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Best noise-cancelling earbuds 2021: budget and premium

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Best noise-cancelling earbuds Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy in 2021.

Noise-cancelling earbuds make a lot of sense for a lot of people. In many cases, they're wireless, so cutting the cable can give you a new sense of freedom which is handy for commuting or exercising. And the fact they've got noise-cancelling tech built-in means they're best positioned to make your listening experience as quiet and peaceful as possible, so you can enjoy your music or focus on that call.

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, chat and sirens, and more of the music playing through your headphones. Not only does it give your music room to breathe, but noise-cancelling also means it's possible to listen at lower volumes and still hear all the detail in your music.

You'll find the 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 and some have been heavily discounted for Black Friday, so you'll find some bargains below too.

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.

Black Friday noise-cancelling earbuds deals (UK)

Black Friday noise-cancelling earbuds deals (US)

Sony WF-1000XM4 noise-cancelling earbuds in silver

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony WF-1000XM4

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 pair of Panasonic RZ-S500W noise-cancelling earbuds

(Image credit: Panasonic)

2. Panasonic RZ-S500W

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

Sony WF-1000XM3 noise-cancelling earbuds

(Image credit: Sony)

3. Sony WF-1000XM3

Slightly older than the XM4s, but still great pair of noise-cancelling earbuds.

Specifications
Bluetooth version: 5.0
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 6 hours (+ 18 hours from charging case)
Reasons to buy
+Musical performers+Ace noise cancelling+Excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No aptX HD support-Not water/sweat resistant

The wireless Sony WF-1000XM3s are awesome all-rounders and offer arguably the best in-ear noise-cancelling we've experienced to date.

Fit is excellent, as is battery life and the all-important sound quality. They come with more tip sizes than most rivals, feature intuitive touch controls and sound wonderfully musical. Despite their tiny proportions, there's a good sense of scale. Instruments sound natural and authentic, with plenty of detail and composure to the performance. 

Battery life is six hours, while the carry case has enough power for an extra three charges, giving a total of 24 hours. Plus there's a fast-charge function: 10 minutes of charging breathes 90 minutes of life into these buds.

If you're in the market for a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds, we suggest you start here.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3

Earfun Air Pro noise-cancelling earbuds

(Image credit: Earfun)

4. Earfun Air Pro

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

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds noise-cancelling earbuds in Soapstone

(Image credit: Bose)

5. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

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 2021

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

6. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

These noise-cancelling earbuds can be found with a very decent discount.

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: 7 hours (28 hours with charging case)
Reasons to buy
+Refined, mature sound+Lightweight and comfortable+Nice to use
Reasons to avoid
-Price-Timing can be bettered-aptX support but not HD

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 tick a lot of boxes. They're comfortable to have in place for long listening sessions. Battery life is competitive too, with a single charge giving seven hours of playback and the charging case providing an additional three charges, bringing the total battery life at your disposal to 28 hours.

They're nice to use too, with touch-sensitive pads on each earpiece which can be customised to control music playback and features.

We're pleased to report that the noise-cancelling works extremely well and gives the Sonys in top spot a run for their money. Background noises are dumbed down leaving you free to enjoy their excellent sound quality.

They're extremely refined and sophisticated for the money. Highs and lows are smooth and controlled but dynamics aren't sacrificed. The Sennheisers present a wide, detailed soundstage with impressive scale and authority. Granted, they're a little pricier than other noise-cancelling earbuds, but if your budget can stretch, we think you'll be seriously impressed.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Best noise-cancelling earbuds 2021

(Image credit: Sony)

7. Sony WF-SP800N

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

Best noise-cancelling earbuds 2021

(Image credit: Future)

8. Apple AirPods Pro

Apple's first noise-cancelling earbuds put up a solid display.

Specifications
Bluetooth version: 5.0
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 5 hours (+19 hours from charging case)
Reasons to buy
+Comfy+Very good noise cancelling+Even audio
Reasons to avoid
-Rivals sound better-No volume control-No aptX HD support

The AirPods Pro are the best yet, and the first model from Apple to offer noise cancelling, which is predictable and constant. Fit is good, while the controls have been built into the stems, which can be squeezed to carry out certain tasks. It's a bit of a fiddly process, though, and you still have to control volume via Siri voice control or on your device, which isn't ideal. Battery life is five hours for the buds with another 19 hours from the charging case.

 Similarly priced rivals might sound better, but if you're an iPhone user, the sheer convenience of how well these noise-cancelling earbuds work with your device could be enough of a trade-off.

Read the full review: Apple AirPods Pro

Best noise-cancelling earbuds 2021

(Image credit: Technics)

9. Technics EAH-AZ70W review

Technics' breaks new ground with this fine pair of noise-cancelling earbuds.

Specifications
Bluetooth version: 5.1
aptX HD: No
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 6 hours (+12 hours from charging case)
Reasons to buy
+Solid, punchy and spacious sound+Excellent bass response+Comfortable and easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most subtle sound

Technics attempt to crack the noise-cancelling earbuds market has started with this premium pair of in-ears. The buds include Alexa voice control, touch controls, and 18 hr battery live (six from the earbuds with a further 12 provided by the case).

The noise-cancelling tech used is Technics' own, and features three mics in each earbud which help reduce background chatter. You can alter the strength of the noise-cancelling in the Technics Audio Connect companion app, where you can also select from a range of different sound modes and even track down the whereabouts of your earbuds.

The connection is solid and stable, and the earbuds favour a lively, entertaining sound with plenty of punch. Bass goes particularly deep and sounds defined with it. These aren't the cheapest pair of noise-cancelling earbuds in this list, but they are a pleasant and talented proposition worth considering.

Read the full review: Technics EAH-AZ70W

Beats Studio Buds noise-cancelling earbuds

(Image credit: Beats)

10. Beats Studio Buds

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

Jaybird Vista 2 noise-cancelling earbuds

(Image credit: Jaybird)

11. Jaybird Vista 2

Jaybird delivers yet another solid pair of noise-cancelling earbuds.

Specifications
Bluetooth version: 5.0
aptX HD: No
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 8 hours (+16 hours from charging case)
Finishes: 3
Reasons to buy
+Clear, energetic sound+Good ANC+Practical and comfortable design
Reasons to avoid
-Not sonically special

If you want to engage noise-cancelling and immerse yourself in a world of music or podcasts while you work out, then the Jaybird Vista 2 earbuds could be right up your street.

These earbuds put in a solid shift across the board. They're rugged and durable (note their IP68 rating for water and dust resistance) and are comfy to wear thanks to the soft interchangeable tips and discreet wings. Battery life is middling at six hours with noise-cancelling or Jaybird's SurroundSense mode engaged. Their wireless charging case (which also works with USB-C) provides a further two full charges on top of that).

In outright terms, you'll find better-sounding noise-cancelling earbuds higher up this page, but the Vista 2 are still fun to listen to. There's plenty of punch to all frequencies and they're well-balanced, which isn't always the case with sporty buds. These Jaybirds are at least worth considering at the money.

Read the full review: Jaybird Vista 2

Oppo Enco X noise-cancelling earbuds

(Image credit: Oppo)

12. Oppo Enco X

A bold-sounding pair of noise-cancelling earbuds.

Specifications
Bluetooth version: 5.2
aptX HD: No
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 4 hours (+16 hours from charging case)
Reasons to buy
+Partially impressive specification+Bold, assertive sound+Decent noise-cancelling
Reasons to avoid
-Little iOS compatibility-Sounds slightly small-scale-Average battery life

Straight from the Apple AirPods school of ‘dangly stem’ design, the Oppo Enco X look attractive enough in their 'glossy white' or 'glossy black' finishes. They come with a wireless charging case, touch controls, and a wide selection of eartips that help deliver a comfy fit. The only downside is the paltry four-hour battery life (the case includes four extra charges).

Oppo has enlisted the help of Danish loudspeaker company Dynaudio to help with the sound quality of the Enco X and the result is a pair of confident-sounding noise-cancelling earbuds. They become more engaging the more you listen with plenty of detail and texture spread throughout the frequency range.

There's a good sense of integration between all the various elements too, although could sound more open and deliver a greater sense of scale, though.

Noise-cancelling is ok for the money, but the Sony WF-1000XM3 further up this list are the more astute buy. However, if you're a fan of Oppo products then the Enco X are still worth investigating.

Read the full review: Oppo Enco X

MORE:

Sony WF-1000XM4 vs WF-1000XM3: which are better?

The best wireless headphones you can buy right now

Save big with our pick of the best headphone deals

Andy Madden

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