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Best noise-cancelling earbuds 2020: 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 2020.

True wireless earbuds are a relatively recent innovation, but they've quickly gained in popularity. And as they become more popular, they become more advanced, adding value-added features such as noise cancelling.

When activated, noise cancelling mode plays a quiet static to neutralise background noise. This means you hear less traffic, chat and sirens, and more of the music playing through your headphones. Not only does it let you hear the music better, it also means you can listen at lower volumes, which will do your hearing a lot of good. Trust us, you-in-30-years will be grateful.

Noise-cancelling earbuds aren't very common, so to find it in wireless earbuds is very rare indeed. But there are a few models that have got you covered.

We've rounded up the best available right now, spanning a range of budgets. Take a look and see which is right for you.

Best wireless earbuds: budget and premium

Best noise-cancelling earbuds: the true wireless way to cut out background noise

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony WF-1000XM3

The best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy.

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

Lack volume controls
No aptX HD support

Building on the previous generation of excellent Sony earbuds, the WF-1000XM3s offer an all-new Bluetooth chip that sharpens up music synchronisation and a noise-cancelling processor that claims to bring a 40 per cent upgrade on its predecessor. Elsewhere, pretty much everything has improved, from the fit, to the battery life, to the sound quality. You're looking at the best wireless earbuds we've heard so far. If it's the best wireless, noise-cancelling earbuds you want, look no further.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3

Best noise-cancelling earbuds: the true wireless way to cut out background noise

(Image credit: Future)

2. 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

Could have better timing
Rivals sound better

You could be forgiven for thinking that Apple invented the true wireless earbud category. It didn't, but like so many other device types, it made it its own thanks to the ubiquity of its white AirPods. The Pros are the best yet, and the first model to offer noise cancelling. Similarly priced rivals might sound better, but if you're an iPhone user, the sheer convenience of how well they work with your device could be enough of a trade off.

Read the full review: Apple AirPods Pro

Best noise-cancelling earbuds: the true wireless way to cut out background noise

(Image credit: Libratone)

3. Libratone Track Air+

A likeable and lightweight pair of wireless earbuds with decent noise-cancelling.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth version: 5.0 | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 6 hours (+18 hours from charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Good level of detail
Impressive noise cancelling
Comfy

Reasons to Avoid

Harsh upper midrange
Convoluted app
Lack volume controls

These Libratones don't deliver the most refined or thrilling sound for the money, but it's still clear and detailed with a welcome lack of outside noise. Battery life is good and they're a comfortable fit, too, which means after a few hours in their company you'll get along perfectly fine. A very good choice for the money.

Read the full review: Libratone Track Air+

Best noise-cancelling earbuds: the true wireless way to cut out background noise

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony WI-1000X

Decent sound and noise-cancelling makes these neckbuds a smart choice.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth version: 4.1 | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 13 hours

Reasons to Buy

Lively bass
Insightful midrange
Levels of noise cancelling

Reasons to Avoid

Stiff neckband

Not all noise-cancelling earbuds are truly wireless, of course. These ones have a neckband, with the earbuds attached via a short cord. They're still wireless, though, so you can run/cook/gesticulate without getting tangled up. The neckband itself could be a bit more flexible, but there's a ton of features, including different grades of noise cancellation. And they sound superb, serving up plenty of detail and precision. A great step up for those who want in-ear portability with on-ear battery life and power.

Read the full review: Sony WI-1000X

Best noise-cancelling earbuds: the true wireless way to cut out background noise

(Image credit: Bose)

5. Bose QuietControl 30

Impressive noise-cancelling and excellent sound quality make the Bose QC30s the real deal.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth version: 4.2 | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 10 hours

Reasons to Buy

Bags of insight
Good sense of space
Impressive noise cancelling

Reasons to Avoid

Divisive neckband

Like some others in this list, these let you adjust the level of noise cancellation, so you can block everything out, or, if you're out running, say, let in some ambient noise so you're more aware of traffic and other hazards. The neckband won't be to everyone's taste, but there's no arguing with the sound quality - it's impressively spacious, with every element of the audio given room to breathe. There's plenty of detail in the bass and midrange too, and a surefooted sense of rhythm. In short, they don't disappoint.

Read the full review: Bose QuietControl 30

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  • 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