Best noise canceling headphones?

Does anyone have recommendations for noise canceling over-ear headphones for traveling? I’m not quite a minimalist, but I do believe in “fewer, nicer things,” so I want something that will last. I’m considering the famous $300 Bose headphones, but after consulting with The Wirecutter it seems like I might be perfectly happy with a budget pick.

These are mostly to for plane travel. I get weirdly distraught by airplane noise on long haul flights.

Thanks! Also, this is my first post! :smile:

I have the Bose and they really are wonderful, I’d recommend them in a heartbeat. They are light and the sound quality is very good but most importantly, they are extremely comfortable to wear even for long periods of time.

Get the QC25, you won’t regret the 300$.


I have a pair of Sennheiser headphones. They are good but they don’t cut 100% of noise. Still good enough for most purposes and I am very sensitive to noise.

I’m considering getting a pair of bud ones as well because the over ear ones aren’t good for sleeping on planes.

Thanks for the insight, Kathryn! What don’t you like about sleeping on planes with over-ear headphones? Personally I’m not a big fan of sleeping on planes with in-ear headphones, but that might be because I always have to turn them up too much on a plane to hear anything. :smile:

I guess it depends on your sleeping style. I have to have my head sideways to sleep but then the headphones are in the way! They are a bit of bulky style so maybe something flatter would work better.

Same here. I also have the Bose QuietSound 25 and love it.
I was impressed after testing it out from a friend, and bought it directly. Maybe more as a impusle buy, but never regretted it.
During my first flight with it (Madrid > Quito, Ecuador) I used it and never had a better flight beside the lack of personal video screens. I even got to sleep in the plane with is so not me… I thought.

The only downside is the need of a AAA battery. Luckly the headphone still works without it, the old Bose set dod not have that option. Love to have a version you can recharge via USB.

When boarding at AMS for my flight, I saw them for €30 less then in the regular shops.

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I’ve got the Bose ones you mentioned and the unexpected benefits have been huge.
The quality is 100% and the fact that I can seemingly switch the world off at any point is just great for focus, or sleep in noisy places, or when travelling. Especially good against boats, trains and planes.
Quick to charge ( less than 2 hours I believe). I barely seem to charge them and they’re fine. Only negative side is the world seems so noisy without them!!
In ear ones by the way!

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Thank you for the insight, everyone! After these comments and a few ringing endorsements from Twitter and friends, I went for the Bose! Excited to try them out on an upcoming 16-hour Chicago-Hong Kong flight. I was feeling desperate to find headphones that will make the flight more comfortable, but I’ll also use them on lots of future flights of course!

What about noise canceling intra-auricular earbuds ?

I got a set of AudioTechnica ATH-ANC33I and I love them. They’re easy to travel with, cut out tons of background noise.

I also have a pair of Noise Hush over the ear headphones, but they made my head hot and were a pain to haul around… I find all over the ear headphones uncomfortable, so the only pair I use are the AT’s.

The AT’s do a good job with low frequency sounds (airplane engines, fans, etc.). The over the ear kind definitely do better with higher frequencies (people talking). Comfy and easy to travel with, built in mic too, although not as good as the mic on my Apple Ear Buds.

If I lost the AT’s, I’d instantly replace them with the exact same thing…

I got a package in the mail today from Bose. WHAT MAGIC POWERS THESE HEADPHONES?

They’re not over ear headphones, but I recently picked up a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort 20i noise canceling ear buds and I love them. They block a lot of sound and they’re super compact for traveling.

Note that these are for use with Apple devices. Bose also make the QC 20 model for use with non-Apple devices.

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1 AAA battery

(And a post must me at least 20 characters, so I give you this sentence for free)

Totally agree with you on that one. The Bose QC 20i Acoustic Noise cancelling headphones are the best especially for a tour guy like me. Absolutely thrilled with quality of sound and I guess these are best ones out there when you consider noise cancelling headphones. Planning on getting the new QC25 next. Do you have any idea as to how that is? I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

Do not get JVC - these both broke and bad noise cancelations.

Not an active noise canceling believer — don’t think it is any good; however, if you love one, go for Bose.

For a really good portable, closed, foldable “lifestyle” headphone I’d only recommend two: Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 — classy looks, for acoustic, classical, jazz, old-rock music lovers, OR V-MODA Crossfade M-100 (DJ-style lifestyle headphone, very durable and customisable, for bass lovers). Both are freaking amazing.

Don’t recommend Bluetooth headphones: sound quality is still not there, iOS does not support AptX at this point, battery level is always an extra issue that you don’t want to have, price is crazy compared to their wired “base” models.

I carry the ridiculously heavy, uncomfortable 3m Tec construction earmuffs. There are better ones for aviation workers. These things work! I can cancel dorm snoring, dog barking, plane noise, traffic. Paired with earbuds inside playing white noise or whatever I’m bullet proof.

I’m replacing my Bose QC25 with Sony MDR-1000x that I just got. The sound quality is fantastic, and so is the noice-cancelling. They’re wireless (bluetooth w/ aptX). The rechargeable battery life is great (20+ hours). They also have nifty touch controls on the right speaker. So far I’m loving them! It’s very freeing to not be tethered to a cable without sacrificing sound quality! Also, I much prefer having a rechargeable set versus having to carry extra batteries.

I also compared them with the Bose QC35, but I find the sound quality is much better on the Sony’s (especially when wired), and so are the extra features. Plus, the Sony’s are regularly on sale for the same price as the Bose.

I have both and I always find myself wanting the Bose first. They are by far my favorites.

I’d second the Bose QC25’s - they’re perfect for flights, noisy cafes, etc. The one thing I would warn about is the ear pads will disintegrate in hot/humid locations. My pair looked new after a year of use, but after two months on Koh Phangan the black finish wore off and fabric came unglued by the third month. I was told that was the case for almost any over-the-ear headphones there. You could purchase a couple extra sets on Amazon for something like $7 each. This is mostly esthetic and didn’t affect the functionality.