Best noise-cancelling earbuds 2022: budget and premium

Best noise-cancelling earbuds Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy in 2022.

Noise-cancelling earbuds are a great option for a lot of people. Because they tend to be wireless, cutting the cable can bring an added sense of freedom whether you're commuting or exercising. And the use of Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) tech means they'll keep your listening experience as quiet and peaceful as possible, so you can immerse yourself in music without any distractions.

With noise-cancelling activated, earbuds use a combination of built-in mics and inverted sound waves to cancel out certain frequencies. This means you hear less traffic, chatter and sirens i.e. noise, and more of the music playing through your headphones. Not only does it give your music room to breathe, but using the tech also allows you to listen at a low volume without losing all the detail in your music.

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How to choose the best noise-cancelling earbuds

Obviously, the quality of noise-cancelling is key when it comes to choosing the right pair of ANC earbuds. Thankfully, you can be confident that all of the five-star pairs on our list do a great job cutting out noise. Yes, there can even be differences between the noise-cancelling of five-star products, but they are usually very subtle.

It does need to be pointed out, though, that a great pair of noise-cancelling wireless earbuds still won't be as effective as the best noise-cancelling headphones that sit on or over your ears. Earbuds are small, so while they're great for portability there's only so much tech you can squeeze in.

ANC puts extra demands battery life, so you'll want to make sure the buds you want are going to last long enough from a single charge. Charging cases can come to the rescue here so you just need to think about how, where and when the wireless earbuds are going to be used.

As is the case with any pair of wireless earbuds, fit and comfort are vital. We can give you our experience of testing a pair, but it's no substitute for trying them out for yourself.

You'll find that noise-cancelling earbuds tend to cost a bit more than wireless earbuds without the feature, so you'll have to budget accordingly. The good news is there are some exceptionally talented and affordable options out there now and even previously pricey pairs have now been discounted so there are definitely bargains lurking in the list below.

Our list of the best noise-cancelling earbuds spans a range of prices, so take a look and see which pair is right for you and your budget. Speaking of which, if you want your budget to stretch even further be sure to check out the best wireless earbuds deals.

Noise-cancelling headphones: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

(Image credit: Future)

1. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Bose's flagship in-ears are the ultimate noise-cancelling earbuds.

Specifications

Bluetooth: Yes
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 6hrs (24hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Weight: 6.2g each

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptional noise-cancelling
+
Fantastic sense of refinement
+
Beautifully balanced sound
+
Excellent detail levels

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life can be bettered
-
Call quality is nothing special
-
No Bluetooth multipoint
-
No wireless charging

Smaller and lighter than the original QC Earbuds (which you can find a few places below), the Earbuds II provide a comfortable fit, lots of features and the best noise-cancelling we've heard in a pair of in-ears. Bluetooth 5.3 is a big bonus, and the fact Bose app allows you to alter the amount of noise-cancelling on offer via a number of customisable presets is something that really elevates these earbuds above a lot of the competition.

Speaking of noise-cancelling, the Bose are at the top of their game. They can automatically adjust the amount of ANC on offer so your music isn’t drowned out by particularly loud noises and the effect is deeply impressive. As for sound, it's refined, balanced and overflowing with fine detail and nuance. 

It's a shame there's no support for high-quality wireless audio codecs such as LDAC or aptX HD, nor is there wireless charging or multipoint Bluetooth. But we don't think this is the end of the world when you consider that these classy buds ooze such sophistication.

Read the full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II review 

Sony WF-1000XM4 noise-cancelling earbuds in silver

Brilliant sound and class-leading noise-cancelling – what more could you wish for? (Image credit: Sony)
The best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy right now.

Specifications

OS support: Android/iOS
Bluetooth: Yes
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 8 hours (24 hours with charging case)
Finishes: 2

Reasons to buy

+
Superb noise-cancelling
+
Clear, detailed bass performance
+
Wonderful sense of musicality
+
Class-leading battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Missing Sony’s Multipoint feature
-
Lacking ear tip choices
-
No aptX HD

Sony already boasts a pair of the best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy – just look at the WF-1000XM3 below. But the Japanese giant has managed to go one better with the WF-1000XM4, taking both noise-cancelling and sound quality up a notch.

They're powered by Sony's brand new Integrated Processor V1 which takes care of noise-cancelling, DAC and amplifier duties. They also feature a new driver design which is made from a new material and uses a bigger magnet to give the headphones greater control when cancelling low frequencies. And the results are superb. The Sonys effortlessly keep outside distractions to a minimum which allows you to immerse yourself in the music.

And the WF-1000XM4 produce one of the most dynamic, detailed, balanced and musical performances we've heard from a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds. Bass notes sound tight and textured, while vocals ooze refinement and sophistication. Their rhythmic delivery keeps you coming back for more, and also makes you thankful for the eight hours of battery life, which is class-leading in this field.

The Sonys are also comfortable to wear, water-resistant and include clever features such as Quick Attention and Speak-To-Chat which both allow you to have a conversation without removing the earbuds. You'll struggle to find better.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM4

Black Panasonic RZ-S500W noise-cancelling earbuds

Panasonic isn't really known for noise-cancelling earbuds, but these do a great job for the money. (Image credit: Panasonic)
A hugely talented and affordable pair of noise-cancelling earbuds.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.0
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 6.5 hours (+ 13 hours from charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Expansive detailed presentation
+
Excellent noise cancelling
+
Superb touch controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Fit could be an issue for some

Panasonic isn't a brand that immediately springs to mind when you think of noise-cancelling wireless earbuds. But perhaps it should be. The RZ-S500W are the company's first foray into the category and they're sensational performers for the money.

Specs are thorough, with noise-cancelling tech, an Ambient Mode, twin mics for voice calls, and battery life that totals 19.5 hours (6.5hrs from the buds and 13hrs from the charging case). A 15-minute USB-C quick-charge can deliver 70 minutes of playback. The touch controls on each bud are responsive and intuitive, allowing you to control your music and switch between noise-cancelling modes with zero fuss. 

You also get five sizes of ear tips to help with fit. We found this a little hit and miss, so we'd definitely experiment and consider mixing the sizes if it means getting a more secure fit.

Both noise-cancelling and sound quality are excellent. There's plenty of agility through the low end and loads of texture across the frequencies. Music sounds clear and there's a great deal of refinement on show, which is to be welcomed at this price level. To sum up, these Panasonic earbuds are superb for the money.

Read the full review: Panasonic RZ-S500W

Earfun Air Pro noise-cancelling earbuds

Noise-cancelling is bettered by more expensive earbuds, but at this price we can't grumble. (Image credit: Earfun)
Earfun's talented noise-cancelling earbuds are a bit of a bargain.

Specifications

Bluetooth: Yes
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 7hrs (25hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Solid, accurate bass weight
+
Effective noise cancelling
+
Classy build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Harsh upper midrange

Look higher up this list and you'd be forgiven for thinking that you need to spend quite a bit of cash to get a decent pair of noise-cancelling earbuds. But, the Earfun Air Pro prove that isn't the case. Despite coming in at an ultra-low price point, they manage to pack in plenty of useful features and produce an entertaining sound that demands you take them seriously.

The Earfun Air Pro fit securely, connect easily, have reliable controls and feature basic but effective noise-cancelling profiles. Battery life comes in at seven hours per charge, with the charging case providing a further 18 hours. There’s also USB-C charging and wearer detection, plus the sound is good for the money – well-balanced, relatively transparent, taut and full through the bass, and musically pleasing. We haven't come across any noise-cancelling earbuds at this level that does everything these Earfuns do, as well as they do it.

Read the full review: Earfun Air Pro

Best AirPods: Apple AirPods Pro 2

At last, Apple has made a five-star pair of wireless earbuds. (Image credit: Future)
Apple's best-sounding noise-cancelling earbuds yet.

Specifications

Bluetooth: AAC, SBC, 5.3
Water resistance: IPX4
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 30hrs
Weight: 5.4g each

Reasons to buy

+
Clear, detailed and powerful sound
+
Excellent noise-cancelling
+
Longer battery life
+
Smooth, intuitive use with iOS devices

Reasons to avoid

-
Many features restricted to iOS devices only
-
Customisable ANC modes would be useful

Apple's original AirPods Pro were good, but the Pro 2 take performance to another level, not just with regards to sound quality, but noise-cancelling ability too.

Not only is noise-cancelling is better, but battery life is longer, and you get new features to take advantage of. They also cost the same as the original AirPods Pro, which helps.

Fit is very good, and the tweaked design feels a lot less intrusive than some in-ears. Apple has finally added on-bud volume controls, which also help elevate that user experience.

The noise-cancelling works a treat, while Adaptive Transparency muffles loud noises when letting in ambient sounds. And the sound quality? With weight, detail and a good dose of dynamic subtlety, they really are accomplished performers and a huge step up from their predecessors.

Read the full Apple AirPods Pro 2 review

Best wireless headphones: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3

Sophisticated sound quality and great noise-cancelling make for a fine pair of earbuds. (Image credit: Sennheiser)
The True Wireless 3 keep the momentum going strong.

Specifications

Bluetooth: aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC, SBC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 7hrs (28hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Spacious, refined and insightful sound
+
aptX Adaptive Bluetooth support
+
Nicely priced

Reasons to avoid

-
Earpieces slightly cheaper looking
-
Pick up wind noise

Entering their third generation here, Sennheiser's Momentum True Wireless earbuds prove the brand is still a major contender in the space. The noise-cancelling earbuds remain among the best-in-class with brilliant audio, a long spec sheet that offers great battery life (28 hours), aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codec support and the bonus of extra in-app personalisation features. Oh, and they're cheaper than the Momentum True Wireless 2 (below) when they initially launched.

They're nice and comfortable, deliver one of the most mature, spacious and refined performances on the market, and have impressive noise-cancelling to boot.

Building on an already winning recipe with an improved feature set, decent step up in performance and kinder price tag, the Momentum True Wireless 3 are a great option if you're in the market for premium noise-cancelling earbuds.

Read the full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds noise-cancelling earbuds in Soapstone

Bose used to be kings of noise-cancelling and these earbuds are still up there with the best, even after a couple of years. (Image credit: Bose)
These fantastic noise-cancelling earbuds boast brilliant sound and tech.

Specifications

Bluetooth: Yes
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 6hrs (18hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Exciting, entertaining sound
+
Superb balance
+
Impressive noise-cancelling

Reasons to avoid

-
Average battery life

Bose's first-ever pair of noise-cancelling earbuds are a huge success. The Bose feel lightweight enough for the average commute or exercise session (the QuietComfort are both sweat and weather-resistant) and they're great to live with. Battery life is a claimed six hours from a single charge, with the charging case supplying an extra two charges, making 18 hours in total – a decent reserve, but by no means class-leading. You can customise some features and controls, and adjust the excellent noise-cancellation, in Bose's handy companion app.

The sense of enthusiasm and excitement conveyed by the Bose buds is highly infectious. There’s power, poise and a fantastic sense of dynamism. Bass notes sound full-bodied, go deep and the QuietComfort Earbuds squeeze out lots of detail.

All in all, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are sensational all-rounders, capable of impressive musicality, and topped off with some of the best noise-cancelling we've heard in a pair of earbuds.

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Best noise-cancelling earbuds 2022

These Sonys are just the ticket if you want great noise-cancelling from your sporty earbuds, (Image credit: Sony)
A fine pair of noise-cancelling earbuds, with one eye on exercise and sports.

Specifications

Connector: N/A
Cable length: N/A
In-line remote and mic: N/A
OS support: Android/iOS
Bluetooth: Yes
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 9 hours (+ 9 hours from charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Vibrant, buoyant sound
+
Good noise-cancelling
+
Comfortable fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly coarse sound
-
Average battery life

The Sony WF-SP800N earbuds certainly try to please everyone. They want to please those who need accompaniment to their workout and also those who have a commute to endure. They aim to please those who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on some well-specified, noise-cancelling earbuds, but also those who have spent enough on a Deezer or Tidal subscription to have access to 360 Reality Audio, Sony’s spatial audio format. And in a nutshell, they succeed.

These Sonys may have average battery life (18 hours total) and an arguably daft look (they aren't exactly discreet and do fill your lugholes), but their dynamic sound, good noise-cancelling and indisputable build combine to ensure they're front-runners in their field.

Read the full review: Sony WF-SP800N

Beats Studio Buds noise-cancelling earbuds

For the money, there's a lot to like about these Beats buds, including their effective ANC. (Image credit: Beats)
Beats does budget noise-cancelling earbuds - and we're impressed.

Specifications

Bluetooth version: 5.2
aptX HD: No
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 5 hours (+10 hours from charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Agile, more neutral bass
+
Spacious soundstage
+
Remarkably small earpieces

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly harsh treble
-
No on-device volume control

For a brand normally associated with flashy colourful plastics and overt branding, the Beats Studio Buds are quite sedate-looking. These noise-cancelling earbuds offer a comfortable, secure fit, and IPX4 splashproof rating plus one-touch pairing for iOS and, for the first time, Android devices.

Battery life is five hours with noise-cancelling activated and can be bumped to around eight if you switch ANC off. The supplied carry case can deliver two additional charges. Multi-function 'b'-branded buttons on each earpiece allow you to carry out basic controls, take calls, and switch between noise-cancelling and Transparency modes. The only thing missing is the ability to control volume.

Their ANC algorithm supposedly monitors and makes corrections at up to 48,000 times per second and they do an effective job at cutting out low-level noise, while the built-in mics do a good job of handling call quality.

Sonically, the Beats put in a very solid shift. Low frequencies are weighty yet controlled and articulate, and you're presented with an open and expansive soundfield. Class-leaders boast better detail and refinement, but the Beats Studio have enough in their locker to make them worth auditioning.

Read the full review: Beats Studio Buds

How we test noise-cancelling earbuds

Testing ANC earbuds requires venturing into a number of different environments to see how the headphones handle certain frequencies. We'll use our office, the city streets and public transport to get a feel for just how effective the noise-cancelling is. We'll also compare them to one or two of our favourite pairs at the money to see how they stand up to the competition.

We'll also use rivals to help us peg the audio quality on offer. We have dedicated test rooms in London, Reading and Bath so we can use these while making the final judgement with a selection of our favourite test tracks.

During the testing process, we'll also go over areas like fit and comfort, see whether the battery life claims ring true and also check to see if there are any lip-sync issues when watching video content.

Many noise-cancelling earbuds come with a control app that allows you to tweak their performance and their controls so we'll see how it impacts the user experience too.

All our review verdicts are agreed upon by the team rather than an individual reviewer to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being as thorough as possible, too.

There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for decades.

MORE:

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II vs Sony WF-1000XM4: which are better?

The best wireless earbuds you can buy right now

Save big with our pick of the best headphone deals

Andy is Deputy Editor of What Hi-Fi? and a consumer electronics journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing news, reviews and features. Over the years he's also contributed to a number of other outlets, including The Sunday Times, the BBC, Stuff, and BA High Life Magazine. Premium wireless earbuds are his passion but he's also keen on car tech and in-car audio systems and can often be found cruising the countryside testing the latest set-ups. In his spare time Andy is a keen golfer and gamer.

  • Willhiro
    The Sony's "Reasons to Avoid" are "Lack volume controls", and "No aptX HD support".
    How come that is not "Reasons to Avoid" for the Apple Airpods. Should they have the same listed? Unless they do have them
    Reply
  • Ruisilva450
    How are any of these budget options?
    Reply
  • Mikeyz
    I am surprised it states there is no touch volume control on the Bose QuietComfort buds. According to the official Bose website it clearly states this is supported. You slide you finger up/down the right bud. I am about to buy them so can confirm this later. I did also check some Q&A on amazon from people who have purchased this product. At least one buyer stated it does have volume control.
    Reply
  • YiG
    Ok then.. the Technics appear to have gained a star, the review it links to shows they were only given 4 stars. Something changed that warrants the extra star??
    Reply
  • Mjp
    Willhiro said:
    The Sony's "Reasons to Avoid" are "Lack volume controls", and "No aptX HD support".
    How come that is not "Reasons to Avoid" for the Apple Airpods. Should they have the same listed? Unless they do have them
    Reasons to avoid Apple Airpods: Apple.
    Reply
  • Mjp
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    From budget to premium, we've got a pair of noise-cancelling true wireless earphones for you.

    Best noise-cancelling earbuds: the true wireless way to cut out background noise : Read more
    As an owner of a pair of Sony WF-1000XM3, I must say the noise cancelling is underwhelming at best. The main problem, and it may apply to all of these, is the seal between buds and ear. If this is poor, noise leaks past, there is zero cancelling, and total loss of bass.

    The only noise cancelling headphones I know of that work, are on or over ear types, which also isolate noise and have superb sound quality that no buds can come close to matching.

    I reckon anyone buying any of these buds will be disappointed.
    Reply
  • DaviddeB
    What Hi-Fi? said:
    From budget to premium, we've got a pair of noise-cancelling true wireless earphones for you.

    Best noise-cancelling earbuds: the true wireless way to cut out background noise : Read more
    Where do the Bowers & Wilkins PI7s rank? They should definitely be in the top 3, if not first, from what I read about them. And what about the Devialet Geminis?
    Reply
  • DCarmi
    So Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 gets in at #7 and #10. You could do with a new proof -reader.
    Reply
  • ElJefeFan
    Ruisilva450 said:
    How are any of these budget options?

    Agreed.

    The 3 "budget options included range from $140-$180. I would consider under $100 to be a definite requirement for budget.

    Check out the Tozo NC7 and NC9, Soundpeats T3 and the Earfun models that are cheaper than the one mentioned here.
    Reply
  • 12th Monkey
    As this is two and a half years old, it's probably an ex-parrot by now.
    Reply