Noise-Canceling Headphones on a Budget
Our tests show that you don't need to sacrifice performance to find headphones at a great price
A great pair of noise-canceling headphones can be life-changing, whether you’re trying to tune out the sounds of traffic or playing children while working from home or just want some distraction-free music while running on the treadmill. But noise-canceling models are often expensive. The very best-performing options in our ratings can cost more than $300.
However, Consumer Reports has tested noise-canceling headphones with solid performance that cost much less. The headphones below, from Anker, Cleer, Monoprice, and 1More, are all fantastic choices if you want good quality at an affordable price. We’ve found a few great models for around $50 to $60, and every pair on this list runs for about $100 or less.
This over-ear wireless model from Monoprice is usually available for around $50—a steal, given its superb noise-canceling performance and dependable sound quality. These headphones don't sound quite as good as the Anker model listed below, but Monoprice sweetens the deal with a solid rating for predicted reliability and an outstanding owner satisfaction score. Both are based on a survey of Consumer Reports members.
The BT-300ANC 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 headphones for battery life.) You can keep the music going even longer by switching off Bluetooth and using the detachable audio cable, which is included.
Anker SoundCore Life Q20
You’ll have a hard time finding a better value in noise-canceling headphones than the Anker SoundCore Life Q20. Our tests show it beats out models that cost hundreds more.
The SoundCore Life Q20 has great audio quality and outstanding noise cancellation. It doesn’t sound quite as good as top-rated models, and you won’t get sought-after features like adjustable levels of noise cancellation. But at this price, that’s a sacrifice worth making.
Anker does include some appealing features, though, such as the ability to work over Bluetooth or an audio cable, and a free app that adds capabilities including a bass boost EQ setting. According to Anker, the SoundCore Life Q20 has a generous 40-hour battery life when Bluetooth and noise cancellation are both turned on. Anker's reliability score is mediocre, but the brand does well for owner satisfaction.
1MORE ComfoBuds Pro
1MORE has a reputation for top-of-the-line performance at mid-range prices, and the ComfoBuds Pro are no exception. You get the convenience of true wireless headphones, great sound quality, and superb noise-cancellation, all for around $100.
These headphones also deliver modern noise-canceling features, including adjustable levels of sound-blocking and a monitor mode that pipes in outside sound when you want to hear it.
With noise-canceling turned on, 1MORE advertises a 6-hour battery life backed by a charging case that will power up the headphones twice before it needs to be plugged in again. To sweeten the deal, the ComfoBuds feature a quick charging function for an extra 2 hours after just 15 minutes of charging.
Cleer Ally Plus
The Cleer Ally Plus is a budget-friendly true wireless option, with 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 remove the earpieces.
The Cleer Ally Plus also stands out for its advertised battery life, a full 10 hours of playback paired with a charging case that's supposed to power the headphones about twice before you plug it in again.
The Science Behind Noise-Canceling Headphones
Whether they’re for concentrating on work or blocking out undesirable sounds in other situations, noise-canceling headphones can be a huge help. On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports experts Elias Arias and James Dickerson explain to host Jack Rico the tech behind these handy devices.