Listening to the sounds of nature or the sounds of people around you can be an enlightening experience, but sometimes it is not.
Sometimes all you want to do is listen to your own music, movies, and audiobooks without any distractions.
We do not blame you! The world we live in is noisy, full of all kinds of unpleasant noises.
Fortunately, that’s why there are noise reduction headphones.
These wonders of the modern era completely eliminate unwanted audio – allowing you to achieve sound nirvana.
They’re essential for any adventure you’re about to undertake – whether it’s a multi-hour flight or a train ride that’s part of your daily commute.
In addition to sound quality, a good noise reduction headset has two functions: to provide a comfortable fit for prolonged use, and also to cancel out unwanted exterior noises accurately.
Without becoming too technical, the ANC (Active Noise Cancelation) is achieved by using built-in microphones that detect what is happening around you. The headphones then produce their own out of phase sound waves that destroy the outside noise. So, to help you choose a headset that offers all of the above, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 noise reduction headphones in 2023, listed below.
BEST 2022 NOISE REDUCTION HEADPHONES
**Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from Qualifying Purchases.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise-Canceling Over-Ear Headphones (Black, with Carrying case) Bundle Extra Bass Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker (Black) Bundle
Acoustic design: closed | Weight: 254g | Cable length: 1.2m | Frequency Response: 4Hz to 40kHz | Drivers: 40 mm double-layer membrane | Driver type: dynamic | Sensitivity: 104.5 dB | Impedance: 47 ohm | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 30 meters | NFC: yes
Sony’s WH-1000XM3 is the world’s best noise reduction headset in two years. Of course, it may be a little refinement of last year’s excellent WH-1000XM2, but subtle adjustments like using USB-C instead of micro USB and adding upholstery along the deck help make Sony’s award-winning product even better.
So why does everyone like the WH-1000XM3 so much? Well, it is exceptionally good for cancelling outside noises. Put the pair while you vacuum and you will hardly hear the engine running. For music lovers, the Sony WH-1000XM3 offers aptX HD and Sony LDAC, two of the best ways to listen to music in high resolution from your cordless phone. Finally, all of Sony’s flagship headphones offer both Google Assistant and, from 2022, Alexa support, making it not only the best soundproof headphones on the market but also some of the smartest.
SONY Wireless noise canceling stereo headset WH-1000XM2 NM (CHAMPAGNE GOLD)(International version/seller warrant)
7 used from $178.00
Bose may have brand recognition, but there is no reason for us to recommend QuietComfort35 II over the Sony WH-1000X M2. It’s a very rare thing for us to say, but Sony’s latest headphones are really good.
In our tests, the WH-1000X M2 not only offers impressive active noise reduction but offers the best sound quality for ANC wireless headsets. They are comfortable, have a decent battery life, offer an incredibly well-described application, fantastic sound for a Bluetooth headset.
Although touch controls and active noise cancellation are sufficient, the application is what sets it apart from these headphones. With, you can adapt the sound of WH-1000X M2 as you please. You can adjust the bass, sound your music as if you were in a concert hall and adjust a more granular equalizer.
The predecessor of the WH-1000X M2, the MDR-1000X, seems good enough to beat the original Bose QC35, and nothing has changed much here.
When it comes to traveling by plane or subway, we have trouble finding better headsets on the market because they block a lot of unwanted noise. The attenuation performance of the WH-1000X M2 can be seen below, with color codes ranging from pink to blue: pink is bad, green and blue are commendable. Each 10 dB noise reduction is a half volume reduction, so 20 dB on this graph means that the external noise is 25% as loud as it would be without the headphones (and so on).
See how you get more than 20 dB of noise reduction around 60 Hz and above? This means that these headphones are very effective at killing outside noises that could potentially hide most of the voices, bass notes, and most instruments in your music. It’s not only impressive but what you expect from a high-end noise reduction headset.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, Noise-Cancelling, with Alexa voice control, enabled with Bose AR – Black
11 used from $138.00
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is a product almost identical to the excellent Bose QuietComfort 35 but updated for 2022
with Google Assistant. That means you always get Bose’s premium noise cancellation, good sound quality, and incredible comfort, as well as a handy assistant to answer any questions you may have while traveling.
Taken as a whole, the Bose QC35 II NC is an excellent headset for travelers and commuters. Bose has found a good balance of features that will satisfy most traditional listeners. Although we do not like it as much as the Sony WH-1000XM2, which is of better quality, they are still the best for noise reduction.
Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless – NoiseGard Adaptive Noise Cancelling, Bluetooth Headphone with Touch Sensitive Control and 30-Hour Battery Life
The Sennheiser PCX 550 is a noise reduction headset with features that fully deserve Sennheiser’s reputation.
They are comfortable, the sound quality is excellent and the active noise cancellation is solid. There are also many extras, including adjustable ANC and a number of digital sound processing modes (DSP) for watching movies.
The exterior of one of the earpieces is also a capacitive touchpad to provide intuitive media controls, plus this headset can be folded for easy transport.
Performance side, the PCX 550 is a little closer to the Bose QC35 II, but without the button of the voice assistant. It attenuates the sound pretty well, but keep the bass a little more restrained than Sony WH-1000X M2 headphones. Like the other competitors, the PCX 550 boasts 30 hours of battery life, Bluetooth A2Dp profiles and deep, comfortable headphones.
Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 Special Edition - Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones
Speaking of noise cancellation, it’s pretty good, but it’s not the best we’ve heard. The sound is similar in this respect, with a smooth and articulate character.
As always, there are some compromises to make, but if you do not have the extra money to spend, Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 is a great affordable option.
AKG Noise Cancelling Headphones N60NC Wireless Bluetooth - Black - GP-N060HAHCAAA
1 used from $84.99
The wireless version of the excellent N60NC is here and retains all the attributes of its predecessor while adding the Bluetooth connectivity option (like all these headsets, you can also wire it, to save battery life).
The sound is really great, and always good, whether you’re wired or wireless, with or without noise suppression.
At an average price, this wireless noise reduction headset offers excellent value for money, excellent sound quality and a level of noise-canceling performance comparable to that of the most expensive entries in this list.
These headphones are incredibly compact and offer a very comprehensive package for the price.
Buying Guide: Wireless Noise Reduction Headphones
Noise isolation is not noise reduction.
Before entering the shopping guide, it is important to remember that there is a big difference between soundproof headphones and noise reduction headphones.
The former block the sound physically, usually with a tighter pad around your ears.
On the other hand, noise reduction headphones use digital signal processing technology to block external noise. These headphones listen to the sounds around you and the processor makes a noise in your ears that “cancels” the sound, blocking most of what may distract you. It’s almost never perfect, but it’s better than noise-isolating headphones. Of course, you usually have to pay for this difference.
What to look for in a noise reduction headset. In many ways, you get what you pay for. Generally, the more expensive they are, the better the noise-cancelling characteristics. However, there are many variables that go into the right choice for you and it’s not entirely about the noise. Here are some tips to ensure you have a good shopping experience.
Decide on a budget. It is better to know what you are willing to pay than to be tempted to spend more than you can really afford because you want the last and the best. As I said above, the more you pay, the better the experience, but it is not necessary to spend $100 more to get a small improvement in quality.
Know what style of headset you are looking for. Do you want ear pads that rest on your ears or headphones that surround your ears?
Consider going to a store to try different noise reduction headphones. You will always get a better online purchase offer, but it can be helpful to shop at the store just to taste the headphones to see how they feel on your head. Go home to shop because you will save money (potentially a lot of money), but it is very useful to know what you find comfortable.
Know how you will treat your headsets. Some people are extremely cautious with expensive headphones while others may be abusive. Be honest with yourself about how you tend to treat a purchase like this and then respond to your search based on that. If you bend, twist, or lose them frequently, you will need a pair known for durability.