Whether working in a home office, or working in your mobile office wherever you are in the world, distractions abound everywhere. How you deal with these distractions is what determines how much productive work you will get done during any given day. One way to deal with any sound-based distractions all at once is to have noise-cancelling headphones. These get rid of all noise and sound, preventing them from bothering you at all. However, they are not all made equally, and finding the right pair for you can be a bit of a journey. Here, we will go over a few different excellent options for your perfect pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earphones.
Do you want Headphones or Earphones?
The first choice to make is whether you want over-the-ear headphones or in-ear earphones. There are few considerations to make on this front, so let’s consider which ones matter most to you.
When looking for the best sound quality, you are usually going to be looking for over-the-ear headphones. The sound quality is generally far superior. Part of this is due to the next point.
Over-the-ear headphones reliably cancel sound much better then in-ear earphones. This is primarily just because the actual structure of them blocks air and therefore sound waves much more easily.
When it comes to comfort, the two options are fairly debatable. Some people enjoy the cushioning of over-the-ear headphones, and some value the convenience of in-ear earphones. Over-the-ear headphones can get in the way of your hair, your earrings, or they can just be uncomfortable on your ears while in-ear earphones do not have those same issues. However, some people are bothered by having something inside their ear, so it is purely personal preference.
When it comes to versatility and convenience, in-ear earphones are clearly the option. Over-the-ear headphones often are fairly inconvenient for any active or outdoors activities whereas in-ear earphones are easily used for exercise without covering your ears in sweat. They are also much lighter and easier to carry around in a pocket or purse.
Major Points on how to Choose your Headphones
After deciding whether you want over-the-ear headphones or in-ear earphones, there are several other decisions still to make on what sorts of noise-cancelling headphones are going to be right for you.
Wired vs. Wireless Headphones
There is actually relatively little to consider in the debate nowadays between wired and wireless headphones besides simply price point. Wireless headphones of course will have a battery life issue to consider, but all noise-cancelling headphones will require battery power for the noise-cancelling effect. There is a potential issue of compatibility with different devices. If you are using an older MP3 player, you will not be able to use Bluetooth-compatible wireless headphones. As far sound quality, the difference is generally insignificant depending on the quality of the headphones themselves as long as you are listening to music in MP3 file format. However, interference can happen with your wireless headphones if you do not keep the device it is connected to close by.
Of course, wireless headphones are a bit more convenient as they do not force you to have a wire in your way. However, if you are fine with a wire, you can save money by getting a pair of wired headphones.
When looking at the battery life of noise-cancelling headphones, the first thing to consider is whether or not you can use your headphones to listen to music when the battery is dead and you do not need the sound-cancelling feature. This is of course unavailable in wireless headphones of course, but wired headphones often work perfectly well without their battery life. This can lead to your extended productivity in relatively quiet places without having to depend on having your headphones charged up.
Of course, when heading into a situation where you know you will need the sound-cancelling feature of your headphones active such as in when traveling for your mobile office, you must make sure to charge your headphones in advance. Most headphones’ sound-cancelling feature has a battery life of about 25 hours, so if you need a bit more than that, make a point of looking into headphones that have an extra long battery life.
A newer innovation in noise-cancelling headphones is the adaptive sound-cancelling. These newer headphones can increase the power of their sound-cancelling as louder sounds happen. Some adaptable headphones can even change their sound-cancelling based on your altitude. This can help cancel out the pressure in your ears even, which may make flying a bit easier on you.
There are some other adaptations that can help you interact with your environment much more readily. Some headphones will allow you to double-tap the headpiece or put a hand-cone to your ear let you hear the natural environment for directions or out of curiosity.
Best Headphones for each Situation
When you think of good headphones, you may begin by thinking of Bose and Sony, and you would be completely right to think those are good brands to trust. There are certainly a few more good brands that may be worth looking into of course, but it is the particular product and how it lives up to what you need that matters.
This series by Sony has been highly touted as generally the best headphones in the industry for the last two years, and the reasons are many-fold as you will see by their regular appearance on various performance checks on this list. Their sound-cancelling is among the best out there, and you will be happy to do your household chores or get some productive work done in a busy subway station.
In-ear earphones are not known for being excellent at noise-cancelling, but the Bose QuietComfort 20 are a rare exception to that rule. If sound-cancelling is what you need, but you despise the feeling of headphones pinning your earrings to you or messing up your hair, these are your best bet.
Bose is always known for making excellent noise-cancelling headphones and other devices, and these are just the latest in a long line of such devices. These headphones are also ones that appear in multiple categories, so keep them on your shortlist for best headphones.
If any brand can reliably challenge Bose on regularly putting out excellent sound-cancelling devices, Sennheiser is up to the task. These headphones are much more affordable than their Bose and Sony counterparts, so if you need relatively inexpensive headphones and are concerned with sound-cancelling over any other feature, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC might be your best choice.
The Nura Nuraphone are incredibly interesting hybrid over-the-ear and in-ear headphones. Because of that simple fact, the noise-cancelling of this device is truly excellent. There may be headphones with more desired features for a lower price, as these are not cheap, but the sound-cancelling is possibly the best out there. However, other brands may make similar models in the future for a lower price just because of the simple ingenuity of sound-cancelling in the Nura Nuraphone.
Best Battery Life
The latest Sony headphones are on the list of best battery life as well, and with a reliable battery life of around 30+ hours, they have earned it. They may not be the cheapest, but they have many benefits.
Philips Fidelio NC1 may not have made the best sound-cancelling headphones, but they are sound-cancelling headphones, as all the options are on all of these lists. They have a battery life of 25+ hours, so they are a viable option for much cheaper than the Sonys above.
The Bose QuietControl 30 have a high price tag for earbuds, but a 10-hour battery life for in-ear earphones is relatively strong. If having earbuds instead of headphones is a priority for you, these are the ones with the longest battery life.
The BackBeat Pro 2 have a 24+ hour battery lifespan, which is certainly not terrible. Anything more than 20 hours is above par for the sound-cancelling value of quality headphones, and these ones happen to be the least expensive option of those which have relatively strong battery lives.
Best Sound Quality
Microsoft Surface’s headphones are well-known for excellent sound quality that is best described as warm in its comfort level. It may be too warm for some, so give it a shot by trial before purchasing.
This hybrid set of headphones rears up again in the sound-quality section, and their design allows for a truly rich sound to be emitted. Good sound-cancelling always leads to solid sound quality, but with these it is ever more true.
Would it be a truly important section on headphones quality without these great options? Well, there will be some, but not yet. They feature the aptX HD and Sony LDAC, which are two of the best ways to listen to high resolution quality music.
The Fidelio NC1 may be wired, but this leads to a relatively inexpensive price compared to their opponents of similar sound quality. Their sound could be described as electric, and they are high quality.
The best raw sound quality available belongs to this selection of Sennheiser headphones. These may not be the best pound-for-pound headphones by price, though they are wireless and much less expensive than the Sony headphones above, and they have a few irritations about touch controls. However, their sound is unmatched, so they deserve a strong mention.
This selection of Sennheiser headphones is a bit less expensive than the PXC 550 headphones, and they are excellent for traveling with. They are convenient and easy to pack, but they struggle with a bit of comfortability and responsiveness from the NoiseGuard system.
The BackBeat Pro 2 show up here again as an inexpensive option, and they are again excellent for traveling with. They are valuable, but there is a complaint that the sound quality might not be up to snuff with the more expensive opposition.
Inevitably, all in-ear earphones are far more mobile and travel-friendly than their over-the-ear opposition. The BackBeat Go 410 are no exception, and these happen to be the very best of the sound-cancelling earphones out there.They also offer a wired connection, which means they are perfect for in-flight connection to your phone as they do not need a Bluetooth connection. Not only this, but their price point is simply too hard to beat.
The BackBeat Go 410 are the most comfortable of all sound-cancelling earphones. They are known for excellent comfort, and if your main struggle with finding good sound-cancelling headphones is that they mess up your hair and press on your earrings, in-ear earphones are the option for you. If that is the case, these are the best ones out there.
If these headphones did not make the list of some of the most comfortable headphones, it would be fairly disappointing, would it not? Bose may lead in noise-cancelling, but this QuietComfort line leads in comfort as well. The QuietComfort 25 headphones are wired, so if wiring leads to less comfort for you, that is something to consider.
The Fidelio NC1 make the comfort list as well, and to be at their price point with as many pluses as they have, to be as comfortable as they are; this Philips model of headphones has to be on your shortlist of sound-cancelling headphones.
These inexpensive headphones are high quality in many ways, and comfort is just one more of them. Their original form, the BackBeat Pro headphones, were criticized for bulk and weight. These BackBeat Pro 2, however, negated these issues and became wonderfully comfortable headphones.
When it comes to adaptability and innovation, the Nura Nuraphone surely have the most unique innovation. The hybrid of over-the-ear and in-ear headphones is an excellent adaptation, and it would not be surprising to see other brands imitating this innovation before long.
The Microsoft Surface headphones are excellent quality in sound, but they more importantly have ingenuitive features. The controls are incredibly intuitive for these headphones, and they perfect the active noise-cancellation feature. They can be controlled easily, and this is their main attraction.
Every one of the top quality Sony headphones come equipped with the Google Assistant and Alexa support. This feature makes them the smartest headphones out there to go along with being possibly the best.
The main complaint about the PX Wireless headphones is sound quality, but they have some cute tricks going on for them. The greatest trick is that they have that aforementioned ability to turn on and off automatically, intelligently by whether or not you are wearing them.
These in-ear earphones are the single most effective option for noise-cancelling headphones available. For options under $100, these are bound to be the most quality option you will find for noise-cancelling headphones.
The BackBeat Pro 2 headphones do not nearly rival the TaoTronics above, but they are about the least expensive you will find for high quality sound-cancelling headphones. Their bass is a bit strong sometimes, but for having such a great battery life, comfort, and fantastic quality of sound.
The QuietComfort 25 may be a few renditions ago for Bose headphones, but that is what makes them so affordable. They are missing the fantastic additions of Google Assistant and Alexa capability, and they are wired headphones, but the sound quality is fantastic. For this price, you will not find much better.