Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones 2023

It’s more commonplace than ever for wireless headphones to have built-in noise cancellation. Not only are noise-cancelling headphones less expensive than ever, but they also have better audio quality and include features like extended battery life, spatial audio and the ability to pair with multiple devices. Our pick for the best noise-cancelling headphone overall is the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2; this model is also our pick for best wireless headphones overall.

We’ve also seen a rather dramatic improvement in the ability of noise cancellation technology to greatly reduce or eliminate unwanted ambient noise. This lets your audio to sound richer and more immersive than ever. In fact, even without playing any music, most of the noise cancelling headphones featured in this roundup allow you to use the noise cancellation to tune out the outside world and enjoy a bubble of silence in an otherwise noisy environment.

After extensive testing and research, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of what we’ve found to be the best noise cancelling headphones currently available. Keep reading to discover the others that made it into our roundup.

Editor’s Pick

Battery life: Up to 30 hours | Driver size: 40mm | Weight: 0.7 pounds | Case: Hardshell storage case

Best for: Listening to music or engaging in hands-free phone calls.

We love the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 headphones because they’re elegantly designed and comfortable to wear. They also take advantage of high-quality components which produce impressive noise cancellation and overall sound quality. Their proprietary mobile app makes it easy to pair and use the headphones, select from a solid collection of audio presets, or manually adjust your own audio equalizer settings.

These headphones feel surprisingly lightweight. After just a few minutes, you can almost forget you’re wearing them. The six built-in microphones do an impressive job helping to remove ambient sound, while ensuring your hands-free phone calls sound crystal clear. While wearing the headphones, you can also take advantage of the built-in touch-sensitive controls to turn on, off or adjust various features without having to tinker with the mobile app. The Px7 S2s are available in three colors (black, blue, or gray) and come with a high-quality hardshell case for transport and storage.

Excerpt from our full review: “I found the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2s perform as well as its most expensive competitors, although it lacks spatial audio. And their aesthetics look more elegant, too.”


  • Full, rich audio
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Mobile app offers audio presets and manual controls


Battery life: Up to 32 hours (24 hours with noise cancellation on) | Driver size: 30mm | Weight: 0.6 pounds | Case: Hardshell storage case

Best for: Audiophiles looking for versatile headphones with outstanding noise cancellation technology.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones improve on the previous version’s noise cancellation and take full advantage of Sony’s artificial intelligence engine and V1 processor to provide real-time upscaling of compressed digital audio. Sony’s noise cancellation technology blocks out ambient noises, and it has a transparency mode that lets you hear ambient background noise when you choose. The WH-1000XM5s are smart enough to detect how your personal sonic profile changes when you’re wearing glasses, for example, and then adjust accordingly. 

When wearing these headphones, you can’t help but notice how insanely quiet they make everything—even when no audio is playing. They offer conveniences like Bluetooth multipoint pairing; touch and voice controls using popular voice assistants; and proximity and acceleration sensors to pause playback automatically if you remove the headphones. What we don’t like about these headphones is that to unlock the spatial audio feature, you need to have a paid subscription to Tidal or another supported music streaming service.


  • Upscales digital audio
  • Spatial audio supported (with paid music streaming subscription)
  • Uses touch-sensitive and voice-activated controls


  • No water resistance
  • Expensive

Good Value

Battery life: Up to 20 hours | Drivers: 40mm | Weight: 0.8 pounds | Storage: No case included.

Best for: Its flexibility of using as headphones or as a portable Bluetooth speaker.

The most interesting thing about the V-Moda S-80 headphones is that when you rotate the earcups 90-degrees—so they’re pointing outwards—the headphones transform into a wireless Bluetooth speaker you can wear around your neck or place on a surface. This allows people within a three foot or so radius to hear whatever audio is playing. The earcups use a generous amount of memory foam that’s covered by a soft PU (artificial) leather. These headphones are an on-ear design, so the earcups lie flat over the ears, as opposed to surrounding them. While the headphones press firmly against the wearer’s ears, there’s no support to keep them in place when moving around. As a result, even with subtle head movements, the headphones wobbled a lot.

You control the V-Moda S-80s has some navigation controls on the right ear cup, with a power, volume up, volume down and play/pause button. Any other controls are via your mobile device or your computer. As traditional headphones, what you get is loud, manually adjustable and vibrant sound. When used as speakers, the sound quality is exceptionally clear and in stereo, but the unit can’t achieve as high a volume as the best Bluetooth speakers. These headphones only have passive noise cancellation, but their design does an impressive job blocking out ambient sound (when playing audio at over 50% volume). Unfortunately, these headphones don’t offer active or adaptive noise cancellation, which is a major drawback.


  • Works as a Bluetooth speaker, too
  • Above-average quality audio
  • Plush earcups


  • No spatial audio or Dolby Atmos support
  • No manual control over audio EQ
  • Only passive noise cancellation

Battery life: Up to 20 hours | Drivers: Not disclosed by Bose | Weight: 0.6 pounds | Storage: Hardshell case

Best for: Top-notch adaptive noise cancellation to enhance audio and voice calls.

What sets the Noice Cancelling 700s apart from the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones, for example, is their simplistic, modern-looking design. The earcups have a soft artificial leather coating and tilt by 15 degrees to mirror the shape of a human head. The steel headband has a silicone-covered foam coating for added comfort. These headphones use some molded plastic, which keeps them lightweight, but makes them a less durable than others. The 700s provide 11 levels of manually adjustable noise cancellation which you can opt to use, or simply rely on the headphones’ default settings.

The headphones take advantage of eight microphones (compared to six in the QuietComfort 45) to manage the adaptive and adjustable noise cancellation. This ensures that hands-free phone calls sound crisp and clear–even in the windy outdoors. When playing audio, the headphones automatically adjust the audio EQ (including the bass, midrange and treble) based on surroundings. The app, however, lets you manually adjust the EQ settings for more personalized sound. Another perk: the earcups fold flat, so their case is thinner than most. This also makes them more comfortable when hanging around your neck, because the cups naturally turned to sit flat against your shoulders. The 700s perform as well as headphones that cost significantly more, although they’re not as portable as the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones.

Expert from our full review: “These headphones output consistent, high-fidelity audio. I liked how I could adjust the level of noise cancellation. Their comfortable design makes it easy to wear these headphones over extended periods, while their stylish look fits well with any outfit, including both casual and formal business attire.”


  • Superior and adjustable noise cancellation
  • Manually adjustable audio EQ
  • Eight microphones enhance hands-free call quality and noise cancellation


  • No spatial audio or Dolby Atmos support
  • More fragile and less portable than the Bose QuietComfort 45s

Battery life: Up to 20 hours | Driver size: 40mm | Weight: 0.9 pounds | Case: Silicon cover for the headphones’ ear cups

Best for: Apple enthusiasts seeking high-quality headphones with spatial audio and dynamic head tracking.

The Apple AirPods Max has an understated, stylish design distinguished by a ventilated headband and plush over-ear earpads. These unique touches make the headphones very comfortable, even during prolonged listening sessions. The headphones produce crisp, high-fidelity audio using highly effective noise cancellation. They also support spatial audio with head tracking, which maintains the position of your music (or the audio you’re listening to) as you turn your head. This is an impressive feature, especially when listing to audio from TV shows or movies that support this technology. The AirPods Max has touch controls in addition to Siri voice controls; and they have an adaptive equalizer.

As with the second-generation Apple AirPods Pro earbuds, these headphones turn on and connect to your Apple device automatically when you take them out of their case. The AirPods Max is also well-integrated into the Apple ecosystem. View battery life via a widget on your iPhone, iPad or Mac; find the headphones using Apple’s Find My application; and easily switch among your Apple devices. These headphones have a premium price, but if you’re among the Apple faithful, it’s easy to make a strong case for investing in these headphones. They look great, sound fantastic and are work well with Apple products, thanks to seamless integration built into MacOS, iOS and iPadOS.


  • Spatial audio, adaptive EQ and automatic head tracking
  • Active noise cancellation with transparency mode
  • Works with Apple’s Find My mobile app


  • High price
  • No power button

Battery life: Up to 24 hours | Weight: 0.5 pounds | Storage: Hardshell case

Best for: Taking advantage of noise cancellation to enjoy quiet while traveling.

You can’t get on an airplane or train without seeing at least a dozen Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones worn by travelers. For years now, they’ve been a top pick among business travelers and office workers. They offer excellent battery life (up to 24 hours) and they’re very comfortable. What sets these headphones apart is their superior noise cancellation and easy-to-transport folding design.

The QuietComfort 45s use older technology that isn’t as advanced as other models at producing high-quality audio, but its audio doesn’t disappoint. These headphones can pair with two devices, or you can use the supplied 3.5mm audio cable, so you can plug them into an airplane’s video system. If you want slightly better audio quality, even better battery life and better clarity during hands-free calls, check out the less portable Bose Noise Cancelling 700s instead.


  • Foldable design for easy transport
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Long battery life


  • Uses older, but still excellent technology

How We Chose The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

We combined research with hands-on testing and experience. We also consulted with product experts and industry leaders to help us determine the products that made the cut. We carefully evaluated each noise cancelling headphone’s overall audio quality, noise cancellation capabilities, design, comfort, battery life, connectivity and more. We also paid attention to what sets each of the headphones apart from its competition.

Why Trust Forbes Vetted

The Forbes Vetted tech team strives to offer accurate, trustworthy product assessments that are the result of intensive research and hands-on testing. Our writers and editors have years of experience writing about a broad range of consumer electronics and have the background and expertise to help you make the best buying decisions possible.

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