Picture this: You’ve recently upgraded to a 5G capable smartphone because you were long-due for an upgrade. You unbox the smartphone and realise that there is no 3.5mm headphone jack. All your wired earphones and headphones have been rendered useless in one fell swoop.
Picture this as well: Your daily commute consists of honking cars or talkative metro passengers. Your desk at your office is surrounded by noise. Or, you travel a lot.
You’re looking for headphones with good active noise cancelling (ANC) capabilities to drown out the surroundings and be able to focus. If you’re on the hunt for a budget pair of ANC or just your first pair and aren’t looking to spend much, then this list is for you.
1. Realme Buds Air 5 Pro: Having recently reviewed the Buds Air 5 Pro from Realme, I can safely say that they have one of the best-in-class active noise cancellation of the lot. They may be bass-forward in-ear TWS earbuds, but they are worth every rupee. Priced at ₹4,999, the Buds Air 5 Pro comes with multipoint connectivity, good call quality, and clear vocals. As I wrote in my review, “The earbuds pack two drivers in each of the buds (one for bass and one for treble). The buds also come with ANC (up to 50dB), which is one of the most powerful in this segment. The ANC effortlessly drowns out the noises around you. There is also a transparent mode in case you want to be aware of your surroundings.” Realme Buds Air 5 Pro can be purchased from retail stores or Amazon for ₹4,999.
2. Jabra Elite 4: Earlier this year, I was able to get my hands on Jabra’s Elite 4 budget TWS earbuds. The Elite 4’s are lightweight, no-frills TWS earbuds. They have a lovely soundstage, clear vocals, and good instrument separation. They are durable earbuds for everyone. The Elite 4’s are one of the most comfortable TWS earbuds on the market and will last five and a half hours (with ANC on) on a single charge. The Elite 4’s also have easy-to-use capacitive touch controls, which is a bonus. Launched at ₹9,999, the Jabra Elite 4’s can be found for ₹5,001 on Amazon. A very good deal, if I may say so.
3. Anker Soundcore Life Q30: Priced at ₹9,990, the Soundcore Life Q30 headphones from Anker may be a little expensive, but again, are worth the asking price.
They feature some impressive ANC. Both the low-frequency noises (up to 40db reduction) and high-frequency noises are well isolated. They are lightweight and come with plush ear cups for supreme comfort. There are five sets of ear tips for you to find the perfect fit. Again, these are bass-friendly headphones with a nice soothing soundstage. The Soundcore Life Q30 headphones are rated for up to 40 hours of playback with ANC on. That’s mighty impressive.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30’s can be purchased on Amazon for ₹9,999 and sometimes at an even lower price.
4. OnePlus Nord Buds 2: Another pair of TWS earbuds that I recently reviewed was from OnePlus. The Nord Buds 2 were the first in the Nord series to get ANC. While it takes a while to find the perfect fit, the plastic fit will stay in and be comfortable throughout your usage period.
There’s a pill-shaped case, while the buds are stem-shaped and weigh 4.7 grams each. They come with an IP55 rating.
Again, the Nord Buds 2 are bass-first earbuds as they come with 12.4mm drivers and a sound chamber to allow for more bass. They sound similar to the Jabra Elite 4 and have a complete soundstage and clear vocals that will satisfy a lot of users.
The ANC isn’t the best out there but they’ll get the job done for the most part. They’re available for ₹2,999 at OnePlus stores, OnePlus’ website, Amazon.in and other places.
5. Sony WF-C700N: At a discounted price of ₹8,990 (via Amazon), the Sony WF-C700N earbuds are a fantastic pair to own. These earbuds come with sublime comfort, very effective ANC, and great sound quality. They are small, lightweight, and very comfortable.
They have a good balanced sound quality with detailed bass and expressive mids. Even the highs are wide and engaging. It’s a punchy sound overall. They are good value-for-money earbuds at their discounted price.
The battery life is rated at seven and a half hours (with ANC on) and 24 hours with the charging case (again, with ANC on). These buds can be purchased for ₹8,990 on Amazon.in.
If you’re looking for headphones instead of in-ear earbuds, then the WH-CH720N headphones from Sony should also be on your list. They’ll cost you ₹9,990.
6. JBL Tune 760NC: If you’re after over-ear headphones, then the JBL Tune 760NC should be on top of your list.
These headphones come with good sound quality, long battery life and great noise-cancelling. There’s support for multipoint connectivity and over 45 hours of battery life with ANC.
No matter what genre of music you like, the Tune 760NC headphones will provide you with great sound quality. They also have JBL’s distinct bass-heavy sound, but with clear vocals, and a peppy sound, you won’t be disappointed.
The Tune 760NC comes with a more streamlined design and larger buttons. As a bonus, these headphones are foldable for easier packing. The JBL Tune 760NC can be found on Amazon for ₹5,499.
7. Oppo Enco Air3 Pro: The Enco Air3 Pro’s from Oppo have been called one of the best TWS earbuds in the sub- ₹5,000 category. Indeed, these buds are light on the pocket and pack a lot of performance.
These are stem-design earbuds with sides rounded out. There’s a good in-canal fit, allowing for better and more effective active noise cancellation. They come with LDAC Bluetooth codec support (not a lot of TWS earbuds under Rs5,000 support this codec) and deliver a rich and balanced sound along with a good soundstage.
The case may seem oddly shaped and slightly bulky, but the earbuds are totally worth their asking price. As a bonus, there is a Golden Sound enhancement that tailors the listener’s hearing profile, providing for a much better sound experience. The Enco Air3 Pro’s can be purchased from Oppo’s website or Amazon.in for ₹4,999.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts @IMSahilBhalla.