If you’re a proud home owner and a frequent traveler like myself, chances are you own very few material things that are more expensive than a round-trip plane ticket. With every major purchase I make, I tend to compare it to the cost of a trip I could have taken instead.
For many of us, meeting people and understanding their culture and history is more interesting than owning the latest electronics just because "you can." For my family and I, keeping up with the Joneses is a pointless way to live a rich, productive life. Thanks to Moore's Law (google it) and rapid innovation in sound technology in the last 10 years, today, one can purchase a world-class pair of Noise Cancelling Headphones for under $70.
Stay above the fray and don't get tricked into thinking name brands or higher prices mean quality and reliability. Leverage my science background and passion for due diligence to ensure you get the best money can buy.
First, a quick backdrop: What is noise cancellation?
Noise canceling headphones use analogue and electronic methods to block out the environmental sound around you, allowing you to listen to your music in peace without distraction. Most noise-canceling headphones make use of the following two approaches:
Passive noise cancellation
This is when the headphones physically block outside sound from reaching your ears, and this can be achieved in a number of ways. Noise-canceling over-ear headphones typically have heavily padded earcups to achieve this, while in-ear headphones need to fit snugly in your ear to create a tight seal, stopping environmental sounds from entering.
Active noise cancellation
This method uses inbuilt microphones to analyze environmental noise and create 'anti-noise' frequencies that are mixed in with your music playback. This effectively cancels out the sound of your surroundings using analogue or digital filters.
How to choose the best noise-canceling headphones
We believe that noise-canceling headphones are just as vital as your laptop, TV or mobile phone when it comes to technology that'll change how you live, work and play. That means choosing the right pair for you is important, and one should do a little due diligence, so you get the best bang for the buck.
Design is very important, as a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones need to be comfortable for long listening sessions – look out for padded earcups and headbands in materials like memory foam for ultimate comfort.
Padded earcups also help with passive noise cancellation – in other words, they physically block sound from entering your ears. This works in tandem with active noise cancellation, with the best noise-canceling headphones using a combination of the two methods to get rid of outside noise.
As with any pair of headphones, the sound quality needs to be good, even if your focus is blocking out the world around you. How you define good sound quality depends on your personal taste. Do you like a warm, well-rounded sound, or do you prefer ultra high-fidelity that allows you to hear every single detail of your music? Are you a dedicated bass head or a classical music junkie?
To help you pick out a pair of the right noise cancelling headphones that deliver all of the above features, we've researched and tested over 40 wireless noise cancelling headphones, and distilled it to a short list of our favorite noise-cancelling headphones for 2020, listed below.
COWIN E7 | Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Bluetooth Headphones with Microphone Deep Bass Wireless Headphones Over Ear, Comfortable Earpads, 30 Hours Playtime for Travel/Work | 17,000+ Reviews on Amazon | US $59.99
A whopping 30 hours of battery life, buttery-soft ear cushions, and easy-access buttons on the ear base for quick volume and Bluetooth commands.
- Professional Active Noise Cancelling Technology. Significant noise reduction for travel, work and anywhere in between. Advanced active noise reduction technology quells airplane cabin noise, city traffic or a busy office, makes you focus on what you want to hear,enjoy your music, movies and videos. The noise cancellation function can work well both in wire and wireless mode.
- Proprietary 40mm Large-aperture Drivers. Deep, accurate bass response. The Active Noise Cancelling around-ear headphones from COWIN give you crisp, powerful sound and quiet that helps you enjoy your music better. The goal that provide Customers with better sound quality, is our constant pursuit.
- High-quality Built-in Microphone and NFC Technology. COWIN E7 provides high-quality built-in microphone for hands-free calls, Which is convenient for you to free yourself from wires. NFC pairing aided by voice prompts, promises quick and stable connection with your Bluetooth enabled devices, Powerful Bluetooth Function.
- The Professional Protein Earpad and 90° Swiveling Earcups. More durability and comfort, Enjoy high-quality, Long-listen comfort. Skin texture, lightweight comfortable around-ear fit you can wear all day long. Gentle Reminder: please take off the headphone every 2-3 hrs to get your ears relax, in order to get better hearing enjoyment, and keep the head comfortable.
- 30 Hours Playtime Per Charge at Bluetooth Mode. A built-in 600mAh battery won't allow your headphones power off, you can enjoy your world without noise for 30 hours' long time. Don't need to worry the power shortage problem on the long travel. 18-month warranty and quick response & friendly customer service. Note: The exclusive authorized seller is COWIN.
MPOW 059 Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear, Hi-Fi Stereo Wireless Headset, Foldable, Soft Memory-Protein Earmuffs, w/Built-in Mic Wired Mode PC/Cell Phones/TV | 27,000+ Reviews on Amazon | US $33.99
- IMPRESSIVE SOUND QUALITY IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL: The High-fidelity stereo sound benefits from the 40mm neodymium driver, CSR chip, and the around-ear cushion design which provide a well-closed and immersed enviroment for your ears, Just lose yourself in the music! NOTE: Mpow 059 headphones is passive noise isolating, NOT active noise cancellation(ANC), it can't cancel the noise completely but it won't drain the battery and damage the sound. 2. The closed-back design provides immersive Hi-Fi sound with CSR chip and 40mm driver together, it is better than ANC in term of sounds quality.
- BUILT TO STAY COMFORTABLE: The Memory-protein ear cushion simulate human skin texture, ensuring lasting comfort. The stainless steel slider and softly padded headband allows you to find the perfect fit without constraint and provide excellent durability.
- NEVER POWER OFF, BOTH WIRELESS & WIRED: 1. The wireless mode: Battery update to 20-hr music time/ talking time in a single charge. A 10-minute charge gives 2 hours of play when battery is low. 2. The Wired mode: you can also use it as a wired headphone with the provided audio cable so the headphones will never power off.
- FOLDABLE DESIGN WITH A PORTABLE BAG & GENTLE REMINDER: The foldable Headband is not only designed for saving your desk space but for carrying in the provided bag. In case of that and to get both audio and wearing comfort, please take off the headphone every 1-2 hrs to get your ears relax.
I hope you enjoy the reviews above of 2020's Best Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones for Affordability, Quality, and Form & Function.
Remember: Stay above the fray and don't get tricked into thinking name brands or higher prices mean quality and reliability. Leverage my science background and passion for due diligence to ensure you get the best money can buy.
Enjoy & Happy New Year's to All!