If you want the ultimate personal audio experience on the move, want to shut out external noise in a work environment or while commuting – then you need noise cancelling earphones. Noise cancelling earphones are not the same as noise isolating earphones. Noise isolating earphones work by sealing your ear & blocking external sounds much like an earplug does. Noise cancelling earphones use active circuitry to process audio picked up from a microphone (mic), reverse the signal and play it through the earphones themselves. The end result is that the external sound is effectively subtracted leaving just your music. A bonus of this is that this works at any listening volume, so even if you want to listen to your music quietly, you still won’t be able to hear the people on the bus around you.
All this extra wizardry built in, means that they are generally more expensive, often significantly more. Have a look through our recommendations so you can choose the best noise cancelling earphones.
Recommended Best Earphones with Noise Cancelling Circuitry
Best Mid Range
Bose are pretty much the undisputed king when it comes to producing noise cancelling earphones – they are several steps ahead of the competition & will probably remain there for some time to come. The quality and design of the Quiet Comfort 20 earphones is stunning as you’d expect from Bose, with an eye to detail being applied to every element. There are 2 versions available, one for Android/Windows/Blackberry with call controls and microphone (mic) and the second for iPhone/iPod with call controls, microphone (mic) and music controls (pause/play, next/previous etc). Because of the active circuitry, there is a rechargeable battery built into the control block that will give you up to 16 hours of use. One nice touch is that the noise cancelling can also be turned off easily at any time – this means two things. Firstly if you want to be able to hear you surroundings, you can – secondly, if the battery should run out they will still work normally, just without the noise cancellation.
We think the Bose Quiet Comfort 20 noise cancelling earphones are the bees knees, they look great, sound amazing & have an unrivaled noise cancellation. Put simply, they are the best noise cancelling earphones available on the market today.
While the Pioneer SE-NC31C earphones aren’t in the same league as the Bose Quiet Comfort 20 above – they are still really rather good. The sound is rich, deep and clear with very good noise cancellation. These require a single AAA battery which provides up to 120 hours of noise cancelling playback. On the side of the power pack you’ll find the controls for turning the noise cancellation on/off and a monitor button which temporarily disables the noise cancelling effect. The earphones can again be used as normal earphones without the noise cancellation – or if the battery runs out. The design is a bit more functional & clunky than the Bose offering above – but they still look the part.
While the sound and noise cancellation may not quiet be on the same level as the Bose earphones, there is a very significant difference in price – the Pioneer SE-NC31C earphones are over £150 cheaper…we think that could be quite a big influencing factor in your decision. In short they are well worth considering as an alternative to the Bose Quiet Comfort 20 earphones if price is a concern as they are still some of the best earphones with noise cancelling circuitry around.
Enter the best value option – these have a lot going for them, particularly the price. The Audio Technica ATH-ANC33IS earphones are cracking value. The earphones themselves are a little funkier in appearance than the Pioneers above. The microphone and call controls are compatible with most smartphones on the market and once again, the noise cancelling circuitry is powered by an AAA battery. The pads are made from a memory style foam that adapt to fit a wider range of ears – and it comes with 3 different sizes meaning that everyone should be able to get a very good custom fit. The noise cancellation works well, but perhaps not in the same leagues as the others mentioned above.
Bang for buck, the Audio Technica ATH-ANC33IS earphones are tough to beat. If your budget can stretch a little more we would suggest opting for the Pioneers above, but otherwise these are a very solid offering at an attractive price point.
The Best Noise Cancelling Earphones Comparison
|Model||Manufacturer||RRP (£)||Bluetooth||Available Colours||Rating|
|Quiet Comfort 20||Bose||259.95||4.1|
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best In Ear Noise Cancelling Earphones
There are several important factors to consider when choosing the a set of noise cancelling earphones – here are the most important points:
This may not occur to you at first glance, but the active circuitry built into noise cancelling headphones requires a battery to power it. On the higher quality sets, this will be a rechargeable that can usually be charged via USB. Other cheaper sets may opt for either one or 2 AAA or AA batteries – this can provide a longer battery life but will mean more ongoing expense & a considerably heavier control pack.
Standard Operating Mode
Following on from the above point, what happens when the battery runs out – can the earphones still be used as regular earphones even without the battery? If the answer is yes, you can also typically turn off the noise cancelling function. This is very useful in everyday use, especially if walking around as it will allow you to disable the noise cancelling circuitry when crossing the road or to be able to hear someone talking etc
In order for the noise cancelling earphones to function correctly, they need to fit well, very well. The earphones should come with several different ear adaptors to ensure that you get a great fit. If they fit your ear correctly, this will further prevent external noise leaking into your ear so you only hear what the earphones are playing. Typically, silicon type ear adaptors will provide a better fit & a greater seal than those made of foam.
In all, there is quite a wide range of noise cancelling in ear headphones to choose from. While they may not be as common, or affordable as regular noise isolating earphones – there are still plenty to choose from and they are a very worthy investment for anyone serious about music while travelling. We hope this guide has helped you to choose a set of noise cancelling earphones.