Sony WH-1000XM4 – Noise Canceling Overhead Headphones
These headphones stand out for their superb — and improved — active noise cancelation (ANC) performance that does an even better job of blocking out background noise. They sound great, and there’s an excellent equalizer in Sony’s Connect app to tailor the experience. Improved call quality and the ability to simultaneously pair with two devices, plus solid battery life, rounds out an elite package.
Canceling the noise:
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 – Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
Bose engineered the NCH 700 to deliver one of the best ANC performances for any pair of headphones, including 11 steps of customization. With excellent sound quality that provides great balance to please most listeners, plus a comfortable fit, despite their larger size, that also offers effective passive noise isolation. Battery life is okay, though fast charging helps get back up and running again.
Sennhesier Momentum Wireless 3
Sennheiser’s pedigree in sound quality is renowned, and it shows with the Momentum 3 Wireless, which can play with excellent sound signatures that get even better with the EQ in the app. The onboard ANC is pretty good, if not as effective as Sony and Bose, but the real benefit here is the smooth sound they pump out. Battery life isn’t great at up to 17 hours, though.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 – Over Ear Wireless Bluetooth Headphone
When it comes to quality and sophistication, Bowers & Wilkins’ PX7 checks off both boxes. They’re not quite as elegant as other pairs the company has, but they make up for that with outstanding audio fidelity and consistent performance that counts. Battery life is solid, and these are the first to support the aptX Adaptive codec. They also come with a hard case that doesn’t look like a handbag.
Shure Aonic 50 – Wireless Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones
Big and soft all at once, Shure put 50mm drivers inside the cans, which is one good reason for the extra heft. They cover the ears well, albeit with a headband that might need shifting along the way. The key is the sound, which is bold, with plenty of bass and no lag when you need it for movies and gaming. ANC isn’t too bad, either. Battery life is a modest 20 hours per charge,
B&O Beoplay HX
Bang & Olufsen has earned its reputation as one of the best in the industry for producing quality sound on Bluetooth headphones, and the Beoplay HX keep that going. In addition, the HX come with several features worth considering, including multiple levels of noise-canceling, dual device pairing, and the ability to selectively filter in background sounds with a quick swipe gesture.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Open Studio Headphones
Going the wired route won’t sound bad at all once you place these over your ears. There is some modularity involved with two sets of earpads that can change the sound profile, but the gist is that you get a marvelous pair of cans you can keep on wearing for years to come. With a clear focus on audio fidelity and clarity, there’s still plenty of thump to hear through them with every track you listen to.
- $600 at Amazon
- $600 at Newegg
Still going strong:
Bose QuietComfort 35 II – Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones
Compared to the AirPods Max, these headphones look like an absolute bargain. And they’re still popular, which is why Bose continues to manufacture them. The claim to fame was always the ANC performance, but they also sound really good and feel comfortable to wear for longer sessions. The 20-hour battery life isn’t remarkable, but it’s no different than Bose’s NCH 700.
Anker Soundcore Life Q30 – Noise Cancelling Headphones
It’s always great to see an upstart upstage bigger and pricier competitors, and Anker does that with these impressive headphones. While they may not match the pure quality of others on the list, they sound better than their price says. Plus, you get excellent customization support through the Soundcore app and some of the best battery life you could ever hope for.
$80 at Amazon