Best Noise Cancelling Headphones in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update November 22, 2017
Turn on your headphones and turn off the world. Noise-canceling headphones can help you focus on the task at hand despite all the distractions. And we can help you choose the best ones. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
TYPE
SENSITIVITY
FREQUENCY RANGE
CONNECTION TYPE
BATTERY LIFE OF NOISE-CANCELLING SYSTEM
ADDITIONAL FEATURES
WARRANTY
 
PROS

These headphones support original BOSE Connect App which unlocks various settings and opens more useful functions for the model control.

CONS

The model has some audible sound leakage.

OUR VERDICT

This model is comfortable for long listening sessions and has a good sound. One of its biggest advantages is a highly efficient ANC, which makes them a perfect choice for listening to in public transport.

detailed parameters
TYPE

Over-ear, Full-size

SENSITIVITY

not specified

FREQUENCY RANGE

not specified

CONNECTION TYPE

Bluetooth, NFC, Audio cable

BATTERY LIFE OF NOISE-CANCELLING SYSTEM

Up to 20 hours (wireless)

Up to 40 hours (wired mode)

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

Microphone 

Multiple device support

Carry case

Audio cable

USB cable

Airline adapter

WARRANTY

1 year

PROS

Light and incredibly sensitive 40-mm speakers fully show the beauty of any track giving out a clear beat and rhythm.

CONS

The noise cancelling feature works for a comparatively short time on a single battery charge.

OUR VERDICT

These high-quality headphones are made by the world leading digital devices and audio equipment manufacturer. They are fitted with the Beat Response Control that makes it possible to listen to your favourite tracks with comfort even in a noisy environment.

detailed parameters
TYPE

Over-ear, Full-size

SENSITIVITY

98 dB

FREQUENCY RANGE

8 Hz-22 kHz

CONNECTION TYPE

Bluetooth, NFC, Audio cable

BATTERY LIFE OF NOISE-CANCELLING SYSTEM

Up to 13 hours

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

Microphone

Carry Pouch 

Audio cable

USB cable

WARRANTY

1 year

PROS

The headphones come with an expanded set including a handbag for accessories and a special adapter from 3.5 to 6.5 mm.

CONS

There is no built-in microphone.

OUR VERDICT

These are quality ANC headphones with accessories included. The model is perfect for those who travel a lot and like to listen to various multimedia content on the road or on the go.

detailed parameters
TYPE

Over-ear, Full-size

SENSITIVITY

Noise attenuation: Max 20 dB

FREQUENCY RANGE

30 Hz - 20 kHz

CONNECTION TYPE

Audio cable

BATTERY LIFE OF NOISE-CANCELLING SYSTEM

About 40-50 hours depending on the battery type

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

Carry case

Drawstring accessory pouch

Audio cable

USB cable

Airline adapter

3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter

2 x AAA / LR03 Alkaline Batteries

WARRANTY

1 year

PROS

The design of the headphones makes them not only very compact but also allows for a tight sit in the ears ensuring a comfortable listening experience.

CONS

The included ear tips may not fit ear canals of some users.

OUR VERDICT

TaoTronics offers one of the best portable headphones for those who like to listen to music while doing their work out. The TT-EP01UK effectively filters off external sounds to keep you concentrated on your exercises and enjoying the music.

detailed parameters
TYPE

In-ear, Vacuum

SENSITIVITY

not specified

FREQUENCY RANGE

20 Hz - 20 kHz

CONNECTION TYPE

Audio cable

BATTERY LIFE OF NOISE-CANCELLING SYSTEM

Up to 15 hours

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

Microphone

3 x Ear-buds

3 x Ear Hooks

Charging Cable

Airplane Audio Adapter

WARRANTY

1 year

PROS

The model is equipped with a very powerful rechargeable battery, which provides up to 30 hours of operation on a full charge.

CONS

Noise cancellation feature can't be activated when the headphones are connected via the cable.

OUR VERDICT

These comfortable to use noise-cancelling headphones come in an original and stylish design. In addition, they provide long hours of listening to music, movies and other audio content with great clarity.

detailed parameters
TYPE

Over-ear, Full-size

SENSITIVITY

75 dB

FREQUENCY RANGE

20Hz - 20kHz

CONNECTION TYPE

Bluetooth, NFC, Audio cable

BATTERY LIFE OF NOISE-CANCELLING SYSTEM

Up to 30 hours

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

Microphone

Carry case

Audio cable

Micro USB cable

WARRANTY

18 months

What Are Noise Cancelling Headphones?

Headphones are an appliance, which has its pros and cons with millions of people using it every day. However, noise-cancelling headphones can bring listeners to an absolutely new level of sound experience! What's so special about noise-cancelling headphones? Unlike other headphones, they isolate all unwanted noises, preserving the original sound. With a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, you no longer need to turn up the volume to hear the music through environmental sound. Wearing noise-cancelling headphones, you can listen to clear sound in any place you want even if it is a crowded place or public transport.

If you often spend your time playing video games, you may want to use a decent-quality gaming headset to improve your gaming experience by delivering surround sound and effects of a pro level! In case you're not sure which type of headphones you'd really like to have, you can compare tech specs of wireless headphones, earbuds, and earphones and decide on the most suitable model.

What Features to Compare

Type

Roughly, all headphones can be divided into two main types: in-ear and over-ear. Which headphones are better? There is no simple answer. All depends on your preferences. In-ear models are usually much smaller and compact than their over-ear peers. Plus, they are definitely the best bet if you wear glasses. Yet, if you are looking for the best noise-cancellation possible, we suggest you considering over-ear headphones. Such models can reduce even loud low-frequency noises such as a humming sound of a plane engine.

Sound Features

When it comes to sound, there are several specs to evaluate, among which the crucial ones are sensitivity (measured in dB/mW) and frequency range (measured in Hz). The frequency range may vary a bit from a model to model, but the optimal one is from 15-20 Hz to 18-22 kHz which is within the human-perceivable range. Sensitivity is responsible for the volume of the sound produced by the headphones in response to an input signal of a given power. Roughly speaking, the higher the sensitivity is, the louder headphones will sound. For safe listening to music via your headphones, the volume shouldn't exceed 85 dB for 8 hours of listening with about 95 dB for 1 hour maximum and 100 dB for no longer than 15 minutes.

Operation Time

Just like common headphones, noise-cancelling headphones can connect to the sound source via a cord, Bluetooth or via NFC. However, what differs them from non-noise-cancelling headphones is that for active noise cancellation they use a battery and, thus, the operation time for these earphones usually amounts to around 10 hours. Basically, this time is pretty good and can be enough to provide non-stop listening experience for a long time. However, if you often go on long trips, several more hours on top of those 10 is a welcome feature. Also, many noise-cancelling headphones use a regular headphone connection cable.

Additional Features

Many of us would love to have not just a basic-functionality pair of headphones but something more hi-tech, something with additional features. Headphones can have a built-in microphone which allows answering a phone even without taking it out of your pocket. Some sets can be connected to several devices at a time wirelessly and, for example, allow you to watch a movie and talk to a friend. As for the carrying convenience, even a simple carrying bag can add to users' experience by making the transportation more convenient. So, we recommend reading our review to choose the best pair to cut yourself off from the outside world and dive into the world of sound!

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Bose QuietComfort 35

Specifications

In this review, we decided to examine one of the best noise-cancelling models. BOSE always produced perfect headphones with an exceptional noise-cancellation, but they were wired only. The new QuietComfort 35 device is an advanced wireless model which provides a maximum comfort. When it comes to headphones wear style, the important feature for a customer is a design. These headphones are full-size and over-ear. Their ear cushions are durable, cosy, and soft. Even after 4 hours of wearing, they still feel comfortable. Though they do not allow the covered area to breathe, so you may feel uncomfortable when it is too hot. This model is also equipped with volume-optimized EQ in order to deliver balanced sound at any volume. We consider this model one of the best regarding noise-cancelling technology. The QC35’s noise-cancelling is very effective so you can use these headphones literally everywhere, regardless of how noisy the environment is. A great advantage of the QuietComfort 35 headphones is that they're able to operate for up to 20 hours on a single charge. They are rather expensive but such specifications are worth paying.

Review of Bose QuietComfort 35

Sound Quality

Due to the Bose QuietComfort 35over-ear close-fitting design the earphones isolate some external noise passively. But its ANC (active noise cancelling) technology lets you stay with your own thoughts and you can enjoy your favourite music in any environment. An important feature is that ANC allows you to listen to music even at low volumes in rush hour. These headphones will not block out all high frequencies and will provide perfect sound at low frequencies. We consider that as an advantage because sometimes you need to hear some warnings from the outside such as announcements or ambulance sirens.

Moreover, sometimes you don’t need noise isolation (for example, when you are at home) but there is no option to turn it off. ANC can affect the quality of the sound, but this model provides rather good smooth sound and controlled bass. Summing up all specifications we consider this model as a perfect noise cancelling device with a rather good sound quality, design, and price.

Bose QuietComfort 35 in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Bose QuietComfort 35
Bose QuietComfort 35
 

Sony MDR-ZX770BN Wireless and Noise Cancelling Headphones

Specifications

Sony has a reputation of a professional manufacturer of headphones and other audio equipment. The Sony MDR-ZX770BN provides a perfect mix of functionality and sound quality. For its affordable price, you will get clear and balanced sound reproduction. They are designed to cancel out 98% of ambient noise. Isn’t it impressive? The design of the ear pads provides secure and comfortable wearing. You can turn their drivers to make this audio gear even more compact providing a compact storage. The inner pads are made of black faux leather that is very soft. They are lightweight enough to provide good comfort and mobility and support a simplified Bluetooth connectivity with NFC One-touch, which adds to their convenience.

This model is well-designed and looks quite stylish. With its sturdy build, the metal frame of this model is made flexible to handle the usage loads. The Sony MDR-ZX770BN has a rather simple control buttons layout and functionality so you don’t need a lot of time to get used to them. However, this model will hardly suit those who want to work out because the headphones may slip off your ears. On the other hand, if you need a stylish headset without sport-focused features with a great sound quality and good isolation, this model is perfect for you.
Review of Sony MDR-ZX770BN Wireless and Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sound Quality

This model uses its proprietary AINC technology to block all ambient noises. Sometimes you just want to listen to music and relax but the hustle and bustle around may be very distracting. This technology is smart enough to analyze all the environmental noise and choose the best noise-cancelling mode (Air Travel, Ambient Noise, and Ground Travel) to block it. It was developed to automatically set up the balance between the volume of your music and that of the outside world noise. You may experience an additional acoustic pressure on your ears because of the AINC enabled, but unlike in many competitor models, you can turn this technology off when you don’t need it. Some people think that AINC may reduce the sound quality, but this model proves this opinion wrong. The sound produced by this Sony model is excitingly clear and balanced, which leaves no worries about its quality. These headphones are also engineered well enough to unleash a clean sound in terms of bass reproduction. Each ear has a 40mm driver which delivers an excellent sound across the 8Hz-22kHz frequency range. It will be the best choice for those who are looking for superb sound quality, comfortable design, and good AINC.

Sony MDR-ZX770BN Wireless and Noise Cancelling Headphones in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


Sony MDR-ZX770BN Wireless and Noise Cancelling Headphones
Sony MDR-ZX770BN Wireless and Noise Cancelling Headphones
 

7dayshop 7DAYADHF

Specifications

These headphones are perfect for use in a noisy environment like underground, public transport or even planes. This model will easily connect to any device including smartphones, MP3 players, laptops, computers, iPad, Tablet, PC etc. You will feel comfort alone while wearing them because they have close fit ear cups which are made of excellent soft material. The adjustable headband will suit for most head sizes providing a comfortable long-term listening experience. They are fitted with an external noise suppression system and volume controls on one of the ear cups. This device comes with a travel case, adapter kit and 2x AAA batteries included. Its cable and adapter connections are gold plated in order to provide an optimal signal transfer and good contact. The size of the drivers used is 40 mm with its frequency range of 30 – 20 000 Hz. As it was mentioned, these headphones are powered ones with an active noise cancelling feature, which makes them superior to passive non-NC models in terms of noise isolation. In general, this model is very competitive due to its set of features and a good implementation of the active noise-cancelling technology, which works excellently even in an extremely noisy environment.

Review of 7dayshop 7DAYADHF

Sound Quality

This model is interesting for its overall sound quality, to which the implementation of the noise-cancelling technology greatly contributes. With its large 40mm dynamic drivers, it offers a really good bass and detailed treble with the incoming noise reduced by up to 85% using the ANC technology. Moreover, owing to the model design people around don’t hear what you are listening to. Another great user feature is a detachable cable: the cable has two jacks that plug into the sockets on each ear cup on one end with the standard 3.5mm jack on the other end. Even with the noise-cancelling technology enabled, these headphones provide vivid mids and highs and an authoritative bass. You may think that because of its 2x AAA battery the headphones are rather heavy, luckily they aren’t. Unfortunately, they don’t have built-in Mic for the phone calls, but if you are looking for headphones with a near to perfect sound quality and ANC technology at a more than affordable price this model is for you.

7dayshop 7DAYADHF in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


7dayshop 7DAYADHF
7dayshop 7DAYADHF
 

TaoTronics TT-EP01UK

Specifications

Finally, thanks to TaoTronics music fans can enjoy an affordable in-ear headphone with good sound quality everywhere. The TaoTronics developed this model to achieve high comfort and convenience. With additional ear tips of different sizes and wearing hooks included there's no need to worry about the headphones fitting your ears. The casing of these modern headphones is made of machined aluminum alloy, which renders them sturdy but lightweight. Another feature that improves the user experience in this model is the Gold plated headphone jack. As a result, this audio accessory feels like a premium product and is very durable. The TT-EP01UK's controls are comfy to push and convenient to use. A single click is used for answering and ending phone calls; double click is for skipping tracks and triple click returns you to the previous track. Due to the built-in rechargeable 140mAh battery, you have up to 15 hours of continuous listening wherever you are. These parameters make this model easily one of the best regarding the features supported at the price. For less than forty pounds you will get comfort, style, and quality. Moreover, you will enjoy music without any outside obstacles with the ANC technology.

Review of TaoTronics TT-EP01UK

Sound Quality

As for the implementation of the active noise cancelling technology, this audio gear features a dedicated in-line panel that accommodates the related hardware. The technology is integrated with an impressive efficiency because comparing with other much more expensive ANC models, the level of noise cancelling offered by the TT-EP01UK is almost the same. Though as with an ANC technology in general, this TaoTronics device doesn’t filter off sudden noises or speech well enough, so it is better to use these headphones for long plane or bus trips, for instance, rather than in the office environment. The TaoTronics headphones actively cancel out the ambient noise by up to 30 dB. Despite a perceivable hiss at a low volume caused by the ANC system operation, the headphones exhibit no such issue at higher volume levels. From the point of view of the sound experience, this model is beneficial for the wide frequency range supported, good bass and clear instruments' articulation. Also, it is necessary to notice that choosing the right ear tips plays an important role in the effectiveness of the ANC and overall noise isolation. You can improve the noise isolation dramatically by just selecting ear tips of the optimal size and getting the earphones sit snugly in your ears. Great sound, convincing build quality, effective noise-cancelling and stylish design make this pair of headphones a perfect choice in its class.

TaoTronics TT-EP01UK in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


TaoTronics TT-EP01UK
TaoTronics TT-EP01UK
 

COWIN E-7

Specifications

The Cowin E-7 was created for those who look for comfort and good sound and ready to pay for this a little more. These headphones do not need any wires for their connection, which may tangle and can give the owner an unforgettable experience of listening to music even on the go. In their finish, these stylish headphones combine two neutral yet pleasing colours - silver and black. This colour scheme is also applied to the adjustable headband with its soft insert. Of course, this wireless model is not only pleasant to look at but also convenient to wear with its large ear cushions that provide a sound isolation and bring you the feeling of comfort when wearing the headset. Please, keep in mind that due to the headband's non-extendable design the options concerning the user head sizes are quite limited on this model. There is a Micro USB port for the device charging on one side while the other carries the device operation indicator, a volume adjustment button, a power button, a microphone and a 3.5 jack. The ear cups with triangular silver inserts can be turned to 90 degrees making the gear more compact. In general, this model looks rather stylish and has a decent build quality with the sound quality and comfort above the average. The Cowin E-7 is good for office use because it blocks almost all ambient noise while leaking no sound that may distract your colleagues.

Review of COWIN E-7

Sound Quality

As for the sound the COWIN E-7 produces, it is characterised by the bass that extends far on the lower end of the frequency range. However, for some people, such articulated bass may seem excessive. In terms of total harmonic distortion, they perform well enough to satisfy an average user but they don’t provide a wide and spacious soundstage. With that, the reproducible low register goes down to 10Hz point, which is very low. A decent passive noise isolation is combined with the ANC technology in this model to actively reduce ambient noise to enable you to listen to music continuously or to communicate wearing the headphones. On the other hand, the COWIN E-7 prevent the sound from leaking outside by creating a good barrier for the sound produced by design. However, at high listening volumes, people around may hear your music. In addition to a standard wired connection, this audio gear supports a rather convenient function of NFC pairing, which makes connecting it to other wireless sound sources even easier. When the wireless connection is used the effective range is up to impressive 180 feet. This model has a long battery life but the charge time is also comparatively long. Due to their design and large powerful drivers the E-7 model may fall off your head when doing exercises so the headphones are not the best choice for the sports fans despite their wireless connection.

COWIN E-7 in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


COWIN E-7
COWIN E-7
 

Did you know?

The Problem.

There are lots of people who try to block an outside noise by cranking up the volume when listening to music or doing a phone call in headphones. But isn’t it harmful to our hearing? It obviously is. Such way of suppressing an ambient noise makes harm to our eardrums which can lead to a permanent hearing damage.

The Modern Solution.

Nowadays, there are much less harmful and effective solutions allowing you to enjoy your music without hearing the environmental noise. One of such solutions, an ANC technology (active noise control or active noise cancelling) became rather popular only recently despite the fact it was invented many years ago. The theoretical base for performing an active noise cancellation is quite simple and is based on the interference of sound waves. ANC headphones are equipped with microphones (that determine the level and parameters of ambient noise) and dedicated drivers, which create waves of the same amplitude with those of environmental noise but with their phase inverted (in antiphase). There is a mutual decrease in the resulting amplitude of these waves interfering with each other, in other words, the waves cancel each other. It is simple in theory to achieve the silence in such a way but when it comes to practice it is much more complicated. The idea of using a noise cancellation technology belongs to Paul Luega, a doctor of philosophy and medicine, who got a patent for applying wave interference principles in 1934. Active noise cancellation was actively used in aviation in 1950’s. Lawrence Vogel's systems were used to suppress noise in helicopters and aeroplanes. In 1957, Willard Meeker created the first over-ear headphones with active noise reduction system which were also used in aviation. The Meeker system was able to suppress noise in the range from 50 to 500 Hz with attenuation of 20 dB. In 1986, the first serial headphones with an active noise cancelling system were released by BOSE. The gadget was developed by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager and was also used in aviation where extraneous engine noises interfered with communication of pilots. In 1989, the company adapted the technology for domestic use carrying out the development of the specialised solutions at the same time.

Unresolved Issues.

This technology has lots of advantages but is not perfect. It uses active components that require a power source for their operation. The problem of necessity and use of additional power source was grappled with many companies providing various engineering solutions such as increasing the battery capacity, using specialized units with standard batteries, and using additional power circuitry and pins in portable audio players which resulted in the development of non-standard connectors (common for SONY headphones and players). However, the ANC technology use has some by-effects. Among the reviews on NC-headphones, you can find out reports that the ANC long use causes various side effects, for example, headache, physical discomfort during listening to music as well as psychological discomfort. According to some statistical research, about 5-7% of people who regularly use headphones can’t stand devices with an ANC implemented. The reason is that during the life a person adapts to a certain noise level. When you are listening to music in noise-cancelling headphones, your brain has to adapt to a new sound and noise level which can lead to a fatigue. Thus, being a breakthrough the ANC technology has its pros and cons, which, however, makes listening less harmful and more convenient for people who use their headphones in a crowded and noisy environment.

FAQ:

Q: What is noise cancelling technology?
A: Such technology (NC for short) reduces unwanted sound using active noise control. Noise cancellation lets you listen to music in crowded space, transport or elsewhere clearly without any outside noise. Nowadays, NC headphones can even be used as a sleeping aid by people who suffer from insomnia.

Q: What is the difference between active noise cancellation and passive noise isolation?
A: Active noise cancellation technology mostly reduces the amplitude of low-frequency sound waves (due to unpredictable reinforcement and cancelling of high-frequency sound waves) while passive noise isolation just blocks ambient noise in the whole perceivable range with the help of ear pads and ear tips covering your ear.

Q: What is an operating range in relation to wireless headphones?
A: It is a maximum distance you can be away from any of your Bluetooth devices used as a signal source and still receive sound signal on your wireless headphone.

Q: Do headphones made from different materials sound different?
A: For sure, the case material plays its part while choosing headphones. For example, models with plastic ear cups are typically cheaper and are usually equipped with cheaper and less sophisticated audio drivers and other components. Because of this, they produce a thinner or more artificial sound than their more expensive peers. In contrast, metal body headphones are sturdier than plastic ones and can provide a better performance as their cases resonate less with the driver and add less distortion to the sound. Which results in crisper and smoother sound than you usually get from headphones encased in plastic. As for the headphones with wooden ear cups, this material also has some benefits in terms of resonance and case vibrations and falls between plastic and metal. As a rule, wooden headphones are more pricey than plastic and metal ones. However, the material of headphones case is not that important as the material of diaphragms of their drivers, which together with drivers' technology contributes most to the resulting sound.

Q: What are advantages of noise-cancelling headphones?
A: The main advantage of noise-cancelling headphones is a very effective outside noise isolation and cancelling. With such headphones, you can do your work or other activities and enjoy your playlist in any noisy environment. You are free to listen not only to music but also to audio books which may turn out not only a very educational but relaxing occupation too. People who don’t use headphones with noise cancelling technology often have to raise the volume higher in order to reduce outside noises, but this can be dangerous and may harm your hearing. ANC technology is a perfect invention to prevent the problems with hearing by enabling you to listen to your music at lower volume while preserving a high-quality sound.

Q: What are disadvantages of noise-cancelling headphones?
A: The biggest disadvantage of ANC model,s from the customer point of view, is their price. A set of ANC headphones may cost around 10 times as much as other non-ANC peers. Also, such type of headphones requires an additional power for their operation. Some of these gadgets use replaceable internal batteries and some built-in rechargeable batteries. You also have to keep in mind that even ANC technology can’t block all the ambient noise, providing the attenuation of up to 90% of the noise.


Sources:

1. Headphones Buying Guide, Best Buy.

2. Daniel Nissenbaum How to buy the best headphones, Which?

3. Tara Tuckwiller Wireless Headphone Buying Guide, ConsumerSearch. November 29, 2016.

4. Whitson Gordon How to Choose the Perfect Pair of Headphones, Lifehacker. November 5, 2011.

5. Choosing the Right Wireless Headphones, eBay. March 3, 2016.

6. How to buy headphones in 2017, CNET.

7. Alan Henry How do I choose the best noise cancelling headphones, Lifehacker. March 6, 2013. 

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Publish Date: 2017-11-22 11:42:45