Do you take public transit on a daily basis? Are you a frequent traveler? Does your job force you to work in a not so quiet environment? Do you have younger siblings that disrupt your quiet routine? If the answer is yes to any of these, then you need a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
Noise-cancelling headphones allow you to listen to music without the interference of outside noise. However, this additional feature can make headphones really expensive, but you don’t need high-end prices to enjoy the quietness you deserve, which is why we have tailored a list of the best noise-cancelling headphones under $200.
|Beats Studio3||Over-ear||22 hours|
|Sony WF-1000XM3||In-ear||6 hours|
|Anker Soundcore Life Q20||Over-ear||40 hours|
|COWIN E7||Over-ear||30 hours|
|Sony WH-CH710N||Over-ear||35 hours|
|Sony WF-SP800N||In-ear||9 hours|
|Sennheiser HD 4.50 SE||Over-ear||19 hours|
The 7 Best Noise-cancelling Headphones Under $200 in 2021
Now that we’re done with the basics, let’s delve into the details of each and every option in order to weigh the pros, cons, and finalize a buying decision.
1. Beats Studio3 – Best Overall
Beats doesn’t need an introduction. With the Beats Studio3 headphones, they proved that their style, noise cancellation, sound quality, battery life, and sturdy design are unmatched.
Regarding the design, Beats headphones aren’t new to looking cool. They have a polished, satin finish, and the buttons blend effortlessly with the earcups. The hinges have expensive-looking chrome accents and the headphones come in a wide selection of color schemes.
The over-ear headphones are surprisingly lightweight, compact, and foldable, unlike cheaper over-ear competitors. Yet, they are durable and sturdy. In addition, the earcups are padded and soft on the ears.
If you’re looking for a reliable, long battery life, look no further. This pair has a 22-hour battery life that you can stretch to 40 when you turn the ANC off. Also, thanks to the Fast Fuel feature, you can get 3 hours of playback on a 10-minute charge.
Moreover, these headphones include the Apple W1 chip, which connects and switches between different Apple and iOS devices effortlessly.
Don’t worry about overly complex controls because the multifunctional “b” buttons on the earcups enable you to take calls and make calls, control playback, adjust volume, and activate Siri, which makes them the most easy-to-use headphones.
The active noise cancellation always detects, isolates, and cancels while you’re enjoying the highly defined bass and natural sound of the headphones.
However, the one downside to this pair is how relatively expensive it is, but you can have it for much less when you fetch it at the right time.
- Great bass
- Many color options
- Long battery life with Fast Fuel
- Apple W1 chip
- Easy controls and Siri
- Attractive and sturdy design
The Beats Studio3 headphones are your best bet in terms of quality, controls, style, and durability.
2. Sony WF-1000XM3 – Premium Pick
If you know you’re hard to please and want a pair of headphones that can live up to your standards instead of having to settle for less, consider the premium Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds.
Starting with the appearance, you’ll definitely fall in love with how sleek and minimalistic they look. Even the charging case comes with an attractive copper lid. They definitely target consumers who are sick of tacky designs and colors.
These earbuds connect to the Sony Connect app, which detects what you’re doing and adjusts the ambient sound accordingly.
Also, the intuitive touch controls never disappoint. You can turn up the ambient noise with Quick Attention mode to have a chat or pause and resume the playback by taking one earbud out and putting it back in. Furthermore, you can activate Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri to have your day sorted out.
These noise-cancelling earbuds aren’t done yet. Their sound quality is so clear and crisp that it reminds you why it comes at such a premium price. They make instrumentals shine in a way that true audiophiles will appreciate.
Still, the earbuds have their downsides. Firstly, they’re clearly not budget-friendly. Secondly, it is such a shame that such high-end earbuds aren’t sweat-resistant, so they won’t be workout-friendly. Finally, their battery life is disappointing because you only get 6 hours from the earbuds alone.
- Sony Connect app
- Voice assistant controls
- Attractive, minimalist look
- Intuitive touch controls
- Quick Attention mode
- Superior sound quality
- No sweat resistance
- Short battery life
The Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds are premium in price, style, controls, and sound.
3. Anker Soundcore Life Q20 – Best Entry-level Headphones
Not everyone needs the same level of precision in sound and functions, and that’s what Soundcore has figured by giving the entry-level Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headphones.
The budget-friendly pair doesn’t look as sleek as the Beats one, but it looks nice enough, and it comes in black and silver.
Also, this pair has an ergonomic headband, rotating earcups, and memory foam cushions to keep you comfortable. Plus, its foldable design makes it easy to take it with you everywhere in its carrying case.
These over-ear headphones have an impressive 40-hour battery life that you can take further up to 60 hours in standard music mode. You can even get 4 hours of playback on a 5-minute charge.
The pair has onboard controls for volume, playback, calls, noise cancellation, and power on/off, and they’re easy to use. Also, the hybrid ANC reduces ambient noise by 90%, including low and mid-frequency noises.
Thanks to the Hi-Res audio, you can enjoy a detailed, rich sound. Also, the BassUp technology allows you to boost the bass while listening to bass-heavy genres.
However, these headphones aren’t without downsides. They tend to hang low on the ears, which is very uncomfortable for smaller heads. Also, we wouldn’t recommend using the headphones with the AUX because they sound very cheap.
- BassUp technology
- Longest battery life
- Hi-Res audio
- Hybrid ANC
- Carrying case
- Not a good fit for smaller heads
- Sound horrible wired
If you’re new to the noise-cancelling game, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headphones have your back, with their Hi-Res audio and long battery life.
4. COWIN E7 – Best With NFC
NFC pairing is all you need to connect two devices quickly, and that’s what the affordable COWIN E7 headphones offer.
The design of these budget-friendly headphones is loud and proud. Also, they come in multiple bold color choices to make a statement with. We also loved how comfortable and soft the earpad felt.
The COWIN E7 headphones impress with 30-hour battery life so that you’ll never be interrupted. Also, the onboard controls make all adjustments a breeze. Plus, the NFC pairing that you can use with voice commands streamlines connections with other Bluetooth-enabled devices.
Moreover, the sound quality is precise, clean, and crisp, which you can enjoy quietly, thanks to the noise cancellation.
Yet, these headphones aren’t perfect. Firstly, they’re bulky and conspicuous. Secondly, the materials used in the headphones feel a bit cheap.
- Many color options
- NFC pairing
- Long battery life
- Comfortable earpads
- Excellent acoustics
- Material feels cheap
If quick pairing between your headphones and other Bluetooth devices is a priority, look no further than the COWIN E7 headphones.
5. Sony WH-CH710N – Best for Battery Life
Everyone who has owned a wireless pair of headphones knows the struggle of losing battery life too fast. The Sony WH-CH710N headphones are the most reliable for their long battery life.
The reasonably-priced over-ear pair comes with an adjustable headband and swiveling earcups to make your life easier. In addition, it excels at having a long battery life of 35 hours and 60-minute playback on a 10-minute charge.
Onboard controls couldn’t be easier to use, and you can control everything, even noise cancellation, with them. You can also enjoy hands-free calling and smart assistant controls.
What about background noise? The earcups block ambient noise, while the smart noise cancellation senses ambient noise and acts accordingly. Now, you can enjoy the clear sound of music.
However, there are some downsides to this pair. The earcups aren’t deep enough to feel natural over your ears. Also, there’s no carrying case with the pair, which is disappointing. Finally, like the COWIN E7, the material feels low-quality.
- Reasonably priced
- Long battery life and quick charging
- Adjustable headband
- Voice assistant
- Earcups aren’t deep enough
- No carrying case
- Material feels cheap
The Sony WH-CH710N headphones impress with a long battery life, NFC pairing, voice assistant controls, and NFC pairing.
6. Sony WF-SP800N – Best for Sports
If you’re a frequent runner or live a very active life, it is important to get water-resistant earbuds that can handle your lifestyle, such as the Sony WF-SP800N earbuds.
At first glance, you can tell that they have a “sporty” design, and they come in three color options that match their lifestyle. They also fit securely in the ears so that they don’t budge. Also, they have an IP55 rating that enables you to work out and sweat.
The earbuds have a battery life of 9 hours on their own, 18 with the case, and 26 with noise cancelation disabled.
Like the Sony WF-1000XM3, these earbuds have easy-to-use touch controls, and the selection of voice assistants makes your day much easier. Plus, the Quick Attention mode allows you to join the conversation.
What are the downsides, then? Firstly, the charging case doesn’t add much to the battery life. Secondly, these earbuds don’t have enough sound quality to be on top.
- Three color options
- IP55 water-resistant
- Quick attention mode
- Secure fit
- Intuitive touch controls
- Voice assistant controls
- Charging case doesn’t offer much battery life
- Not the best sound quality
The Sony WF-SP800N earbuds are the best companion for athletes, workout junkies, and people on the go.
7. Sennheiser HD 4.50 SE – Budget Pick
Who says that noise-cancelling needs to break the bank? The Sennheiser HD 4.50 SE headphones are your affordable ticket to noise-cancelling heaven.
While there’s nothing about the design that sets these headphones apart from other budget-friendly over-ear headphones, the fact that they’re foldable and come with a carrying case saves you a lot of trouble in guessing how and where to travel with them.
These headphones boast a long battery life of 19 hours, so feel free to take them on your long flights and enjoy their ANC. You can control the headphones through the easy-to-use onboard buttons. Finally, they have excellent sound quality for their price point.
However, they still have some flaws. It is very clear from the pair’s tightness that they’re not meant for larger ears or heads. Also, while the ANC is indeed active, it’s not as powerful as other headphones on the list.
- Long battery life
- Carrying case
- Not comfortable for large ears
- Not the strongest ANC
If you want a good-quality pair of headphones when you’re on a tight budget, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 SE headphones won’t let you down.
How to Pick Noise-cancelling Headphones
It is important to know what exactly to look for before you buy your new pair of headphones, so consider the features listed below.
The first thing that you should consider when it comes to a pair of headphones is their type or fit because it affects everything else. Headphones are either in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear.
In-ear headphones, as the name suggests, fit inside your ears. They are the most compact and lightweight of all headphones, and almost every person on earth has had one pair at some point.
Their compactness makes them the ideal companion for workouts, errands and travels because you can store them in your pocket and bag or even carry them in your hand.
Also, their design offers passive noise cancellation because it prevents ambient noise from getting inside your ears.
On-ear headphones lie somewhere in the middle between in-ear and over-ear headphones. As their name suggests, they fit on the outside of ears, so don’t expect much passive noise cancellation from them.
They have smaller earcups than their over-ear counterparts, and they’re more lightweight, which makes them perfect if you want headphones to take on the go.
The first thing that comes to your head when you picture a bulky pair of headphones is over-ear ones. Their relative bulkiness has a purpose, as the large earcups surround the ears, which leads to blocking ambient noise physically. So, we recommend over-ear headphones for a personal listening experience in a noisy environment.
In addition, over-ear headphones tend not to disappoint in terms of sound quality.
Wired vs. Wireless
The debate about whether wired headphones are better than wireless ones or not could go on for hours. The truth is, wired headphones are reliable but inconvenient to the fast-paced life we live.
You may think that have to take off the headphones every time you want to move away from your device is no big deal, but having to do so more than once a day will get annoying pretty quickly. That’s where wireless headphones come in.
Wireless headphones save you from the hassle of dealing with cables and having to plug and unplug after each listening session. Noise-cancelling headphones tend to be wireless so that you can protect yourself from ambient noise at work, on a plane, in the park, or anywhere else.
Plus, most wireless headphones come with a 3.5 mm AUX cable that enables you to listen even when you’re out of battery life.
Before you purchase any wireless pair, you have to consider its battery life because it dictates how long you’ll be able to listen to your music uninterrupted. If you’re always on the go, finding a pair with a long battery life of no less than 6 hours is a must.
Headphones with short battery lives force you to depend on your charger more. Also, charging time can affect your experience, so consider headphones that charge rapidly to save yourself time.
Since we’re talking about noise-cancelling headphones, we need to discuss what noise canceling is. It comes in two forms: passive and active.
Passive noise cancelation is more about the physical design or hardware of the headphones. Think about over-ear headphones with large earpads and how much noise that fit alone can isolate. This type of cancelation doesn’t need the headphones to be turned on.
On the other hand, active noise cancellation or ANC is within the software of the headphones regardless of their fit. You can activate or disable it, depending on your needs. Keep in mind that ANC headphones tend to be pricier than their PNC ones.
If you want wireless headphones, you have to consider the controls. On-ear and over-ear options have onboard controls in the form of three buttons that control volume, playback, and calls through multi-press commands. In-ear headphones tend to come with touch-sensitive controls. However, we recommend staying away from ones that are too sensitive.
Headphones with the voice assistant feature are a must-have if you’re looking for a truly hands-free experience. If you’re working out or going to the airport, it helps to not have to receive calls or control playback using your hands.
Are Noise-cancelling Headphones Worth the Money?
If you want a quiet, private listening experience anywhere you go regardless of how loud ambient noise is, then noise-cancelling headphones are definitely worth the money. Go for high-quality ones, and they won’t disappoint.
Do Noise-cancelling Headphones Block All Sound?
It differs from ANC to PNC headphones. Active noise-cancelling headphones cancel all ambient noise through software. On the other hand, passive noise-cancelling headphones block ambient noise, but not as much as ANC, through hardware.
Are Cheap Headphones Worth It?
It depends. Sometimes cheap headphones are flimsy and not well-made, so they’re not even worth their very low price. On the other hand, some cheap ones have better value for money than expensive ones and offer the same quality.
Our favorite pick is the Beats Studio3 headphones. They have an attractive, sturdy, yet comfortable design. Also, they are lightweight and foldable, and you need that if you’re always on the go.
Plus, they have 22-hour battery life and excellent connectivity with Apple devices. The ANC in these headphones makes you forget about your noisy environment. Also, their easy-to-use controls and highly defined bass tie everything together.
Next in line, we have the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds, which are premium in price and features. The minimalist look is unique and expensive, while the Sony Connect app puts you in complete control of ambient noise.
Finally, we recommend the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 headphones for high-quality, entry-level noise cancellation. It is affordable, portable, and excellent in sound quality.