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The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Work and Travel

Add any of these to your shopping list if you're looking to tune out the rest of the world.

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Saying the world can be noisy sometimes is a bit of an understatement. But while there are many circumstances where we accept or even welcome those sounds, there are also plenty of moments where it would be better if we could just tune everything out. Maybe you're trying hard to concentrate on your job in a loud office space, or perhaps you're hoping to drown out the crying baby on your plane so you can sleep. Whatever the case may be, noise-canceling headphones could be exactly what you need. Not sure where to look? Read on for our experts' picks of the best noise-canceling headphones you can find.

Prices are current at the time of publication but are subject to change.

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How do noise-canceling headphones work?

A passenger is holding noise-cancelling headphones of a business class cabin.

Noise-canceling headphones use a kind of technology called active noise cancelation (ANC), which "effectively removes many of the outside noises that impact your audio experience, including the roadwork outside your window, the roar of a train or plane engine, and the office chit chat," per well-known audio company Bose.

As the technology giant Sony further explains on its website, devices with ANC utilize a built-in microphone that can "analyze the ambient sound waves around you and generate the opposite sound waves to reduce surrounding sound."

When buying a pair of noise-canceling headphones, you might want to consider the effectiveness of its ANC technology alongside a number of other factors, including design, comfort, battery power, and price. So, check out what experts have to say about five of the best noise-canceling headphones on the market.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphone product photo

There is one pair of noise-canceling headphones that came highly recommended by multiple experts: Bose's QuietComfort Ultra.

"I absolutely love my Bose noise-canceling headphones for work and travel," Brittany Betts, travel expert and CMO at, tells Best Life. "These headphones fit comfortably around my ears and the material feels like a soft pillow almost."

Not only do they feel good, but the noise cancelation component of these headphones also "works wonders," according to Betts.

"It really allows me to tune into what I am listening to and tune out any background noise going on," she says. "Even when I have the volume relatively low, I can't hear any outside voices or noise, allowing me to fully relax—especially while traveling."

And Betts isn't the only one to recommend Bose's QuietComfort Ultra. Maggie Wilson, travel expert and author, says she loves using these headphones when she needs to finish working on a manuscript, or is trying to sleep while traveling. Alongside that, one of the best aspects of this product for Wilson is Immersive Mode.

"It makes listening to music a truly transcendental experience," she shares. "I'd choose Bose over any other noise cancelling headphones because of the quality and their amazing customer service. "

$379 at Amazon
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Soundcore Space A40

Soundcore Space A40 Headphone product photo

If you're not a fan of over-the-ear headphones, Echo Wang, seasoned traveler and founder of Cool Travel Vibes, says she has "been really impressed" with the Soundcore Space A40 earbuds.

"I recently took an eight-hour flight and they stayed in my ears the entire time," she recalls. "I didn't have to charge them once during the flight either."

The Soundcore Space A40 earbuds' noise-cancelation component also "did a fantastic job of block out noise," according to Wang.

"They might not be the top-of-the-line headphones, but for the price, they tick a lot of boxes for travel and work use," she says.

$59.99 at Amazon
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Bowers & Wilkins PX7

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Headphone product photo

For Joel Smith, audio expert and founder of the music hub, one of his top picks is the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 headphones, as they "combine impressive noise-canceling with very high sound quality."

The design of the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 headphones also puts them ahead of some of their competitors, according to Smith.

"The comfortable fit, plush memory foam ear cups, and adjustable headband makes them great for long listening sessions whether you're at work or traveling," he explains.

$319 at Amazon
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Apple AirPods Max

Apple Airpods Max Headphone product photo

Apple's AirPods Max are one of the most recognizable pair of noise-canceling headphones—and for good reason, it seems.

"While mainly known for their sleek design, these over-ear headphones are awesome for work and travel," Smith shares. "They've got impressive noise-canceling abilities enabled by Apple's powerful H1 chip."

As a seasoned world traveler and freelance writer, Sahana Kulur, travel writer and founder of Vacaywork, says she had experimented with at least five different headphone brands before settling on Apple's AirPods Max. While all of the ones she tried claimed to offer noise cancelation, none of them "proved effective" until she tried the AirPods Max.

"Unlike previous headphones I've tried, these provide an impressive 99.9 percent noise cancelation, rendering the need to play music for distraction unnecessary," Kulur says. "Moreover, the option to switch to regular listening mode allows me to remain aware of my surroundings when desired."

That Transparency Mode with Apple's AirPods Max is "really handy for quickly letting in ambient sound when needed in an office or while commuting," Smith agrees.

$449 at Amazon
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Soundcore Life Q35

Soundcore Life Q35 Headphone product photo

Many over-the-ear, noise-canceling headphones can cost you a pretty penny. But Soundcore has an over-the-ear option that is great for those on a tighter budget, according to Smith.

"The noise cancelation on the Soundcore Life Q35 headphones might not be quite as strong as higher end models, but it's still great for the price," he says. "Their impressive battery life also makes them a smart choice for frequent travelers."

$79.99 at Amazon
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Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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