Best High-End Noise Cancelling Headphones – Fine Craftsmanship and Prestigious Models

Best High-End Noise Cancelling Headphones – Fine Craftsmanship and Prestigious Models

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While most high-quality active noise-canceling headphones do an excellent job of attenuating airplane, train, or fan noise, only a few are capable of reducing noise levels by more than 25 dB on average and don't negatively affect the sound quality of your music. Read our in-depth research on the best high-end noise-canceling headphones to discover the best-performing models ones on the market.

Every day, indie music artists emerge onto the stage. 

We've compiled a list of High-End Headphones with ANC in 2021

Whether you are an indie music creator or just want to venture with a new hobby, the headphones presented in this article are suitable for studio monitoring, DJing, critical listening and even casual listening.

Don’t have time to read? Here is a summary:

  1. Sony WH-1000XM4 – Top-of-the-range noise-cancelling headphones in terms of pure noise reduction power, which also impresses with its sound quality and battery life.
  2. Bose 700 Noise Canceling Headphones – The most comfortable and stylish wireless high-end headphone with active noise cancellation for use in public settings.
  3. Apple AirPods Max – The reference for Apple fans in terms of quality, character and quality noise reduction, a beautiful headset with active noise cancellation that completes the iOS’s ecosystem.
  4. Sony WH-1000XM3 – The best over-ear ANC headphones that offer the missing element of a relaxing and satisfying day of music listening: an incredibly effective active noise control system and a high-end LDAC Bluetooth codec.
  5. Bose QuietComfort 35 II – The best value travel noise-canceling headphones that minimize the impact of noise like no other ANC headphone and assure maximum comfort during your commutes and long flights.

1. Sony WH-1000XM4 - Most Effective Noise Cancelling Headphones

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is the flagship model in the range, a high-end noise canceling headset that incorporates the best features of several previous generations. So you can buy it without hesitation. And the list of features has grown so much that it blurs the line between the headset as a device and a multi-functional gadget matched with the smartphone.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headsets | Frequency range: 4 – 40,000 Hz (wired), 20 – 20,000 Hz (Bluetooth) | Impedance: 47 Ohms | Drivers and Magnets: 40 mm Neodymium | Weight: 253 g | Sensitivity: 96 dB | Codecs supported: SBC, AAC, LDAC | Bluetooth: 5.0, multipoint support (two devices at the same time) | Battery life: 30 hours with ANC (38h without) | Charging time: up to 3 hours | Latency: ~200 ms

Sony WH-1000XM4 Review

The XM4 has an exemplary weight profile and quality materials, which make the headphone convenient to use and sturdy. It’s lightweight, with great sound quality and excellent noise reduction. They are unnoticeable on the ears and can be worn for hours. When you wear headphones around your neck for a while, and the music will be on pause; as soon as you put them back on, the playback will continue. Only in the settings, you need to turn off the automatic disconnection of the headphones.

You get 30 hours of playtime with ANC mode and 38 hours without ANC. Very much if you consider how promising and powerful active noise reduction is. What pleases us even more is Sony’s ANC minimal impact on sound quality. There are no real reasons to turn off ANC unless you want to let some ambient sounds in your headphones. As a result, with the WH-1000XM4, it’s as if the plane and the subway disappear, and nothing interferes with the enjoyment of the music.

Although Sony uses in the XM4 the same 40mm drivers installed in the XM3, the headphone stands out in a big way, delivering great sound quality for tracks of any genre and from literally any source, be it Apple Music or FLAC audio files. For Bluetooth listening, adepts of Sony products may not be happy that aptX and aptX HD support was removed from the XM4, leaving only LDAC and AAC.

Android smartphone users can turn on the LDAC codec to maximize sound quality up to 990 kbps, which is useful for listening to uncompressed (lossless) formats. Whereas Apple users, the headphones use AAC codec, a reliable Bluetooth codec, but don’t raise to the LDAC’s level of quality.

Nevertheless, a great new feature, chatting, is enabled in the Sony Headphones app. As soon as you start talking, the music is paused, the microphones are much more sensitive, you can chat with people without removing the headphones. You can select the activity time (for example, if you don’t say anything for about 15 seconds, the music and noise cancellation come back on). You can also select the sensitivity of voice recognition.


The WH-1000XM4 has so many features that it’s very hard to ignore. Think of Sony’s proprietary headphone application as the absolute best headphone app because it’s literally the ultimate go-to customizable software. You install it, open it, and immediately realize that all the other headphones lack innovation.

Features

  • DSEE Extreme
  • QN1 Processor
  • Reality 360

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2. Bose 700 Headphones - Best ANC Headphones for Commuters

The American company enjoys the well-deserved respect of sound lovers. For example, the line of stereo headphones QuietComfort has gathered a large army of fans worldwide. The new Bose Headphones 700, a sleek over-ear wireless headphone with a high-quality active noise canceling system (ANC) and good autonomy, has several advantages that will help win the hearts of sound lovers.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Frequency Range: 20 – 20.000 Hz (presumably) | Impedance: 60 Ohms | Weight: 254 g | Sensitivity: 112 dB | Codecs supported: SBC, AAC | Bluetooth: 5.0, multipoint support (two devices at the same time) | Battery life: 20-22 hours with ANC and Bluetooth (40 hours with a wired connection) | Charging time: up to 2.5 hours via USB Type-C | Quick-charge: 3.5 hours in 15 mins | Latency: ~185 ms

Bose 700 Review

Bose’s most recent headphone model is designed with a minimalist and modern look. The design features movable metal handles and looks quite futuristic, especially along the QC35’s form factor base. The headband is quite thin, and where the head makes contact, there is a soft pad covered in synthetic leather. The “memory” effect of this material is not apparent. Yet, despite our concerns, the comfort and sturdiness are good; when twisting and adjusting, no creaking was noticed.

Today, companies like Sony, Bowers & Wilkins, and dozens of others use the noise-reduction system created by Bose, which demonstrates the quality and mastery of the company’s technology. Bose 700’s noise reduction system is incredible, but unlike Sony WH-1000XM4, it slightly affects the sound quality. What we recommend is to play around with the noise reduction levels. There are three levels from the knob on the cup: zero (ANC off), five, ten. Ten is the maximum, with background sounds pretty much gone or diminished to the point where they no longer interfere with your work.

Onto the sound aspect, we found the Bose 700 headphones to be quite versatile and universal. The sound is warm, balanced across all ranges, and clearly suited to most people’s tastes. There is not too much bass compared to QC35 II, in fact a little more explosiveness would have improved the audio reproduction experience. The highs are not harsh, but they are not dry either. The mids are clearly accentuated but not overpowering; While there are still some flaws, most frequencies are balanced. And for the most part, the Bose 700s sound good in all genres of music, which is very satisfying.

In terms of battery life, the Bose 700 shines. 15 minutes provides 3.5 hours of playback – almost half a day at the office! And with a full battery requiring 2.5 hours of charging, the headphones play continuously for up to 20 hours. When you turn it on, a friendly voice tells you how long the battery will last, so you can plan ahead to recharge.


The Bose NC 700 is very comfortable, beautifully designed, plays well, and separates your music from the outside world at the touch of a button. We can safely say that Bose is comfortably at the top of the high-end segment with its sensationally intuitive technology, high-quality 320kbps music streaming and powerful ANC, earning it a spot in the top 3 of our list of best noise-canceling headphones.

Features

  • Materials: stainless steel, plastic, synthetic leather
  • Support for voice assistants (Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa)
  • Bose AR (augmented reality)

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3. Apple AirPods Max - Best Noise Reduction Headphones for Apple users

A little towards the end of 2020, Apple revealed and released one of the most anticipated products, the full-size AirPods Max on-ear headphones. These are wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation, with features similar in many ways to the AirPods Pro, but with physical controls and, of course, much more sophisticated sound quality and high-end manufacturing.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Weight: 385 g | Codecs supported: SBC, AAC | Bluetooth: 5.0, multipoint support (two devices at the same time) | Battery life: 20-22 hours | Charging time: up to 2 hours | Quick-charge: 1.5 hours in 5 mins | Latency: ~175 ms

Apple AirPods Max Review

We immediately noticed that this is an Apple product by its expensive, high-quality, and elegant presentation. AirPods Max’s sound does indeed have an inherently expensive feel to it, largely due to the lack of any apparent emphasis on any frequency range. The frequency response is flat, not overpowering, which might appeal to people looking for a precise and organic sound, but will not do for bass lovers or people who like a significant amount of sub-bass.

When you hold the AirPods Max in your hands, you feel a pleasant sensation and an obvious sense of luxury. The headphones are very well and beautifully made. The AirPods Max is made of metal, which gives you a sense of quality and durability.

The AirPods Max are great noise canceling headphones, although they are not ideal for travelers, as they cannot fold, do not have a compact and sturdy carrying case, and cannot be turned off, which is annoying. The headphones turn off automatically when you put them in the case. You can’t turn them off with a button. You have to put them in the case so they don’t draw power.

Still, if you’re looking for headphones that connect to more than two sources, as Bluetooth headphones typically do, you’ll appreciate the AirPods Max for their convenience. In fact, some people report that automatic switching between devices doesn’t always work properly. You have to select it as a source manually – pairing is not required.


Apple’s AirPods Max headphones were released at a price of $549. They are quite expensive headphones, but they sound great and reproduce music fantastically with lots of basses. They are comfortable to wear, and you can feel that this is a luxury product with refined touches. If you are a fan of the Apple brand and benefit from its ecosystem, they are worth buying. Otherwise, I suggest you buy the Sony WH-1000XM4 for noise cancellation or the Bose 700 for audio quality.

Specifications

  • Apple H1 chip (10 Cores)
  • Nine microphones in total: Eight microphones for active noise cancellation, three of which are shared.
  • Good overall latency + latency compensation technology (works only on iOS)

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4. Sony WH-1000XM3 - Best Overall

The WH-1000XM3 is an excellent set of noise canceling headphones that look great, are incredibly comfortable, deliver a great sound familiar with Sony’s sound signature, and most importantly, offer an excellent level of active noise cancellation that you probably won’t find anywhere else. Compared to other high-end wireless NC headphones, the low price of these headphones means they are also a great deal.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Frequency Range: 4 – 40.000 Hz (20 – 20000 Hz with wireless) | Impedance: 47 Ohms | Driver Size: 40 mm | Weight: 255 g | Sensitivity: 104 dB | Codecs supported: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD and LDAC | Bluetooth: 4.2 | Battery life: 30 hours with ANC and Bluetooth | Charging time: up to 3 hours | Quick-charge: 5 hours in 10 mins | Latency: ~155 ms

Sony WH-1000XM3 Review

Sony designed the noise reduction system itself in an exemplary way: the QN1 HD processor responsible for that system, introduced by the Japanese as four times more effective than the previous versions of XM, has proved highly reliable and powerful. We can mute typical street noises (heavy car traffic, people honking, etc.) enough to enjoy music from low volume levels.

Additionally, by prolonged holding NC/AMBIENT, we start an automated process of optimizing noise cancellation, thanks to which the system adjusts to the atmospheric pressure and our head shape. There is also an Adaptive Sound Control function that works great in everyday use, thanks to which the headphones themselves recognize our type of activity and adjust NC to it. 4 types of activity preset: inactivity, walking, running, and transport – and what’s also important, we can modify their parameters in the app settings.

As you can imagine, we were impressed with the sound of this model (with the caveat that it’s not neutral but entertaining and warm). Sony delivered excellent mids and highs, emphasizing bass only when necessary. However, if you think the WH-1000XM3 will find nothing but praise, we must disappoint you. Listening to music in 320kbps mp3 files, the sound seems flat, the instruments blend together, and the soundstage is just average.

The good aspects remain the adaptive sound control and numerous in-app settings, convenient operation, good runtime, USB Type-C, hard case in the kit, good voice quality, Android and iOS compatibility, and the best noise cancellation system you’ll find in a pair of wireless noise canceling headphones. The WH-1000XM3 has a noise reduction as powerful as that of the WH-1000XM4 and also slightly cheaper.


Is Sony WH-1000XM3 worth buying? Yes, together with the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose 700, these still remain some of the best over-ear noise canceling headphones on the market. The noise cancellation is somehow better than the Bose 700, but the Sony loses out to the Bose 700 in terms of sound quality, style and craftsmanship.

Specifications

  • Supports aptX HD and LDAC Bluetooth codecs
  • DSEE HX Function for audio upscaling
  • NFC chip

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5. Bose QC 35 II - Best Noise Cancellation Headphones for Travelers

The best headphones for travel altogether are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. These are the most comfortable headphones for travel, well-built and easy-to-use over-the-ear wireless headphones. They have a great noise cancellation system, can connect to two devices at the same time, and are very easy to use, all of which are very convenient features when traveling.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Frequency Range: 20 – 20.000 Hz | Impedance: 55 Ohms | Driver Size: 40 mm | Weight: 240 g | Sensitivity: 114 dB | Codecs supported: SBC, AAC | Bluetooth: 4.1 | Battery life: 20 hours with ANC and Bluetooth | Charging time: up to 2 hours | Quick-charge: 2.5 hours in 15 mins | Latency: ~230 ms

Bose QuietComfort 35 II Review

It is declared that the headphones can work 20 hours from a single charge when connected by Bluetooth; a quick charge – 15 minutes – gives 2.5 hours of listening. But, there are certain tweaks, you can turn off noise reduction and increase the run time, you can connect a cable, and then the headphones will last (with active noise reduction) for about 40 hours.

Although the headphones are made for Android smartphones, they are not equipped with specific codecs for wireless sound. No aptX, no aptX HD, no LDAC. So if you want to listen to Hi-Res audio wirelessly on your Android smartphone, these headphones will not suit you. Nevertheless, the headphone’s sound is not compromised. For us, the velvety, detailed bass sound of the QC35 II is completely fulfilling. It is pleasant to listen to any music with any type of connection – with any device. It’s all about excellent optimization, for which the engineers of the company must be praised.

The Bose QC II is a pleasure to listen to and even sleep through on a plane trip. Just put them on, play a soothing playlist and wake up fully rested. The QC35 may not have the style of the Bose 700 or the ANC of the Sony WH-1000XM4, but we found them to be the best noise-canceling headphones for travel, thanks to their much-appreciated comfort quality and its potent active noise reduction. Even in the office, you’ll barely hear your colleagues talking around you, and you’ll be able to stay focused.


Compared to the last model, Bose QuietComfort 35 II are more powerful and vibrant; the difference is especially noticeable at high volume. In addition, this version also supports Google Assistant. If you have the QC35, there’s no reason to replace it with the QC35 II (especially since the first version is ~40 grams lighter), although if you’re a new buyer, you should definitely look at the Bose QuietComfort 35-II. Being a newer model, the manufacturer will certainly be supported longer and will probably be getting software features that aren’t available for the older generation.

Specifications

  • Integrated microphones & Google Assistant
  • Bose Connect app (Android and iOS)

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6. Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless - Active Noise Cancellation with Low Latency (aptX LL)

Sennheiser’s MOMENTUM headphones have been a huge success since their launch. In short, they have replicated the unprecedented success of the Sennheiser HD 600, which introduced audiophile-quality headphones to a wide range of music lovers. So much so that the Sennheiser brand has become almost synonymous with high-quality headphones.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Frequency Range: 6 – 22.000 Hz | Driver Size: 43 mm | Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 99 dB, 118 dB SPL at 1 kHz | Harmonic distortion (THD): < 0.3% | Weight: 305 g | Codecs supported: AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX LL (Low Latency) | Bluetooth: 5.0 | Battery life: 17 hours with ANC and Bluetooth | Charging time: up to 3 hours | Quick-charge: 1.5 hours in 10 mins | Latency: ~50 ms

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Review

The company decided to stay true to its German heritage and designed everything in a sober and minimalist way: cardboard, neat printing, no-frills. Inside the box is a round cloth case with a zipper. Inside the case, in addition to the headphones, you’ll find an audio cable with a 3.5mm plug, a USB-C cable, and a USB-C to USB-A adapter. In other words, you have everything you need to use these headphones.

Compared to the previous version, the frequency response has been improved and now reaches 6 Hertz instead of 16 Hertz at the bottom. Another big improvement is that Bluetooth has been upgraded from version 4 to version 5, supporting more Bluetooth codecs, including aptX LL (Low Latency), great for watching movies and gaming, and aptX, AAC, and SBC.

Active noise cancellation is also very effective here. Of course, Sony and Bose are still the leaders in this field. Nevertheless, Sennheiser has developed an effective hybrid active noise cancelling solution that has been improved and refined. We found that these active noise cancelling headphones effectively deal with noise in the lower half of the sound spectrum.

Office calls, air conditioning, turbine, and engine noise are typical scenarios where we get the best performance. The NoiseGard system, with four artificial intelligence microphones, also provides transparent hearing to listen to music and people nearby simultaneously, and to connect automatically to a nearby wireless transmission source.

Like most modern headphones, the Momentum 3 has its own app that allows you to update the firmware, arguably the most valuable feature, and change certain settings such as the equalizer and the strength of the noise cancellation. The equalizer, by the way, is designed unconventionally. Instead of moving individual sliders, you move the point where you select the desired part of the sound response and its effect (gain or reduction). Granted, it’s not as flexible as a traditional equalizer, but this approach gets the job done and can be handled easily by inexperienced users.


The latest Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless is a big step forward in terms of sound and technology. It is now a universal headset that can be used to listen to all types of music and above all watch movies. At the same time, it is very easy to adjust the sound to your personal preferences, which was not possible with the previous model, if I remember correctly. Added to that is an excellent noise cancellation system, classic “push button” controls, a variety of connection options with a stable wireless connection, aptX LL (Low Latency), decent battery life, and a nice design.

Specifications

  • Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation technology with 4 microphones
  • Omnidirectional dual microphone
  • USB-C and 3.5 mm mini jack connectors

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7. Bowers & Wilkins PX7

The B&W PX7 headset is the latest addition to the British manufacturer’s line of active noise canceling wireless Bluetooth headphones. Priced at around $399, this closed-back over-ear model is beautifully finished with a combination of leather, fabric, and carbon fiber. The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 headphones are aptX HD compatible and feature large diameter drivers. They’re optimized by the brand’s acoustic engineers to cover a wide range of frequencies (10 Hz – 30.000 Hz), promising a dynamic and balanced sound, even in a noisy environment.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Frequency Range: 10 – 30.000 Hz | Impedance: 20 Ohms | Driver Size: 43 mm | Weight: 310 g | Sensitivity: 111 dB | Linear distortion coefficient: <0.3% (1 kHz, 10 mW) | Codecs supported: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive | Bluetooth: 5.0 | Battery life: 30 hours with ANC and Bluetooth | Charging time: up to 3 hours | Quick-charge: 5 hours in 15 mins | Latency: ~225 ms

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Review

The PX7 is built to the high standards we’ve come to expect from Bowers & Wilkins. Not only does it have the stylish features that have become emblematic of the British brand’s headphones, but it also benefits from a particularly careful assembly, using robust and quality materials.

Despite its relatively high weight of 310g (compared to 250g for the Bose Headphones 700 or Bose QC35 II’s 235g), the PX7 is extremely comfortable; it knows how to distribute the pressure of its headband and its earpieces in a remarkably uniform way, we’ve been able to wear it for hours without feeling the slightest discomfort.

The active noise cancellation and sound performance are a bit typical but still better than the rest. We found the volume control a bit peculiar on some Android devices. Still, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 was quite pleasant to use, especially since its performance is excellent. These headphones offer a relatively high level of passive noise isolation. On the other hand, its active noise reduction system is competent, although it’s not as advanced as the likes of the Bose Headphones 700 or the Sony WH-1000XM4, but not far behind either.

The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 may not be a crowd-pleaser. It benefits from more attention on the sound side than on the noise cancellation. On the music side, there’s a lot to be said. The PX7 offers an excellent level of performance. So we take ourselves to look further and condense all the details. It is a headphone that reveals the low frequencies amazingly, has very high-fidelity mid-range, and a recessed high-range. It definitely sets a tone of its own.

If you’re looking to buy a basic pair of noise-canceling headphones, there are plenty on the market. However, if you’re looking for something incredibly exclusive, consider the Bowers & Wilkins PX7. With a longer battery life than the Bose 700, the PX7 can run all day and beyond without being recharged. It will also turn more than a few heads while walking down the street.


We couldn’t rank the PX7 above the Bose QC 35-II or Sony WH-1000XM3 because these noise-canceling headphones are slightly more expensive, even though they offer similar and sometimes better functionality. Unless you have a lot of money to spend on the B&W PX7 or Bose 700, you may want to consider a different model – or wait for a discount.

Specifications

  • Active noise cancellation, 4 microphones
  • USB-C socket for charging
  • Motion tracking sensors
  • AptX HD and aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codecs

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8. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95

If you choose wireless headphones based on the criterion of enjoyment of interaction, you’ll love B&O’s new flagship BeoPlay H95. This model really does everything to please its owner. And I can see why. Considering the cost, it’s bound to be a high-tech and totally versatile tool that quickly adapts to all kinds of everyday usage scenarios and handles a wide variety of tasks. The company managed to do it quite well.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Frequency Range: 20 – 22.000 Hz | Impedance: 12 Ohms | Driver Size: 43 mm | Weight: 323 g | Sensitivity: 101.5dB, 1mW @ kHz | Codecs supported: SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive | Bluetooth: 5.1 | Battery life: 38 hours with ANC and Bluetooth (50 hours without ANC) | Charging time: up to 2 hours | Latency: ~80-110 ms | Warranty period: 3-years 

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95 Review

Certainly, this product is not for everyone, yet everything in H95 is geared for modern life:

  • Active noise cancellation works great.
  • Excellent sound quality.
  • Materials and controls are above all praise.

It doesn’t have any sensors or head-tracking features that would have enhanced its modern appeal, but we think the user will be fascinated by the aluminium, leather and appropriate gaskets, especially as high-quality materials and good workmanship are the most essential elements when it comes to a headset’s longevity and HiFi visual appeal.

For BeoPlay, the H95 uses 40mm dynamic drivers with titanium diaphragm and neodymium magnets and specially designed DSP processors for digital signal processing. There is an adjustable active noise cancellation ANC, which is highly effective and quite gentle in terms of sound impact. The transparency mode is also well implemented.

Likewise, the high battery life of 38 hours with ANC will never leave you complaining, while disabling ANC will give you another 12 hours. Equally impressive, the headset has probably the fastest recharging time, with only 2 hours needed to recharge the entire power supply.

We have no complaints about the B&O H95. The NC wireless headset is quite convenient for calls with its four microphones with their own noise cancellation. Bluetooth version 5.1, AAC, and aptX Adaptive codecs are supported. We don’t find these technologies in the Bose 700 or the Sony WH-1000XM4, both of which are equally stylish. Still, we’re a bit surprised and discouraged that a headphone model close to $1,000 doesn’t have LDAC like the Sony WH-1000XM3?

Honestly, we’d rather buy the Sony WH-1000XM3 or the Bose QC 35-II than the H95 for noise cancellation, which is also more affordable, although the BeoPlay headphones are bought by wealthy travellers who want extreme quality and class. Nevertheless, the H95 is a unique noise-cancelling headset and represents the company’s 95th anniversary—No other pair of noise-cancelling headphones offers the same level of simplicity, elegance and sound quality as the H95.


Whatever the sound source, the sound is simply incredible. The BeoPlay H95 plays cleanly and without emphasizing any frequency. We were taken aback by the clarity and detail of the instrumental reproduction, as well as the powerful stereo imaging. All we can say is that the Beoplay is in a completely different league from its predecessors.

Since these are high-end noise canceling headphones and cost a lot of money, we shouldn’t need to remind you to try and listen to them before buying, as we always suggest. Although when it comes to the H95, we are convinced that these headphones are simply wonderful whereas the 3-year warranty is very appreciated.

Specifications

  • Active noise cancellation, 4 microphones
  • USB-C socket for charging
  • Motion tracking sensors
  • AptX HD and aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codecs

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9. Jabra Elite 85h

The Elite 85h is the Danish brand’s top-of-the-line product and brings together all its expertise. Designed by GN Audio A/S in Denmark, manufactured in China, it is CE, FCC (US equivalent), IC (for Canada), RoHS, REACH and MFI (Made for iPhone) compliant. It is one of the best value headphones on the market and has many great features: intelligent noise reduction, outstanding music quality, weather resistant properties and 36 hours of battery life.

Type: Closed-back Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Frequency Range: 10 – 22.000 Hz | Driver Size: 40 mm | Weight: 296 g | Codecs supported: AAC, SBC | Bluetooth: 5.0 | Battery life: 36 hours with ANC and Bluetooth (41 hours without ANC) | Charging time: up to 2.5 hours | Quick-charge: 5 hours in 15 mins | Latency: ~240 ms

Jabra Elite 85h Review

We noticed that after using the Jabra Elite 85h for a while, you get used to the controls. We appreciated that the manufacturer did not try to be frugal with features: most of the functions are typical of more expensive noise-cancelling headsets. And they are not superficial but work effectively. These features include: auto-pause, voice assistant support, a dedicated Jabra app +, the ability to connect two devices simultaneously (total – 8).

In addition to the underlying technical qualities of the Jabra Elite 85h, the headset has been designed to make life easier for the user. It knows how to be discreet and limits the amount of interaction required. One of its features is the presence of a multipoint connection. Present on the Bose QC35 II but not on the Sony WH-1000XM3, it allows two devices to be paired simultaneously and switch between them without resetting the Bluetooth. However, another notable feature is undoubtedly the ear detection, which automatically pauses playback when the headphones are removed, similar to what Parrot offered on the Zik 3 and Apple on the AirPods.

Battery life is claimed to be 36 hours of work with noise cancellation on, and 41 hours without ANC. Crazy numbers, almost as close as the BeoPlay H95. Fast charging is supported: 15 minutes of charging gives 5 hours of listening time – on the plane, you can possibly sleep for 20-30 minutes and continue listening to music afterwards.

We listened to music for many hours with these headphones, and in most complex songs with many instruments, the sound separation between them is noticeable. The Jabra Elite 85h may not support aptX or AAC formats, which is a total loss compared to the Sony WH-1000XM3 in this regard. But, if you want the best sound quality, connect them with a wire.

Remarkably, unlike many wireless noise-cancelling headphones, the Jabra Elite 85h does not amplify the bass, but rather reduces it slightly, positively affecting the naturalness of the sound and allowing the headphones to be used for full classical music listening. It also accentuates the performer’s voice, whether male or female. If it’s the voice of your favourite artist that makes you enjoy listening to music, the Jabra Elite 85h will suit you perfectly and give you a lot of pleasure.


If your priority is comfort and active noise cancellation, the Elite 85h would be a great choice. It’s a good alternative to the more expensive Bose QC35 II, as this Jabra wireless noise-reduction headset is comfortable and more functional than more expensive models from its rivals.

Specifications

  • Water resistance (IP52): the headphones have a nano-coating to protect against light rain.
  • Mic noise reduction during voice calls

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10. Sony WF-1000XM4 - Best Noise-Canceling True Wireless Earbuds

Sony’s WF-1000XM4 wireless headphones were already synonymous with quality and comfort even before their launch, thanks to a radically downsized and redesigned chassis and new hardware designed to correct the shortcomings of their predecessors. The success of these true wireless earbuds with noise cancelling was so astounding that many users wanted to know how they were made and what made them look so good.

Type: True Wireless Earbuds with Active Noise Cancelling | Frequency Range: 20 – 20.000 Hz (20 – 40.000 with LDAC) | Driver Size: 6 mm | Weight: 41 g | Codecs supported: AAC, SBC, LDAC | Bluetooth: 5.2 | Battery life: 8 hours with ANC (12 hours without ANC) | Charging time: up to 1.5 hours | Quick-charge: 5 hours in 15 mins | Latency: ~220 ms

Sony WF-1000XM4 Review

Each earbud features 6mm drivers and a newly designed 24-bit amplifier. The sound is processed by the V1 processor, which is also responsible for noise reduction. As with its predecessor, the result is a rich, bright, detailed sound that lets you discover new things in your favorite songs.

The Hi-Res certified headphones are ideal for those who are looking for Hi-Res quality. However, in our blind tests, we could not detect significant differences between LDAC and AAC. You can, however, find a difference between the two, but on rather subtle aspects.

The headphones support Speak-to-Chat, which automatically pauses music playback, but it doesn’t work perfectly in all cases. The concept is easy to understand, but in practice, there is room for improvement. The headset’s software (including a dedicated app) also includes “adaptive sound control,” which detects where you are and what you’re doing and adjusts the ANC system by changing ambient noise settings. With regards to communication, the Sony WF-1000XM4 TWS noise-canceling earbuds use a beamforming microphone in addition to a bone conduction sensor.

As for the model’s main selling point, noise cancellation makes the WF-1000XM4 the most effective noise-canceling headphones on the market and ranks right alongside the best full-size over-ear headphones. The new V1 chip effectively suppresses and reduces noise across the entire range, including fan noise, engine noise, and speech, so you can easily listen to music at low volumes.

When playing music with SBC or AAC codecs, the headphones can last up to 8 hours with noise cancellation, about 5 hours with LDAC, and up to 12 hours with noise cancellation off. If you’re talking with the headphones on (but reviews suggest they’re not really suited to that use), you’ve got 5.5 hours with noise cancellation and 6 hours without the headphones. The total battery life for the case is 24 hours with noise cancellation and 36 hours without.


In the end, we think that the Sony WF-1000XM4s are the best high-end active noise cancelling earbuds, because they offer the best active noise cancelling in a small package, with excellent sound. Very nice design, elegant and practical, we can’t complain. If you have sensitive hearing and like lossless sound with high-resolution codecs, the DSEE Extreme feature will let you enjoy your music with much better quality.

Specifications

  • DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) Extreme for audio upscaling
  • Beamforming microphones with bone conduction sensor
  • Water resistance (IPX4)

Alternatives:

Upgrade:

Budget Version:

Brief Buying Guide

Before buying headphones, you should pay attention to popular models from established manufacturers and consider the strengths and weaknesses of each product. To do this, you need to know what features to look for and what aspects of a headphone are most important for studio work.

Headphone Characteristics to look for

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Most studio headphones have their good and bad aspects, but products in the lower price range have additional pros and cons that should be addressed.

Pros:

  • The difference in the detail of the music is imperceptible to the normal music listeners
  • Low financial investment
  • High price/quality
  • Cheap components
  • Easily replaceable

Cons:

  • Studio headphones are the cheapest component in the creation of a home/professional studio
  • Compromise on sound quality
  • Poor build quality and longevity
How are Dynamic Headphones Classified

FAQ

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As for what we and thousands of other buyers consider the best high-end headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC), here is a summary of the top 5:

  1. Sony WH-1000XM4 – Top-of-the-range noise-cancelling headphones in terms of pure noise reduction power, which also impresses with its sound quality and battery life.
  2. Bose 700 Noise Canceling Headphones – The most comfortable and stylish wireless high-end headphone with active noise cancellation for use in public settings.
  3. Apple AirPods Max – The reference for Apple fans in terms of quality, character and quality noise reduction, a beautiful headset with active noise cancellation that completes the iOS’s ecosystem.
  4. Sony WH-1000XM3 – The best over-ear ANC headphones that offer the missing element of a relaxing and satisfying day of music listening: an incredibly effective active noise control system and a high-end LDAC Bluetooth codec.
  5. Bose QuietComfort 35 II – The best value travel noise-canceling headphones that minimize the impact of noise like no other ANC headphone and assure maximum comfort during your commutes and long flights.

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Conclusion

Recording music is not an easy job.

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