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Noise-canceling earbuds are a constantly growing category in the audio space. Once a tiny segment of the market with a few niche, pricey offerings, there are now tons of high-quality options available at a multitude of price points that start well below $100, making them the perfect tech item to gift, regardless of your budget. To determine the best noise-canceling earbuds for your lifestyle and budget in 2023, we spent weeks testing products from industry giants such as Apple, Bose, and Sony, to name a few.
Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds
Best Overall: Sony WF-1000XM5 Wireless Earbuds
Runner-Up: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Best Value: Soundcore Liberty 4 Wireless Earbuds
Best Budget: Soundcore Life P3 Wireless Earbuds
Best for Exercising: JBL Reflect Flow Pro Wireless Earbuds
What to Consider
There are several important factors to keep in mind when shopping for noise-canceling earbuds: audio performance, comfort, build quality, battery life, and available charging methods. The finest products will offer a good balance between all qualities.
Typically, a product’s audio and noise cancellation quality directly relates to its price tag. These features require a combination of high-quality hardware and sophisticated audio processing and the more you pay, the higher performance of the product will be. The best wireless earbuds in this space carry price tags above $200.
Comfort and Build Quality
We recommend noise-canceling earbuds with an official water-resistance rating, a seamlessly comfy fit, and easy-to-access controls. The best options will allow you to customize the sound and noise cancelation to your preference via a mobile app.
If you plan to use your earbuds to commute or while at the office or gym, look for a pair with ambient mode to help you remain aware of your surroundings. Like noise cancellation, this feature will improve as you up your budget.
A built-in wear sensor that will stop the playback once you remove one of them is also helpful for true wireless earbuds. Over the years, I found this feature to be more useful for in-person conversations than ambient mode.
Remember that noise cancellation in wireless earbuds takes a toll on their battery life, so disabling it will increase the time you spend between charges. Look for a set that can last a minimum of 6 hours between charges with noise cancellation switched on.
Save for a couple of offerings, most true wireless earphones will struggle to make it through, say, an entire workday without the need to recharge. Consider a wired headset if you want to spend long periods in uninterrupted silence (i.e., a busy workday or long flight).
When it comes to charging options, look for storage cases with USB-C or Lightning connectors and compatibility with wireless chargers. Ideally, a great set of earbuds should be compatible with wired and wireless charging.
How We Tested
I've been testing audio gear — from cheap earbuds to Bluetooth speakers to over-ear headphones — for more than a decade. For this guide, noise cancellation and its overall quality were my primary criteria in determining the product category's leading offerings. Be sure to visit our extensive guide to the best wireless earbuds if you are looking for suggestions with more specific features.
I tested the functionality in various indoor and outdoor scenarios, ensuring it could help me focus or relax by tuning out ambient sounds. Of course, audio performance was also important, especially in higher price tiers. I put each offering on this list through its paces by playing a carefully curated playlist with eclectic tracks — from classical to jazz and bass-heavy downtempo — and podcasts.
I made sure that all earbuds on this list provide a comfortable in-ear fit that doesn't cause pesky discomfort over time. I also scrutinized the quality, layout, and tactility of their onboard controls.
Battery life and charging methods were also integral to my criteria. I monitored if the earbuds I'm testing can deliver wireless playback that's in line with their manufacturer's claims. The charging methods and their convenience were also on my radar.
From affordable true wireless buds to more high-end, feature-packed sets, find yourself (or your giftee!) a new pair of noise-canceling earbuds among these highly rated options.
WF-1000XM5 Wireless Earbuds
Sony’s all-new WF-1000XM5 noise-canceling earbuds are a worthy sequel to a legendary product that’s been our rock-solid favorite of ours for the past couple of years. Compared to the excellent Sony WF-1000XM4, the new iteration brings a sleeker design, a comfier fit, and, best of all, superior sound and noise cancellation. These upgrades make the WF-1000XM5 worth its hefty sticker and a longtime leader in this competitive product category.
Thanks to larger audio drivers and a more sophisticated audio processor, the WF-1000XM5 delivers a best-in-class sound with outstanding fidelity. The buds’ noise cancellation has taken a leap forward, too. After using it for more than a week, I can confirm that activating it felt like pressing a mute button on my surroundings, helping me focus on work or unwind.
You can customize the earbuds’ sound and noise cancellation via a mobile app. Speak-to-chat feature — an amazing feature that pauses audio playback and activates ambient mode upon detecting your voice — is also available. Just like with other Sony headphones and earbuds, the functionality helped me chat with colleagues at the office without taking off the WF-1000XM5.
Once again, Sony offers the WF-1000XM5 in black or silver with contrasting metal accents.
Liberty 4 Wireless Earbuds
Anker’s Soundcore Liberty 4 noise-canceling earbuds are the ones to get if you want to upgrade from basic earbuds while keeping your budget below $200. The stem-toting buds can deliver a sonic experience that belongs in a higher price tier, thanks to a sophisticated dual driver setup with support for spatial audio and Hi-Res Audio codecs. You can personalize the sound to match your hearing by completing a short test via the excellent Soundcore app.
The earbuds’ noise cancellation, like their sound, is stellar and among the best in their price range. So are their squeezable stem controls — I found them to be infinitely more reliable than touch-only layouts. Every input I made was accompanied by reassuring tactile feedback.
Elegant design and a comfy fit round up the product’s key features. The earbuds also pack heart rate sensors, though you probably won’t use them. You can order the Soundcore Liberty 4 in black, white, blue, or red.
QuietComfort Earbuds II
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are unsurprisingly among today’s best and an excellent alternative to our top pick from Sony. The earphones offer superb noise cancellation, the audio giant’s signature sound, a sleek and durable design, and a comfy fit with intuitive touch controls.
In a head-to-head comparison with the Sony WF-1000XM5, I’d give the similarly priced Bose earbuds a slight edge in ergonomics. I found them to be slightly comfier after months of testing. That said, the Sony earbuds offer better audio quality, longer battery life, and a wireless charging-compatible case.
The buds come in several colors: triple black, soapstone, midnight blue, and eclipse grey, and each set has a matching case. The previous iteration of the product is also available if you are looking for good sound and strong noise cancellation for less.
Life P3 Noise Wireless Earbuds
Anker’s Soundcore Life P3 true wireless earbuds — just like the brand’s excellent Q30 Bluetooth headphones — defy their sub-$80 price tag in every possible way. The buds bring a cool design, good sound, stellar noise cancellation, good call quality, solid battery life with wireless charging, and a fantastic companion app.
The Soundcore app has elaborate tools for customizing sound and noise cancellation. It can also help you focus or relax by playing a wide selection of ambient noises. The last-mentioned bit helped me focus on important work projects on multiple occasions.
You can order the Soundcore Life P3 in several colors: black, white, red, and two shades of blue. Consider the Soundcore Life A2 if you are looking for stemless noise-canceling earbuds on the cheap.
Reflect Flow Pro Wireless Earbuds
The JBL Reflect Flow Pro wireless noise-canceling earbuds are the best for workout warriors. The buds are in a league of their own regarding durability — their rating for dust and water resistance is the product category’s highest. It allowed me to wash the earbuds after heavy workouts without worrying about damaging them.
Sound-wise, the JBL earbuds deliver a sonic experience whose enhanced bass doubles as exercise fuel. Their noise cancellation is also dependable, if not on par with pricier offerings. While testing the product, I had no trouble focusing on my reps during rush hour at the gym. You can customize the sound and the noise cancellation via an intuitive app.
Other key features of the earbuds include a comfy fit with additional ear fins for added stability, convenient controls, and long battery life. You can snag the JBL Reflect Flow in black, white, and blue.
AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
The second-generation AirPods Pro are a must if you are an Apple user. Thanks to the Apple H2 chip, the buds will instantly link to all devices that use the same iCloud account, allowing you to use them with your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV streaming player. I constantly relied on their seamless connectivity during months of testing.
The AirPods Pro are among the best in class regarding sound quality and noise cancellation. Thanks to their upgraded hardware, the earphones are more capable than the stellar first generation. The Pro can also deliver enhanced spatial audio with dynamic head tracking for a lifelike listening experience.
The battery life of the AirPods Pro is solid, and so is the vast array of charging options for their case. The accessory has an Apple U1 chip and a loudspeaker like an AirTag. This functionality saved me time looking for the buds more than once.
Galaxy Buds 2 Pro Wireless Earbuds
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro wireless earbuds are unsurprisingly a great option if you rock one of the tech giant’s excellent smartphones — or any other Android. The earbuds are sleek, comfy, and capable of treating you to sound and noise cancellation with phenomenal quality. Like the AirPods Pro — their direct Apple rival — the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro can are also capable of delivering spatial audio with head tracking.
Another bit I liked while testing the Buds 2 Pro is the earbuds’ ability to launch ambient mode by detecting your speech. The feature helped me have short in-person conversations at the office without the need to remove the buds. Together with the audio performance, it makes the Samsung product a formidable Sony rival, though the battery life leaves a little to be desired.
You can order the earbuds in graphite, white, or purple. Each color option includes a charging case with a matching finish.
Between 3ANC Wireless Earbuds
The Status Between 3ANC wireless earbuds are the ones to get if you prioritize sound quality over noise cancellation. Each earbud packs a trio of audio drivers that combine to deliver a detail-rich sound whose impeccable separation between rich bass, dynamic mid-range, and crisp treble is a contender for best-in-class.
Rocking out with the Between 3ANC made me feel like I was using a pricier set of wired in-ear monitors, not wireless earbuds. My go-to tracks for testing audio gear sounded more lifelike and entertaining.
Despite its hefty sticker, you should know that the Status Between 3ANC can’t tune out ambient noise like similarly priced Sony, Bose, and Apple earphones. Still, you’ll love what the product offers if you are an audio enthusiast.
The companion app for customizing the sound is also impressive, offering audiophile and signature brand presets and a graphic equalizer for creating your own.
In a manner befitting their price category, the Status Between 3ANC has an elegant design and long battery life. You can order the product in onyx and bone finishes.
Studio Buds + Wireless Earbuds
Stellar noise cancellation is one of the many reasons why the Beats Studio Buds + are among our favorite wireless earbuds. A follow-up to an amazing product, the Buds + deliver the legendary brand’s signature sound with support for immersive spatial audio in a super lightweight and comfy package at an agreeable price.
To top things off, the Beats Studio Buds + offer equally seamless Apple and Google (Android and Chrome OS) integration and clicky button controls. The earbuds’ battery life is also superb, though I wish their case had wireless charging.
The buds' excellent performance and ease of use made me frequently reach for them before heading to work, forgoing the option to rock out with pricier offerings. Having a comfy set of earbuds with reliable clicky buttons and well-sorted sound out of the box saved me time fiddling with apps and getting used to touch controls.
You can order the product in black, ivory, or a decidedly high-tech transparent finish. If workouts are a priority, keep in mind that gym-ready Beats Fit Pro earbuds with onboard noise cancellation offer a more secure fit with ear fins.
Rayz Pro Noise-Canceling Earbuds
These wired earbuds by Pioneer are your best option if you don't want to deal with Bluetooth pairing and battery charging or need a reliable backup to your wireless earbuds. The Rayz Pro earbuds offer an amalgam of good sound and noise cancellation at an agreeable price. You can order a set in black or white.
The Pioneer Rayz Pro earbuds are also lightweight and comfortable. Their remote has well-spaced buttons with excellent tactility. You can customize the controls via a mobile app.
I like that the earbuds' retail package includes Lightning and USB-C adapters, allowing you to use them with iPhone, Android smartphones, and laptops or tablets with USB-C connectors.
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