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Best wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation

Best wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation
Ever been annoyed by the crying baby two rows back on your long-haul flight, or the loudest keyboard in the "open office" experiment you are now part of? Ever been annoyed by the size and heft of over-the-head noise-cancelling cans? 

Well, you can put two and two together, below we list the best of truly wireless or simply wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation features that money can now buy. 

There aren't may of those around just yet, so at the moment all of them are precious, even at the price premiums they command, compared to good truly wireless earphones like Samsung's Buds, for instance. 

Don't expect the same level of noise-isolation and cancellation as on good cans that completely cover your ears but if you are looking for the best we can get at the moment, here it is.

Best wireless noise cancelling earbuds, a summarized list:

  • Sony WF-1000XM3
  • Apple AirPods Pro
  • Amazon Echo Buds
  • Plantronics BackBeat Go 410
  • Sony WI-1000X

Best true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation

Sony WF-1000XM3

Building on the veritable success of the crudely named WH-1000XM3 (our review here), Sony did the undoubtedly harder thing, and trued to shoehorn the technology into a pair of earbuds with active noise cancellation that are still above and beyond them all, even Apple's popular AirPods Pro

They last more on a charge and are cheaper than Apple's finest, but are bigger and less resistant to your sweat and tears while you work out. Tap on the bud, though, and immediately get a conversation through, and, with the latest software update from 11/26, Sony added Alexa support, as well the ability to adjust the volume using the headphones' touch sensor.

Apple AirPods Pro

Just as long rumored, Apple stepped in the wonderful world of true wireless noise cancellation with the new AirPods Pro buds that are on top of that water resistant, so brace yourselves for people on the treadmill next to you not hearing what you are shouting at them.

We kid, as the AidPods Pro do include a transparency feature that lets a bit of the surrounding noise in, just as any self-respecting isolation headphones should, so that you can survive in traffic for longer than the next crossroad. While we were expecting the Pro to be priced above the current AirPods + Wireless Charging Case = $199 bundle, and yet below the $250 that Apple wants for its PowerBeats Pro and their whopping 9 hours of listening time, Apple went for the jugular.

Yes, the new AirPods Pro don't cost $230 (or $199 on sale) as Sony's direct WF-1000XM3 competitors, but Apple is rather pricing them directly as much as the PowerBeats Pro, even though they last less on a charge than Sony's noise-cancelling buds. They are, however, more sweat resistant and more elegant-looking than the Sony pair, plus the fit and the call quality when paired with an iPhone is some of the best out there.

Amazon Echo Buds

Due to the sheer power of the brand and its marketing reach, Amazon's faux-cancellation Echo Buds are proving a very popular budget alternative. They offer Bose's Noise Reduction technology which doesn't completely tune out the ambient noise but is better than earphones that simply try to isolate the sounds physically like the Galaxy Buds. In fact, anecdotal evidence from Joe Sixpack say they are good enough to cancel out the noise of the leaf blower across the street, for instance.

Unfortunately, Bose, the creator of this ANC market niche, is keeping a next generation proprietary noise-cancellation tech for its own mysterious Earbuds 700 that are to appear in 2020 and presumably climb be on top of the noise-cancelling pile but we'll review and compare when time comes.

Best noise-cancelling wireless earphones with neckband design

Plantronics BackBeat Go 410

Despite getting the last year's tech treatment, Plantronics' BackBeat Go 410 have a few undeniable advantages before the abovementioned buds - they are wireless but not truly wireless, so you won't have to deal with searching for the left one under the couch, or lug a charging case with you at all times. 

They are priced at entry-level, since syncing and battery spacing are non-issues with the neckband design. There are other advantages, like cutting off the battery-chugging ANC by simply dropping the buds down so they magnetically attach to each other.

Sony WI-1000X

If you have wisened up enough to realize the advantages of the neckband design and aren't worried about the respective "OK boomer" memes, our last proposition may be your best bet on the quest to find the ultimate ratio of excellent active noise cancellation and great battery life. Again, Sony isn't doing itself any favors by naming the WI-1000X as it did, but managed to churn out a product worthy of carrying the brand that was once synonymous with quality audio. 

While Bose's QuietControl 30 should have been the gold standard when it comes to wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation, this pair of Sony buds have been raved about оn precisely that count. Sony uses its proprietary on-chip solution and the earphones are on top of that attuned to frequent fliers with the Atmospheric Pressure Optimizer feature. This combo has proved excellent to provide dynamic ANC where the Sony buds automatically recognize the situation you are in - walking on a busy street, sitting in an office, etc. - and adjust the level of active noise cancellation accordingly. 

On top of that, the neckband design provides solid 10 hours of battery life with ANC on - the best battery life of the bunch here - as well as aptX HD Bluetooth that can play 24bit/48kHz streams if you have them handy. Audio quality is very balanced with a still-punching bass, and if your battery runs out, you can just plug them in a regular jack with the provided adapter cable. For a Benjamin less than the Bose with the same great ANC and sound but more features, these Sonys are a no-brainer for those who don't mind neckbud wireless designs.

Best active noise cancelling earbuds specs comparison

All in all, Sony's somewhat clumsily named WF-1000XM3 and WI-1000X are the best (not budget) options if you are looking for wireless bud sets with good audio and active noise cancellation to lessen that droning jet sound on long haul flights. The AirPods Pro are best if you are in the Apple ecosphere, while the Echo Buds and BackBeat Go 410 are good options for those who are looking to tune in and zone out on a budget.


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