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88+ Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

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For everyone who travels a lot or feels disturbed by colleagues’ conversations while working, headphones with active noise cancellation are a real blessing. Because the electronic noise suppression works amazingly well in many environments. This allows you to concentrate better at work or to enjoy music on the train or on the plane without having to turn it up to the max.

Noise-canceling headphones are available as headband headphones as well as in-ears. We’ll deal with them in a separate test. Compared to in-ears, headphone headphones with noise canceling have the advantage that their earphones suppress external noise by themselves and the noise suppression works even better. The sound quality is also better with large headphones than with in-ears. On the other hand, they are also significantly larger and bulky and not so easy to transport.

Also Read: 75+ Best bluetooth headphones for working out

We tested a total of 48 over-ear headphones with noise canceling, 38 of which are currently still available. Here are our recommendations in the brief overview.

Brief overview: Our recommendations

Test winner

Sony WH-1000X M4

Test headphones with noise canceling: Sony WH-1000X M4

Very good sound and excellent noise cancellation.

With the Sony WH-1000X M4 , our current favorite is entering the fourth evolutionary round . Outwardly, the noise-canceling headphones are similar to their predecessor WH-1000X M3 , and they hardly differ in terms of sound. However, it has got some new sensors and has become even more intelligent in conjunction with the associated app. The great sound and the efficient noise canceling are on the same high level.

also good

Bose NC 700

Test headphones with noise canceling: Bose 700

With excellent noise canceling and very good sound.

The Bose NC 700 is not a continuation of the successful QuietComfort series, but rather a completely newly developed noise-canceling headphone. Nevertheless, he has taken over the most important genes, such as the excellent noise canceling. The operating concept, the sound and, last but not least, the manufacturing quality have been revised – with success, because with the NC 700, Bose has again achieved a great success. However, it also has its price.

When money doesn’t matter

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H95

Headphones with noise canceling test: H95 Black Hero

With the BeoPlay H95, the Danish manufacturer has created a real design icon that is also convincing in terms of technology and sound.

With the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95 , the Danes have developed very special noise-canceling headphones. Design and operating concept are unique, workmanship and materials are of the best quality and the sound leaves nothing to be desired. The downside, however, is the price – the H95 is not cheap, but it also delivers the equivalent value.

Best sound

Philips Fidelio L3

Test noise canceling headphones: Philips Fidelio L3

The Fidelio L3 from Philips sounds great and is superbly processed.

Even if the Philips Fidelio L3 weighs a lot at 366 grams, it is pretty comfortable over the ears. This is due to the soft, generously shaped ear pads. In general, the Fidelio can boast a processing for which other manufacturers quickly call for double the price. Operation is via touch field and buttons, but the free Philips headphones app is recommended for more individual settings, including the ANC. The learns during use and can adapt the noise canceling and the so-called awareness to the respective situation.

Also read: The Best Kids’ Headphones for Year

Price-performance tip

Sennheiser HD 450BT

Test headphones with noise canceling: Sennheiser HD 450BT

The HD 450BT sounds very good and is compatible with the Sennheiser app. Its noise canceling is also solid.

The Sennheiser HD-450BT leaves a significantly cheaper impression than the PXC 550 II , but costs only half as much. Of course, you can’t expect miracles for this, but in the case of the HD-450BT, you can expect good sound and adequate noise canceling. The handset can also be operated with the Sennheiser Smart Connect app.

How does electronic noise canceling work?

Headphones with noise canceling (NC), i.e. active noise cancellation, work by recording ambient noise with a microphone and playing them out of phase through the speakers. This simply extinguishes the disturbing sound waves. The result is wonderful silence even in noisy surroundings – a blessing, especially when you’re on the plane or train.

In our experience, noise-canceling technology is not only divided into chaff and wheat, but also into, let’s call it sand, to stick with agricultural terms: The wheat is clearly what Sony, Bose and Sennheiser listeners to. In-house developments are largely used here, and they are expensive. The other manufacturers use what the market has to offer, and there are also significant differences in price and, above all, quality.

Most work with Bluetooth, cables are out

Headphones with noise canceling now mostly work with Bluetooth transmission. When the battery is empty, most of them still have an emergency operation via cable. Then the active noise cancellation does not work, but you can at least hear something.

We have described the strengths and weaknesses of noise canceling for each listener in a differentiated manner, so that you are always clear as to whether and how many compromises you have to accept in terms of external noise suppression.

Nevertheless, you want to hear the announcements on the train or be able to briefly communicate with the person sitting next to you. Our new favorite has a particularly practical function up its sleeve for precisely this purpose.

Compared to the in-ear models , headband headphones with circumaural capsules have a decisive advantage: they seal the ears well against outside noise by their construction. In addition, the larger capsules offer many more options to accommodate the battery and electronics. You don’t need the additional box that is necessary for in-ear headphones with noise canceling.

 Headphones with noise canceling test: Sony Wh1000xm4

Test winner: Sony WH-1000X M4

With the WH-1000X M4 , Sony is now sitting on the throne in this category with the fourth generation of the long-running hit. It all started with the MDR-1000X , which also represents the technical basis for the WH-1000X M4. The WH-1000X M4 has learned even more smart functions and can be customized even more than the WH-1000X M3 .

Test winner

Sony WH-1000X M4

Test headphones with noise canceling: Sony WH-1000X M4

Very good sound and excellent noise cancellation.

Except for a few details, the outward appearance of the new WH-1000X M4 is similar to its predecessor WH-1000X M3 . One of them is the NFC logo on the left capsule. This is no longer imprinted, but embossed almost invisibly. Nevertheless, pairing is still fast, and even faster with NFC.

Inside the left capsule there is now a new sensor that detects whether the headphones are on the ears or have been removed. In the second case, the noise-canceling headphones switch to energy-saving standby mode and then switch on again when they are put on.

The differences in the control buttons are just as subtle. The former NC / Ambient button has now become the Custom button. It can be used to switch between noise canceling, talkthrough and normal by default. These and almost all other control buttons can also be individually adjusted in the Sony Headphones app.

Speaking of customization: you can now take pictures of your ear cups with your smartphone so that the Sony can adapt acoustically to the shape of your ear. However, the effect depends on how far the shape of your auricle deviates from the norm. However, the so-called 360 Reality Sound benefits particularly from this individualization, since the shape and texture of the auricle are decisive for the spatial impression.

The wearing comfort is still excellent thanks to the adaptable, soft padding. The ears are well enclosed, but not “locked in”, so that the Sony ensures first-class, comfortable music enjoyment even on long journeys.

 Headphones with noise canceling test: Sony Wh1000xm4 sensor
The Sony WH-1000 XM4 now has a sensor in the left ear capsule that registers when the receiver is picked up or put on. The handset is switched off when it is picked up to save energy.

The connection to the smartphone and the activation of noise canceling or ambient sound are controlled via buttons on the left earpiece of the WH-1000X M4 . The right capsule is also a touch control surface: with swiping gestures from top to bottom and vice versa you can regulate the volume, from front to back or vice versa, you can skip songs, double tapping stops or starts the music.

Sony’s new listener has many smart features

The WH-1000X M4 also has the talk-through function, which Sony calls “Quick Attention Mode” : If you place the palm of your hand on the capsule, the music is turned down and ambient noise is amplified. So you can hear the outside world, which was previously well sealed off, which is not only very practical for announcements, but also when you are spoken to. If you remove the palm of the hand from the right capsule, the outside world fades out again and the music fades in.

The speak-to-chat mode has been added. If this is activated, you can just start talking and the headphones let outside noise through, primarily the voices of the other person, so they no longer have to be picked up. This may seem a bit strange at first, especially with the other person, but it is very comfortable in the long run.

 Headphones with noise canceling test: Sony Wh1000xm4 complete
As usual, in addition to the USB-C charging cable, an audio cable, which is used when the battery is empty, and a travel adapter are included.

The battery capacity and energy management have remained unchanged apart from the aforementioned automatic shutdown. In continuous operation with Bluetooth and activated noise canceling, the WH-1000X M4 also lasts for 30 hours. If the receiver is picked up in between, this extends the service life even further. This means you can travel around the world in the best soundproofed plane – what more could you want?

 Headphones with noise canceling test: Sony Wh1000xm4sw
The WH-1000 XM4 is of course also available in black.

If the battery runs out of power when you’re out and about, Bluetooth and noise canceling are over, but there’s still music on your ears. All you have to do is unpack the included connection cable, which is ideally housed in the secure hard case together with the travel adapter and the USB-C charging cable.

Together with the folded headphones, everything can be stored in the relatively small case, which has a cover made of hard-wearing fabric instead of smooth synthetic leather – Sony has also made this a travel-friendly solution.

You only have to do without an inline microphone and control buttons. As a hands-free system, the WH-1000X M4 does not work in cable mode, but you do not have to rely on the original cable – if you did not pack this before the trip, any commercially available audio cable with 3.5 mm jack plugs will do the same. The same also applies to the USB-C charging cable.

Intelligent noise canceling

The active suppression of possible, disruptive outside noises, i.e. the so-called Active Noise Canceling, is no longer rocket science. The differences are more in the details and in how intelligently the electronics in the headphones can differentiate between undesired ambient noise and necessary communication.

The WH-1000X M4 is currently even more differentiated than its predecessor – and better than the competition anyway. Sony has increased this again and given the current M4 slightly more refined noise-canceling capabilities.

The WH-1000X M4 also allows you to measure the individual acoustics under the cushions and in the auricles. With a series of test tones, the noise canceling is adapted to the acoustic conditions under the ear cushions and it becomes even quieter.

 Headphones with noise canceling test: Sony Wh1000xm4 imcase
When folded, the WH-1000 XM4 fits into the small travel case, the adapters and cables also fit in.

Otherwise, little has changed in terms of adaptive noise canceling: Thanks to the evaluation of the built-in microphones, GPS receivers and motion detectors, the WH-1000X M4 can fairly accurately identify the general conditions in which one is currently and adjust the noise canceling accordingly. Fine-tuning via the app is of course always possible.

If desired, external noises can be faded in in a very differentiated manner

This means that outside noises are not completely suppressed in traffic, but on the train or in a noisy open-plan office they are. Announcements on the plane or train or supposedly direct speeches in the office are passed through.

A sound difference between active and inactive noise canceling is also not audible with the  WH-1000X M4 . When transmitting music via cable, it plays a little more openly and freely. Nothing audible changes in the depth and width of the stage image.

Honest, voluminous sound

Sony means business, although the WH-1000X M4 no longer supports aptX codec for Bluetooth transmission, it automatically activates the LDAC codec when pairing, provided the smartphone is compatible with it. Compared to aptX, LDAC allows an even higher data rate and thus goes far beyond the CD quality of the aptX codec.

In addition, the Sony now supports the so-called 360 Reality Sound, which some steaming services now offer for a few selected pieces. This is a kind of virtual surround sound for headphones, but it has not yet been widely used.

The sound of the WH-1000X M4 has changed only slightly, if at all, from its predecessor. It delivers a phenomenal bandwidth over the entire audible frequency range and a finely differentiated mid-range that seamlessly connects to the present fundamental tone, which gives the music a pleasant touch of warmth. The direct comparison with the Sennheiser PXC 550 gives it a bit more resolution.

A solid bass foundation with perfect timing is rightly expected from closed headphones, and that is exactly what the Sony offers. Voices are finely nuanced and always have the right timbre and the crisp bass ensures a real fun factor.

If you want even better, real audiophile music enjoyment, you have to do without noise canceling and should take a look at our recommendations for the best hi-fi headphones .


Unfortunately, the Sony does not support the aptX codec for low-loss Bluetooth transmission. LDAC is still supported, but not all smartphones understand it. Some users will probably perceive the overfeaturing of the new Sony as a further weakness of the WH-1000X M4. Some users just want to put on the headphones, set the noise canceling as required and just listen to music.

If you are irritated by the functionality of the WH-1000X M4 , you can choose one of the predecessors, provided they are still available at an acceptable price, or ask around our alternatives.

Sony WH-1000X M4 in the test mirror

On HiFi .com reaches Sony WH-1000X M4 an excellent note with 9 out of 10 possible points. For active noise canceling, the listener even manages to get the full number of points:

»With the WH-1000XM4, Sony has succeeded in making good things even better. In particular, the very extensive app with unique functions such as location recognition and automatic calibration shows the technological lead of the global corporation.
In addition, the handset is extremely comfortable even when used for a long time and still holds firmly on the head. The ANC is one of the best on the market, and in terms of sound, the listener hardly shows any real weaknesses , especially in connection with the automatic calibration , even if he cannot quite catch up with the reference class in terms of detail and spatiality. “

In August 2020 appeared on the test portal headphones .com a test that gives the listener 4.25 of 5.0 possible points already. One of the few points of criticism is the lack of support for the aptX codec:

»With the WH-1000XM4, Sony can probably pin the title on its vest, producing the headphones that can be configured most comprehensively. Most of the functions relate to noise canceling and interaction with the environment. Nevertheless, the jump to the predecessor is rather small. … -… The WH-1000XM4 is currently in competition with its predecessor, which is much cheaper to sell. Anyone who already owns this has no great incentive to switch. “

Of CHIP is WH-1000X M4 as “The best noise canceling headphones 2020” dubs and the note “receives very good,” and 1.0:

»Great sound, excellent noise canceling, high wearing comfort: Sony’s new ANC headphone WH-1000XM4 convinced us in the test with a great performance. Compared to its predecessor, Sony has improved the sound a bit and added some practical new features. The noise canceling is a little more effective than the already very strong predecessor, and the battery life is also on a very good level. For a high introductory price of 380 euros , Sony leaves little to be desired. At most, some hi-fi fans might miss the aptX audio codec on the feature list. “

At Computer Bild , the Sony achieved a “good” grade of 1.8 in August 2020, which is interestingly a tenth of a grade behind its predecessor:

» Even the predecessors convinced frequent travelers with great sound and effective noise canceling. The new Sony WH-1000XM4 ties in seamlessly with this. The added possibilities in interaction with the app are practical, 360 Reality Audio is fascinating – unfortunately only so far limited to very few titles on Deezer and Tidal. »

CT (10/2020) does not award a final grade, but is impressed:

»Comfortable to wear, great sound, effective noise suppression – the WH-1000XM4 is a feast for the ears. With the added functions, it has become even more effective for everyday work. “

Audiovision (10/2020) awards the rating “very good”:

»The WH-1000XM4 brings music authentically, warmly and very precisely to the ear. Speech intelligibility, for example when listening to podcasts, is always excellent. In terms of dynamics, the XM4 was convincing across the board, with “Mad Max – Fury Road” engines roared voluminously and rock hymns like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” resounded almost brutally to the ears. If you activate “360 Reality Audio”, you actually get more volume and a more spatial placement of the sound effects around and above your head – it’s a shame that this sound advantage does not work with all sources and at no additional cost. “

Stiftung Warentest (03/2021) gave the final grade 2.0 (»good«). Above all, the active noise suppression, the high level of comfort and the low pollutant content are praised.


If you are looking for wireless headphones with good noise canceling, you will not get away cheaply. But if you are willing to cut back on noise canceling, you can save a lot of money. However, the combination of efficient noise canceling in connection with very good sound properties has its price, even with manufacturers that are neither Sony nor Bose.

Also good: Bose NC 700

With the Bose NC 700  , the Americans have thrown completely new headphones with active noise canceling into the ring after a long period of abstinence. It was about time, because in the meantime Sony was able to expand its lead in development almost undisturbed. The NC 700 now also works with adaptable noise canceling, and the sound characteristics have also been adapted: Bose is back, but the new one currently costs a good 100 euros more than the competitor from Sony.

also good

Bose NC 700

Test headphones with noise canceling: Bose 700

With excellent noise canceling and very good sound.

The NC 700 is obviously supposed to open a new chapter, because apart from the name nothing else reminds of the successful QuietComfort series. So we have a completely new development on our ears. Brackets and capsules now look more expensive and better processed, and the developers have come up with something special for the connection between them: There is no longer a hinge, the capsules are practically clamped to the bracket. The undoubtedly existing cable connection between the two capsules is completely invisible and well protected, but the capsules can be moved on the bracket and rotated 180 degrees for individual adjustment.

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Headphones with noise canceling test: Bose buttons
The control buttons are barely bulky, and there is no longer a slide switch.
Headphones with noise canceling test: Bose Buegel
The capsules are attached to the bracket with a clamp fit, there are almost no wearing parts.
Headphones with noise canceling test: Bose case
The hard case is very slim, the headphones fit perfectly, and a compartment is integrated for accessories.
Headphones with noise canceling test: Bose accessories
A charging cable with a Type-C connector and a proprietary audio cable with a 2.5mm jack plug are included.

The NC 700 can also be completely accommodated in the supplied hard case, which is even slimmer than the QuietComfort. Charging is now carried out via the USB Type-C interface. It has no fixed direction of insertion and saves a lot of fiddling, and the Bose charges faster with the appropriate power supply unit. The charging cable and the obligatory audio cable for emergencies are included with the Bose and can also be found in the case under a flap.

When the Bose NC 700 is switched on, there are no doubts: the headphones play an intro that would do justice to any Hollywood blockbuster. In addition, a friendly voice repeatedly advised that the Bose Music app should be installed, which I did not do for the time being, so the nice lady continued to speak to me in English.

To anticipate: the NC 700works perfectly even without an app. The advantage is that, in addition to the language selection, the noise canceling can also be graded more finely than without. Without an app, three coarser levels of noise canceling can be selected at the push of a button, namely zero (or off) 5 (about half the force) and 10 (then it gets really quiet). If you then hear an announcement, a long press on the noise canceling button stops the music and temporarily switches off the noise canceling. With another long press on the button, the Bose returns to the previous operating state. In addition to the button for noise canceling on the left capsule, there is only one on the right side for switching on and off including Bluetooth coupling, as well as one for the various voice assistants such as the Google Assistant or Siri.

Intelligent volume control

Bose did a particularly clever job of setting the volume: Here I just stroke the handle on the right-hand capsule and it gets louder or quieter. This offers a lot more operational safety than the sometimes somewhat undefined stroking around the entire outer surface of the capsule, as the others do.

After installing the app, a few things change: First of all, you have to register, by name and with an email address. This is reminiscent of Bose’s multiroom solution and there are again considerable doubts about the usefulness of some corporations’ passion for collecting. The only possible background: After installing the app and connecting to the headphones, our test sample was first updated, but this could also be solved anonymously.

As I said, I can choose the system language in the app so that I am supported in operating it in my native language. I can also set the noise canceling in fine steps from 0 to 10.

The NC 700 has also improved its sound . There is not much left of the rather pleasing to unspectacular sound of the QuietComfort series. A slight American tendency in the form of a slight increase can be heard in the bass, but the mid-high range does not suffer from it – it comes with a much more concise and finer resolution than was the case with the QC 35 II. The difference to the direct competition from Sony is now much smaller and falls into the category of “question of taste”. In a direct comparison, the Bose NC700 is a bit more sonorous in the fundamental range, while the WH-1000X M4 provides a touch more fine detail in the middle and high registers – as I said: purely a matter of taste and only noticeable in a direct AB comparison.

When money doesn’t matter: Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H95

Bang & Olufsen is a long way from packing standardized technology into a beautifully designed dress. Not only with the BeoPlay H95 is the know-how of its own development department very easy to see. This doesn’t make the H95 any less beautiful, it can also be operated intuitively and sounds extremely good.

When money doesn’t matter

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H95

Headphones with noise canceling test: H95 Black Hero

With the BeoPlay H95, the Danish manufacturer has created a real design icon that is also convincing in terms of technology and sound.

Obviously, it is important to the Danes to only use high-quality materials, and then to use them with the best workmanship. The plastic content of the BeoPlay H95 is quite low, the frame construction and the capsules are mostly made of metal. The ear cushions are made of the finest, soft synthetic leather and distribute the comparatively high weight so perfectly that the listener is not a nuisance even when worn for a long time.

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Headphones with noise canceling test: Beoplay H95
The BeoPlay H95 combines great design and smart operation.
Headphones with noise canceling test: Beoplay H95 buttons
In addition to the usual controls, there is a ring on each capsule, on the right is the volume, on the left the intensity and balance between ANC and the talkthrough.
Headphones with noise canceling test: Beoplay H95 complete
In addition to the charging and audio cables, the scope of delivery includes a travel adapter and a nice hard case in which everything can be accommodated.

The right capsule is designed as a touch surface for the usual settings such as skipping, start and stop. A rotary actuator is also integrated in each capsule; the volume is set on the right, the intensity and balance between noise canceling and talk-through on the left. When noise canceling is activated, the sound is not influenced, at least not audibly. The noise canceling works very well, even if not as independent and smart as with Sony or Bose.

These settings can also be made in the Bang & Olufsen app. In addition, you can select one of the five stored listening modes or use the extraordinary equalizer to create your own taste. Of course, firmware updates for the headphones are also implemented via the app, which the H95 demonstrated during the test phase.

The sound is not affected by the noise canceling, and that’s a good thing, because the BeoPlay sounds very open and airy. The slight tendency towards loudness is certainly deliberate and gives the listener a pleasant volume in the lows and corresponding fine definition in the highs, even at low volume.

We heard the BeoPlay H95 in the balanced listening mode “Clear”. The fact that he works rather discreetly in the other listening modes also speaks in favor of the settings, for experiments with the sound settings the individual setting remains.

The BeoPlay H95 is one of the most expensive Bluetooth headphones with active noise canceling, but it also looks great. Design, processing quality, even the app and of course the sound go together perfectly.

Best sound experience: Philips Fidelio L3

According to the certificate, the upholstery of the Philips Fidelio L3 is made of leather, regionally in Scotland and in a CO2-neutral production method. They are soft in any case, and they distribute the weight, which is quite decent at 366 grams, very well. The weight mainly results from the above-average use of metal in the bracket and the suspension of the capsules.

Best sound

Philips Fidelio L3

Test noise canceling headphones: Philips Fidelio L3

The Fidelio L3 from Philips sounds great and is superbly processed.

The Fidelio L3 is not only superbly made, it is also equipped appropriately: A charging cable in USB-C form factor, an audio cable and a travel adapter are of course included in the scope of delivery. The whole thing is housed in a beautiful, solid hard case, in which there is also space for the headphones themselves, although they cannot be folded up very small. Obviously, too many joints have been omitted in favor of better stability. The receiver can also be packed in a fine cloth bag before it is put into the case.

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Noise Canceling Headphone Test: Philips Fidelio L3
The Philips Fidelio L3 is a well thought out masterpiece.
Noise canceling headphones test: Philips Fidelio L3 controls
The workmanship is very high-quality, the operation via the few buttons is not a mystery, many settings are made via the app anyway.
Noise Canceling Headphone Test: Philips Fidelio L3 Sensor
The sensor in the right capsule detects whether the receiver is on or not. If it is removed, the handset switches itself off automatically.
Noise Canceling Headphone Test: Philips Fidelio L3 Complete
The scope of delivery is large, in addition to the storage case, there is also a cloth sweater so that the good piece is even better protected.

The capsules of the Fidelio L3 completely enclose even larger ears, so that they not only sit comfortably, the active noise canceling also has easier play due to the good seal to the outside.

It is operated in the classic way using buttons and the touch surface of the right capsule. Accordingly, the on / off button is located on the left capsule, which is also used to initiate the pairing process. In addition, the charging socket is in USB-C design, the matching cable is included in the scope of delivery. The right capsule has two buttons, one to switch between the ANC modes and the second to activate the voice assistant. Either the Google Assistant or Siri are supported depending on the connected smartphone. The touch surface on the right button also reacts as usual: to adjust the volume and zap through the playlist, swipe horizontally or vertically, to pause and start the music, a light tap with your finger on the center of the surface is sufficient .

The Philips headphones app thinks for you

In the main menu of the Philips headphones app, there are a total of three modes for setting the noise canceling and for the awareness mode (ambient noise). A slider can be used to set the degree to which outside noise is let through or blocked out. The button for voice enhancement lets voices through, which is particularly interesting for announcements in the train or at the airport. Similar to the Sony, the Philips can also analyze the surrounding situation, “learns” from it and adjusts ANC and awareness accordingly.

The instructions integrated in the app and the option to update the headphones’ firmware are actually standard. In addition, the touchpad and the carrying sensor can be switched on and off if desired. When switched off, nothing changes when you touch the touchpad, so you can avoid incorrect conditions. The wearing sensor in the right earpiece detects whether the headphones are on or not and switches them off automatically when necessary to save power.

Last but not least, the app provides four default settings for the sound of the Fidelio L3 , in the fifth you can set the equalizer to your own taste.

In terms of sound, the Fidelio L3 is closely related to the openly constructed Fidelio X3 hi-fi headphones, which we also testedto have. The sound experience is then also corresponding; the Fidelio delivers a balanced sound image with an almost spectacular spatial imaging ability. The basses are tight and crisp so that they don’t get out of control even with violent deep bass attacks, the midrange resolves very finely, which in my opinion contributes to the said, great spatial sound image. The highs also resolve very well without the uncomfortable hissing of S sounds. A slight hissing noise can only be heard when noise canceling is active, but only during the breaks in music. The transmission takes place with a compatible smartphone with a high-quality AptX codec, the range is high enough even with the required data rate that there are neither breaks nor interruptions in our test environment.

In terms of sound and workmanship, the Fidelio L3 is certainly a lot ahead of our current favorites, and in terms of active noise canceling and smart operation, it is pretty close behind it.

Price-performance tip: Sennheiser HD 450BT

At first glance, the HD 450BT from Sennheiser bears little resemblance to the PXC 550 II . The processing quality does not come close to that of its more expensive brother, but in terms of sound, the HD 450BT strikes quite similar tones, and the scope of delivery is also impressive .

Price-performance tip

Sennheiser HD 450BT

Test headphones with noise canceling: Sennheiser HD 450BT

The HD 450BT sounds very good and is compatible with the Sennheiser app. Its noise canceling is also solid.

In addition to the usual charging and audio cables, the Sennheiser HD 450BT even comes with a suitable transport bag . In addition, it naturally supports the aptX codec for low-loss Bluetooth transmission.

The operation with the buttons takes getting used to: Too many buttons, badly labeled or not labeled at all, are distributed quite randomly on the right earpiece. During the familiarization phase, the listener has to be taken off his head quite often in order to find the right key. Fortunately, it is compatible with the Sennheiser Smart Connect app, so that many settings can also be made conveniently via smartphone.

Unfortunately, of all things, the on / off button has also been activated with noise canceling, which can lead to operating errors, especially at the beginning. The noise canceling itself is not of the high quality like that of the PXC 550 II , but that was not to be expected. It is important that it does what it should to a reasonable extent, without significantly affecting the sound.

Also Read: 100+ Best in ear headphones noise cancelling

This was obviously important to the developers, because the HD 450BT sounds fresh, open and, above all, more neutral than most of the others in this price range. The proper noise canceling, the integration into the app and above all the great sound experience that the HD 450BT gives us make it a new price tip.

Also tested

The exterior of the Sennheiser PXC 550 II is almost exactly the same as its predecessor. Only the formerly chrome-colored applications are now kept discreetly dark, but are still made of metal. Inside, the differences are bigger, for example the PXC 550 II now has Bluetooth 5.0. NFC, however, is no longer supported.

Sennheiser PXC 550-II

Test headphones with noise canceling: Sennheiser PXC 550-II

Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant are now fully integrated – as well as AAC and aptX Long. Thanks to the soft cushions on the capsules and around the Sennheiser PXC 550 II bracket, it sits extremely comfortably and seals so well that outside noise hardly has a chance of reaching your ear.

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Headphones with noise canceling test: Sennheiser
Sennheiser has given the successful PXC 550 a successor.
Headphones with noise canceling test: Sennheiser buttons
Externally there are hardly any visible changes, even the charging socket still complies with the older micro-USB standard.
Headphones with noise canceling test: Complete Sennheiser
Almost as well equipped as its predecessor, only the adapter to the 6.3 millimeter jack plug is missing, and there is also no longer an NFC chip.

Although it does not react as flexibly to the surrounding situation as the Sony, it does have some detailed solutions that definitely deserve the title “smart”. It switches on automatically as soon as the right capsule is folded from the transport position into the listening position. Logically, it is then ensured that the Sennheiser switches itself off after removing the weight and thus saves energy.

The right capsule is designed as a touchpad. This allows you to adjust the volume and skip through the pieces. A fine knocking signal interrupts the music to take a call, which, by the way, works in excellent quality for both parties.

With the slide switch at the top at the back of the right capsule, two different noise guard levels are activated or deactivated. Level II is the highest level, everything is hidden there if possible. There is another level between this and the off position: Here the PXC 550 II automatically adapts to the ambient noise, in the Smart Control app you can determine whether the noise canceling reacts adaptively or in the so-called anti-wind mode for outdoor activities Takes action against wind noise. Overall, the noise canceling is almost on the same high level as the Sony.

The touch panel integrated in the right capsule of the PXC 550 II reacts more immediately, which makes operation even easier. However, you are more dependent on knocking than with both Sonys: One light knock ensures the start and pause of the music, double knock activates the talk-through function, which is not quite as elegant as the laying on of hands on the Sonys.

Meanwhile, Sennheiser’s Smart Control App has also been significantly expanded in terms of functions. In the meantime, in addition to a differentiated sound influence, it also allows the adaptive ANC mode to be switched between adaptive and anti-wind. An update of the headphones firmware is of course also possible.

In terms of sound, the Sennheiser plays, as expected, in the same league as the Sony headphones, only the tuning is slightly different. In the AB comparison, there is a very slight dip in the mid-range with the Sony listeners, where the Sennheiser has a slightly finer resolution. The slight sharpness that the PXC 550 sometimes let shine through has evidently been weaned from the  PXC 550 II . The great resolution in the mid-high range has been retained and it plays like a single piece.

Apple Airpods Max

Test noise canceling headphones: Apple Airpods Max

The Apple AirPods Max are not only eye- catching , they are also anything but lightweight thanks to the high level of material used, which is mainly made of metal. Thanks to the excellent ear pads, the weight is evenly distributed, and the strap made of mesh-like fabric cushions the rest. The cushions themselves are held in place magnetically by the capsules and can therefore be easily exchanged.

The only controls available are the Digital Crown known from the Apple Watch. The volume is set with the rotary knob, a (long) press activates and deactivates Siri, or stops and starts the music. There is also a button that switches between active noise canceling and awareness mode. You can’t do without it, and so there is no mode for unaffected music transmission. However, there is no audible sound difference between the two modes, only a hint of noise is audible as soon as the music stops in ANC mode.

The AirPods Max are clearly optimized for operation with iOS, so operation via Android smartphone is only possible with certain restrictions. So not even the battery status is displayed. Even if it is displayed on the iPhone, iPad or MacBook, there are no further setting options there either, such as adapting the ANC and awareness mode to the respective situation, at least not yet.

The AirPods Max are delivered with a very special case for this. Together with the inserted earphones, the whole thing looks very similar to a handbag, even the magnetic clip fastener is available. This may also be used to switch the handset to standby mode, similar to the Smart Cover on iPads. However, you actually have to rely on the headphones in the case to switch to standby, as there is no real switch-off option. So if the headphones are in the case for a few days, they may have to be charged for the next use, because all devices gradually lose their charge in standby. Theoretically, you could then at least connect it to a smartphone, laptop or tablet with a cable, but unfortunately the necessary Lightning audio adapter is missing.

In terms of sound, the AirPods Max can be classified as the pleasing variety, it delivers a sound that Bose used to prefer; unspectacular, without special resolution abilities, just suitable for the long term. The deep bass range in particular has more assertiveness with some competitors. The AirPods Max are less brutal, but never lose control. The range is also very good, but only the AAC is supported here as high-resolution audio transmission, the better AptX codec, however, not.

The Apple AirPods Max are certainly a must-have for friends of the brand, which until recently had to be paid for dearly. Even now the price is still quite high compared to the competition, especially for what is offered in terms of sound, noise canceling options and ease of use.

Sony WH-1000X M3

Test headphones with noise canceling: Sony WH-1000X M3

With the Sony WH-1000X M3 , Sony has brought out the third generation of its extremely successful flagship with noise canceling. The basis is still the  MDR-1000X . While the WH-1000X M2 had  for the first time been given such smart features as adaptive, i.e. noise canceling that adapts to the environment, the exterior of the WH-1000X M3 has now also been completely redesigned.

He, too, recognizes from the ambient noise and the movements of the wearer whether he is on the train or in the monotonous noise level of an open-plan office. The noise canceling is adjusted accordingly so that, for example, the announcements on the train are passed through undisturbed, while the monotonous background murmur is suppressed.

The entire surface finish now looks higher quality and the control buttons have become slimmer and finer. The ear pads are now made of a different material, provide a better seal and are extremely comfortable.

Although the WH-1000X M3 has to give way to its successor, the differences in sound, noise canceling and wearing comfort are so small that the WH-1000X M3 is still worth the money as long as it is cheaper than the successor.

Bowers & Wilkins PX7

Test headphones with noise canceling: Bowers & Wilkins PX7

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 is one of two successors to the Bowers & Wilkins PX . Like its predecessor, it is designed as an over-ear receiver. The on-ear variant in the form of the PX5  can be found below. In principle, a circumaural earphone, like the PX7, seals better for most people, lets in less outside noise than the on-ear capsules and sits more comfortably on top of that.

The noise canceling can be switched using a button on the left capsule. The three modes High, Low and Auto can be selected, whereby the High level works very efficiently. The disadvantage is that you first have to switch through all levels and you cannot switch directly from high to auto or off. In terms of sound, nothing changes with the different ANC settings, and noise is also completely foreign to the PX7 .

The music pauses when you lift a capsule, the three buttons on the right-hand capsule are intended for adjusting the volume and zapping through the music. The button in between to answer a call or to activate Siri or Google Assistant.

It gives the music the typical Bowers & Wilkins signature – in the bass it is just as assertive as the Sennheiser, and it even gains a bit in the upper bass and fundamental range. On the other hand, the PX7 rounds off the high frequency range somewhat. Overall, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 sounds a bit warmer, rounder and fuller than the Sennheiser, for example. So if you need a travel companion with a long-term sound and a business-friendly appearance, you can’t avoid one of the Bowers & Wilkins models.

Shure Aonic 50

Test headphones with noise canceling: Shure Aonic 50

The Shure Aonic 50 came shortly after Aonic 215 on the market, which we here have also tested. The Aonic 50 are Bluetooth headphones with circumaural posters and active noise canceling. Up until now, the traditional American manufacturer had little time for such technical gadgets, which, however, can no longer be ignored.

The Aonic 50 is a completely in-house development, as it should be for a well-known manufacturer like Shure. This applies to both the headphones and the associated Shure Play + app, which also communicates with other Shure products.

Admittedly, the noise canceling was most likely bought in, after all, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The Aonic 50 uses very effective noise canceling, although it cannot keep up with the two market leaders Sony and Bose – but neither can others.

The core of the noise canceling is a 3-position slide switch. One of the three levels activates noise canceling, another activates talk-through, in the middle switch position both are inactive. The noise canceling can be switched between max and normal in the Shure Play + app, at max the level of the music is audibly increased, and a loudness filter is switched on – actually an unnecessary trick.

The Shure Play + app also allows various sound settings and even the storage of several individual presets. The strength of the talkthrough can also be infinitely adjusted.

In terms of sound, the Shure comes pretty close to our favorite. The fundamental range is not quite as present, but the Aonic 50 sounds a bit more balanced and also covers a wide range. It is also tuned a bit livelier than the Sony, which is even more fun with some pieces of music. Only the noise canceling should be revised.

Yamaha YH-E700

Test headphones with noise canceling: Yamaha YH-E700

With Yamaha, another audio specialist has entered the headphones stage with active noise canceling. That applies at least to the local market, which has been out of focus for the Japanese company for some time. That should now change with the Yamaha YH-E700 , among other things . That means: Of course, there should still be peace, but now in the form of an active suppression of annoying outside noises.

The YH-E700 offers the best basis for undisturbed music enjoyment as soon as it is put on. The soft, ultra-comfortable cushions largely seal off the ears from outside noise even without active support. Passive noise canceling, so to speak.

Active noise canceling (ANC) works in three stages: ANC on, ambience on or both off. It all works very well, above all the sound is not audibly affected in any of the settings. It is operated in the classic way using buttons. The right capsule is switched on and off and Bluetooth pairing is activated. A rocker switch is equally responsible for volume and zapping through the pieces of music – depending on how you press it. Another button interrupts the music for phone calls or activates the smartphone’s voice assistant. The USB-C socket for charging is also housed here.

On the other, left-hand capsule there is only the ANC button with the three aforementioned functions. In addition, the audio cable can be plugged in here in an emergency so that you can at least listen to music even when the battery is empty. Telephoning does not work with it – and active noise canceling does not work either. The aforementioned passive noise canceling is sufficient on buses, trains and also on planes to be able to listen to music in peace.

The sound of the YH-E700 is very fundamental and bass-heavy right away. This may be very trendy for some genres and users, but it is a bit too much of a good thing for others. Is the music already rather dull and bass-strong, like z. For example, some pieces from the score for Game of Thrones, many details are simply lost. Other tracks sometimes lack a bit of liveliness.

All in all, the Yamaha YH-E700 definitely has potential, but is currently too expensive and could do with a less low-frequency tuning.

Nura Nuraphone

Test headphones with noise canceling: Nura Nuraphone

The Nuraphone is the result of a crowdfunding campaign. Apparently there are quite a number of people interested in a headphone concept that consists of a mixture of over-ear and in-ear. But the Nuraphone also has a few other special features to offer. In addition to the special capsules with the in-ear cones in the center, it is noticeable that it does not have any operating elements, and there are also no touch surfaces. Operation is apparently only possible via app. It’s free, but to be able to use it and ultimately the headphones, you have to register. The disclaimer leaves no doubt that the data – measurement data for setting the listener and listening habits – are also used overseas, i.e. in the USA and Australia.

The succinct declaration that the data is no longer subject to European data protection guidelines, but that you can be sure that there is no abuse, only makes you smile until you discover that you have to agree to this in order to be able to use the receiver at all.

The next difficulty then comes in normal everyday life, because the Nuraphone has no Re / Li marking, which you then have to do very intuitively, namely so that the in-ears point forward at an angle, i.e. in the direction of the auditory canals. The headphones do not have a power button, but are automatically activated on the head after a few seconds. In return, it switches off when you take it off.

Headphones with noise canceling test: Nuraphone
It doesn’t work brash: You can only refuse the newsletter with impunity, everything else you have to agree to in order to be able to use the app and thus the headphones.

Then the Nuraphone sits fairly comfortably on the ears, for a correct fit there are three different adapters for the in-ears. If it is then calibrated, it even sounds extremely fresh and very broadband, but not so extraordinarily good that it would justify the rather high price. If you add in the hurdles with the app, the missing audio cable and the proprietary charging cable, the price is difficult to argue for.

Sennheiser PXC 550

Test headphones with noise canceling: Sennheiser PXC 550

The Sennheiser PXC 550  is the predecessor of the PXC 550 II . The operation basically follows the same logic, here too there is NFC support for the connection as well as the best sound and comfort. There is no question that the app also significantly expands the functions and operation. Compared to its successor, the PXC 550 only has to fit in with Alexa, Google Assistant and Co. If you don’t value this and can also do without the AAC and the aptX Low Latency Codec, the PXC 550 gives you excellent sound properties at a low price. In contrast to its successor, the PXC 550 also supports NFC for an even smoother Bluetooth connection.

Bowers & Wilkins PX5

Test headphones with noise canceling: Bowers & Wilkins PX5

The PX5 from Bowers & Wilkins is one of those headphones that can be worn on the ears, it is the on-ear counterpart to the  PX7 . So if you like the sound and design of Bowers & Wilkins headphones, the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 is the Bluetooth headphone, which has a more compact pack size due to its smaller capsules. The PX5 is also extremely comfortable, and at the same time the upholstery provides an excellent seal against annoying outside noises. The bracket is made of light but sturdy carbon and padded with the finest leather.

The listener uses the aptX HD codec to transmit the music in Hi-Res quality. The effort is rewarded with a wonderfully balanced, long-term sound experience. The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 passes on any musical fare that is offered to it, beautifully resolved and with impressive spatiality. He has a particular weakness for the fundamental range, which gives him a pleasant timbre – the ideal companion on long journeys.

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless

Test headphones with noise canceling: Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless

Also the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wirelesshas at least one predecessor, as can easily be seen from the type designation. The striking retro design with the use of high-quality materials can also be found in this momentum. The Momentum 3 Wireless has very soft, comfortable ear pads made of high quality leather. The bracket and the hinges are mainly made of metal. If they are folded up, the handset switches off at the same time. In addition, it can also be operated using buttons on the right earpiece. If you want to use more functions, especially the differentiated noise canceling, you can use the Smart Control app for your smartphone. With this, the noise canceling can be selected for three scenarios: maximum (in the office or train), anti-wind (outdoors) and anti-pressure (aircraft).

An equalizer for sound correction is also available in the app. Here, with a little feeling, the somewhat centered note of the Momentum 3 Wireless can be corrected at will.

Jabra Elite 85H

Test headphones with noise canceling: Jabra Elite 85H

The Jabra Elite 85H unfolds, as now many of its competitors, its true sound and noise-canceling abilities only about the settings that can be undertaken in the associated app. Special attention has been paid to the voice assistant in the Elite 85H, and the desired assistant can be selected in the Jabra Sound + app. In addition, it branches off the battery charge and carries out firmware updates. But the noise canceling can also be adapted more differently to the respective environment and the hear-through function, i.e. the connection to the outside world, can even be dimmed continuously.

Also Read: Best in-ear headphones Wired earphones with mic

The Jabras sit comfortably over the ears. The noise canceling also works well, but unfortunately the sound changes audibly with active ANC. There is a clear loudness character, and complex pieces of music also sound slightly compressed. Unfortunately, not much has changed in development. Canceling disabled, the Jabra sounds almost as good as the competition.

Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC

Test headphones with noise canceling: Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC

The Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC has clear features of the brand design that has been changed since 2017, above all the lying Y on the ear capsules. But that’s not all: With the Lagoon ANC, the LEDs to display the operating status light up in the capsules, of all places. This actually only makes sense when switching on (orange), readiness for pairing (blue) and successful connection (white), because you usually hold the headphones in your hand. Otherwise only the ears are illuminated. The operation works classically on the one hand via a switch on the right earpiece, and also via the touch surface, which is also responsible for volume (up and down) and skip (horizontal) on the right-hand capsule. Double-tap the area, the music stops and starts.

The noise canceling can be selected in two intensity levels, which unfortunately are so close to each other that you usually exceed the first level and land directly on the second or otherwise on the “off” position. You can hardly make out a significant difference between the two levels.

In terms of sound, the Lagoon ANC is at a high level, the music comes across as jagged and dynamic, although the bass seems rather subdued compared to some other contemporaries. It is not overemphasized, but comes crisp and precise when needed and the appropriate feed. The Lagoon develops a wide sound stage and has a very fine resolution, but when noise canceling is activated, it loses part of its joy in playing, it then sounds a bit compressed.

Panasonic RP-HD610N

Headphones with noise canceling test: Panasonic Rp Hd610n

The Panasonic RP-HD610N has a rather simple finish compared to some other headphones in this price range. The focus here is clearly on a comfortable seat and ease of use in conjunction with good sound. The RP-HD610N doesn’t have to hide behind the competition with a similar price point, especially when it comes to wearing comfort and especially the sound. A small drawback is certainly the charging port, which is designed as a micro-USB socket, which does not seem appropriate to us – especially with headphones, you don’t look very closely at the direction of insertion of the USB connector, which leads to unnecessary fiddling with the Panasonic.

But if it sits on the ears and is switched on, the Panasonic surprises with a voice assistant in German that provides information about the current charge status and the operating status. This reconciles something with the control buttons, which hardly differ according to feeling once the listener is on his head and is operated almost blindly.

The noise canceling can be selected in three levels – high, medium and low – and can also be switched off completely. It is somewhat confusing that the outside noise is louder in the middle position than in the lower position, which actually works more as a talk-through function. The effectiveness of the noise canceling is on a level that is customary in its class, so it does not come close to the Sonys and Boses.

The music remains almost unimpressed by all three switch positions and plays at a very high level. Every kind of musical food is reproduced with a balanced sound and fine resolution across the entire frequency spectrum – a candidate for continuous listening.

Bowers & Wilkins PX

Test headphones with noise canceling: Bowers & Wilkins PX

The ears are tightly but comfortably enclosed by the pads of the Bowers & Wilkins PX , which are made of soft, smooth leather, and thus block out a large part of the outside noise. The PX started with the simple but very intuitive gesture control: lifting a capsule stops the music, putting it down it starts again, if you put the receiver down completely and put it on the table, it only goes into pause and after a while into sleep mode. The Bluetooth connection is even interrupted to save energy. Picking up the listener activates everything again, so that contact is resumed and the piece can continue to be played.

The noise canceling can be adapted to the respective situation: one button activates three scenarios if required. So you can adapt the NC either to noises in the airplane, in traffic or in the office. As an alternative to the control buttons, the PX can also be conveniently operated using a free app.

The Bowers & Wilkins PX passes on any musical fare that is offered to it, beautifully resolved and with impressive spatiality.

In terms of sound, it even reaches the level of the Sony, the noise canceling, on the other hand, is far inferior. For all those for whom sound quality is more important than the best noise canceling, the Bowers & Wilkins is definitely still a recommendation.

Motorola Escape 800 ANC

Test headphones with noise canceling: Motorola Escape 800 ANC

Motorola has  protected the Escape 800 ANC against the ingress of water spray. It is therefore suitable, for example, for a workout in the gym. It is appropriately equipped with an audio and charging cable and a beautiful hard case. The cushions surround the ears tightly and the listener still sits comfortably. He has to, because the noise canceling is rather mediocre.

For the price of just under 100 euros , the Motorola is refreshingly unpretentious; There are no multifunctional touch surfaces here, and an app is also not required: simply switch on, pair and enjoy. All buttons can clearly be felt blindly, the plus-minus buttons are separate and not designed as a rocker. The noise canceling is switched on and off with a slide switch, nothing more.

The scope of delivery is extremely cool, a hard case is just as much a part of it as an emergency cable. If the battery runs out, you can still listen to music, albeit without active noise canceling. The obligatory USB charging cable also finds its place in the case.

Also Read: The best gaming headset

The Motorola is also convincing in terms of sound: Following the current trend, it pushes a little in the bass, only to give in a little when noise canceling is activated. But these are the only sound losses that you have to accept with active noise canceling.

The resistance to moisture alone determines the decision in favor of the Motorola Escape 800 ANC for some  – and there are far worse decisions, even if the noise canceling is not completely convincing, because none at a price of less than 200 euros, so the Escape 800 ANC our current price-performance winner.

Pioneer SE-MS9BN

Test headphones with noise canceling: Pioneer SE-MS9BN

The Pioneer SE-MS9BNis one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve had on my ears. This is not least due to the soft, ear-encircling cushions, which also block out external noise very well. The best basic requirements for headphones that are supposed to do just that. Perhaps for this reason you have decided to set the noise canceling permanently active, because you will look in vain for a corresponding switch on the receiver. There is a button for activating voice services such as the Google Assistant, Siri and Co .. In addition to this, there is only one other control button, namely the one for switching on and activating the Bluetooth pairing. This coupling can be made even more convenient using the NFC function, as evidenced by the small NFC logo on the left inside of the bracket.

The app doesn’t seem to be fully developed yet and needs a few tries before you can connect to the headphones.

In terms of sound, the Pioneer is slightly center-weighted, which is particularly beneficial for vocals. In the bass range, the SE-MS9 works in a contoured manner, but with complex passages it sometimes loses track of what it acknowledges with audible compression.

Also Read: 100+ The Best True Wireless In-Ear Headphones Reviews

The Pioneer SE-MS9BN has enormous potential, also in terms of noise canceling, unfortunately the app is not yet fully developed.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Test headphones with noise canceling: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

For some time, the QuietComfort 35 from Bose topped our recommendation list. The decisive factor was the proverbially effective noise canceling of the Bose listener, paired with a catchy sound experience that is predestined for relaxed long-term listening. The ancestor of the wireless Bose noise canceling earphones is only available in used condition. The successor QuietComfort 35 II found it difficult to assert itself against the new favorites from Sony, because apart from an additional control button that is intended for the Google Assistant, but can also be assigned other functions, nothing has changed compared to its predecessor.

Now that the Bose 700 is  a veritable successor to the market, the QuietComfort 35 II may give way in price as long as it is still available on the market. This makes it a perfect bargain, because noise canceling is still one of the most effective on the market. The operation is also kept very intuitive and even the workmanship is beyond any doubt, the QuietComfort 35 II is still one of the greats, and now at an affordable price.

Devil Real Blue NC

Test headphones with noise canceling: Teufel Real Blue NC

Loudspeaker specialist Teufel rounds off  the new Real series with the Real Blue NC with Bluetooth headphones with noise canceling. In the second rollout, the manufacturer retrofitted its headphones with improved Bluetooth technology: While the wireless connection on the first models was still very unstable and riddled with dropouts, this has been consistently improved.

The Real Blue NC can easily keep up with the competition in terms of manufacturing quality and even more so in terms of sound quality. Due to its circumaural design with the well-sealing pads, it already has the best prerequisites for suppressing annoying external noises.

The active external noise suppression does not work quite as differently as with the more expensive colleagues from Sennheiser, Bose or even Sony. Here, as with all cheaper solutions, you limit yourself to disruptive frequency ranges that arise when flying or during the train journey. However, the Real Blue also encapsulates quite well in the open-plan office, although this is largely due to the dense ear cushions.

Operation is intuitive thanks to the right-hand capsule designed as a touchpad: swiping up and down sets the desired volume, swiping horizontally zips through the tracks and tapping in the middle pauses the music – in favor of a phone call. There are switches on the capsules for important functions such as switching on / off, Bluetooth pairing and activating noise canceling.

In terms of sound, the Real Blue NC appeals in particular to the young target group with its slight loudness character and crisp bass. With this tuning, however, it already achieves a pleasant sound volume even at low volume.

As Teufel expected, the Real Blue NC is lavishly equipped: A slim hard case holds an audio and USB charging cable in addition to the folded headphones, and the obligatory aircraft adapter is also on board.

Of course, the price of almost 200 euros is not a stick-out, but the Real Blue NC is worth every penny due to the high-quality workmanship alone. The noise canceling is not as complex as with Bose, Sony or Sennheiser, but mainly serves its purpose when traveling.

Sony WH-1000XM2

Test headphones with noise canceling: Sony WH-1000XM2

With the  WH-1000X M2  , Sony has again properly drilled out our previous test winner. Most of the technology from the MDR-1000X is in the WH-1000X M2 , but the new one has got a lot of smart features. It recognizes from the ambient noise and the movements of the wearer whether one is currently on the train or in the monotonous noise level of an open-plan office. The noise canceling is adjusted accordingly, which means that, for example, the announcements on the train are passed through without being disturbed, whereas the monotonous background murmur is suppressed. In terms of sound, however, nothing has changed, the WH 1000XM2 also easily overtakes the competition from Bose in terms of sound, and is also significantly cheaper.

Sony WH-CH710N

Test of Bluetooth headphones: Sony WH-CH710N

Although, like our current favorite, it also comes from Sony, the WH-CH710N can hardly meet the expectations placed on it. Although it also has NFC support when pairing, the equipment is otherwise limited.

The workmanship of the Sony WH-CH710N also leaves something to be desired and cannot be adequately explained with the relatively low price.

The noise canceling is less adaptable than with most of the more expensive colleagues, but can keep up well with the direct competition. It is even possible to let ambient noise through even with noise canceling switched on, for example when there are announcements on the train or on the plane.

In terms of sound, the WH-CH710N is not free from discoloration – every setting, with or without ANC, has an audible effect on the sound. Overall, the mids and mid-high tones are very subdued, there is hardly any fine resolution and the listener sounds rather dull overall.

Marshall MID ANC

Test headphones with noise canceling: Marshall MID ANC

The Marshall MID ANChas two advantages in terms of design: on the one hand, it has a striking appearance, and on the other hand, the capsules are kept quite small. It can be folded up compactly and put on instead of over the ears – a convenience advantage for people who wear glasses. In addition, it seals very well for a supra-aural listener. The sound has a slight loudness character, which Marshall makes no secret of, but it sounds pleasantly full even at low volume. Active noise canceling works quite simply, it mainly filters out low frequencies, such as aircraft and other engines. Any kind of selective filtering is dispensed with. Marshall refrains from increasing the level of the music at the same time, and the sound only changes marginally.

KEF Space One

Test headphones with noise canceling: KEF Space One

The name Porsche is normally associated with cars in the higher performance and price segments, but the typical Porsche design has long been carried over to other products. The  Space One , which the audio specialist KEF developed together with the Porsche Design department, strikes exactly in this notch. There is first-class design with excellent manufacturing quality on the outside, superb audio technology on the inside, which is unrivaled in terms of sound. Among the wired headphones with noise canceling, the Space One is also one of the best in terms of sound.

KEF Space One Wireless

Test headphones with noise canceling: Kef Space One wireless

The KEF Space One Wireless differs only slightly from its cable brother. The noise canceling is the same and thanks to the supplied cables, one of which is even equipped with a microphone, the Space One Wireless even runs with an empty battery – even as a headset. In terms of sound, the wireless is also a real blast, but when it comes to noise canceling, it doesn’t come close to Sony. In our opinion, the wireless version is too expensive for that.

Sennheiser Momentum 2 Wireless

Test headphones with noise canceling: Sennheiser Momentum 2 Wireless

The Momentum 2 Wireless from Sennheiser is a real eye-catcher  : the finest materials such as leather and metal combine to create an extraordinary design. We recommend the over-ear version, i.e. with around-the-ear cushions, which seal even better than the on-ears and are more comfortable for most people to wear. People who wear glasses may prefer the on-ear model, but both have a lot to offer in terms of sound in addition to the excellent design and clean workmanship. Here the Sennheiser is easily on par with our test winner, only when it comes to noise canceling it is ahead.


Test headphones with noise canceling: AKG N60NC

The  AKG N60NC are compact, supra-aural headphones that are slightly cheaper than the high-tech recommendations. On-ear headphones are sometimes more comfortable to wear, especially for those who wear glasses. Noise canceling is always active on the AKG, it cannot be switched off, it is only not possible to use it in cable operation. It also doesn’t work quite as effectively as with the Sennheiser or even the Favoriten.

Libratone Q Adapt

Test headphones with noise canceling: Libratone Q Adapt

The  Q Adapt from  the Danish loudspeaker manufacturer Libratone are on-ear headphones. For noise-canceling headphones, over-ears are usually the first choice because they block some noise. But over-ears are not ideal for people who wear glasses, as the temples and ear pads get in each other’s way. On-ears are much more comfortable to wear with glasses.

Sony MDR-100ABN

Test headphones with noise canceling: Sony MDR-100ABN

The  Sony MDR-100ABN  is just as well made as the Bose, but in terms of sound, neither the Bose nor the Sennheiser Momentum can come close. The artificial leather ear pads are very tight, which can lead to damp ears in summer temperatures and is simply uncomfortable. The Bose QC 35 doesn’t cost much more, but it can do a lot more in terms of sound and noise canceling, making it the much better choice.


Test headphones with noise canceling: JVC HA-S90BN

If you don’t want to spend so much money, but don’t want to do without rudimentary noise canceling paired with good sound properties, you should listen to the latest release from JVC. The HA-S90BN offers exactly that: an external noise suppression , which lets you almost forget the train noises on the train journey and also helps the sound of some smartphones with different presets.

JBL Everest Elite 750NC

Test headphones with noise canceling: JBL Everest Elite 750NC

The  JBL Everest Elite 750NC  is the successor to the Elite 700. The design has remained the same, the electronics for the noise canceling have been heavily redesigned and now work in several stages, making it easier to adapt than the previous model. Unfortunately, the cumbersome operation with too many buttons and buttons has been stuck to, and when noise canceling is activated, quite a bit of noise can be heard.

Taotronics TT-BH090

Noise Canceling Headphone Test: Taotronics Tt Bh090

The Soundsurge 90 from Taotronics or simply Taotronics TT-BH090 is surprisingly well made for the price. The outer caps of the capsules are made of metal, so its appearance is correspondingly weighty. Unfortunately, the workmanship of the joints can’t quite keep up, they sometimes rattle. The Taotronics handset is also impressive in terms of equipment: A sturdy transport case, an audio cable and the obligatory charging cable in USB-C form factor are included in the scope of delivery.

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Noise Canceling Headphone Test: Taotronics Soundsurge90
The Soundsurge 90 from Taotronics is well made despite its competitive price.
Noise Canceling Headphones Test: Taotronics Soundsurge90 controls
It is operated in the classic way using buttons, and USB-C as a charging socket is state-of-the-art even here.
Noise Canceling Headphone Test: Taotronics Soundsurge90 Complete
In addition to the solid case, a charging and audio cable are included.

The cushions of the TT-BH090 are firm and comfortable, but offer little space for large ears. The control buttons are only located on the right capsule. The operation is a bit tricky: You can quickly make mistakes with the volume controls, because they are also responsible for zapping through the music (if you press longer). You need a little practice and a sure instinct.

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As long as the ANC is switched off, the Soundsurge 90 sounds pretty good. When external noise suppression is switched on, it has a slightly nasal sound character. There is no awareness circuit, so you have to take off the headphones if you want to be part of the outside world.

Panasonic RP-HC800

Test headphones with noise canceling: Panasonic RP-HC800

The Panasonic RP-HC800 also  offers enough space for larger earcups and delivers rich sound, even a little richer with activated noise canceling. The level is then increased slightly, the tuning changes in the direction of loudness. This helps with drowning out residual noises that still want to get in the ear despite noise canceling.

Aukey EP-N12

Noise Canceling Headphone Test: Aukey Ep N12

With the Aukey EP-N12 , the expectations in terms of equipment and workmanship should not be too high , after all, it costs well under 50 euros . Interestingly, the workmanship is surprisingly good. The receiver is made entirely of plastic, but it is made so precisely fitting that creaking and creaking hardly play a role during operation or even when it is folded up.

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Noise Canceling Headphone Test: Aukey Ep N12
The Aukey EP-N12 is quite inconspicuous at first glance, but so is the price.
Noise Canceling Headphone Test: Aukey Ep N12 controls
The usual button operation and, of course, a USB-C standard charging socket can be found on the handset.
Noise Canceling Headphone Test: Aukey Ep N12 Complete
There was not enough budget for a sturdy case, the Aukey is delivered with a simple transport bag.

The control buttons on the EP-N12 are divided between both capsules: The on / off button and the volume rocker are on the right, the ANC button on the left capsule. The padding of the headband and the earmuffs is very soft, but also gives way very quickly, which is not exactly conducive to long-term comfort. The noise canceling hardly affects the sound, but it doesn’t have a big effect either. The sound is strongly discolored with and without active noise canceling, everything sounds somehow covered and nasal, so that you hardly want to enjoy the music. Obviously you have to spend a little more for an acceptable sound experience – with active noise canceling anyway.

Taotronics TT-BH085

Test headphones with noise canceling: Taotronics TT-BH085

The Taotronics TT BH085 is absolutely not worth the money. It sounds terribly bad, with active ANC even worse, and as soon as there are more than two instruments, the listener gets completely confused. In addition, the Bluetooth connection tends to be interrupted.

That’s how we tested

We have now tested a total of 48 headphones with active noise cancellation in more than ten test rounds. All headphones had to assert themselves in the test against traffic noise, the background murmuring in a large crowd and in the household against a vacuum cleaner. With that we can simulate the noise in an airplane quite well.

Although our main focus is on external noise suppression, we also value the best possible sound properties – both in NC mode and as normal Bluetooth or cable headphones. It is clear that most manufacturers make more or less deep interventions in the sound process in NC operation, which of course also has an impact on the sound quality. As good as headphones in the same price range without noise canceling, listeners with NC therefore never sound, even if they have made great strides in this regard in recent years.

All other models we have tested can be found in the comparison table and under “Also tested”, if they are still available. Here you can get one or two bargains, all the important facts about personal classification can be found in the brief description and in the table.

The most important questions

Which transmission is better – cable or bluetooth?

There are hardly any audible differences. Especially when the Bluetooth handset uses one of the high-quality transmission codecs such as aptX, LDAC or AAC. However, Bluetooth handsets have the disadvantage that they no longer make a sound when the battery is empty. Many of the listeners we tested have an audio cable with them, so that you can at least listen to music in an emergency.

Are full-size headphones, i.e. headphones with a headband, better than in-ears?

Clearly yes in terms of external noise suppression. Full-size headphones have the advantage that the pads keep outside noise out pretty well. This is called passive noise canceling. The electronics for active noise canceling often no longer have to do that much. The in-ears have to seal the auditory canal against outside noise, which is much more difficult.

Is it allowed to wear headphones with noise canceling while jogging and cycling?

The legal situation here is not entirely clear: In principle, wearing headphones is not expressly prohibited as long as it does not restrict attention to traffic. We believe that wearing headphones on all roads and paths on which other road users are also restrictive too much attention. The so-called talkthrough, transparency or ambience mode, which many current headphones have, can help. In any case, you should get enough of the outside world to avoid unpleasant collisions.