True wireless headphones are getting most of the attention these days, but there are always cases where tried-and-true wireless over-ear headphones are going to win. Noise cancellation is one of those advantages; Although technology is increasingly making its way into wireless headphones, there are no full-size headphones if you want to really quiet your surroundings and enjoy your music without distraction. Wrap them around your head and you can escape any nearby ruckus, like the constant hum of an airplane cabin or the hum of a coffee shop.
Unfortunately, buying a great pair of headphones, especially noise-canceling, that you’ll want in your everyday pair to carry around, means spending a lot of money, and most good options range from $ 300 to $ 400. But what about? can you really put a price on peace and quiet or make long-haul flights more bearable? I use them regularly to get to sleep a little easier, with nothing playing around.
If you’re investing that much, you’ll want a pair of headphones that sound good, can be worn comfortably for hours, and are durable enough to be a travel companion. Most high-end wireless headphones have made the switch to USB-C at this point, and they all offer a long-lasting battery that should last during your travels. But there is still a clear first-place pick for consumers who want a reliable pair with excellent noise-canceling powers and good enough sound quality.
Best overall: Bose 700 noise-canceling headphones
Bose is the company that built its name on noise canceling headphones. And while competitors like Sony have done a commendable job of catching up in recent years, Bose still packs it all into the best overall package. The Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are the follow-up to Bose’s QuietComfort 35 cans that have become an essential piece of kit for frequent fliers or subway commuters. They have been completely redesigned with a more modern look, but retain the lightweight fit and exemplary comfort of older headphones.
- Excellent noise cancellation
- The best voice calls you’ll experience with any headset
- Can be connected to two devices simultaneously
- Not as light as a feather like QC35 II
- The Bose Music app makes you create an account to customize settings
The NCH700 can be paired with two devices simultaneously, a great feature if you multitask between a phone and a laptop or tablet. You can adjust the level of noise cancellation to your preference, and at the highest settings these headphones are unmatched. It is like touching the silence in the outside world. Battery life is 20 hours, which is a firm average these days, but sufficient for any travel situation.
Bose made an effort to improve the quality of voice calls on the NCH700s, and this is another area where they are best in class. If you rarely chat with people while wearing headphones, this might not be a huge draw. But if you’re going to break up your music with conference calls, these are the only cans you’d trust to do it other than the Jabra Elite 85h headphones.
In a departure from previous models, Bose moved away from most physical buttons in favor of gesture controls on the right earbud. The new system takes some practice, but it works reliably without downplaying the user experience.
The Noise Canceling Headphones 700 retain Bose’s well-balanced, neutral sound quality with an extra punch of bass. You can expect good clarity and detail, but the soundstage is where Bose could improve; noise cancellation brings you closer to your music, but that music isn’t as immersive as with other high-end headphones.
If you prefer headphones that prioritize sound quality over noise cancellation effectiveness, Sennheiser’s third-generation Momentum wireless headphones are the best option. With padded leather ear cushions and the company’s warm, clear, immersive sound signature, the Momentum 3 offers a wonderful listening experience, and that’s what you expect for its price.
They turn on automatically when unfolded and pause music if you remove them. The Momentums also support a good range of codecs, including SBC, AAC, AptX, and AptX Low Latency, which are supposed to eliminate any noticeable audio lag when watching video. Unfortunately, in some apps like YouTube, I have encountered sync issues, so Sennheisers are still better suited for music than movies.
- Throbbing, punchy sound.
- Comfortable for long periods, even with glasses.
- Less battery life than the competition.
- Leather earmuffs are not breathable.
They can’t reduce the external clamor to the same level as the Bose headphones, but they come close enough for my liking. Still, Bose has so much right (comfort, noise cancellation, voice calls) for less money that I think Sennheisers will only appeal to those who demand better than “good” sound quality.
Two other nice touches on the Momentum Wireless 3s: They have Tile integration so you can track them like any key or bag with a Tile accessory attached, and you can listen to them connected via USB-C in addition to the standard headphone jack, which is something that headphones do. Bose can’t do.
Sony’s 1000XM3 headphones fall short of the Bose in terms of noise cancellation, with some preferring their sound quality. But they’ll be getting closer to an update soon, so only buy them if you can find a good deal. Microsoft’s dial controls on the Surface Headphones are brilliant and something other companies should blatantly copy, but the headphones themselves offer fair sound quality. If you’re looking for another pair geared toward audiophiles, the new Bowers & Wilkins PX7 are a significant improvement over the old PX headphones. Now they are much lighter and more comfortable thanks to a renewed design that includes carbon fiber arms. And the new Beats Solo Pros are the company’s best headphones yet, but they can be uncomfortable over time.
- Excellent noise cancellation
- Still has the smartest transparency mode
- Due to an update soon
- Sticky construction
- The new design feels more premium and durable
- Supports hands-free “Hey Siri” commands and audio sharing
- More refined sound than previous Beats headphones
- Noise cancellation is less effective than Bose and Sony
- Tight holding force
- Not great for bigheaded people
- Much more comfortable than the original PX headphones.
- Can be paired with two devices at the same time
- Excellent sound quality
- Noise cancellation doesn’t match top contenders
- Ingenious control dials
- Sleek look and premium feel
- Surprisingly good wireless performance
- Excellent noise cancellation
- Some comfort issues
- Non-competitive battery life
- Lack of support for AAC, AptX or LDAC for higher quality sound
- The sound lacks refinement and triple energy.
- 30 hour battery life with noise cancellation enabled
- Noise cancellation is effective
- Automatically pause when you take them off
- Sound quality lags behind the Sony 1000XM3
- The SmartSound feature suffers from too many false positives in a noisy city
- Large ear muffs look bulky
- Premium construction materials help them stand out
- Comfortable to wear
- Can be connected to multiple devices simultaneously
- Sound quality not on par with other $ 300 headphones
- System interface noises are annoying
- Battery performance falls short of claims, despite auto-off feature
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