Noise-Canceling Headphones Buying Guide

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While headphones have been popular for a very long time to allow people to listen to music without bothering other people, noise-canceling headphones have become more popular recently as a great alternative that not only keeps others from hearing your music but keeps you from hearing outside noises as well.

If you have never bought these headphones before, then you will significantly benefit from the help of noise-canceling headphones buying guide to make the decision easier.

Before you rush to the store or place an online order, considering the pros and cons of various headphones, as well as their optional features, will ensure that you buy the right headphones for your use.

The Complete Noise-Cancelling Headphones Buying Guide

Questions First-Time Noise-Cancelling Headphone Buyers Should Ask Themselves

Where Will You Be Using Them?

While most people only think about using these headphones on long flights, they can be used in more locations than merely on an airplane. If you are going to be using these on a daily basis during your commute or in your office to help you focus, then you may want to choose a smaller set of headphones that are easy to take with you in your pocket or purse.

Some owners even like to use their noise-canceling headphones at home when their families are asleep. Knowing how you will be using your new headphones will let you buy ones that will work best with your needs.

Do You Prefer Wireless or Wired Headphones?

While it is possible to get a great pair of wireless noise-canceling headphones, it’s important to remember that this feature will eat up your battery much faster than using headphones that are wired.

Our Top 3 Noise Canceling Headphone Picks

What’s Your Budget?

It’s easy to get excited when shopping for noise-canceling headphones and to spend more money than you were planning to unless you have already set out a budget for yourself. Doing this is a great way to ensure that you don’t overspend and that you buy great headphones that will meet your needs.

Types of Noise-Cancelling Headphones

There are two main types of noise-canceling headphones that you can choose from, depending on what is most important to you. Each will come with its price as well as its own set of pros and cons. You will need to carefully weigh all of your choices before making a final decision, so you can be sure that you’re buying the best headphones for your use.

  • Passive Technology: These headphones tend to be less expensive than other options, and for a good reason. They rely on the structure of the headphones themselves to help block any ambient noise. Because they are made with high-density foam and other absorbent materials, they do a great job blocking outside noise without being expensive.
  • Active Technology: These headphones don’t rely on just the materials they are made of to block outside noises. They have a microphone that listens to the amount of ambient noise around you and an electronic circuit that will process that information. Then it sends an opposing signal into the ear to help block out outside sounds. Of course, these headphones are going to be more expensive than ones that rely on passive technology.

Top Noise-Cancelling Headphone Manufacturers

While many manufacturers make their noise-cancelling headphones, there are a few companies that have proven themselves by consistently producing quality products. If you are brand-new to looking for noise-canceling headphones and don’t know whom to buy from, then it’s smart to look into some of the options from these top manufacturers. You are much more likely to end up with a product that you will love, that will work the way that it is supposed to, and that will last for some years.

When looking for headphones, look at Bose, Sennheiser, SamsungSony, JBL and Plantronics. Larger brands will also generally offer more options on their headphones and have better customer service on the chance that you run into any issues with your purchase.

Image of a man wearing noise cancelling headphones in the cityFactors to Consider When Buying Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Before you go shopping for new noise-canceling headphones, it’s essential that you consider the style you want as well as some other factors so you can be sure that you will be happy with your purchase.


There are three main styles of noise-canceling headphones: in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear. While you may prefer one style over the other just based on appearance, it’s essential to give each a try to see which one is the most comfortable for you. You may not be able to choose what style you want merely on how it looks as it’s crucial that you be able to wear your headphones without pain or you will have to buy new ones.

  • In-ear headphones can make your ears very sore even in a short period. It’s important to pay attention to the shape of the earbud so you can try to mitigate some of this discomfort.
  • On-ear headphones allow the cup of the headphone to rest on the ear instead of completely covering it. The foam will rest on the tip of your ear, which may be comfortable for a short period but can quickly become very uncomfortable. Also, because they are not actually in the ear or completely blocking the listener from the noise outside, they tend to let in much ambient noise.
  • Over-ear headphones do a great job in most locations. They cup the ear and are quite comfortable to wear but will be more expensive. Because they cup the ear instead of pressing on it, they are more comfortable to wear for long periods of time and do a great job of blocking out any ambient noise.


Also, you will need to consider if you want your new headphones to be wired or wireless. While some people do prefer wired headphones because they will not drain the battery as quickly as wireless options will, others don’t want to deal with the wires and are happy to replace their batteries more often. Also, it’s usually easier to get a better price on wired headphones since they will not have the Bluetooth connectivity in them, making them less expensive to produce and to sell.

Sound Quality:

Unfortunately, not all noise-canceling headphones are built the same and won’t all offer the same high-quality sound that you may want. Due to these headphones being constructed to cancel out ambient noise actively, some do have a sound that is similar to static that users will hear when their headphones are turned on. This sound is worse in some brands while others it is barely noticeable. The more isolation features that the headphones have, the better the overall sound quality will be.


The more features and better canceling power that headphones have, the higher the overall amount is going to be. Knowing this, you can be prepared when looking for new noise-canceling headphones. It’s important to take into consideration the cost of batteries if you do not opt for headphones that can be charged or for rechargeable batteries as this can make it very expensive to use your new headphones.

Features to Look for in Noise-Cancelling Headphones

  • Built-in Controls: Not all noise-canceling headphones offer this but being able to skip tracks or change the volume on your music makes using your headphones even more enjoyable. If it’s important to you to be able to control your music or podcast without having to take out your phone or mp3 player, then you will want to find headphones that offer this feature.
  • Rechargeable Batteries: The batteries for your headphones can get to be very expensive, and one way to offset that cost is to use rechargeable batteries. While they may be more of an investment at first, they will pay for themselves over time since you don’t have to keep buying new batteries. Also, being able to recharge them easily makes it more likely that you’ll be able to play your music as loud as you want without worrying about draining your batteries.
  • Travel Case: Noise-cancelling headphones are an investment so you will want to make sure that you can protect them when you are traveling. Even if you are going to be wearing your headphones during your commute, it’s essential that they be safe in your desk or bag while you are at work. A high-quality travel case will protect your headphones and make sure that they don’t get damaged or broken.
  • Quick Charging: Depending on how quickly you want your headphones to be ready to go, a fast charging option may be the best choice for you. The only have to be charged for a very short period, usually under 10 minutes, before they are ready to go.
  • Inbuilt Microphone: If you are wearing your headphones a lot but still want to be able to take calls, then look for ones that have an inbuilt microphone that will allow you to not only make but also to receive calls easily. Not only will you never miss another call when your headphones have this feature but you can handle any business calls no matter where you are or what you are doing.
  • Downloadable Apps: If you have a smartphone and want to be able to enhance your listening and really control your headphones, then look for noise-canceling headphones that have an optional app that you can download. This feature will make it easy to control the sound quality that you hear when using your new headphones.

Image of two women wearing noise cancelling headphones at the beachPutting it All Together

Once you have read this guide on buying noise-canceling headphones, you will be better able to determine which headphones will be the best ones for you. Your first step in making any purchase is to come up with a budget, and since noise-canceling headphones can range so widely in price, this is imperative so you can be sure that you don’t accidentally overspend. While you may not use all of the money that you have set aside for your new headphones, being able to spend it will take off much pressure when you are shopping.

Next, you need to prioritize the available features to determine what you want your new headphones to be able to do. Without making this decision, it’s easy to be overwhelmed when you do go shopping, and you may end up buying headphones that don’t meet your needs.

Some people will already have a preference about what manufacturer they want to buy from; if you do, then that’s great! It will reduce even more of your stress and help you to narrow down your options. If you don’t know whom you want to buy from, you will want to do a little research on the manufacturers, see what kind of reviews you can find, and also look into warranties and customer services. It can be very overwhelming to compare some noise-canceling headphones across a few manufacturers, but it can be done if you don’t know whom to buy.

Lastly, you will need to think about where you will be using your new headphones, if you have a particular style that you like, and if you want them to be wired or wireless. These last few decisions are significant as they will allow you to narrow down your choices to just a few final options. If you have considered the pros and cons of various features and benefits, then you will be ready to make your purchase.

By using this noise-canceling headphone buying guide, you can make sure that you are happy with your purchase. These headphones can be very expensive, and you want to research all of your options before you go shopping thoroughly, so you are not disappointed with the ones that you choose.
Once you are ready to buy a set of noise canceling headphones, take a look at our best picks of noise-canceling headphones or read our noise canceling headphone reviews below.

Duke Taber is the owner of 3 successful websites and is now taking his skill as a writer and using it to help non-profit organizations and leaders around the world.

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