Sometimes all you need is a vacation from your busy surroundings. Whether it’s the noisy colleagues or screaming babies during a flight, the ability to tune off is underrated. Noise-cancelling headphones have become an essential piece of travel kit whether you’re going to an office or taking a six-hour commute. With an ever-expansive list of options, there’s something for everyone.
To boil it down, microphones, software algorithms and energy-efficient processors combine to achieve Active Noise Cancelation (ANC for short). ANC reduces background noise by generating sound waves that cancel out ambient input.
Over-ear headphones may be ahead in terms of technology and features, but in-ear true wireless earbuds have come a long way since the original AirPods release in September of 2016.
With plenty of options in today’s crowded market, we’ve narrowed it down and made it easier for you.
Here’s a list of some of the best noise-cancellation headphones to drown out those noisy environments.
Sony WF-1000XM5 & Sony WH-1000XM5
Sony has been at the top of the game ever since the release of their first ANC headphones. The competition may be fast catching up, but Sony’s headphones are still a top-tier recommendation.
If you’re a fan of over-ear headphones, the WH-1000XM5s ( ₹34,990) should be on your shopping list. The new design means these are comfier than their predecessors and the ANC has been further improved. With a more detailed and balanced sound quality, everyone will certainly enjoy them. The only downside is that they do not fold.
If you want in-ear headphones instead, then the WF-1000XM5 (launching in India around Diwali) is a good option. The True Wireless (TWS) Earbuds are sleeker than before, the audio quality has been ramped up, and the ANC is top-notch.
If neither of these fits within your budget, but you still want to go with a Sony product, then the Sony WH-CH720N ( ₹14,990) can be considered.
Bose QC45 Headphones & Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
Bose’s QuietComfort 45 (QC45 for short; ₹29,900) is their best release ever. The design is comfortable, comes with USB-C, a much longer battery life (24 hours with ANC on) and an ANC that can block out nearly 90% of ambient sound.
The best part of the QC45s is the fact that they can be folded, making them way easier to travel with.
Meanwhile, Bose’s in-ear QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are 30% smaller than their predecessors. The case is 40% smaller and much more pocketable.
The Bose QC Earbuds 2 ( ₹25,900) truly have one of the best ANC of all. With an improved sound, great call quality and better battery life, these are also a great choice.
There’s only one thing you need to know about Sennheiser’s Momentum 4 Wireless ( ₹34,990) headphones: 60 hours. Yes, they have a marathon 60-hour battery life. Couple that with supreme comfort and you have a winner on your hands.
The Momentum 4 Wireless headphones feature an expansive sound quality and have excellent noise-cancelling capabilities.
Samsung’s updated design for the Galaxy Buds2 Pro ( ₹16,990) means two things. First, the vastly improved comfort. Use them daily and you’ll feel no fatigue. Second, improved noise isolation. Each earbud now has three microphones to block out external sounds. ANC is also top-notch.
With a high-quality audio experience and excellent mic quality for calls, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro hold its own against the competition. The only downside is the battery life with ANC on.
If you’re well entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, then the AirPods Pro (2nd generation; ₹26,900) are your default option. The AirPods Pro, now in its second generation, is powered by the new H2 chip. It’s more energy efficient and delivers more processing power. With new low-distortion drivers, the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) feature better sound clarity and improved ANC. The battery life has been improved from five to six hours with ANC on.
Sahil Bhalla is a Delhi-based journalist. He posts at @IMSahilBhalla.