Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds – [2017]

If your looking for an effective pair of noise cancelling earbuds at a reasonable price, then read on I have listed 3 quality choices that not only are good at noise cancellation but one pair can be had for less than $60.

Depending on what your budget is, the Bose 20i’s are going to be your best bet for noise cancellation, music/sound quality and comfort. But for a mid range price of around $200 the Sony’s are a great deal.

Here are the basic details of the earbuds followed by a more in depth reviews on each below.

Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds

 Audio-Technica QuietPointSony MDR-NC100DBose QuietComfort 20i
Noise ReductionReduce distracting background noise by up to 90% while offering superior soundPrecision noise cancelling, reduces up to 98.2% ambient noisePrecision noise cancelling, reduces up to 99% ambient noise
Battery Life16 hours of battery life on single AAA battery.22 hours of battery life on single AAA battery.16 hours of battery life with rechargeable Lithium ion battery
Earphones1 size earphone with several size foam adapters.3 sizes of noise isolation earbuds allow a proper fit3 pairs of Stay Hear+ tips (S, M, L)
Link to Purchase

#1 Audio-Technica QuietPoint Noise-Cancelling Headphones Review

Design and Features

While Audio-Technica is not as well known as Sony or Bose their Quietpoint Series earbuds are a worthy contender for you to consider. Even at a budget price they are have true noise cancellation electronic circuitry.

Now of course it’s not as sophisticated as higher end earphones but they do manage an extremely respectable 90% noise reduction of ambient sounds.  Like all noise cancellation earbuds they produce a 180 degree out of phase sound to ambient noises reaching its microphone which then cancels it out. Here is a more in depth article if your interested.

Features of the earphones include the following:

  • Large 12 mm drivers deliver good audio quality 
  • Precision noise canceling, reduces up to 90% of ambient noise
  • 16 hours of battery life on single AAA battery
  • Various foam adapters to give a comfortable fit
  • Airline plug adapter
  • Ideal for iPhone, iPod and iPad

Performance

Audio-Technica QuietPoint EarbudsThe noise reduction circuitry of the Audio Technica Quietpoint is not as effective at reducing “sudden” noises like a car horn,  they work best for continuous droning noises, like airplane engines, or an air conditioner.

The electronics just are not “quick enough” to erase those sudden noises but are very effective reducing the continuous sounds.

Remember that, any noise cancelling earbud is only as good as the seal against you ear. The Audio Technica Quietpoints do come with various size foam adapters that fit over the earbud to give a decent seal to help reduce ambient sound.

They do not have the good seal in your ear that the Sony and Bose models provide. But must keep in mind the price point and to have realistic expectations.

Are They Worth it?

With a price tag of less than $50 they seem like a steal when compared with more expensive models like Bose’s QuietComfort series. And if you are just looking for occasional noise cancellation and respectable sound quality then they are.

If sound quality is important to you when choosing a noise cancelling earphones, the Audio-Technica Quietpoint then you are going to be better off with the Sony or Bose Noise Cancelling earphones.

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for BUDGET noise cancellation earphones, the Audio-Technica earbuds for less than $50 or less than 25% the price of the Sony’s and about one-sixth the cost of the Bose Quietcomfort 2oi’s there is no other noise cancelling earphone that comes close.

#2 Sony Noise Canceling Stereo In-Ear Headphones Review

The Sony MDR-NC100D are a mid range earbud costing around $200. While cheaper than other in-ear noise cancelling earbuds, is it capable of competing with more expensive options performance-wise?

Design and Features

The Sony MDR-NC100D can come in three styles/colors, pink, black and silver and all white. Along the cord is the noise cancelling remote that has an on/off button, a shirt clip on the back and a monitor button.

The cord itself is comfortably long so you won’t have to strain your neck when your device is in your bag or pocket. Some people may appreciate the built-in clip but for others, it’s just added bulk on the pocket.

Features of the earbuds include the following:

  • Ideal for iPhone, iPod and iPad
  • 16 hours of battery life with rechargeable Lithium ion battery
  • Noise reduction rivals any full-sized headphone
  • Airline Adapter
  • Carrying Case
  • Long-lasting comfort and stability

Performance

The perfect balance of noise cancellation and audio quality is like a holy grail for earphone brands and unfortunately, Sony wasn’t able to attain this delicate balance with the MDR-NC100D.

The audio quality is superior on this model and can even compete with more high-end brands like Bose. The sound is crisp and clear which makes for an enjoyable music listening experience.

The noise cancellation function however, is not up the level as the Bose 20i’s. When used in situations with lower frequency noises such as human chatter and ambient noise, NC-100D’S noise cancellation work well. However, when used where high frequency outside noises are prevalent there appears a  noticeable hiss. Not all people notice it, but it has been reported.

The monitor button works like a sound remote control. It pauses the sound and the noise cancellation when pressed so you can have a conversation or listen to your environment without having to take the earphones out of your ears. Unlike a remote control however, the music will not pause and will keep on playing, you just won’t be able to hear it.

One inconvenience on the NC-100D is that the control box does not contain any volume control buttons. As mentioned earlier, it only offers a switch and the monitor button which means that you still have to take out your device from wherever you’re keeping it if you want to adjust the volume.

Are They Worth It?

With a  price tag over $200 the NC-100D may seem like a steal when compared with more expensive models like Bose’s QuietComfort series but keep in mind that there are also other brands that offer the same functionality for less.

If sound quality is absolutely imperative for you when choosing a noise cancelling earbud, the MDR-NC100D will not disappoint. The audio is what you would expect from a Sony product, noise cancellation or not. However, if you’ll be using the noise cancelling feature a lot, be prepared to hear a bit of  hissing.

The Bottom Line

The usefulness of the NC-100D for you will depend on what you’ll use it for. Generally, it is a good choice for an earphone if you’ll be mostly using it to listen to music while traveling or commuting and the noise cancelling feature occasionally.

If noise cancellation in an in-ear headphone with great audio quality is what your looking for then you will better off spending some extra money and going with the Bose 20i.

#3 Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones Review

Design and Features

At first glance, you’ll easily notice that the Bose QuietComfort 20i doesn’t look like your typical in-ear headphone. The dark and Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Earbudslight gray headphones have silicone ear tips with an extra fin that creates stability so it stays securely in your ear.

The earbuds also have an inline remote control and a microphone on its cord. Also along the cord are the noise cancellation control box and the battery compartment. The battery compartment is slimmer and narrower than most noise cancellation headphones and can be kept in a pocket.

Features of the headphones include the following:

  • Ideal for iPhone, iPod and iPad
  • 16 hours of battery life with rechargeable Lithium ion battery
  • Noise reduction rivals any full-sized headphone
  • Airline Adapter
  • Carrying Case
  • Long-lasting comfort and stability from proprietary StayHear®+ tips

Performance

Bose claims that the battery life of the Bose QuietComfort 20i can last up to 16 hours and takes only two hours to fully charge.

What differentiates the Bose QuietComfort 20i from most noise cancellation in-ear headphones is that the ear tips aren’t responsible from drowning out outside acoustics, though it does a pretty good job in preventing a noticeable amount of noise from entering the ear. The engineering of the earbuds and how it is wired accounts for almost all of the noise cancellation.

The Bose QuietComfort 20i comes with three modes: passive, noise cancellation and Aware Mode. When Aware Mode is turned on, the music’s volume is lowered and the noise cancellation microphone is activated so that you can hear what’s happening in your environment.

This mode can be used for when you’re waiting for flight announcements in an airport, for example.

You can expect to have a clear phone conversation under normal circumstances in a busy street. Unless you’re at a rock concert or an airport runway, the Bose QuietComfort 20i microphone is reliable and consistent.

The comfort offered by the ear tips only complements the superior sound quality that the Bose QuietComfort 20i is capable of. The noise cancellation is also one of the best ones Bose QuietComfort 20i Earbudsin the market today – perfect for the daily commute. It is capable of muting out engine noise, train clacking and to a significant degree, voices of strangers talking next to you.

Other noise cancellation headphones are typically only capable of drowning out common hums and drones but the Bose QuietComfort 20i does much more than that. It can cancel sounds of multiple frequencies like barking dogs, babies crying and even a car alarm.

As far as audio quality is concerned, Bose has dramatically improved the quality of balance and bass response with the QuietComfort 20i as compared to earlier models. The real gem in this headphone however is its noise cancellation and not so much its audio quality.

Are They Worth it?

Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones with cablesThe Bose QuietComfort 20i is priced at $249 which can be quite steep for the average commuter.

If you’re someone who listens to a lot of music, is frequently on the phone and always on the go, these headphones are a worthwhile investment.

 

 

 

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for the best in-ear noise cancellation plus superior audio quality, then the Bose 20i’s are for you.

 

If your interested in over-ear headphones, please see my reviews here.

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About Robert Walsh

I travel internationally on a frequent basis for work and the only way I have found to be able to rest on a plane is by using noise cancelling headphones. I have used quite a few over the years and have reviewed the ones I like best here.