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#1 Sony WH1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones
If you want the convenience of a wireless connection but still want to make sure you’re still getting the best music experience possible, then it’s important to pay attention to Bluetooth codecs. For great sound, you should make sure your music files are in a high-quality format, and that both your headphones and playback device support the AptX HD or LDAC Bluetooth codecs.
This is where the Sony WH1000XM3 Bluetooth headphones come in. The industry-leading headphones support a wide range of Bluetooth Codecs, including both AptX HD and LDAC for supreme sound quality—and that’s just the beginning of what makes these a dazzling pair of wireless headphones.
The Sony WH1000XM3 also features best-in-class active Noise Cancelling with a dedicated CPU to go on top. This helps keep out noise. You can also choose a wired connection, which increases the frequency response range (from 4Hz-40kHz wired to 20Hz-40kHz LDAC wired). The WH1000XM3 has a number quality-of-life features. These include a quick charging battery (10 minutes gives you five hours playtime, while a full charger gives you 30), touch sensors controls, and a mic that can be used with voice assistants and hands free calling. Jason praised the WH1000XM3’s exceptional sound quality and noise cancellation.
The Audio-Technica ATH-SR50BTs are packed with great specs. But the best feature is the battery life. The ATH-SR50BTs should provide you with over 28 hours of uninterrupted music listening.
These headphones are stylish and have excellent audio quality thanks to the 45mm drivers. The headphones have touch controls that can be difficult to use and allow you to listen to high-resolution audio through a cable.
#3 Anker Soundcore Q30
Anker Soundcore is Anker’s audio brand. As such, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 headphones are a great value for money. Because Anker’s expertise is at the helm here, it isn’t surprising to see truly impressive battery life. Anker Soundcore promises up to 40 hours of battery life with active noise cancellation activated, and an incredible 60 hours of continuous playback if ANC has been disabled. These numbers aren’t even present on premium Bluetooth headphones like Sony’s WH line and Bose’s QC line, so to see this amount of battery life on $70 is truly amazing.
Although the sound quality and noise cancellation are excellent, it is not exceptional. The spec sheet puts the frequency response well beyond the official hearing range of the human ear, so you’ll have plenty of frequency coverage. The sound quality is a bit too bassy out of the box. However, you can adjust the EQ settings in the Anker Soundcore App to get a more balanced and detailed sound. You can adjust noise cancellation to suit your surroundings. There are settings that are suitable for travel, office work and many other situations. There’s a transparency mode, too, to make sure you’re aware in public environments.
This package also feels very premium. The design isn’t as subtle as some more premium offerings but definitely has enough attention to detail to look good. Although the headphones are comfortable and provide comfort, heavy users may feel fatigued by the headphones’ heavy weight. The Q30s are a great value for money, thanks to their excellent fit and finish, including the hard shell travel case.
#4 Microsoft Surface Headphones
Microsoft’s Surface line is geared towards designers. The sleek, gray design of the new Surface headphones is as minimalistic and modern as it gets. These noise-canceling headphones are made from lightweight plastic with a memory-foam pad. They are lightweight at just over half a pound, making them suitable for long listening sessions.
Microsoft has also included some unique design features. The Surface Dial, a puck-shaped accessory which was used as an unconventional rotating tool alongside the Surface Studio, may be familiar to you. This unique accessory seems to have informed the design of the headphones—you can actually turn the outer part of the ear cup like a dial to adjust the level of noise canceling. This is the most distinctive feature of the Surface headphones, and it makes them extremely versatile. You can use this feature to block out all the noises and listen to your music while you work in noisy offices. Ambient sound can be used to enhance your situational awareness when you are walking down the street. The 40mm Free Edge driver puts out decent sound quality (though most reviews point to it being “passable” rather than exceptional), delivering sound pressure levels up to 115 dB and covering a frequency spectrum of 20–20,000 Hz. They may not appeal to audiophiles, but they are perfect for casual listening.
The Microsoft Surface headphones connect via Bluetooth or aux cable. They come with a sturdy carrying case and work seamlessly with Siri, Google Assistant, and of course Microsoft’s Cortana. Jason’s review praised the unique dial controls as well as the customizable noise cancelling features.
#5 B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen
When it comes down to it, music lovers’ main concern is really sound quality and these Bang & Olufsen headphones don’t disappoint. They house 40mm electro-dynamic drivers that produce a deeply rich and balanced sound with high clarity and crisp mids, and we’re happy to report that the sound quality holds up even when used wirelessly over Bluetooth. The H8i also features advanced, hybrid active noise cancelling technology. This uses two microphones, one inside the earcup and one outside the headset, to detect and remove distracting noise pollution. The battery life promises a remarkable 45 hours of playtime (or up 30 if Bluetooth and ANC are activated continuously).
Aside from sound quality, anyone who knows Bang & Olufsen knows the company is renowned for its design details. The Beoplay H4 is sleek yet strong and made of metal with rich lambskin on the headband. It also has memory foam earpads. Andy, our reviewer, praised the H8i’s high-quality sound quality and luxurious experience that comes with wearing such a thoughtfully made headset.
#6 Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Bose 700 is a stylish, modern addition to the wireless noise cancelling headphone market. Although they are costly, they are well worth the investment. Expect a crisp, clear, and energetic sound that delivers deep, powerful bass without overwhelming the ears with piercing high frequencies. Bose has confirmed that an equalizer control will soon be available via the app.
It would be remiss not to mention the 700’s main feature: It contains six microphones for noise cancellation, which is fully adjustable and can block out sounds completely or let in sounds around you so clearly that you might forget you’re wearing headphones at all. It can be used with any voice assistant, and boasts excellent call quality. You can control the headphones via the physical buttons as well a touch sensitive panel on the right earcup. It controls volume, track, volume and voice assistants as well as phone calls. The battery life is the only problem. Although it offers 20 hours of power, it is not as powerful as some of its competitors. Andy, our tester, called the Bose 700s ‘nearly perfect’ with flawless audio and excellent noise-canceling. It also fits perfectly.
#7 Sony WH-XB900N
Headphones that claim bass response as their main feature tend to sacrifice clarity and evenness across the frequency spectrum. Sony has taken a different approach with the WH-XB900Ns. They have integrated bass functionality into the headphones’ construction. Designed into the ear cups is a “bass duct” which, according to Sony’s marketing materials, is much like a bass port in a larger speaker. This means you’ll get some bass boost without the need to blow out the bottom end of the spectrum on the digital side.
Add this together with a pretty tight seal around your ears, 1.57-inch drivers, and solid noise-canceling, and you’ll have a full, rich, immersive experience. With coverage across the full spectrum of 3Hz to 20kHz, you won’t be left wanting on that front with these headphones. The battery life is impressive as well, with 30 hours of listening on one charge. You also have the option to fast-charge for a quick top-off. There’s Bluetooth 5.0 for the most modern connectivity, NFC for tap-and-go pairing with compatible devices, touch controls, and smart assistant functionality. It all sits in a sleekly designed package that, for our money, looks pretty close to Sony’s flagship WH-1000X line.
#8 Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC
It’s not surprising to see Sennheiser, an audio specialist, on our top-rated over-ear headphones list. The HD 4.50 BTNC is a pair of headphones that perfectly exhibits the company’s ear for high sound quality. It’s relatively affordable, too, especially considering it comes with active noise-cancelling; it’s a cheaper alternative to the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless.
The HD 4.50 BTNC’s noise cancelling doesn’t work quite as that of the Bose 700, but for well under $200 it’s still a great deal. The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC’s simple design and intuitive controls make it an excellent choice if you are looking for an over-ear ANC headset that is affordable.
#9 Cleer Enduro ANC
With exceptional battery life and full noise cancellation, complete with an Ambient mode, the Cleer Enduro ANC is a stone-cold bargain. Although its ANC tech isn’t as good as the Bose 700, there aren’t many over-ear headphones that offer such a comprehensive package for so little as $200.
It supports the high-quality aptX Adaptive bluetooth codec. If you connect using the bundled 3.5mm cord, you can also listen to Hi-Res Audio. The companion app allows you to adjust the EQ manually, but we prefer the default, bass-heavy sound signature.
#10 Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition
Few over-ear headphones come as finely crafted as the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition. It’s not just about style, it has substance as well. The sound quality is truly top-notch, and the ANC technology is quite good.
Although it is more expensive than the Sony WH-1000XM4 or Bose 700, there is a feeling that it has earned that price. The soundstage is large and dramatic, adding drama to songs that need it. There are no EQ customization options but the sound is well-balanced so you don’t need them. The “Soundscapes”, a feature that mixes in nature sounds, is a great way to relax.
#11 Bose QuietComfort 45
Replacing the widely popular QC35 II is the QuietComfort 45, an updated take on the model that revolutionized the noise-cancelling category. Bose fitted these over-ear headphones in a six-mic array to block out ambient noises. They also produce crisp-sounding calls in most environments. While the design is minimalistic and cozy, the cans are lighter than their predecessors. The sound quality has been improved to produce richer and more detailed audio. This version has a longer playtime (24 hours on one charge), which gives it an advantage over other Bose models.
It’s a shame that Bose didn’t offer an option to turn off ANC mode for power conservation. These headphones don’t come with some software perks found on older Bose headphones either. This is a top-quality noise canceller, but it is still a very affordable price.