Ten Best Noise Canceling Headphones For Travel In 2020


best noise canceling headphones

Shopping for travel gear can be challenging, whatever it is that you’re looking for. The same goes for travel-friendly headphones. Good-quality headphones are usually on a top-priority list of travel accessories. That’s why we have checked out the best noise-canceling headphones for traveling.

You need GOOD quality headphones for FLYING.

We can all agree that those that come with your smartphone aren’t the best in terms of quality.

We’re talking about high-quality, noise-canceling, travel-friendly headphones. Imagine listening to your favorite music on regular headphones while waiting in an airport queue.

There’s nothing more frustrating than having an ambient noise interfering with your most favorite classical tune.

Falling asleep on a plane during a long flight is not the easiest thing to do. There’s jet engine noise, people chattering, babies crying. And what you need at that moment is a pair of noise-canceling headphones, instead of your regular ones.

What Are Noise Canceling Headphones?

Noise-canceling headphones use a unique technology to block out the noise around you, allowing you to enjoy your music without ambient interference. They are usually divided into two categories:

  • ACTIVE Noise Cancelation – These use a miniature built-in microphone that picks up sound waves from background noises. An integrated noise-canceling system than processes the received sound and emits waves of the same amplitude, but of the opposite phase. This process effectively cancels out annoying ambient noise. This way, you listen to music and only music.
  • PASSIVE Noise Cancelation – This feature is usually a matter of design since these headphones use physical insulation to block out outside noise. Materials used are generally high-quality and soundproof to a point.

In general, active noise-cancelation (ANC) offers better noise-canceling capabilities for the entirely immersive listening experience.

Features to consider In Noise-Canceling Headphones

  • Design – Most of these products feature an over-the-ear design for better noise-cancelation. If you’re not a fan of that design, some manufacturers offer models that are an earbud type.
  • Battery life – On average, you can expect no less than 15 and no more than an hour of playback time. The higher quality products usually offer better battery life, though there are exceptions to this rule.
  • Materials – Noise-canceling headphones are usually of a premium build. Expect premium materials like metal, leather, and high-quality plastic. Some high-end products offer environment-friendly products that feature synthetic leather.
  • Price – Noise-canceling headphones do cost a bit more than regular headphones. In turn, they offer better music listening experience, making them a sound investment.

Best noise-canceling headphones for flying and travel

For flying, you need EXTRA noise-canceling abilities.

best noise canceling headphones

The engines of an airplane are very loud and strong. It’s a deep bassy rumbling noise that just won’t stop until you land.

For that reason, you’ll need ACTIVE noise canceling, and ideally over the ear padded headphones. This ist he best solution for flying and blocking out that noise. Here’s the list of top 10 noise-canceling headphones:

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

noise canceling headphones

Bose headphones feature one of the best active noise-cancellation, which comes as no surprise since Bose practically invented them.

This new set has a dedicated button to activate Google Assistant, enabling you to talk to your headphones.

QuietComfort 35 II will handle any music you play through them, revealing musical details you might not hear otherwise. You’ll find the sound quality to be high, with punchy bass, adequate midrange, and zesty treble.

Speaking of noise-cancellation – switching it on feels like walking from a noisy mall into a quiet room, with your headphones on. This quality of noise-cancellation makes 35 II one of the leading competitors when it comes to canceling airplane noise.

Thanks to their design, QuietComfort 35 II certainly lives up to the “comfort” part, making them suitable for long flights. The overall build quality is quite sturdy, well-crafted using high-quality materials.

They offer a battery life of 20 hours when connected via Bluetooth, and 40 hours if you use a wired connection.

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Pros Of The Bose QuietComfort

  • Excellent noise canceling
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Great sound quality

Cons Of The Bose QuietComfort

  • Quick-charge doesn’t offer much playing time

Sony WH-1000XM2

best noise canceling headphones

Sony WH-1000XM2’s are built on top of a solid foundation placed by the previous model, the Sony MDR-1000X. Thanks to their features, they quickly rose to the top ranks of noise-canceling headphones.

By their very nature, noise-canceling headphones usually don’t offer excellent sound quality, but WH1000MX2 is an exception to this rule. The sound they offer (played through a flat EQ) is listenable for a long time, without causing any fatigue.

WH-1000XM2 wireless headphones perform admirably, canceling out noise entirely, or partially – thanks to the number of selective modes. Quick Attention mode allows you to tune in external audio without taking off the headphones.

It works by reducing the volume of the music and utilizing the dual microphone setup, located on the outside of each earcup.

WH-1000XM2 headset offers about 30 hours of battery life. The quick-charge feature provides 75 minutes of playtime, with only 10 minutes on the charger.

Sony WH-1000XM2 is a great pair of headphones, offering excellent sound while confidently wielding noise-cancellation technology.

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Pros Of The Sony WH-100XM2

  • Impressive noise-canceling
  • Great audio
  • 30 hours of battery life

Cons Of The Sony WH-100XM2

  • Touch controls take time getting used to

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

best noise canceling headphones for planes

The original BackBeat Pro’s weren’t perfect, but they were still fabulous headphones. BackBeat Pro 2 are keeping the excellent sound quality and an excellent active noise cancelation while improving battery life and design details.

BackBeat Pro 2 offers a slightly bass-heavy sound, which most users found to be pleasing on the ears. This small bass emphasis helps block out the external noise, so you can understand why the manufacturer opted for a more substantial bass signature.

Active noise cancellation works well while playing music in wired mode, allowing you to save up on the battery if you don’t mind going wired.

Compared to the original model, the BackBeat Pro 2’s are smaller and lighter, which is excellent news for travelers with limited space.

They offer an improvement in battery life as well, now offering up to 30 hours of playtime. If the battery happens to run out, the headphones can still work in wired mode.

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Pros Of The Backbeat Pro 2

  • Good sound
  • Multi-point Bluetooth
  • Great battery life

Cons Of The Backbeat Pro 2

  • Bass can be a little overwhelming

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i

best noise cancelling head phones

The B&O Beoplay H8i is a pair of wireless, active noise-canceling headphones, combining high-quality audio and a luxuriously premium design.

Luxurious design and high-quality materials do make them a bit pricey, but the audio quality makes them worth every dime.

As a premium-ranged product, H8i does well in the sound department, offering a more neutral and balanced sound, rather than being bass-heavy.

A proximity sensor on the H8i detects when you remove the headphones from your ears and pauses the audio. Placing it back on your ears automatically resumes music.

Noise cancelation works great, as expected, having no problem drowning the noise of a busy city street or an airport. With the noise canceling activated, the H8i still has an astonishing 30 hours of battery life, which is amongst the best on the market.

Deactivating the ANC increases battery life by up to 45 hours.

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Pros Of The Bang & Olufsen

  • Beautiful, premium design
  • Luxurious materials
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Lightweight

Cons Of The Bang & Olufsen

  • A bit pricey

B&W PX – are these the best noise-canceling headphones for travel?

best noise cancelling head phone

PX headphones are Bowers and Wilkins’ first-ever Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones.

Years spent in developing proprietary noise-canceling technology, with the implementation of the aptX codec, offers fantastic performance for travelers.

The overall design is excellent, combining leather and metal. They are pretty lightweight, yet feel very solid. However, they don’t fold up, but the headband is very flexible, and the ear cups rotate to an almost flat shape, enabling you to store them with ease.

Though they are designed for wireless use, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired use.

The B&W’s noise-canceling technology works great, with various noise-canceling modes. Instead of using touch-based controls, these modes are changed via B&W’s accompanying app.

Its Office mode provides the least noise-blocking, while the Flight offers the most, as expected.

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Pros Of The B&W

  • Rich sound with and without noise cancellation
  • Great noise cancellation
  • Premium design

Cons Of The B&W

  • The headband needs more padding

Sony WI-1000X

the best headphones for air travel

For all users who dislike over-ear headphones, Sony offers an alternative. The WI-1000X are around-the-neck noise-canceling headphones that are more than suitable for everyday use.

The active noise canceling feature blocks a lot of ambient use, making the WI-1000X an excellent choice for commuting or in-office use. It does an excellent job blocking out jet engine noise and voices during flights.

The WI-1000X offers a superb sound that makes audiophiles squeak with joy. Audiophile rejected wireless audio for a good reason: the compression destroyed the details, dynamic ranges, and overall sound quality. However, WI-1000x features an aptX HD support, providing amazing wireless audio and balanced sound.

Battery life is typical for earbuds, lasting an average of about 10 hours. Unfortunately, once the battery’s out of juice, this music experience stops, since there’s no wired mode. However, remember to bring a power bank for charging during travel.

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Pros Of This Sony

  • Good noise cancellation
  • Audiophile wireless audio
  • Good controls

Cons Of This Sony

  • Average battery life

Beats Studio 3 Wireless

the best beats head phones

Thanks to the new Pure Adaptive Noise-cancelling technology, Beats’ newest headphones deliver optimized sound quality paired with quality noise canceling.

Noise cancellation is reasonably effective, stopping the city noise from interfering with your music. However, Pure ANC doesn’t solve one of the biggest quirks of ANC headphones: wind-noise whistling around the pinhole microphone.

Sound quality doesn’t disappoint, and Studio 3 Wireless luckily doesn’t feature the overly accentuated bass.  They do, however, sport a different type of bass emphasis: there is a certain thickness in the upper bass, rather than the sub-bass.

Design-wise, Studio 3 Wireless looks very similar to the previous generation of Studio Wireless headphones. Most of the frame is plastic, combined with synthetic leather for pads. The design, though abstract, is pretty tasteful.

Battery life averages about 22hours with ANC activated, and 40hours with ANC disabled.

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Pros Of The Beat Studio 3

  • Great wireless performance
  • Solid sound
  • Battery life

Cons Of The Beat Studio 3

  • Not so good mid-range

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

the best noise canceling head phones

The Momentum 2.0’s are near-perfect in almost every way – they’re portable, desirable, and they sound great, making them well worth the high price tag.

Sennheiser designed Momentum 2.0 to be closed-back earcup headphones, with earpads made out of leather. The earpads are quite soft, providing just enough airflow to prevent your head and ears from sweating.

The foldable design is made possible by two small metal hinges and a heavy-duty metal headband, both of which are strong and durable. The earcup design allows for passive noise isolation, which works really well, and allows for a complete immersion in the world of audio media.

Momentum 2.0 delivers a comprehensive frequency response connected to almost any audio device, thanks to the 18-ohm transducers.

The bass is controlled and pretty tight, the mids are pleasingly smooth, and the treble is very well articulated.

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Pros Of The Sennheiser

  • Premium design
  • Excellent, clear sound full of details
  • Removable cable

Cons Of the Sennheiser

  • These headphones are pricey

AKG N60NC

noise cancelling head phones

N60NC’s are designed for a music experience in a busy office or a noisy plane. On top of that, they are quite convenient, compact, affordable, yet incredibly reliable.

With an increasing number of phones dropping a 3.5mm headphone jack, manufacturers are slowly switching to wireless. To prevent the quality loss, AKG equipped the new N60NC with aptX Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

Wireless operation offers up to 15 hours of playback and automatically turns on the ANC. The ANC can be deactivated, increasing battery life up to 30 hours.

In the unfortunate case, you’re left with no battery power, and the N60NC does come equipped with a 3.5mm cable for a wired connection.

AKG balanced the sound on this model well, with everything tied well together across the frequency range, making the audio cohesive all the way. Noise-cancelling may not be top of the class but works pretty good blocking out transport noise.

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Pros Of The AKG

  • Excellent sound
  • Comfy
  • Good noise cancellation

Cons Of The AKG

  • Could benefit from extra padding on the headband

Sennheiser HD 4.50

best noise canceling headphones for flying

The HD 4.50 BTNCs are surprisingly affordable noise-canceling, travel-minded headphones, meant for long-haul travelers. Despite being budget-friendly, they offer NoiseGuard technology, without the quality drop, in terms of sound quality.

So, if you’re on a budget and looking for fabulous noise-canceling headphones, HD 4.50 might be worth your time.

The NoiseGuard technology uses dual microphones to monitor ambient sound, which then electronically cancels out. Sound quality is remarkable, given the price. The stereo sound is detailed and well-rounded, losing just a little bit of its luster when the NoiseGuard mode is on.

The design is both lightweight and flexible, allowing for comfortable wear. Battery life is above expected for a price point. You can expect a solid 20 hours of playback time.

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Pros Of The Sennheiser HD 4.50

  • Great noise-cancellation
  • 20-hours battery
  • Travel-friendly

Cons Of The Sennheiser HD 4.50

  • Ear cups lack ventilation

Further Reviews

If you are traveling a lot, these other reviews may be of interest to you:

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