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One of the most useful tools to bring when traveling is a comfortable pair of noise-canceling headphones. It can tune out annoying noises or conversations and help a person sleep more comfortably. With a good set of headphones, travelers can drown out a loud plane engine or the persistent chugging of the train so that they can actually hear the latest podcast they’ve downloaded.
Finding the right headphones doesn’t have to be a challenge, either. Engaging with media is common in our day to day activities, giving consumers more choices. Depending on preferences, narrowing down options is easy. The most expensive option doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the best either.
Here are some of the best noise-canceling headphones for traveling. Use the table below to jump to specific models in your price range:
- Sony WH-1000XM4 $348
- Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones $379
- Bowers & Wilkins PX7 $399
- Sennheiser Momentum 3 $399
Good Value Headphones and Earbuds
- AKG Noise Cancelling Headphones N60NC $141
- Apple AirPods Pro $219
- Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds $178
- Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones $249.95
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
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The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones are often listed as the best overall noise-canceling headphones—and it’s easy to see why. With industry-leading noise cancelation technology, these headphones come with additional microphones to help isolate sounds. Outside noises are reduced, providing more sound clarity.
Sony developed two technologies to enhance noise cancelation in this over-ear headphone. One is designed specifically for the user, while the other is designed specifically for air travel. With the Sony Headphones Connect app, users can adjust ambient noises but still allow for sounds like overhead announcements.
These wireless headphones also come with smart technology that is perfect for use while working from home. For instance, the headphones can automatically pause music once the user starts speaking. Music will resume once the user stops speaking.
Adaptive sound technology allows the user to go about their daily lives while still recognizing surrounding sounds. The headphones sense where the user is and adjust accordingly. Additionally, sensors can detect whether or not the user is wearing them, saving battery life when not in use. Users can connect two Bluetooth devices at the same time.
The lightweight design and 30-hour battery life make the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones a perfect companion for an extended trip. The headphones also swivel inwards and come with a durable carrying case, making it easy to pack up when on the go. These headphones cost $348.00 and are available in silver and black.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
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Another critically acclaimed best noise-canceling headphones for traveling option is the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Microphones are located both inside and outside the over-ear earphone, to help reduce outside noise while also enhancing acoustic sounds. Users can control how much noise to let in if the user prefers to have some outside noise (like when walking or waiting for an announcement).
There are six microphones built in to help cancel outside noise while also improving sound quality. This is also to provide clarity for calls, with four microphones working to adapt to surroundings and suppress disruptions.
Eleven settings range from full transparency (similar to not wearing headphones) to full noise canceling. If the user needs to engage in conversation, they can easily click Conversation Mode. This will pause their music and change their headphones to full transparency mode.
These wireless headphones also have built-in voice control and simple touch controls. Users can use the built-in voice control to access music and messages quickly. The right earcup has touch sensors that give users the ability to control volume, calls, music, power, noise-canceling settings, and the voice assistant tool. The Bose Music app gives users more control and personalization options. If users have a Bose Soundbar 500 or 700 for their television, they can also connect their headphones to the device.
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are designed with the human head in mind to help create a comfortable experience. The battery life is good for 20 hours. These headphones come with a carrying case and are available in black, luxe silver, soapstone, and triple midnight. They cost $379.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7
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This review of the best noise-canceling headphones for traveling wouldn’t be complete without a luxury brand. These wireless over-ear headphones are for those that like the look and sound of luxury, without an outrageous luxury price. The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 was inspired by race cars and designed to withhold daily use and inevitable wear and tear. They were also developed by the same engineers whose speakers can be found at the famous Abbey Road Studios.
The largest headphones in the Bowers & Wilkins collection, these headphones adapt to the user’s environment, effectively canceling outside noise. Additionally, music can be paused by simply lifting an ear cup. This manual option can be more efficient instead of relying on technology to detect noise as other headphones do. However, noise cancelation technology is still in effect as are wear sensors that conserve battery life when the headphones are not being worn.
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 headphones have a battery life of 30 hours, plenty of life for an international excursion—and then some. If short on time, a quick 15-minute charge gets five more hours of battery life. Available in space gray or silver (with a carbon edition coming soon), these headphones cost $399 and come with a hardshell case.
Sennheiser Momentum 3
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For the traveler that wants better sound and isn’t too fussed about noise cancelation, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 wireless headphones are a worthy option. While other options have better noise cancelation technology, these headphones have crisper sound quality. However, they can still deliver when needed.
The Active Noise Cancellation feature has three modes that provide more control in various surroundings. The Transparent Hearing feature lets users continue to listen to their music while also hearing what is going on around them. There is an Auto On/Off and Smart Pause feature that gives users more management capabilities.
Users can control volume, switch between music and phone calls, and link to their phone’s voice assistant features instantly. There is also the Sennheiser Smart Control app that has a built-in equalizer. If the headphones are lost, users can check the app to find the missing headphones.
The Sennheiser Momentum 3, designed with leather straps and earcups plus steel arms, provides a sleek look. Available in black or white, these headphones cost $399.95. Battery life is up to 17 hours for this best noise-canceling headphones for traveling option.
AKG Noise Cancelling Headphones N60NC
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The AKG Noise Cancelling Headphones N60NC are wireless, over-ear headphones that are more budget-friendly than other items listed above. It comes with an Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) feature that was designed for travelers. Made of memory foam and protein leather, these headphones provide comfort while still blocking outside noise.
Users can answer calls easily by pressing a button on the headset. AAC technology and aptX provide excellent sound quality for use with Bluetooth. Users can also control how much bass they’d like to hear by turning AKG Signature sound on or off.
Battery life depends on use. If the user chooses to have Bluetooth and Active Noise Cancellation on during playback, the battery should last up to 15 hours. If the user decides to have only ANC on, they will get up to 30 hours of playback.
The AKG Noise Cancelling Headphones N60NC are foldable and compact, making them easy to travel with. Other accessories include an airline adapter, a tangle-free fabric cable, and a carrying case. These headphones are $124.41.
Some travelers may prefer in-ear headphones. While they aren’t as pricey as some of the offers mentioned above, they also don’t have a long battery life. Additionally, they are easier to lose. These three in-ear options are some of the best noise-canceling headphones for traveling.
Two honorable wireless noise-canceling headphone mentions are the Apple AirPods Pro ($219) and the Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds ($178). These in-ear headphones both provide exceptional noise-canceling technology and clear sound. However, the battery life for the Apple AirPods Pro is only up to 4.5 of listening time. The Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds has a battery life of up to 6 hours. The battery life is quite short compared to other wireless noise-canceling headphones. However, the price is a bit more affordable.
Another honorable mention that is not wireless but still noise canceling is the Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones ($249.95). Available for both Apple and Samsung and Android devices, these headphones come with soft ear tips to provide comfort along with a clear sound. These headphones have noise-canceling technology and the ability to activate Aware mode, which lets the user hear their surroundings. The rechargeable battery provides up to 16 hours of playing time.
Choosing the best noise-canceling headphones for traveling is easier when users narrow down what they want from the headphones. If they plan on using the headphones mostly for music and media, then one with excellent sound quality will be a better fit.
However, if they look for headphones that do a bit of everything, Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (or their older models) might be better options.