Noise-canceling headphones are more important than ever these days, whether you use them for your morning commute, while traveling, or just to have some peace and quiet while working from home. And with so many excellent options available, it’s difficult to choose poorly.
There are situations where over-ear and on-ear headphones are just easier or make more sense than wireless buds — especially if long battery life is important to you. Not everyone enjoys the sensation of earbuds.
The standards for selecting the best noise-canceling headphones remain the same, regardless of how you’re using them.
The Best Over Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones for you will vary depending on which of those aspects you value and prioritize the most, but Sony’s WH-1000XM5 remain our top recommendation for the finest noise-canceling headphones overall. They provide a difficult to match combination of sound quality, comfort, and excellent noise cancellation.
The best over ear noise-canceling headphones
Sony WH-1000XM5: best overall
Sony’s WH-1000XM5 offer a remarkable combination of features for the price with increased comfort, smoother sound, and even greater active noise cancellation.
Battery life: 30 hours / Multipoint: Yes / Audio codecs: LDAC, AAC, SBC Connectors: USB-C (charging), 3.5mm headphone jack (audio)
The WH-1000XM5s from Sony are entirely different in appearance from their predecessors. When you wear them on your head for lengthy periods of time, such on a flight or while working, the adjustments make them more comfortable.
The M4s’ already exceptional noise cancelling capabilities has been considerably enhanced, placing Sony in the lead among all significant rivals. Compared to the earlier 1000XM4s, sound quality is more balanced and detailed; the bass end is still powerful but tighter and less boomy. The M5s can connect to two devices at once and deliver the best voice call performance in the 1000X series to date, allowing you to keep aware of activity on your phone even as you work on your laptop or tablet.
The “speak to chat” function on Sony headphones, for example, automatically stops your music and adds background noise anytime you start a conversation. Alternatively, you can engage rapid attention mode by placing your palm over the right ear cup. This is useful when getting a coffee or listening to announcements at the airport. Additionally, the 1000XM5s can detect when you take them out of your ears for auto-pause, just like other high-end headphones.
The WH-1000XM5s’ biggest drawback is that they are more expensive than earlier models. The 1000XM4s, which was previously our top choice for noise-canceling headphones, are worth serious consideration for this reason. They continue to be available for purchase and are still a part of Sony’s range.
Bose QC45 headphones: best for travel
The QuietComfort 45 headphones from Bose update the company’s well-liked, absurdly comfy design with USB-C, better noise cancellation, and longer battery life.
Battery life: 24 hours / Multipoint: Yes / Audio codecs: AAC, SBC Connectors: USB-C (charging), 2.5mm headphone jack (audio)
The QC45 headphones from Bose are a triumphant return to form. Because of their design, which is quite similar to the QC35II, they are amazingly light and easy to wear, even all day. Nobody beats Bose when it comes to comfort, and the oval ear cups never tire your ears. The best part is that these can be folded to making them easier to transport than the Noise Canceling Headphones 700.
The active noise cancellation was somewhat enhanced by Bose, and the battery life was increased from 20 to 24 hours. The USB-C port of the QC45s replaces the Micro USB connector of the earlier models. They also include a transparency mode for those times when you just want to have a quick conversation or want to be more aware of your surroundings.
The QC45s’ audio output is neutral and unoffensive. But you can alter the default audio: In a February 2022 software update, Bose provided the option to adjust the EQ.
Apple AirPods Max: best for iphone
Apple’s AirPods Max have an exceptional build quality, amazing sound, and compete with the finest in terms of noise cancellation.
Battery life: 20 hours / Multipoint: No / Audio codecs: AAC, SBC Connectors: Lightning (audio and charging)
Apple’s $477 set of noise-canceling headphones undoubtedly caused some sticker shock. The price of the AirPods Max is much higher than that of any of our other suggestions. However, Apple’s construction quality is superior; instead of the plastic you’ll find in many noise-canceling headphones, these are made of steel and aluminum, and the ear cups are covered in breathable mesh fabric. There is no denying that the headphones are heavy. The AirPods Max don’t feel cheap in any other way than the fact that Apple won’t ship them with a headphone cord. Furthermore, I value how easy it is to use the digital crown rather than relying on clumsy movements like taps and swipes.
The fact that the AirPods Max produce audio quality on par with the greatest high-end Bluetooth headphones is what matters most. You’ll find yourself jumping through your music library to hear what they bring out in your favorite songs because they have an immersive, wide soundstage and outstanding dynamics.
No one handles transparency mode better than Apple, which is on par with Sony and Bose and at times gives the impression that you are not wearing headphones at all. Additional features like automatic switching between Apple devices and Spatial Audio (surround sound for movies and TV shows) make it a little bit easier to swallow that astronomical price.
The AirPods Max do have drawbacks, though. They have a terrible carrying case, subpar battery life for the class, and are made with Apple’s ecosystem in mind exactly like conventional AirPods. If you don’t live in the iPhone and Mac universe, it becomes much more difficult to justify spending $550 on them.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 noise-canceling headphones have an opulent aesthetic, amazing sound quality, and tactile controls rather than clumsy tap and swipe gestures.
Battery life: 30 hours / Multipoint: Yes / Audio codecs: aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, aptX, AAC, SBC / Connectors: USB-C (audio and charging)
The PX7 S2 headphones from Bowers & Wilkins are perfect if sound quality is your top priority. Some users find these to have superior, detailed sound quality than the AirPods Max. The Bowers & Wilkins cans have a beautifully designed design that oozes quality, staying loyal to the company’s tradition and style.
I prefer their physical buttons to Sony’s 1000XM5s’ tap/swipe ear cup gestures. With a battery life of 30 hours, they are more than comparable with more widely available, less priced options. Furthermore, the sound profile is deliciously warm and will maximize the effect of your favorite musical compositions. The PX7 S2s’ primary drawback is the lack of a conventional 3.5mm or 2.5mm output for a headphone connection. However, you may still listen while connected over USB-C.
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless live up to the brand’s reputation for rich, nice sound quality with a 60-hour battery life and supreme comfort.
Battery life: 60 hours / Multipoint: Yes / Audio codecs: aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC, SBC / Connectors: USB-C (audio and charging), 2.5mm headphone jack (audio)
They have a 60-hour battery life on a single charge. If you’re searching for a pair of headphones that can last a long time, that’s about all you need to know about the Sennheiser Momentum 4. But they also have great audio quality and are very cozy for extended listening sessions. Although this combo is pricey, you can occasionally get some great prices on it.
The lightweight design of Sennheiser’s Momentum 4 Wireless headphones gives them an advantage over Bowers & Wilkins in terms of comfort. They also have a little superior level of noise cancellation. It doesn’t get any cozier than the Sonys and QC45s. You may wear these headphones for a long time without becoming tired or feeling any strain on your ears.
Compared to B&W, Sennheiser’s sound profile is a little more expressive and places a stronger focus on the bass, although the upper treble range is still very clear. My only genuine complaint with the Sennheisers is that sometimes they will turn on inside the case without any apparent reason and connect to my phone.
The multipoint connectivity feature and a variety of Bluetooth codecs, such as SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Adaptive, are supported by both the B&W and Sennheiser headphones.