These noise-cancelling headphones could be a cheaper rival to the Sony WH-1000XM4

the shure aonic 40 noise-cancelling headphones in white
(Image credit: Shure)

Shure has launched a brand new pair of noise-cancelling headphones at CES 2022 - and they could be a great cheaper alternative to the best headphones you can buy today, the Sony WH-1000XM4

The new Shure AONIC 40 come with active noise cancellation, a 25-hour battery life, and a sleek, foldable design that's ideal for traveling. What's more, they'll set you back $249 / £215 (about AU$345) - that's $100 / £134 cheaper than Sony's flagship wireless headphones.

That price cut does come with some caveats, though; the battery life is about 5 hours less than what you get with the Sony headphones, and you don't get Sony's innovative Speak-to-Chat feature, either, which allows the WH-1000XM4 to automatically pause your music when you're in a conversation. 

Still, Shure's latest headphones certainly look stylish, with an aluminum headband that twists to hug the generously padded earcups. Throw in a collapsible design and a rugged carrying case, and you've got yourself a pair of headphones that could be perfect for use during flights or while commuting to work.

There are three different modes of active noise cancellation - including an environment mode that allows you to hear the world around you without removing the headphones - which can be toggled through at the touch of a button. There are also buttons that allow you to accept calls, and adjust the volume of your music. 

Big drivers for a big sound

the shure aonic 40 in their carry case

(Image credit: Shure)

Inside Shure's latest headphones are 40mm dynamic neodymium drivers, which should provide a powerful sound; in general, the larger the driver, the more air is displaced, leading to bigger soundwaves. Of course, bigger doesn't always mean better, but drivers of this size are a good thing to look out for if you crave full-bodied bass. 

If the AONIC 40 sound anything like their predecessors, the Shure AONIC 50, you can expect a balanced yet energetic audio performance, with trebles that shine without sounding overly harsh or gritty and well defined and robust bass lines. 

However, as the AONIC 40 are considerably less expensive, we're not sure whether Shure has taken any sonic shortcuts with its latest offering - and they may not sound quite as good as their more expensive siblings.

Still, you can adjust the EQ balance of the AONIC 40 to your exacting tastes via the Shure Plus PLAY app, and audiophiles will be pleased to know that the new headphones can handle hi-res audio thanks to aptX HD codec support.

Based on the specs, we don't think the AONIC 40 will surpass the Sony WH-1000XM4 - they just can't compete with all the extra quality of life features you get with Sony's cans - but they could certainly give the best headphones in the world a run for their money with a vigorous audio performance and a slick design that stands out from the crowd. 

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.