Noise-Cancelling Headphones Review

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Why Buy Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Peace and quiet are rare commodities no matter where you live or work. The hustle and bustle of everyday life really does a number on our hearing and sanity. To block out those annoying sounds, buy a great pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Not only will you be able to actually hear your music, you also won’t have to deal with the crying children on your flight, the phone conversations of co-workers or the construction on the street outside your home.

Unlike noise isolating headphones, which only use design and material to muffle noise, noise cancellation headphones use battery power to actively block noise from accessing your ear canal. Your hearing will thank you for protecting it from the harsh, damaging decibels from lawnmowers and jet planes. When outside noises are actively cancelled, you also won’t damage your hearing by turning the volume up too loud in compensation.

Whether you like to listen to audiobooks on long commutes, watch movies before going to bed or listen to music at the office, the Sennheiser PXC 450, Sony MDR-1RNC and the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7bs are our most highly recommended choices for the top ten noise-cancelling headphones. Our latest articles about noise-cancelling headphones will help you find out why you should buy noise-cancelling headphones for kids or offer suggestions about fun things you could be listening to.


Noise-Cancelling Headphones: What to Look For 

Active noise cancellation makes all the difference when you want to enjoy your entertainment in peace and solitude. When searching for a good set, look for good noise-cancelling but also consider the following criteria to get a great all-around pair of headphones. 

Performance
The best noise-cancelling headphones need to simultaneously sound great and cancel sound. A wide frequency range adds extra bass and treble to your soundscape, so look for anything stretching beyond 20-20,000 hertz. A sensitivity rating above 100 or 110 decibels will give depth and color to the quality of your listening experience. Noise cancellation is tricky, but look for a noise-blocking headphone that will block 20 or more decibels.

Features

Which battery type you prefer can determine how well your noise-reducing headphones will work for you. Internal batteries are easy to charge but generally don’t last as long as AAA batteries, which are inconvenient to replace. Whether you prefer charging or carrying extra batteries with you, they should last at least 20 hours. Some sound-cancelling headphones won’t work at all without batteries, so buy a pair with a passive mode if you want to keep listening when your batteries die. If you use headphones while answering phone calls, find a pair with a remote and mic so you can switch between listening and conversing.

Design

If you will be traveling with your noise-blocking headphones, be sure they come with a case and detachable cable. It also helps if your headphones fold for even easier storage. Wireless noise-cancelling headphones are a unique entity and are extremely fun and easy to use, especially if you plan to sleep with them. Weight is also a heavy issue when comparing noise-reduction headphones. Lightweight pairs range from 6 to 8 ounces, whereas heavy pairs range from 10 to 13 ounces. The lighter your headphones, the more comfortable they’ll be after an eight-hour flight.

Help & Support

Even well-made products have the occasional glitch. High-quality earphones need to have high-quality support on the manufacturer's website. A variety of help options like email, phone and live chat support will put your mind at ease, even if there are never any issues with the product.

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Electronics » Home Audio » Noise-Cancelling Headphones Review
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8#9#10
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
Sennheiser PXC Sony MDR-1RNC Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b Parrot Zik Bose QuietComfort AKG NC PSB M4U Polk Audio UltraFocus 8000 Logitech UE Harman Kardon NC
Sennheiser PXC Sony MDR-1RNC Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b Parrot Zik Bose QuietComfort AKG NC PSB M4U Polk Audio UltraFocus 8000 Logitech UE Harman Kardon NC
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Lowest Price
Visit Sennheiser PXC 450
$249.98
Visit Sony MDR-1RNC
$312.58
Visit Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b
$164.99
Visit Parrot Zik
$366.49
Visit Bose QuietComfort 3
$299.00
Visit AKG NC K495
$339.95
Visit PSB M4U 2
$399.00
Visit Polk Audio UltraFocus 8000
$299.00
Visit Logitech UE 9000
$269.99
Visit Harman Kardon NC
$239.95
Ratings
9.50
9.32
9.25
9.00
8.75
8.70
8.70
8.58
8.20
7.88
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
10.00
10.00
8.13
8.75
10.00
8.13
9.38
10.00
10.00
8.13
10.00
8.13
10.00
7.50
9.38
8.75
9.38
7.50
9.38
8.75
9.38
7.50
9.38
8.13
8.75
9.38
9.38
5.00
8.13
10.00
8.13
6.88
8.13
7.50
8.75
9.38
7.50
8.13
7.50
9.38
 
Performance
Sound Quality (%) 100 100 95 95 90 100 90 85 85 90
Minimum Frequency Response (kHz) 10 5 10 10 Not Specified 20 10 8 20 16
Maximum Frequency Response (Hz) 28 24 24 20 Not Specified 20 15 28 20 20
Impedance (Ohms) 160-300 16-52 20-300 32 Not Specified 26-32 32 2 32-50 32
Noise Reduction (dB) 23 13 15-30 25 Not Specified 14 Not Specified 15 10-14 Not Specified
Sensitivity (dB) 102 100-103 100-109 110 Not Specified 117-121 102 110 97-105 Not Specified
Driver Diameter (mm) 40 40-50 36-40 40 Not Specified 40 40 40 40 40
Features
Battery Life (hrs) 20-55 20-30 20-40 6-24 25-35 40 55 40-60 10-40 40
Battery Required 1 x AAA 1 x AAA 1 x AAA   1 x AAA   2 x AAA 2 x AAA 2 x AAA  
Integrated Battery & USB Charger
 
  
Passive Play Option
 
Additional Plug Adapter
 
 
  
Remote & Mic
 
Design
Comfort (%) 100 100 90 100 100 85 90 80 85 75
On-Ear or Over-Ear On, Over Over Over Over On, Over Over Over Over On, Over On
Weight (oz) 8.5-12.8 7.3-11.7 3.5-7.8 12.41 4.5-6.5 5.3-8.3 12-12.8 12 9.7-11.6 11.2
Case Included
Foldable
Detachable Cord
 
3.5mm Connector
Cord Length (ft) 4.92 3.9-4.92 3.28-5.2 4.2 5.5 4.6 4.92 4.58 4.3-5.9 4.6
Wireless
  
    
 
Color Options  
    
   
Help & Support
Warranty 2 Years 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 2 Years 1 Year
Email Support
Phone Support
Online Manual
 
FAQs
   
Live Chat