The Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds – October 2018
Earbuds don’t tend to enjoy a reputation for fantastic sonics. Long thought of as the cheap and somewhat underwhelming alternative to over-ear headphones, earbuds are often believed to lack both low-end frequencies and upper-register definition.
This sweeping categorization, although certainly true when it comes to most low-end earbuds, is no longer fair to the group as a whole. Earbuds have come a long way since their humble inception, and they’re no longer soley for exercise enthusiasts who couldn’t care less what’s pumping through their ears while they pump weights at the gym.
In fact, many of today’s most popular earbud brands rival the sonic depth and clarity of some of the most popular over-ear headphones, while adding a level of portability and convenience that can’t be found elsewhere in the personal listening realm.
But if you’re going to invest in a great pair of earbuds, you may as well splurge for noise-cancellation technology, which eliminates distractions from your surroundings so you can focus on your tunes. Here’s a list of the best noise-cancelling earbuds on the market.
As with all things tech, deciding on which gadget is best for you depends largely on how much you’re willing or able to spend. Earbuds are no different, and if money is no issue, you’ll be able to find a pair that’s doubtlessly awesome for hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of dollars. But assuming money is of at least some concern to you, we decided to start small.
These TNSO earbuds are exceptionally well-priced. Costing less than the traditional, wired pair of Apple earbuds that come with every iPhone, these buds deliver more punch and more style—along with a series of controls that make it easy to take calls and change tracks on the go.
Handcrafted from real wood, these earbuds deliver deep, rich bass alongside crystal clear highs and a well-defined midrange (a frequency range that’s often far too neglected in most earbud designs).
These buds utilize technology that not only protects your ears, but also provides a more pleasant listening experience, especially when you engage in longer sessions. That means no more ear fatigue or uncomfortable and obnoxious ringing noises in your ears at night.
There’s a built-in microphone and one-button remote that allows you to take calls on the go, and you’ll be able to change tracks, pause, and play without reaching for your device.
And to ensure the perfect fit, these buds also come with seven interchangeable ear tips.
For those willing to dish out a bit more cash, we highly recommend these Hobest noise-cancelling buds. Made primarily for exercise enthusiasts who need to keep a good seal while they work out, these sleek and stylish buds are equally well-suited for any audio enthusiast who wants to enjoy a supremely comfortable listening experience over extended periods of time.
These buds are incredibly lightweight and come with a mini portable charging dock that allows you to stay powered up even when you’re away from an outlet, and each earbud can work both individually or as a pair—making them a perfect choice for on-the-go business people who want their headphones to double as a Bluetooth call receiver.
Bluetooth 4.1 technology ensures that you’ll enjoy a strong, uninterrupted signal wherever you go, and CVC 6.0 noise-cancelation means that you’ll be able to eliminate distracting noises even in inherently noisy environments like the gym or on an airplane.
But most importantly, these buds sound fantastic. Although there’s a bit of a midrange dip, the bass is strong and tight, and the treble frequencies shine through without interruption (a trade-off that likely won’t bother anyone who’s not a classical music enthusiast).
It may be helpful to think of these stylish Hargitech as a slight step up from the Hobests. Priced a bit higher as well, these buds seem to deliver just a bit more "oomph" in each category, and the only reason why these buds didn’t earn the number two spot is because we don’t believe most listeners would notice much of a difference in sonics—rendering their slightly elevated price needless.
Much like the Hobest buds, these earbuds can be used either as a pair or individually, making them perfect substitutes for less sonically-robust Bluetooth headsets and earphones. They feature true wireless stereo sound (which is often advertised in these types of buds but rarely materialized), solid noise-cancellation technology, a sweat-proof design that makes them ideal for gym rats, and a lightweight and comfortable fit that allows you to take them on the go without worry.
Their sonic character is not much different than that of the Hobest buds, but one area in which these Hargitech buds truly shine is in their playback time. You’ll be able to enjoy 24 hours of play back—even at high volumes—with a single charge, which takes only one hour from start to finish. This makes these buds a notable choice for people who constantly find themselves running out of power half way through their playlist.
Your order also comes with absolutely everything you’ll need to get started, including the charging case, a USB cable, a burlap carrying case, and three sets of interchangeable ear tips from small to medium to large.
Next up we have the TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, which once again are a bit pricier than the last. And once again, the only reason these didn’t rank higher on our list is because we doubt that most people will find this price hike necessary.
Although these buds lack some of the low-end depth and punch that the other buds on this list offer, they do reign supreme in one important category: unrelenting fit and comfort. In fact, these may be the best buds on our list when it comes to extended exercise that involves a lot of movement.
Joggers and weight lifters would likely prefer these buds over the others since they refuse to break the seal in your ear, and they’re also supremely lightweight and comfortable. And since these buds utilize active noise-cancelling technology, you’ll enjoy an elimination of up to 25dB of sound—a much higher cut than you’d experience with most passive noise-cancellation technology.
These buds also come packed with a variety of features that make them ideal for on-the-go exercise, including a monitoring mode button, inline controls for volume and track changes, and a very useful airplane audio adapter that can come in handy when you want to listen to an in-flight movie.
As a point of comparison to the TaoTronics earbuds, we thought we’d point to these slightly similar Geekee earbuds, which offer many of the same features at the same price point. One important difference between these two sets of buds, however, is that the TaoTronics sacrificed some sonic quality (especially in the low-end) for lightweight, sweat proof convenience.
These buds, on the other hand offer a more defined and rich bass response at the expense of a supremely secure fit. This means that it’s up to the individual user to decide which pair is best for them.
Where these buds really shine, however, is in the frequency range of upper-lows to lower-highs. Made from state of the art components and acoustic resonating technology, these buds are ideal for serious listeners who want to enjoy a detailed midrange without sacrificing low-end.
They come with a portable charging case, multiple ear tips of difference sizes to ensure a great fit, and a more-than-respectable 15 hours of stereo streaming on a single charge. We also like how easy it is to sync these buds with a variety of devices straight out of the box.
We just couldn’t bring ourselves to make a list without including a slightly more extravagant pair of wireless noise-cancelling earbuds for those who aren’t afraid to spend a bit more cash. These Linner buds seem to have it all: great sound, a great fit, and supreme noise cancellation technology.
The first thing you’ll notice about these buds is just how comfortable they are. They seem to glide into your ear without any effort, and although this usually indicates a poor fit, these buds stay surprisingly snug even during workouts and extreme movements.
Of course the next thing you’ll notice about these buds is how great they sound. No area of the frequency spectrum seems to have been abandoned during their design, and regardless of the music genre, you’ll be able to hear everything the way it’s meant to be heard.
Active noise-cancellation technology reduces ambient and external noise by a whopping 28dB, and Bluetooth 4.1 technology means that you won’t have to worry about your signal dropping out mid-play.
These buds are also fully sweat-proof (meaning you won’t have to worry about damaging them during extended sessions at the gym) and feature an extended battery life that lets you listen for up to thirteen hours on a single charge, which takes only two hours to attain from start to finish.