10 Best Pairs of Noise-Cancelling Earbuds for Tuning Everything Out

Whether you're dealing with chatty coworkers or screaming babies, sometimes you just want to tune the world out. And the best and easiest way to do that is to invest in a pair of headphones equipped with active noise control (ANC)—what you may know as noise-cancelling headphones. More often than not, such blissful technological innovations are hulking, over-ear beasts. But not always. These discreet pairs will block even the most piercing tones, and will pop in your ear as effortlessly as iPhone buds. So turn up and tune out.

wraparound wireless bluetooth noise-cancelling earphones from cowin photo

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Cowin HE8D

On a budget, but don't want to sacrifice sound quality? These earbuds use powerful 1.57-inch drivers with liquid-crystal polymer film diaphragms to deliver crisp highs, distinctive mids, and powerful (but not pounding) bass. Not quite hi-fidelity, but about as close as you can expect for the sub-$100 range, especially in a wireless design. Another high point with the HE8D is its 15-hour battery life, which can be charged on the go from any USB device, even while you listen. ($80; cowinaudio.com)

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black wraparound noise-cancelling earbuds from bose photo

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Bose QuietControl 30

Bose spared no expense in developing the ANC microphones that drive these Bluetooth/NFC wireless earbuds. Switch them on midway through a flight, and you'd be forgiven for thinking the engines have died. Don't panic, though, because the ANC is 12-level adjustable—from full-on engine drone to whisper-quiet—via both an inline remote and the ridiculously intuitive Bose Connect smartphone app. A lightweight, contoured neckband keeps the QuietControl 30s firmly and comfortably in place, whether you're sitting still or on-the-go. For a wired version that has even better noise-cancelling effects (but a slightly cheaper sound), try the company's QuietComfort 20. ($300; bose.com)

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dark gray wireless earbuds from sony photo

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Sony WF-SP700N

These truly wireless sports earphones digitally cancel noise like any other noise-cancelling earbuds, but also include an ambient sound mode that allows environmental sounds—like car horns or your running partner's voice—through, so you can stay safe and aware while exercising outdoors. A secure fit and IPX4 sweatproof rating means they won't fall out, or fall behind, while you're on the run. The only obvious drawback to the WP-SP700Ns is their relatively short battery life: just three hours. The included carrying case holds two more charges, though, to keep the beats going after a post-workout recovery. ($180; sony.com)

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wraparound noise-cancelling earbuds from taotronics photo

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TaoTronics TT-BH042

For a fraction of the cost of most ANC earbuds, these guys effectively cancel out most background noise—you won't forget where you are or anything, but your personal audio will be much easier to hear—and deliver reasonable sound quality, with slightly emphasized bass. They're also Bluetooth wireless and IPX5 splash-proof, and can be a reliable workout partner. Not at all bad for $50! ($50; taotronics.com)

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black noise-cancelling earbuds from bang and olufsen photo

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B&O Beoplay E4

Bang & Olufsen claims that the ANC on its new E4 surpasses even that of its celebrated predecessor, the H3 ANC, suppressing up to 15 dB more ambient sound at some frequencies, by using two finely tuned microphones. An inline remote keeps media and phone controls within easy reach, but a bulky control box meant to do the same for noise cancelling dangles annoyingly close to the headphone jack, tugging at the earbuds when you carry your device in a pants pocket. All in all, it's a minor complaint, considering how well they seal off sound, how durably they're built, and how clear and balanced they sound. ($250; bang-olufsen.com)

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black noise-cancelling earbuds from huawei photo

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Huawei ANC Earphones 3

These sleek earphones have three noise-cancelling modes, so you can tweak your listening preferences. "Travel" mode eliminates ambient noise, so you can focus on cranking out work, or on reading a travelogue; "normal" mode cancels noise while you listen to music; and the "aware" setting allows some sounds (voices, in particular) through, so you don't miss important announcements on-the-go. Their other standout feature is that they plug into your smartphone using a USB-C plug-and-play connection, so they're powered directly by your phone's battery while you listen. In theory, and depending on your charge, that means longer noise-free listening than you'll get from most other ANC earbuds available. ($76; geekbuying.com)

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gray and gold wireless noise-cancelling earbuds from jabra photo

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Jabra Elite Active 65t

With a market-leading IP56 rating, excellent connectivity, and five hours of playback per charge (plus, a 15-minute rapid charge that adds up to 1.5 hours), the Elite Active 65ts are among the best truly wireless earbuds for fitness freaks. Part of what makes them work so well is that they rely on less battery- and tech-reliant "passive" noise-cancelling—forming a tight seal over the ear canals—to shut ambient sounds out, creating a focused and well-balanced sound that few Bluetooth earphones can manage. Despite that, there are still onboard microphones, for taking calls and enabling an adjustable "Hearthrough" feature that allows outside sounds to filter in, keeping you aware of your surroundings at all times. ($190; jabra.com)

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silver noise-cancelling earbuds from linner photo

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Linner NC21 Pro

Reduce environmental noise by up to 28 decibels across a wide range of frequencies (45Hz-3kHz) with these tiny wonders. At the push of a button, shut down the hum of traffic or distracting office chatter, and immerse yourself in your own world. "Monitor" mode lets the outside in at the push of a button. A robust battery means that ANC lasts up to 16 hours per charge on the NC21 Pros. Need more time than that (or on a late-model iPhone)? The comparable NC21 Lightning powers itself directly from your phone's battery while you listen, not to mention retails $20 cheaper. ($109; linner.io)

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silver wireless noise-cancelling earbuds from plantronics photo

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Plantronics BackBeat Go 410

It's all in a name with these versatile earbuds, which are Bluetooth wireless and include a corded option, so they can "Go" almost anywhere you do, be it the gym, your daily commute, or even on a transatlantic flight. Lightweight and comfortable to wear, the 410s deliver good sound quality and adjustable, dual-mode ANC that allows you to choose how much noise you feel like tuning out. If the batteries get low, or Bluetooth isn't an option—on an inflight entertainment system, say—the included USB charging cable converts into a 3.5mm cord or wired listening until you can recharge. ($130; plantronics.com)

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black and gold noise-cancelling earbuds from shure photo

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Shure SE535

True audiophiles who are willing to pay top dollar for a genuinely magical listening experience will get exactly that in these high-end Bluetooth earbuds—and in a compact, go-anywhere package that travels better than traditional earcans. Triple high-definition drivers deliver a spacious sound dripping with rich bass for immersive, cinematic audio. Passive noise cancellation blocks up to 37 dB, allowing you to focus on every single note. While the SE535s are truly wireless, they also feature an innovative detachable cable system that allows you to directly connect to a wide range of audio devices using 3.5mm and ¼-inch audio jacks. ($499; shure.com)

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