Everyone wants to have a good listening experience whenever they play their favorite songs. Music has the ability to change our mood, so, depending on the songs in our playlists, it can make us joyful or sentimental. Typical headsets have reasonably good noise isolation features, but noise canceling headphones block almost all of external noise. It is as if you are in your own world, with the song as your background music. They are more expensive but they have the technology which most earpieces do not have.
Our list features a wide variety of noise cancelling headsets for our readers’ varied lifestyles. Check the unit which will both fit your taste and cut off ambient noise, so you can enjoy your music, without having to turn up the volume. We all know that’s not good.
5. Plantronics Backbeat Pro
Plantronics is best known for its excellent Bluetooth headsets, but it has jumped to noise cancellation earphones as well. They also made a leap from their typical earbuds to full-sized headphones with Backbeat Pro. This is also a relatively affordable noise cancelling headset, with its $250 price tag. Backbeat Pro normally works as wireless, but you may also wire this, so as not to consume battery.
The design of its noise cancelling headphone is understated but intuitive. It is composed of mostly black plastic and some metallic accents. Plantronics was also nice enough to place a label L (left) or R (right), to guide a user in wearing this product. The earcups are relatively large enough and are padded for user comfort. The headband is positioned just right and is also padded, so it’s comfortable if you want to use this headset for a long time.
Both earcups contain controls that do not feel cluttered, as they are distributed evenly. The left earcup contains Play/Pause button, the noise cancellation switch and a control ring for navigating songs. This side also contains a 3.5 mm port for USB charging. On the other hand, the right earcup contains the Call button, the main power switch and the button which disallows noise cancellation when you need to hear the outside sounds. One of the bestselling features of this noise cancelling headphone is its Bluetooth connectivity that works in distances up to 330 feet. Backbeat Pro automatically goes to sleep mode when you take the headphones off. Moreover, it also pauses the music you are currently playing.
This feature made its 24 hour battery life be stretched even for a week, as it conserves more energy. What is even more amazing in these headphones is they can still work on a single charge for six months, if you are not using the product. In terms of performance, this is a decent performer in a way that it can eliminate minor noise from subway, cars and fans. The biggest flaw of this product, however, is it distorts music when you are in this mode. It does not play treble and midrange as much as sub-bass, which can hurt your experience in this otherwise excellent passive headset.
4. PSB M4U 2
This may be PSB’s first set of noise cancelling earphones, but it already hosts features that are associated with seasoned competitors in this industry. Despite the fact it is really expensive at $400, the sound it produces is top-notch. You should also take into consideration that it has a longer service warranty, for two years, as against the other entries in this list with just one year. The design of M4U is fairly slick and is made of shiny plastic, but does not look cheap. Metal hinges allow the headset to be fold up for compact storage, but must be carefully handled, as these might break if subjected to excessive use. Nonetheless, the design allows user comfort due to its gyro-suspended earcup mounting system. This system renders the earpads to be manipulated for exact fit. It works using two AAA batteries, which makes it more power consuming than its other counterparts in this list.
The noise cancellation feature of M4U can be turned on and off through a switch located in the right earcup. There is also a third slide in the switch, which is meant for activating the internal amplifiers that play the music without the use of battery. With this, it produces relatively louder volume, but still conserves more battery.
Another trait which justifies its expensive price is the abundance of free accessories when you buy this product. PSB included cables with 3.5 mm plug that is suited for Apple and Blackberry users. This cable also allows the users to navigate through music tracks and to access the microphone. You also get a 3.5-to-6.5 mm adapter, an adapter useful in airline flights, an extra set of user-replaceable ear cushions and a zippered travel case.
PSB M4U’s noise cancellation feature is made possible because of its four microphones that provide more accurate processing. The firm should also be commended for the way they were able to produce an above average performance, despite their first entry in this industry. With this headset you can play songs regardless of the genre, because of the terrific balance of bass, midrange and treble in its noise cancellation mode. While not as excellent as Bose in blocking noise, it produces a great sound and is capable of blocking traffic roars and bus thumps. Nonetheless, these are the best over the head earphones for those who want a balanced sound, with or without the noise cancellation feature.
3. AKG N60 NC
A little less expensive than most in this list, at $250, AKG N60 NC also provides a nice listening experience for a noise cancelling headset. It is also a very comfortable on-ear headset, because of its well-built earcups made of soft leathers. Aesthetically, it has an aluminum accent to its design that gives it an elegant feel. While not as comfortable as Bose, it has a cleaner sound, which is its bestselling point.
Design-wise, AKG N60 NC is an on-ear headset and is foldable to flat fit in a case. These black and stylish headphones have matte leather earpods, plastic materials and metallic accents. The headset can also be locked on various points, to make it stable in a place. It weighs about 170 grams, which is relatively light for its kind. This unit has a single button that allows you to play and pause the music, take calls or skip a track. Unfortunately, it does not have a volume control in its buttons.
AKG N60 NC uses a rechargeable battery which lasts up to 30 hours. Instead of your typical USB charging cable, this unit has a unique 2.5 mm headphone jack which you can plug to a USB cable. Perhaps it was done to cut its size but you can never recharge your AKG N60 NC unit without this, unless you ask for a replacement.
AKG N60 NC produces the best sound in this list for its balance of treble, bass and midrange. Even with the noise cancellation feature, a listener will feel like he is listening in passive mode, because the audio feels natural minus the noise. This unit also gives a pleasant experience in terms of providing richer sounds, despite its design as round-ear headphones. According to users, this might lack some bass, but is the best in all other areas.
AKG N60 NC might produce a better sound, but is less effective in noise cancellation especially when compared with Bose. If you are sensitive to the smallest noise, you will sure hear a faint hiss whenever you activate it in this mode. Nonetheless, it is an excellent headset.
2. Bose QuietComfort 25
Bose is the mastermind behind the popularity of noise cancelling headphones. They came back with a full swing with QuietComfort 25 with a drastic change in design and a much better audio performance. Design-wise, Bose re-engineered their headphones with the user comfort in mind. They created them to sit closer to your head and reduce the gap beneath the headband. In case you are worrying that it might feel weird, Bose covered the headband with fabric normally found in high end cars. This headset can also be folded, to save space in your bag or luggage. As a result, it will really feel soft in the ears and it will give the same luxurious feel of a typical Bose headset.
A thicker detachable cord also renders it sturdier than that of its predecessors. Bose was able to strike a balance between comfort, durability and weight, as QuietComfort 25 only weighs 196 grams. This says a lot, granted that a 2013 Beats Studio Headset is a whopping 260 grams. It is powered by a single AAA battery, which can last up to 35 hours of use. Aside from the impressive battery life, QuietComfort 25 has a feature that keeps the music playing even when the battery has ran out. You might get an arguably subpar sound at that point, but it’s better than halting your enjoyment over a certain song.
QuietComfort 25 has an inline microphone that is compatible with Apple products and with some Android smartphones. It might not work with Windows, but the microphone quality is just excellent. In terms of performance, it may not completely eliminate outside noise, but it reduces the noise at a level only a keen listener would notice. User’s mileage might also vary, due to the pressure this exerts on you eardrums. This can be a deal breaker for those who are more sensitive. The audio is also noticeably crisper and the bass is also tighter, which generates a more forward sound than its predecessors. If you are a rock music aficionado, this is the perfect unit for you. On the flip side, this will really highlight how bad a low quality MP3 file is, given that the headset tries to produce the clearest sound possible.
Technically, these headphones are the best ones in this list, but the bulky design might turn off prospective buyers. Nonetheless, it will be really hard to find another noise canceling headset which is at par with QuietComfort 25. The after sales service of Bose is excellent too, as you can return the product with a full refund, if you are not satisfied with it.
1. Bose QuietComfort 20
As stated earlier, Bose produces the best noise cancelling headsets on the market. If QuietComfort 25 is its tour de force in terms of hang-in headsets, QuietComfort 20 is the epitome of extremely portable ones, that also pack the same quality for this kind of earpieces. Again, the price of $300 is the main hindrance to get a hold of this excellent product.
On the outside, QuietComfort 20 looks like a typical earbud, which says a lot for noise cancelling headphones. These are normally bulky, due to the inline battery and circuitry compartment, which are essential for this kind of headsets. This unit still has these, yet now are much thinner and less cumbersome to carry. Amazingly, Bose was able to find a way to retain their craft in noise cancellation. The headset produces a crisp sound, which works well with pop, rock and other genres.
Bose is most known for its subdued and grayish tones of their models and QuietComfort 20 continues to follow this fashion. It has silicone earbuds, which seals off your ears comfortably. The cable contains an inline control and microphone which enables its noise cancellation feature. The unit differs in design, depending on what smartphone you want to use it with. An Android, Window or Blackberry model contain one button and an iPhone version has three. It contains a rechargeable battery which lasts up to 16 hours and takes 2 hours to recharge. Accessories are quite sparse, as purchasing the QuietComfort 20 only involves bare essentials to make it work.
Perhaps one of the best features of this noise cancelling headset is how the button is used. Click it and a green light indicator appears, which means that the noise cancellation feature is on. Another push will render the Aware Mode that quiets your music and lets you hear the surrounding sounds, thanks to the built in microphone. Lastly, Passive Mode will be activated if you click the button for the last time, so the unit will work as a regular headset, without the noise cancellation features. Performance-wise, it is almost at par with QuietComfort 25 in terms of audio quality. What’s worth noting about QuietComfort 20, is its ability to isolate noise through its microphones and audio circuitry. One might think the silicone ear plugs are responsible for this, but Bose claimed that these only passively contribute to that job.
What are your most favorite noise cancellation headphones in this list?