After several hours of research and in-depth study of fifteen models on the market, we have determined that the Sony WH-1000XM3 offers the best active noise reduction. It has impeccable sound quality, neat comfort and high autonomy.
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How did we choose?
The choice of a headset being essentially linked to the requirements of each, the main difficulty was to find which headphones would suit the greatest number.
To do this, we have focused our attention on the following points, which will allow you, according to your criteria, to define which model is right for you.
- The sound quality: the frequencies are divided into three classes (bass, mid and treble) and determine the quality of the rendering. A good balance between them and a good range of frequencies covered are essential to benefit from a better result and high listening comfort. Many models tend to offer too much bass, which is not suitable for musical styles requiring more finesse. If this criterion is really important for you, we advise you to go to our article on wired headsets .
- Noise reduction: there are two types of noise reduction: passive and active. The passive is linked to the material aspect of the headphones: the material of the ear cushions, their shape and their thickness are decisive. The active requires a more technological intervention: microphones pick up the sound around you and send an equivalent of this sound in negative frequency to your headphones to cancel it. It is the same principle as 1 + (- 1) = 0.
- Comfort and ergonomics: these criteria are very important because you will have to wear your helmet for several consecutive hours. Pay attention to the composition of the headband and headphones (pads, shape) and the type of helmet. There are two: over-ear headsets (which rest on the ear) and over-ear headsets (which include the ear). For noise control, favor the latter, which passively already offer much better sound insulation.
- Autonomy: the majority of noise reduction headsets use Bluetooth to operate. If you decide to favor this technology, be sure to choose a product with good endurance so that you do not have to take your charger everywhere with you. Wireless models often offer a wired alternative that makes them usable even if your reserves are depleted, but, in this case with passive noise reduction.
Based on these criteria, we were able to reduce our selection to around ten models.
Reading user reviews on both English and French sites, blogs, forums and pages specialized in the field, allowed us to determine the 6 best noise reduction headphones of the moment.
Please note that depending on your use of this type of product, some criteria may be more important than others. The products presented focus mainly on the balance of these factors.
Our Choice: Sony WH-1000XM3
This model has established itself thanks to its high sound quality, capable of satisfying the most purist of you, its great autonomy, and its excellent comfort. Most importantly, it offers the best noise reduction on the market.
The sound quality, if it was already very good on the first version of these headphones, here has become almost flawless. The only small downside is the overdose of the bass, which will delight some and put others off. But you can, of course, adjust the rendering via the dedicated application to adapt it to your needs.
The treble, which was the default of the first version, has become the strong point of the XM3. We can clearly see that Sony has worked the sound to the maximum. However, avoid using it with the wired off, the rendering will go from high quality to just fair, which would be a shame.
Noise reduction is high level. It even succeeds where many others have failed: the attenuation of human voices and the wind.
After calibrating the parameters according to the morphology and atmospheric conditions, you will benefit from a bubble of tranquility that even the wind cannot disturb. It also benefits from the “Ambient Aware” mode (lower volume of music and amplification of outside noise).
Other strong points of the XM3, its comfort and ergonomics are impeccable. The XM2 was already a benchmark in this area but the new iteration further improves the result with its wider and better padded pads and its reduced weight (255 g against 270). We even forget that it is on our head! The touch panel dedicated to reading control is very responsive and intuitive to use.
A voice command system from the XM2 is also available, but unfortunately only works in English. However, Google Assistant and Alexa are present to compensate.
In the end, all these advantages, combined with its great autonomy (up to 30 hours), make it a very good traveling companion … If your wallet allows it. It is also also present in our comparison on Bluetooth headsets .
The best cheap active noise canceling headphones : Anker SoundCore Space NC
With a high autonomy, this model has an excellent quality / price ratio. Ergonomics and comfort are present. It is perfect for a user who wants to test the effects of noise reduction at a lower cost.
The Sound core Space NC is one of the first headphones from the manufacturer. In view of the range targeted, it makes sense to expect mixed results … But this is not the case!
The noise reduction system can be passive or active, depending on your needs.
In passive, the rendering is balanced in the bass and mid range, where the treble tends to be set back. This reduces the specialization effects (reverberation, echoes, etc.) and gives an impression of compactness. Fortunately, effective stereo phony partially offsets the impact of this problem.
In active, this balance tends to deteriorate in favor of the bass but cohesion and quality are still in order.
Passive reduction is correct without being perfect and will avoid you using your battery in environments where noise is weak. For noisier situations, do not hesitate to use the active mode which, even if it is not perfect, will easily compensate for static noise (engine, rolling noise, etc.).
This lightweight helmet (263 g) is comfortable. Its memory foam pads include the ear well but can get hot, which can affect its use in summer.
Despite its standard plastic design, it is well assembled and looks robust. The only point to watch are the cables located at the forks, which are not protected by the helmet structure.
Access to the various controls is intuitive and classic, which allows neophytes to easily get used to it. The volume and playback are controlled via a dedicated touch interface. Unfortunately, it is not reactive enough and can be frustrating with use.
Its autonomy lasts more than 23 hours. With the supplied cable, it will remain usable even without a battery.
In the end, Anker offers us a model with a value for money more than interesting. Enduring and efficient, it is a good first step in the field of noise reduction.
Anker also offers the Soundcore Life Q20 version (even cheaper). It goes up to 38 hours of autonomy for an active reduction quite effective for its price!
The best mid-range active noise canceling headphones:
Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2
The sound quality of Back beat Pro was already recognized, that of the new iteration is just as much. No matter the frequency, you benefit from a high level rendering. Clean and homogeneous, it easily covers the entire spectrum, whether without or with active noise reduction.
The result generally tends to deteriorate when this technology is activated, but this is not the case here even if the bass is more powerful and the treble more present.
In terms of noise reduction, the application gives you access to active and passive modes, but also to a third mode allowing you to listen to external sounds. Overall, the result is mixed: the reduction is effective for the majority of noises but hardly succeeds in attenuating low-frequency noises.
From the point of view of ergonomics and comfort, if it benefits from soft and pleasant pads and a doubled hoop, its weight (294 g) makes wearing uncomfortable after a few hours and this, despite excellent support.
Another small detail, the larger ears may experience some discomfort because the atria tend to put pressure on the upper part.
The different controls are arranged on the side of the headphones and easily accessible. This model also has “Smart Sensors”, which detect whether you wear it or not and which act on the music accordingly.
This feature could have been very interesting if it worked fully but several users have noted “bugs” where the music cuts when you put on the headphones and activates when you take it off.
Its robust and durable design combined with its record autonomy (25 hours in active and more than 40 hours in passive) make it an ideal companion for your travels. In addition, if you manage to exhaust it, it can still be used by wire.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a headset whose audio quality is impeccable and with extraordinary endurance, this is the model for you! On the other hand, if you want to use it in a fairly noisy environment, consider spending a higher budget to orient yourself towards the high end.
A cheap alternative: TaoTronics TT-BH22
With such a small price, this model is stunning. The sound quality is correct, but will particularly satisfy bass lovers. If its active reduction is obviously not the best on the market, it is quite sufficient for use in a not too noisy environment (an office, for example), and its comfort allows you to keep it all day.
Audio level, obviously do not expect Bose or Sony, but the whole is still not bad. The bass is a little more present without being too pronounced. The mid range is a bit withdrawn. Treble such as cymbals or the higher notes of an acoustic guitar can be a bit disturbing if you are sensitive. However, once wired, the quality is better.
With the active reduction, the bass becomes a little more punchy which pleases or not according to the tastes. The treble becomes a little brighter. Everything remains well defined.
We do not recommend it to reduce ambient noise without music because a slight breath is heard. Fortunately, it is no longer audible after the music has started.
This reduction works well in an office but does not compete with a noisier place.
Comfort and ergonomics levels, we were surprised by the thick foam (a little less attractive in summer) below the adjustable headband and on the 90 ° swivel pads and properly wrapping the ear. This makes this helmet very comfortable and allows you to keep it all day at work, barely feeling it even when wearing glasses. Especially since it weighs only 214 g.
Its storage case is a little more in its favor: robust, it allows you to take your helmet everywhere without damaging it.
For autonomy, 25 hours are announced which seems to be verified in the field (depending on the volume of listening, of course). It’s more than some high-end models.
The TaoTronics TT-BH22 therefore holds many surprises. It obviously does not have the overall design of the larger ones but has a pleasant sound quality, and allows you to immerse yourself in your bubble rather effectively.
A mid-range alternative: JBL Live 650BTNC
If this model offers a sound quality worthy of high-end headphones, a good autonomy (with a very practical fast recharge) and excellent comfort, it fishes by a less sophisticated active noise reduction, which explains its place as an alternative.
From an audio point of view, no bad surprise. JBL has extensive experience in this area and the Live 650 is no exception to the rule with its advanced rendering. The bass is sufficiently present and the treble is very clear, which allows it to easily adapt to all musical styles.
By default, it is configured according to the “home” configuration, favoring the bass, but this can be adjusted through the application. It offers you various presets and the possibility of creating personalized profiles.
Where the shoe pinches is in noise reduction. Thus, if he manages to erase the muffled noises of an office, he will toil for the majority of the other sources. The only way to balance things out is to increase the volume in this case. A solution rather harmful for your ears … Delivered with an auxiliary cable, it can also be used in a completely passive way in case of battery failure.
The real strong point of this helmet comes from its comfort. It is light (260 g), its headband is well padded and its memory foam pads are pleasant. However, it remains poorly suited to big ears, like the majority of current headsets.
Easily transportable thanks to its foldable earphones, it can accompany you on your daily journeys. Its autonomy is correct (20 hours in active reduction, 30 hours in passive) and it has access to a rapid recharging system which guarantees it 2 hours of use for 15 min of recharging in case you fall on the reserve.
JBL was already well known in the field of portable audio, whether through its bluetooth speakers (which we were talking about here ) or its headsets (including those specifically dedicated to children ). It is therefore logical that the brand decides to ride the wave of noise reduction models.
In short, this model is a very good mid-range alternative. It only tilts because of its reduced autonomy, its insufficient maintenance and its perfectible active reduction.
A high-end alternative: Bose QuietComfort 35 II
This model is ideal for users looking for a real noise reduction solution. Robust, compact and discreet, it is an ideal model to take everywhere, and its multilingual voice commands are a plus distinguishing it from the competition.
It offers a neat and overall balanced audio rendering, even if we deplore the bass that is far too present but not punchy enough. The mobile application available, however, allows you to adapt the rendering according to your wishes.
Noise reduction, on the contrary, is a benchmark. It will effectively compensate for any extraneous noise so that you can have an ideal experience.
From a comfort and ergonomics point of view, there is nothing to report, except for the pads which tend to heat the ears. It is practical in winter but much less in summer! It is heavier than its competitor from Sony (285 g), but still has first-rate comfort thanks to a well-adapted roll cage.
Its design, on the other hand, is not at all frightening. It is fairly generic and the body is plastic, which offers a much less premium rendering than what one would expect from a helmet at this price. In return, this model is robust and compact, which makes it easily transportable.
Its autonomy of more than 20 hours is sufficient for mobile use, although inferior to many current models.
Another important element, this helmet is not easily repairable. The battery is irremovable (and therefore irreplaceable) and the cable dedicated to wired has a proprietary format requiring to go through the brand to change it. Despite these few shortcomings, there is not less than an excellent headset, particularly in terms of noise reduction.
Jabra Elite 85H : here is the king of autonomy. With its endurance of 36 hours, it is far ahead of other models. Its sound rendering is of good level even if it sometimes lacks precision. Comfortable, it will suit users who do not have too large heads. Another specification, it is IP52 certified (resistance to splashes and dust). It is its audio quality and its ergonomics inferior to the models of our selection which pushed us to dismiss it.
AKG N60NC : renowned among professionals, AKG presents us with a general public helmet. In its chic design, it contains good sound quality, even if the treble deserves more attention. Its noise reduction is quite effective and will fill you in most situations, but it tends to be uncomfortable after a few hours because it puts pressure on the ears. Its autonomy is also limited to 15 hours in bluetooth.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 : high-end model from mid-2019, it is intended for less nomadic use than those of our selection. But this sacrifice is not in vain because it is done for the benefit of sound quality and noise reduction. In addition, if you are used to making calls with your bluetooth headset, this model is made for you because it has one of the best microphones at present.