The best noise cancelling headphones 2024: top ANC headphones for every budget

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best noise cancelling headphones will upgrade your listening experience, delivering immersive audio in a range of environments – no matter if it's a noisy commute or a busy, fast-paced office. Who wouldn't like a lovely sonic buffer between their ears and the world?

We've tested hundreds of noise cancelling headphones, rating their sound quality, ANC, battery life, comfort and extra features against value for money. Our list below features only the best, but take note: these are designs with two cups that fit over your ears and a band that sits around your head. If you're looking for noise cancelling tech in a different style, take a look at our best true wireless earbuds and best noise cancelling earbuds guides for more compact options. Want to go fully hi-res? Check out our best wired headphones buying guide. 

If you want new headphones for a specific purpose, you'll also find noise cancelling devices in our best running headphones and best workout headphones guides. Or, if you're after cheaper options, take a look at our best budget headphones guide where you'll also find some noise cancelling models.

Whatever your budget, preferred style or desired features may be, we've picked out the best noise cancelling headphones you can buy right now. Our choices are based on value, design and sound quality, so there's something for everyone. 

Written by
Becky Scarrott
Written by
Becky Scarrott

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

Want to cut to the chase and find out which noise cancelling headphones are the best? Below, you’ll find a roundup of our choices. You can also jump to a more detailed review of every pick, along with our price comparison tool to help you find the best deals.

The best noise-cancelling headphones 2024

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Below you'll find full write-ups for each of the best noise cancelling headphones in our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

The best noise cancelling headphones overall

A man wearing a pair of the sony wh-1000xm4 headphones

(Image credit: Future)
Best noise cancelling headphones for most people

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 253g
Frequency response: 4Hz to 40kHz
Drivers: 1.57-inch dome type
Battery life: 30 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Improved noise cancellation
+
DSEE Extreme audio upscaling

Reasons to avoid

-
Not water-resistant

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones deliver strong noise cancellation and rich sound quality in a lightweight, comfortable design. Although these are an older model – now superseded by the Sony WH-1000XM5 – a price cut means that they're still our top pick because they're regularly available for such a good price. They're still packed with great features including multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, conversational awareness ,and auto-play/pause – they're all the noise-cancelling headphone we think most people will need. 

In every department, the Sony WH-1000XM4 are a superb pair of wireless noise cancelling headphones. They can be beaten in any particular category, but not in every category at the same price. They deliver all-round satisfaction, and most importantly they offer there are no complaints about the sound. In our tests we listened to Janelle Monae’s absolute banger Make Me Feel. It sounded supremely powerful on the WH-1000XM4 headphones, from the bop of the percussion to the wall of sound that accompanies the pre-chorus.

On top of all this, the Sony WH-1000XM4 support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format that enables spatial audio, plus the LDAC codec that can support CD-quality audio from compatible phones. It's a shame there's no aptX support, and you'll get far better audio quality and battery life from the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless at #5 in this list – while the Sony WH-1000XM5 and newer Bose headphones (see #3 on this list) beat it for sound quality. But those are generally all notably more expensive than this model, especially during sales events, where these are always available for bargain prices.

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM4 review

The best budget noise cancelling headphones

1More Sonoflow held in a hand, on gray background

(Image credit: Future)
Best cheap noise cancelling headphones

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 250g
Frequency response: 2.400GHz - 2.4835GHz
Drivers: 40mm
Battery life: 50 hours (ANC on)

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly comfortable
+
Good ANC and sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Design is a bit boring
-
Controls could be more intuitive

The 1More Sonoflow over-ear headphones prove that you can get great ANC for well under $100/£100, which is why they're our top pick if you're on a budget but still want to experience immersive sound – and drown out the world while you're at it. The 1More app is easy-to-use but sparse when it comes to features. But you can turn ANC on and off and there's an EQ with presets. The 1More Sonoflow headphones boast a huge 70 hours of battery life with ANC off and a still amazing 50 hours with ANC on – a five minute charge can also deliver more than 4.5 hours of extra listening.

These aren’t the best noise cancelling headphones you can buy, but for the price you’re getting a great experience and we think most people would be impressed by how well they perform. Sound isn't high-end, but during our testing we were impressed with the powerful bass and detailed, crisp highs on offer here – thanks to the Sonoflow’s dual 40mm drivers. There’s support for Sony’s LDAC higher-res audio format too, but you need a device that supports it as well as audio that offers a hi-res bit rate.

These headphones have a simple design, quality hinges and there’s a matte-like finish to the plastic casing. The cups themselves are adjustable and are made from a super soft memory foam, which were comfortable to wear and lightweight at only 250g. You'll find buttons on the earcups. It's a shame you can't control them but if you like physical buttons over capacitive on-ear touch controls you're in luck.

The 1More Sonoflow over-ear headphones are great value for money. We highly rated the battery life and comfort levels. They feel more high-end than they should, which is thanks to their matt finish, sturdy case and minimal design. You'll find better ANC and sound but, crucially, not for this price. 

Read our full 1More Sonoflow review

The best premium noise cancelling headphones

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

(Image credit: Future)
Best noise cancelling headphones for ultimate noise-stopping at a premium price

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 250g
Frequency response: No listed
Drivers: 35mm
Battery life: 30 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Best-in-class noise cancellation
+
Astounding audio quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited hi-res audio support
-
Low battery life

If you're looking for simply the best active noise cancellation you can get, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones offer it. And not only that, it's combined with easily Bose's best sound quality to date, which we called "electrifying" in our full review. These are not cheap headphones (though they're much less expensive than the Focal and Bowers & Wilkins options in this list), but as our review also says "from the moment you start using them, they feel worth every penny."

We tested them in as many different noisy environments as we could manage, ranging from international flights, to local buses, to walking around a busy city, to in the TechRadar office and at home. In all cases, they stamp down on sound more effectively than anything else we've used to date – if what you want is silence and focus, we cannot recommend these strongly enough. One thing we will say, though, is that the cheaper Bose QuietComfort Headphones are basically as good for this element.

However, as we've already said, the music quality is just fantastic in these headphones, even with noise cancellation turned on – a clear cut above the sound from Bose's other headphones, or Sony's offerings. Our review said that they "deliver some of the most alive, exciting, textured, finely resolved, deeply engaging music I've ever heard from a pair of wireless headphones."

There are two somewhat disappointing aspects to them, though: the 24-hour battery life is below average (you get 30 hours pretty typically, including from Sony's headphones, while you get 60 hours from the Sennheiser at #5 on this list); and they only support Snapdragon Sound for higher-quality audio. There's no regular aptX or LDAC support, and there's no USB-C audio input for fully Hi-Res Audio, which you get from the Sennheisers and Focal in this list.

If these don't sound like dealbreakers, then know that the Bose Ultra really live up to their name.

Read our full Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones review

The best mid-range noise cancelling headphones

Sony WH-CH720N headphones held in a hand

(Image credit: Future)
The best mid-range noise cancelling headphones

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 192g
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
Drivers: 30mm
Battery life: 35 hours (ANC on)

Reasons to buy

+
Solid noise cancellation
+
Great music balance and detail

Reasons to avoid

-
No higher-res support
-
Not the most expansive sound

The Sony WH-CH720N strike a great balance between price and performance, bringing active noise cancellation that absolutely reduces outside noise significantly so you can hear your music (or podcast, or whatever) more distinctly, while also giving you Sony's usual excellently balanced sound.

Okay, for around half the price of the Sony WH-1000XM4 at #1 in our list, you're obviously losing some quality – they're not miracle workers. The active noise cancellation leaks in notably more sound in the low end (which is generally where it's most effective) as well as higher-end noises, so it's more that it reduces the volume of outside sounds than really creates that bubble of silence. On a plane, we found that we had to turn the volume up to 60% to hear soft conversation in a movie – but at least we could hear it at all. And in a less harsh circumstance than trying to watch a movie on a plane, we found that it definitely means you don't have to turn the volume up as loud when walking in the traffic of a city, for example. 

Similarly, the sound quality has less rich bass and layered mids and treble than the WH-1000XM4, but as mentioned before, it's extremely well tuned for the dynamic range it has, so your music really sounds as it should. It has absolutely no problems with detail, serving up plenty of sharpness and clarity when needed. It just feels a little boxed in compared to the broader soundstage of more expensive headphones.

There's no support for LDAC here, which some mid-range competitors do have (or they offer aptX instead), but there's multipoint Bluetooth for easy switching between two devices, and a 3.5mm jack for wired audio when needed. These are also very light, and so are generally very comfortable to wear for long periods.

Read our full Sony WH-CH720N review

The best noise cancelling headphones for battery life

Senior staff writer Becky Scarrott wearing the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless on white background

(Image credit: TechRadar)
The best noise cancelling headphones for a looooong battery life

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 293g
Frequency response: 6Hz to 22kHz
Drivers: 42mm
Battery life: 60 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Great ANC power
+
Incredible battery life even with ANC 

Reasons to avoid

-
A little plain aesthetically
-
Non-folding design

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are quite the package. They have an incredible battery life, a likeable app, an extensive feature set, easy on-ear controls, beautifully full and enjoyable sound, and talented noise cancellation that adapts to your surroundings.

We found the design to be a bit boring. Senn