Noise-Canceling Headphones for Kids Studying at Home

These headphones can help students focus in a house full of people social distancing together

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The era of remote learning may finally be coming to a close. But as more families get ready to send kids back into schools, it's a great time to start shopping for the tools that will help students succeed, and a set of noise-canceling headphones can be a boon to kids when they are studying at home.

The right pair of noise-canceling headphones can help your kid focus on homework in a distracting environment by blocking outside sound. Keep in mind that the technology in these headphones is better at “canceling” consistent sounds like the drone of a plane engine; sporadic noises such as people talking might not be blocked entirely. That means silence isn’t guaranteed, but a good pair will help muffle your surroundings a bit no matter what kind of sound you’re dealing with.

We’ve combed our headphone ratings to bring you the best noise-canceling headphones for kids studying at home. We focused on sound-blocking performance, but we factored in audio quality, too. We also picked models with a generous advertised battery life so that the headphones won't cut out when you need them.

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Fit is important for noise-canceling headphones to work properly, so the models on this list will probably work best for middle schoolers, high school students, and adults. (Parents of young children with smaller heads may want to consider headphones made for kids—CR doesn’t currently test them.)

Of course, you don’t have to be a student to enjoy the benefits of the headphones below. The best noise-canceling headphones can help you stay on task no matter what kind of work you’re doing from home, whether it’s algebra or talking to clients on Zoom.

Great noise-canceling headphones typically cost a bit more than other headphones, but there are some budget-oriented options, too. Here are our top picks, starting with the least expensive.

Monoprice BT-300ANC

This wireless model from Monoprice is available for around $50, making it an appealing choice for parents who have younger kids and don’t want to spring for an expensive model. But you’re not trading performance for price: The BT-300ANC has superb noise cancellation and above-average sound quality.

It features integrated controls for calls, volume, and playback, and the ear cups fold in and swivel flat for easy storage and transport. According to Monoprice, the battery will run for 8 hours between charges with Bluetooth and noise cancellation turned on. (CR doesn’t test battery life in headphones.)

Cleer Ally Plus

The Cleer Ally Plus is a budget-friendly true wireless option, meaning that the headphones don't have a physical connection between the earbuds. It has solid audio quality and great noise cancellation. These headphones have touch controls, a monitor mode to pipe in outside sound when you want it, and an autopause feature that stops the music when you take them off.

The Cleer Ally Plus also stands out for its advertised battery life, a full 10 hours of playback paired with a portable charging case that's supposed to power the headphones about twice before you plug it in again.

Anker SoundCore Life Q20

Our testing shows that the $50 Anker SoundCore Life Q20 outperforms models that cost hundreds more. It doesn't rate quite as high as the Monoprice headphones listed above, but the Q20 has them beat in one category that could matter a lot, depending on your needs. According to Anker, this pair has a whopping 40-hour battery life with both Bluetooth and noise canceling turned on.

The SoundCore Life Q20 has great sound quality and outstanding noise cancellation. You don't get sought-after features like adjustable levels of noise canceling, but at this price that's a sacrifice worth making. Anker does include some appealing perks, though, such as the ability to work over Bluetooth or an audio cable, and a free app that adds features including a bass boost EQ setting.

Sennheiser PXC 550-II

For those willing to shell out for the best performance, the Sennheiser PXC 550-II is one of the highest-scoring headphones in our ratings. It has superb sound quality and noise canceling that bests many of the most popular models on the market. It's as much as $100 cheaper than many competitors. But it beats flagship models from other leading manufacturers, and gets the exact same score as the pricier Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700—one of our other top picks.

The PXC 550-II has adjustable levels of noise cancellation and an ambient sound monitoring mode that lets in noise from your environment so that you can hear your surroundings when necessary. It has touch-sensitive controls and an automatic pause feature that stops your audio when you take the headphones off. Sennheiser says this model will run for up to 20 hours with Bluetooth and noise canceling turned on.


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Thomas Germain

I want to live in a world where consumers take advantage of technology, not the other way around. Access to reliable information is the way to make that happen, and that's why I spend my time chasing it down. When I'm off the clock, you can find me working my way through an ever-growing list of podcasts. Got a tip? Drop me an email ( thomas.germain@consumer.org) or follow me on Twitter ( @ThomasGermain) for my contact info on Signal.