Active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones can help give you peace in otherwise normally noisy situations. If you work in a loud office or have a long commute on a loud bus or train, they can be very helpful in helping to keep you concentrated or relaxed. While ANC has typically been reserved only for high-end headphones, in the past few years some surprisingly decent ANC headphones have come out with a much lower price tag. But simply having a good ANC feature isn’t everything; you also want headphones that are comfortable, have a good battery life, and a well-balanced sound profile.
We’ve tested over 450 pairs of headphones and below are our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones under $100 to purchase.
Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless
The best noise cancelling headphones under $100 that we’ve tested so far are the Anker Soundcore Life Q20. These Bluetooth over-ear headphones are surprisingly well-rounded and versatile for the price and have excellent 32-hour battery life. They’re quite comfortable thanks to their lightweight design and well-padded ear cups, and they should be stable enough to stay on during light jogs or runs.
They have a bass-heavy sound profile that’s best suited for genres like hip-hop and EDM but is excited-sounding enough for most popular music. Their ANC works quite well overall, and while it does a better job at blocking out background chatter, it will help give you a bit of peace during your daily commute.
Unfortunately, they lack some extra features that you’d find on more expensive headphones, like a companion app to make EQ changes, or multi-device or NFC pairing to connect them to all your devices easier. Overall, they offer great value and are a decent choice for most uses.
AKG N700NC WIRELESS
If you want something with a much more neutral sound profile, get the AKG N700NC. These over-ear headphones are more comfortable and premium-feeling than the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless, and have a very well-balanced default sound profile, but have a slightly worse-performing ANC feature and a much shorter 18-hour battery life. They look and feel much more premium than the Anker thanks to their mix of dense plastic, metal, and leather. They feel quite stable on the head, come with a great hard carrying case, and even come with a TRRS audio cable with an in-line microphone, so you can use them wired into an Xbox One or PS4 controller, or with your phone if their battery dies. Their neutral and well-balanced sound profile is great for most genres, and you can fully customize it with a parametric EQ in their app. While their ANC doesn’t work quite as well as the Anker, it’s still decent overall and will help block out background chatter and engine sounds.
If you want a much longer battery life or if the AKG have gone back up in price, get the Anker, but if you want a much more premium pair of headphones for not much more money, the AKG are an excellent choice at this price point.
Sony WI-SP600N Wireless
The best noise cancelling headphones under $100 with an in-ear design that we’ve tested so far are the Sony WI-SP600N. These wireless in-ears feel pretty sturdy and look premium, with a thick, rubberized audio cable and dense plastic construction. That solid build quality, in conjunction with the included stability fins, makes them a solid option for bringing to the gym or out on a run. As an added perk, they’re rated IPX4 for water protection, although that’s not something we test for.
Their default sound profile is overemphasized but quite even across the bass range, which should please fans of EDM and hip-hop without causing too much in the way of muddiness. If you aren’t a fan, these in-ears are compatible with the feature-packed Sony| Headphones Connect app, which provides a graphic EQ and presets. It also allows you to control their ANC system, which does a decent job of blocking out sounds across the audible spectrum.
On the downside, their battery life is disappointing, at only 5.6 hours with ANC enabled. That said, they do charge fairly quickly, with a 10-15 minute charge providing more than 1 hour of playback. If you’re willing to spend more than $100, consider the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless, which have a longer battery life, a better-performing ANC system, and the freedom of a truly wireless design. Overall though, the Sony are a fairly versatile, well-built pair of in-ear headphones.
AUKEY LATITUDE WIRELESS
If you want something cheaper that blocks background noises without the need of ANC, get the AUKEY Latitude. These Bluetooth in-ears don’t feel quite as durable and comfortable as the Sony WI-SP600N Wireless and they don’t have ANC or a companion app, but they have a better-balanced sound profile, and isolate background noise even better provided you achieve a proper seal. Their sound profile has a bit of extra thump but is versatile enough for most genres as the bass isn’t overpowering. Their in-line remote also offers a few EQ presets, so you can change their sound if you want more or less bass. Unfortunately, their battery only lasts 7.3 hours, which isn’t great, though it’s still longer than the Sony’s battery.
If you want more comfortable in-ears that have an ANC feature and you don’t mind spending a bit more, go with the Sony. However, if you want to save some money and don’t need ANC, the AUKEY is a decent choice that will still bring you some peace and quiet.
Mpow H10 Wireless
The best noise cancelling headphones under $50 are the Mpow H10. These wireless over-ears perform well for the price and are pretty feature-dense. They’re comfortable, with a well-padded headband and ear cups, and have an easy-to-use physical control scheme. They also provide 23 hours of playback on a single charge, which is very good and comparable to far more expensive headphones.
They have a pretty excited sound profile, with an overemphasized bass that isn’t overwhelming: fans of EDM will be pleased with their thump and kick, but it won’t alienate those who prefer something like country music or classic rock. Their ANC performance is impressive, especially when taking their price into consideration. They do a very good job of reducing lower-frequency noises like bus engines and construction equipment, which is traditionally a weak point for noise cancelling headphones at this price point.
Unfortunately, these headphones don’t feel especially premium, with a cheap plastic construction that produces some discomforting snapping noises when you fold their ear cups in, but that doesn’t seem to cause any damage. They also leak quite a bit of audio, which might be annoying in a quiet environment. If that doesn’t bother you, these headphones are a good choice thanks to their high price-to-performance ratio.