becky is a senior TechRadar writer (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team in early 2022, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage.
The quick list
Do you want to find out which noise-cancelling earbuds are the best? Below, you'll find a roundup of our top choices. You can also jump to a more detailed review of every top pick, along with our price comparison tool to help you find the best deals.
Best noise-cancelling earbuds overall
You can't get better noise-cancellation than this. Bose has long been the top brand for ANC, and these latest QuietComfort buds are the best of the bunch.
Best budget noise-cancelling earbuds
Better ANC buds exist, but for decent immersion at an incredibly affordable price, these EarFun options are the best choice – and they're regularly discounted, too, often half the price of our Sony mid-range picks.
Sony has taken the best bits of its higher-end buds and put them into this smaller, cheaper package. At the £100/$100 price mark price, the audio quality can't be beaten.
Best all-rounder noise-cancelling earbuds
Yes, Bose does ANC better than Sony right now. But if you want an all-rounder pair of buds that are cheaper and tick all the boxes, these are the best and safest option for most people.
Best for Apple
Best noise-cancelling earbuds for Apple
If you have an iPhone, then these buds are offer excellent ANC that's almost the best. Build quality and sound is fantastic here too, as you'd expect from Apple.
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Best for sound
Best noise-cancelling earbuds for sound
Not the top pick for noise-cancelling in the list, but if you want good immersion and the best quality sound, these are the buds for you.
Best for features
Best noise-cancelling earbuds for features
If you're looking for the best specs and high-end features on the market right now, these buds from Technics truly deliver. You'll get great sound and ANC, too.
Best for Sony fans
Best noise-cancelling earbuds for Sony fans
The latest true wireless buds from Sony deliver top ANC – an improvement over the XM4s. If you're a fan of Sony, these are the ones for you.
The best noise-cancelling earbuds of 2023
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The best noise-cancelling earbuds overall
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✅ Noise-cancellation really matters to you: These buds are at the top of the ANC game as it stands right now, and that’s without compromising on the sound quality.
✅ You want beautifully balanced sound: CustomTune works remarkably well, with a heck of a lot of details and textures coming through.
❌ You’d prefer high-definition wireless sound quality:
With support for just low-definition wireless codecs, the QCE II may not be for everyone.
❌ Size and wireless charging matter to you: Despite Bose managing to shrink its flagship ANC buds, the QCE II aren’t the smallest true wireless options you can get.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are our top picks for sheer ANC power and they're an upgrade on the already fantastic original Bose QuietComfort buds. The biggest improvement here is CustomTune audio. Bose has figured out a way to customize both the audio response and noise cancellation of the QCE II to the individual user’s ear canal. The result is fantastic ANC that's a vast improvement even over the originals – which were our top pick for some time.
However, improvements to ANC aren't at the expense of sound quality. In our review, we wrote: "We can’t stress this enough – the sound is very well balanced, with a heck of a lot of details and textures coming through. And if you still find you need to tweak it, you can via the EQ in the app."
Bose has also improved the design of the QuietComfort Earbuds this time around. They weigh 6.2g per bud, which Bose says is a whole 30% smaller than the originals and, therefore, feel much more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time. They also come with a range of both ear tips and stability bands to ensure you get the perfect fit. It took us a while to figure this out during our testing, but once we did it was worth it.
These new buds might not be the cheapest picks in this guide and battery life leaves a lot to be desired at only 6 hours from the buds and 3 hours from their charging case. But, if you can afford to splurge, these are hands-down the best noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds you can get for your money today.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review
The best budget noise-cancelling earbuds
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✅ You need a decent set of buds for the commute:
The combination of solid ANC and good audio quality will add a little fun to a gray Monday morning bus ride.
✅ You are on a tight budget:
These buds are among the best available for the price point, you can even find them reduced further these days.
❌ You want the best sound quality: They sound good for their price, but there are better sounding buds available – but you'll have to pay more.
❌ You aren’t a fan of touch controls: The EarFun Pro Air touch controls are functional but can be frustrating to use on the fly.
The EarFun Air Pro are our top noise-cancelling wireless earbuds recommendation if you're on a budget, offering a blend of useful features. We rated the ANC highly, especially for the price. We found it blocked out the sounds of a busy street, and even a washing machine at home. An audio passthrough feature is also present for those moments when you need to let the outside world in. Infrared detectors will automatically pause your music if the buds are removed from your ears, and we found this worked well in testing.
The Earfun Air Pro come with some good audio specs. And, while these noise-cancelling earbuds might not win awards in sound quality, those specs deliver an audio performance that is excellent for the price. While we were reviewing the buds, we found the bass to be prominent, the trebles to have a sparkly quality and no muddiness, and a decent sense of space across the soundstage. While we found the EarFun Air Pro didn’t last quite as long as their claimed 32-hour battery life (that’s with ANC turned off), they still offer an impressive playtime for earbuds at this price.
Design-wise, they have clean, angular lines and aren’t overly garish, and will be as at home on the train or bus as they are in the office. Their design is a little harsh and industrial, though. We found the gesture controls to be a little too fiddly and the fit was, at times, slightly uncomfortable during our testing. But you do get a good choice of ear tips to pick from.
The Earfun Air Pro buds are accomplished, but against the competition at this price point, they really shine. Amid a sea of similarly-priced efforts on Amazon, they stand out thanks to their superior design and excellent audio chops, showing a high level of competence and excellent value.
Read our full Earfun Air Pro review
The best mid-range noise-cancelling earbuds
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✅ You have smaller ears: These earbuds are some of the most secure and comfortable we've tested.
✅ You want the best sound-per-pound value on the market: You get effective ANC alongside the most exciting and fun audio at this level.
❌ Your ears are on the large side
There's every chance these lovely little units might even be too small for you.
❌ You want the track to turn off when you remove them:
This isn't a feature of the WF-C700N. Small gripe for some, potential game-changer for others.
The Sony WF-C700N are our top noise-cancelling earbuds if you're looking to spend mid-range money around the $100/£100 mark. Multi-point connectivity and adaptive sound control are also here (you can select 'Walking', 'Waiting', 'Travelling' or 'Registered places' in the app, which is frankly incredible at this level)
Their talents go above and beyond their Adaptive ANC, too, into Sony's 360 Reality Audio, guided by the excellent Sony Headphones Connect app. Plus you get Sony's standard DSEE audio 'upscaling' engine. Those with a Tidal account are in for a real treat, but even when I stream lossy Spotify tracks or much better Apple Music streams, the WF-C700N put on a resoundingly agile, meaty, enthusiastic performance.
The build quality is good and they're 37% lighter and 38% smaller than the higher-end Sony WF-1000XM4 buds. For that reason, these are some of the most easy to wear, comfortable earbuds we've ever had the pleasure of wearing. While a little fuller over the body, they fit without having to screw them in, in any way. And thanks to the new material (which Sony says "holds on to the inner cup of your ear") they stay put for hours on end.
Yes, the Sony WF-C700N earbuds can be bettered by rivals. But not for this money. You'll have to set your sights much farther up the food chain if you want to beat this suite of features and sound quality.
Read our full Sony WF-C700N review
The best all-rounder noise-cancelling earbuds
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✅ You need the best all-round buds: They can be beaten for sound, ANC, and comfort – but only by a combination of alternative models.
✅ You know a great control app when you use one:
The Sony Headphone app is an absolute tour de force of stability, functionality and general usefulness.
❌ ANC is more important than sound quality: They cancel noise well. But the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 do it better.
❌ You think aptX is the pinnacle of sound quality:
Sony doesn’t agree, but LDAC is a good alternative, and is supported by most newer Android phones.
The Bose QuietComfort earbuds surpass the Sony WF-1000XM4 in terms of noise cancellation effectiveness. However, no other model comes close to offering such excellent quality across the board as these Sony noise-cancelling earbuds. They're also cheaper, which is why we think they're a good option for most people. Features include Speak-To-Chat, DSEE Extreme audio upscaling, and adaptive noise cancellation. You'll also get a decent 8 hours of battery from the buds and a further 16 hours from the charging case.
In terms of sound quality, we found these headphones to boast vigor and enthusiasm in their presentation during our testing, tempered by unarguable control. Meanwhile, at the lowest frequencies, they convey bass sounds with substance, texture, and an absolute stack of detail. Dynamically, too, there's little to criticize. The WF-1000XM4 are capable of switching from ‘ear-splitting’ to ‘almost silent’ and back again in an instant.
These buds weight 7.3g each, which means they're significantly smaller than their predecessors, but not the most compact options on this list. Having said that, they are incredibly comfortable to wear – although they did take a bit of fiddly insertion for us to get used to them at first.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 buds offer impressive ANC performance with great sound, ergonomics, and build quality. Although you'll find better noise-cancelling buds on this list (we're looking at you, Bose), if you want the full package at a slightly better price, you can't go wrong with the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds – there's a reason why they've remained at the top spot in our best true wireless earbuds guide for years.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review
The best noise-cancelling earbuds for Apple
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✅ You want great sound: The AirPods Pro 2 sound brilliant and shut out the real world so well.
✅ You've got all manner of Apple things: If you've got an iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch or similar, then you'll really get the benefit of these buds.
❌ You want to save money: Not the most expensive buds, but you can find cheaper options that do similar – but, crucially, not better.
❌ You don't have an iPhone: If you're in the Android world, you won't get as much benefit from these earbuds.
The AirPods Pro 2 might not be as accomplished as the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 at the top of our list in terms of ANC, but they're not far off. We found the noise-cancelling to be so good in the Pro 2 buds it was almost eerie. As with other ANC buds, there's a transparency mode on offer for conversations, and that's now been upgraded so it adapts to your conversations, making them sound more natural. Features-wise, these buds have a lot to offer, but you'll get the most from them – like 'Find My' features – if you have an iPhone.
During our testing, we found the audio performance to be stunning, offering up a rich sound regardless of genre and a wide and expansive soundstage, which is thanks to new drivers and amplifiers. One of the key features here is the ability to set up Personalized Spatial Audio, where a scan of your face and ears will be able to re-calibrate the sound performance of the AirPods Pro 2.
Design-wise, they look similar to the Pro model that came before them. Expect the clean lines and solid build quality Apple is famous for, and slightly smaller stems that protrude from your ears. We enjoyed wearing them and liked the addition from volume control in the stems.
As always with Apple products, the AirPods Pro 2 are best suited to those with an iPhone and a big budget. If that's you, these are among the most impressive noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy today and are well worth the higher than average price tag.
Read our full Apple AirPods Pro 2 review
The best noise-cancelling earbuds for Samsung
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✅ You own a Samsung Galaxy smartphone: These buds present themselves on your device for easy pairing and give you handy home-screen widgets.
✅ You want Samsung's best sound-per-pound audio quality: We didn't expect to enjoy Samsung's immersive, expressive, head-tracked 24-bit audio as much as we did.
❌ You prioritize a long-lasting battery: Five hours with ANC deployed (or eight without it) won't get you through a long-haul flight without charging.
❌ You own an iPhone: You'd need to be looking to earbuds that offer a dedicated app for iOS.
If you own a Samsung phone and want the best noise-cancelling around, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are for you. These buds are packed full of useful perks such as excellent ANC, voice detect, wearer detection and customizable on-ear controls – all of which work very well indeed – plus IPX7 water ingress protection. The only downside is there's a slightly underwhelming battery life of 5 hours on offer here and up to 18 hours from the case, which is small and easily pocketable.
If you own a Samsung Galaxy device (and thus, access to the Samsung Wearable companion app and home-screen widget) is 360 audio with optional head-tracking, thus allowing you to use your phone as the focal point to direct more of that new end-to-end 24-bit high-res audio to whichever ear you prefer. Sheryl Crow's Soak Up the Sun has us nodding our heads happily as we seek out backing vocals other earbuds can't deliver as cleanly or with as much space around each singer.
At 5.5g per bud, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are smaller, more comfortable and less arrogant than many Samsung has previously launched (remember the Galaxy Buds Live?). In our review we wrote: "The result is a stylish, minimalist, secure and ergonomic fit that almost feels as if you're not wearing earbuds."
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro prioritize great 24-bit sound and head-tracked spatial audio in a design that fits comfortably and noise-cancelling that delivers the goods and then some. If you have a Samsung phone to make the most of additional features, these buds are excellent value for your money.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review
The best noise-cancelling earbuds for sound
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✅ You want best-in-class music: For music clarity, breadth, depth and impact, the Pi7 S2 are unbeatable. But you'll have to shell out for it.
✅ You've already paid for Tidal: If you use a hi-res streaming service, these buds will make the most of every MQA or FLAC file you've got.
❌ You're on a tight budget: Simply put, these are not a wallet-friendly proposition. This is Bowers & Wilkins, after all...
❌ You want the best ANC and passthrough profiles:
Your (premium-level) money would be better spent on Bose or Apple's flagship earbuds.
The Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 buds don't offer the best ANC of the bunch, but if you want good immersion and truly excellent sound, these are for you. You'll find the usual features here, as well as audio transmission – connect the case's USB-C port to a computer or analog audio source, and sound broadcasts in aptX quality to the buds. However, B&W has shied away from ear-fit tests, EQ presets and hearing profiles – when they sound this good, we don't care. But, if you're someone who likes to crank up the bass in your earbuds, you can't do that here. Having said that, B&W's music app is truly a joy to use.
In our review, we said that these buds are "sonically outstanding" and "practically perfect in every way." They provide delightful sonic insight and clarity, and hi-res support on offer here adds immense value. During our testing, we found the 2001 remaster of XTC's Wake Up on Tidal to be crisp and frankly joyous, as jagged guitars attack each ear in a cohesive and well-balanced mix. We wrote: "FKA twigs' Two Weeks celebrates every drop of bass and thud in the backing track, but never at the expense of Tahliah Debrett Barnett's ethereal and breathy vocal."
The buds have a jewel-like build and finish, which we found quite beautiful. But this is Bowers & Wilkins, so the finish here was always bound to be classy. The case too is pocketable, and feels every millimeter a premium product. Our only issue with the design is the size. At 7g per bud, they're a fair bit heavier than rivals, so might not be the best choice for smaller ears.
Yes, these earbuds offer a better-quality listen than any other similarly wireless design on the market. So if you're looking for fantastic sound and good ANC, pick these up – just be prepared to pay a high-end price for them.
Read our full Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 review
The best noise-cancelling earbuds for features
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✅ You prioritize comfort: A carefully considered design and lavish selection of silicone ear tip makes them incredibly comfortable.
✅ You want to switch between devices: Triple-point connectivity is rare, and it’s brilliantly convenient for those of us with many sources of audio.
❌ You intend to wear your earbuds all day: Even at its best, the battery life available here is nothing special – long-haul flights are a non-starter.
❌ You prefer an animated, exciting sound: For all of their poise, balance and accuracy, they don’t produce the most out-and-out animated sound
The Technics EAH-AZ80 buds sound great, deliver decent ANC performance and are packed full of more features than any other options on the list. There's triple-point connectivity (a first in a product of this type), which proves stable and useful, high-resolution LDAC codec compatibility as well as the more prosaic SBC and AAC alternatives, and thanks to ‘Just My Voice’ technology these earbuds are far less prone to wind-noise interference than any number of rivals. In our review we wrote that battery life is just fine with 7 hours from the buds and 25 hours from the case.
But these buds aren't just about the cool features. They make an accomplished sound we called "swift and accurate" and "balanced and detailed" in our review. They offer convincingly realistic and coherent listening in all circumstances. Granted, it's not the most energetic sound we've heard but we think most people would find it to be a thoroughly enjoyable listen. ANC is fine, but not the best on this list by a long way.
The Technics EAH-AZ80 buds have a carefully considered design, along with a lavish selection of silicone ear tips, so they should stay comfortable no matter the size or shape of your ears. The plastic they're made from feels sturdy and robust even though they only weigh 7g each – the charging case is an equally trim 50g.
The Technics EAH-AZ80 represent great value. There are minor shortcomings in terms of battery and ANC, but in our opinion they look and feel every bit of the asking price, and all their clever functions are implemented flawlessly.
Read our full Technics EAH-AZ80 review
The best noise-cancelling earbuds for Sony fans
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✅ You want the newest flagship Sony option: The sound is certified Sony and if you're used to the app and want the newest kids in town, you'll love them.
✅ Tidal is your chosen music streaming account: You can unlock Sony's proprietary 360 Reality Audio in conjunction with Tidal's top-tier DSEE upscaling.
❌ You prioritize active noise cancellation: The Bose QCE II are still the best at nixing noise, despite all the advances here – but only by a small margin.
❌ You want triple device connectivity: Multipoint to three devices isn't a feature of the WF-1000XM5 but the similarly-priced Technics EAH-AZ80.
The WF-1000XM5s are the latest high-end earbuds from Sony. They don't rank as highly as the XM4s in our guide as we still think they're excellent all-rounders, but if you're a Sony fan looking for the freshest flagship buds with some great improvements, grab these. Sony has thrown everything it can into these much smaller earbuds, including LDAC, the firm's top-tier DSEE upscaler, and Bluetooth 5.3. Battery life is competitive at 8 hours from the buds and 24 hours total from the case. However, we experienced connectivity drop-outs in our testing, rated the ANC performance as average and did find the app looked too busy.
Performance-wise, these buds deliver. If you have Tidal you're in for a treat because you get Sony's 360 Reality Audio support – aka 24 object-based channels arranged in a 360-degree soundstage, which Sony launched back in 2019. You'll also find Adaptive Sound Control, which is optimized according to what you're doing. The result is sound that's 100% bona fide Sony quality, we wrote that these buds provide "a zealous, exciting listen" in our review. Call quality is also much better in this iteration of the buds, and you can even answer calls by nodding your head.
The design is similar to the XM4s that came before them, but they're 25% smaller and 20% lighter than the older class-leaders. The result is that the Sony WF-1000XM5s are beautifully compact, ergonomic earpieces. Sony is making real strides to ensure its buds fit a broader range of ears and we like that there's an extra set of foam tips with these buds. We found them incredibly comfortable to wear.
If you want the best value Sony experience, we still recommend the XM4s higher in this list. But ANC is improved here and you'll get all of the latest specs from Sony. If that matters to you and you can afford them, you can't go wrong and we do highly rate these Sony WF-1000XM5 buds.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM5 review
The best noise-cancelling earbuds for sports
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✅ You want an AirPods Pro-like experience for less:
The AirPods Pro 2 are better buds, but you'll find a similar experience and features here.
✅ You want them to feel comfy and secure: Our top picks for movement throughout the day with fins, a stable fit and a good battery life.
❌ You want excellent ANC: The noise-cancelling here is fine at this level, but if you want ultimate immersion look to the Apple AirPods Pro 2 instead.
❌ You have an Android phone: You'll get a good experience with Android, but iPhone users are going to get the most from the features here.
If you're looking for good noise-cancelling while you're working out, the Beats Fit Pro are our top choice. You can think of these as the original AirPods Pro in a different design. You get the same Apple-specific features (Spatial Audio, Siri) provided you have an iPhone, Android users should look elsewhere. You'll get a marginally better battery life here than from other Beats buds. 6 hours with ANC from the buds themselves and an additional 18 hours with the charging case.
There's a custom-designed driver here for a bassy low end. The new sound profile Beats has gone with keeps things exciting with elevated highs and lows and good overall clarity. We really enjoyed testing Dolby Atmos with these buds. In our review we wrote: "Being able to dynamically change the audio mix as you move your head is electrifying—giving you a concert-like experience anywhere."
Design-wise, they're build for movement. An IPX4 water-resistance rating makes them sweat-proof. There's also a prominent wing tip that gives you a better fit when you're working out, it's built as part of the buds themselves, giving extra flexibility. Once they're in they stay put, although some users may find they become a little uncomfortable over longer periods: the wing tip is fairly unforgiving.
The Beats Fit Pro aren't the best on the list for ANC, although it's decent here. But they are arguably the best Apple-made earbuds for gym-goers and outdoor exercise, especially if you want to save a little money and not splash out on the AirPods Pro 2 but enjoy a few of the same features.
Read our full Beats Fit Pro review
How to choose the best noise-cancelling earbuds
If you're looking for the best noise-cancelling earbuds, a good place to start is the design. Do you need earbuds for working out? Then look for a pair that come with a water-resistance rating of IPX4 or above, interchangeable eartips, and earhooks that will keep them securely in place while you exercise.
Do you want a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds for the commute? Then you may want to consider a pair with a simple design that look unobtrusive.
It's also a good idea to have a budget in mind before you start looking for a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds. Earbuds that block out ambient sound most successfully tend to be more expensive, with most of the best models costing at least $200 / £200 / AU$300. However, you can still get great active noise cancellation on a budget, with some of the best earbuds in this guide costing less than $100 / £100 / AU$150 – just don't expect best-in-class ANC at mid-range and budget prices.
Of course, noise cancellation isn't the only thing to consider when buying a pair of earbuds. Whatever you're buying earbuds for, you want them to sound fantastic. If you consider yourself an audiophile, look for models with aptX HD or aptX Adaptive support, so you can enjoy your hi-res audio streams and get the most detail out of your music.
How we test the best noise-cancelling earbuds
We've thoroughly tested all of the noise-cancelling earbuds in this guide, so you can be confident that you're making an informed decision when you buy.
We've spent lots of time using these earbuds in different situations, putting the active noise cancellation to the test in noisy environments, on public transport, on flights, and in shared offices – and of course we listen to a wide range of music from various sources to check whether the noise cancellation negatively affects your music collection. However effective the noise cancellation is when deployed, it's no good if the track you're listening to becomes constricted, tinny or otherwise compromised.
The audio performance of these earbuds is thoroughly analysed to test how well balanced they are across the frequencies, how wide the soundstage is, and how much detail they eke out from audio files.
Battery life and connectivity are also tested rigorously, so you can be sure that the earbuds you're buying live up to the manufacturer's claims.
Latest updates to the best noise-cancelling earbuds
30 August 2023
Updated rankings to reflect recent discontinuations and launches as well as added new quick menu formatting and rewrote product entires.
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