Best Noise Cancelling Headphones in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update May 4, 2020
Turn on your headphones and turn off the world. Noise-canceling headphones can help you focus on the task at hand and make travel more pleasant despite all the distractions. And we can help you choose the best ones. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2020
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Type
Sensitivity
Frequency Range
Connection Type
Battery Life of Noise-Cancellation System
Additional Features
Warranty
 
PROS

The updated QN1 processor works according to an accelerated algorithm for reducing ambient noise, while consuming a very small amount of energy. And the adaptive sound control function automatically adjusts the playback volume, depending on the noise of the place you are in.

CONS

The two buttons on the left hand cup are awkwardly placed.

OUR VERDICT

These stylish noise-cancelling headphones allow you to completely immerse yourself in music. Their built-in battery is enough for 30 hours of continuous sound, and if the battery runs out at the most inopportune moment, you can always use the quick charge option. The model has a folding design and will be the best choice for travellers.

detailed parameters
Type

Over-Ear, Full-size

Sensitivity

104.5 dB

Frequency Range

20 - 40000 Hz

Connection Type

Bluetooth, NFC, Audio cable

Battery Life of Noise-Cancellation System

30 hours

Additional Features

Unique automatic personal NC, and Atmospheric Pressure optimisation, Adaptive Sound Control, High-quality audio with DSEE HX™ and LDAC, 10 minutes quick charge (for 5 hours of work), built-in microphone, Swivel foldable structure, Carry case with cable

Warranty

1 year

PROS

These headphones are optimized for working with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice assistants, due to which you can choose the service that suits you in the Bose Music application. To activate the voice assistant, you just need to press the button on the right ear cup.

CONS

Bose app could have better functionality.

OUR VERDICT

The Bose 700 Wireless Headphones are stylish streamlined headphones with high-quality sound, 11 levels of noise reduction and 4 microphones that isolate your voice, eliminating the noise around you. In addition, the headphones support a fast 15-minute charge function with a result of 3.5 hours of operation.

detailed parameters
Type

Over-Ear, Full-size

Sensitivity

~ 100 dB

Frequency Range

20 - 20000 Hz

Connection Type

Bluetooth, Audio cable

Battery Life of Noise-Cancellation System

Up to 20 hours

Additional Features

Optimised for Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant, four-microphone system, 11 levels of noise cancellation, Bose Music app compatible, Bose SimpleSync™ technology, Carrying case included

Warranty

2 years

PROS

The DSEE audio enhancement feature will restore the quality of compressed music files. Now your favorite songs will play again with bright colors and highly accurate sound reproduction.

CONS

The microphone transmits sound well only in a quiet environment.

OUR VERDICT

Functional and ergonomic headphones, with good sound quality and noise reduction, which can even be controlled via Google Assistant (after a software update). Undoubtedly all travel lovers will find these to be highly portable and pleasing to their ears.

detailed parameters
Type

Over-Ear, Full-size

Sensitivity

97 dB/mW

Frequency Range

20 - 20000 Hz

Connection Type

Bluetooth, NFC, Audio cable

Battery Life of Noise-Cancellation System

Up to 35 hours

Additional Features

Adjustable, slider headband, earcups with swivel design, audio cable, USB charging cable, built-in microphone

Warranty

2 years

PROS

AptX codec support with AptX Low Latency enables the headset to receive and transmit wireless audio without loss in quality or delays, and also helps to clearly synchronize sound with visual effects in games and videos.

CONS

Headphones feel a bit tight for longtime use.

OUR VERDICT

The Sennheiser HD 450BT are full-size headphones with an active noise reduction system and excellent autonomy that will give you the opportunity to enjoy sound without any interference anytime, anywhere. They have a folding structure, weigh only 238 grams and are delivered in a case.

detailed parameters
Type

Over-Ear, Full-size

Sensitivity

108 dB

Frequency Range

18 - 22000 Hz

Connection Type

Bluetooth, Audio cable

Battery Life of Noise-Cancellation System

Up to 30 hours

Additional Features

Active noise cancellation, dual omni-directional microphones, AptX codec support with AptX Low Latency, free Sennheiser Smart Control App, Foldable construction, Carrying case included

Warranty

2 years

PROS

Included is an adapter for the audio jack provided in the seats of many commercial aircraft to connect headphones and enjoy high-quality sound or watch a movie during long flights.

CONS

Confusing instructions.

OUR VERDICT

The FITFORT headphones with noise reduction and high-quality stereo sound will please with powerful bass and crystal clear high notes. Their large soft ear cushions completely cover the ear, outside they are supplemented with decorative metal plates with buttons for adjusting playback.

detailed parameters
Type

Over-Ear, Full-size

Sensitivity

Noise attenuation: Max 20 dB

Frequency Range

20 - 20000 Hz

Connection Type

Bluetooth, Audio cable

Battery Life of Noise-Cancellation System

30 hours, up to 8 hours with the ANC in Bluetooth mode

Additional Features

Adjustable headband, 90° rotatable ear cups, Carry case, Audio cable, USB charging cable, built-in microphone, airplane adaptor

Warranty

Amazon's 30-day return policy

Sony WH-1000XM3

Immerse Yourself in Music

One of the greatest benefits of listening to music on high-quality headphones is that you get to surround yourself with only the sounds of your favourite tunes while drowning out all other distracting outside noises. This is especially the case with noise cancelling headphones, as they mute outside noises that can distract you from the high fidelity listening experience that they provide. Unfortunately, not all headphones work so well at removing all outside noises, even ones that claim to be noise cancelling, which means that you still tend to get distracted during your listening experience.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones are stylish headphones that allow you to completely immerse yourself in music by removing all outside distractions. Their built-in battery is enough for 30 hours of continuous sound, and if the battery runs out at the most inopportune moment, you can always use the quick charge option to extend your listening time. The model has a folding design that is quite compact when fully folded, and will be the best choice for travellers or for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in their favourite music while on the go.

Review of Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation

Advanced Processor

Many people may wonder exactly how noise cancelling technology works. Well, this can vary between different models of noise-cancelling headphones. This particular model, though, uses the updated QN1 processor, which works according to an accelerated algorithm for reducing ambient noise, while consuming a very small amount of energy. Along with this, the adaptive sound control function automatically adjusts the playback volume, depending on the noise of the place you are in, which enables the headphones to give you music at the most optimal volume for clear listening, preventing you from having to make any manual adjustments.

Plenty of other features are packed into these incredible noise-cancelling headphones. Included is a built-in microphone that lets you control the headphones through voice input, thanks to the compatibility with voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. You can also control them through your smartphone through the Headphone Connect App, giving you the ability to adjust the equalizer along with the volume. The built-in Bluetooth even lets you connect to multiple audio inputs wirelessly, giving you plenty of choice with how to use them. Simply put, this model from Sony is one of the best noise-cancelling headphones that money can buy.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

Bose 700

Premium Brand Headphones

Bose is one of the best-known names when it comes to audio, having produced high-end audio products with fantastic sound reproduction over the years. This same reputation has carried itself over to the headphone market with the Bose 700 Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation, which actively live up to the name by giving you premium sound quality. A number of active technologies are in use in these headphones, giving you crystal clear audio as well as voice functionality that is often not present in dedicated headphones.

To start with, these noise-cancelling wireless headphones utilise 11 levels of noise reduction along with 4 microphones that pick up your voice in an extremely clear manner while almost completely eliminating any background noise, resulting in superb voice recognition, which can be used with a number of voice assistants, including Alexa and Google Assistant. The noise cancelling doesn't just work for your voice, though. The headphones themselves are able to deliver crystal clear audio while filtering out noises in your own area, giving you a peaceful workplace or study area while you are wearing them, letting you concentrate on the task at hand without interruption.

Review of Bose 700 Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation

Stylish Design

As is common with most Bose products, these headphones carry a signature stylish appearance that ensures that they'll look good anywhere, in virtually any situation. The lightweight stainless steel headband works to help keep your headphones in place, while the angled ear cups provide an extremely comfortable fit that lets you wear them for hours without suffering from ear fatigue. In fact, you'll probably forget that you're even wearing them after a while, which is something to be said for headphones of this size.

With most wireless headphones, the user always has to be aware of how much battery life they have, as the threat of them running out of juice at any time can spoil the mood. Fortunately, this is not much of a worry with this set, as these headphones can give you up to 20 hours of music playback on a full charge. Furthermore, the headphones in conjunction with the Bose Music app for mobile devices can give you regular updates on the battery life, helping to ensure that you never have to worry about them dying on you without warning. In the end, these premium headphones truly live up to the word "premium", giving you superb sound quality, effective noise reduction, and a combination of comfort and convenience that will make them indispensable accessories in your everyday life.

Bose 700 Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Sony WH-CH700N

No Compression

An issue that plagues most modern music is the one of compression. Compression is something that is done in audio recordings where the natural volume is made to be louder while compressing the audio signal, which in turn adds a harshness to the sound that can be a painful experience for many people. Along with that, much digital music uses compression as a means of reducing the size of a file, which tends to lessen the accuracy of the audio reproduction and remove some of the more subtle sounds in recorded music, causing the overall quality to be lower than it should be.

The Sony WH-CH700N Wireless Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones help remedy this problem by providing EQ settings along with DSEE technology that let you adjust the audio settings to provide the most accurate and pleasant sounding audio playback possible, making your listening experience much more enjoyable. These work in conjunction with the AINC noise cancelling technology that works to cancel out ambient background noises, giving you just the audio you want to hear without any outside interference. This lets you enjoy high-quality music in peace without unpleasant distractions, something that is paramount to the listening experience of any headphones.

Review of Sony WH-CH700N Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation

One Touch Use

We would be remiss to leave out any mention of the wireless capabilities of these headphones. This model uses Bluetooth for wireless connectivity, providing you an easy way to pair the headphone with any Bluetooth capable music source with just the touch of a button. Despite the fact that many Bluetooth headphones tend to provide a sub-par listening experience, these headphones are an exception, giving you just as clear of a listening experience wirelessly as they would when using a wired connection.

The headphones contain minimal controls on the earpieces, giving you controls for power, Bluetooth pairing, and a standard audio jack for wired connectivity, but they really shine when used wirelessly in conjunction with the Headphones Connect App for Android and iOS devices, which let you customise the EQ settings to your preferred taste. You only need to do this once, as the headphones will then remember those same EQ settings afterwards. The headphones also include a built-in microphone that lets you answer phone calls or even control the headphones using the Google Assistant voice assistance technology. In short, these feature-packed headphones will provide you with an audio experience that is unlike anything else.

Sony WH-CH700N Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


 

Sennheiser HD 450BT

High-End Headphones

Take a poll of various audiophiles around the world in regards to their most trusted brands, and chances are that the top result will be Sennheiser. Their audio products have really gained a reputation for their excellent design and engineering which results with truly remarkable all-around devices, exhibiting both top tier sound quality and aesthetics that simply can't be matched. This same description applies to the Sennheiser HD 450BT Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation, a high-end product with a high-end design and sound listening experience.

These are not casual headphones of a quality that you'll find with most cheaper brands. Instead, these are top-end headphones with a well-engineered design both inside and out, giving you excellent sound reproduction on the inside with a stylish appearance on the outside. The headphones have a folding structure that let you easily store them away in the included case when not in use, helping to keep them in excellent condition and weigh only 238 grams, making them light on your head and in your hand. Unfortunately, the fit of these headphones tends to be quite tight, so they may not be your best bet for extended listening experiences, but for short term use they simply can't be beaten.

Review of Sennheiser HD 450BT Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation

Unparalleled Sound Quality

The meat and potatoes of any headphones would be in its sound reproduction, and in this case these headphones simply have no rival. For instance, they have the highest sensitivity (108dB) of all of the headphones in this review, and they incorporate a number of technologies to give you the most accurate sound reproduction experience. These wireless headphones include the AptX codec, which use the AptX Low Latency technology to give you wireless audio without any lag, while ensuring that you are getting the maximum sound quality. This lets you listen to audio synced perfectly with video, which is often a stumbling block when it comes to using wireless audio devices.

These wireless headphones utilise Bluetooth technology for wirelessly connecting to other devices, although they do also support a wired connection with an audio cable if you use them that way. The battery life of this unit is also exceptional, giving you up to 30 hours of music playback on a fully charged battery. All of this works in connection with the superb noise reduction technology which gives you completely clear audio while removing almost all background noise, letting you listen to your favourite music in peace. All said, these high-quality top-end headphones will give you an audio playback experience unlike anything else.

Sennheiser HD 450BT Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


 

FITFORT Hiearcool L1

Great For Flying and Travelling

It is not uncommon for people to want to listen to music while flying. After all, there generally is little else they can do while on a plane, and furthermore, long flights tend to be pretty boring. For those that offer in-flight movies, you often need to purchase or rent headphones on the plane just to be able to hear the audio, which can be quite annoying for those who just want to relax and watch something while waiting to reach their destination. Even then, most airplanes are not good locations for listening to any type of audio, as the loud ambient noise of the engines tends to drown out everything else.

For those who want to enhance their flying experience with audio, the FITFORT Hiearcool L1 Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones are a godsend. These wireless Bluetooth headphones feature an ANC mode that helps to filter out the ambient noise in any environment and let you surround yourself with the music or audio of your choice. What's more, these headphones actually come with a wired adapter that lets you connect them to the audio jack on most commercial jetliners, letting you listen to the audio of an in-flight film without having to pay extra for the convenience. Anyone who spends a lot of time in the air will certainly appreciate this.

Review of FITFORT Hiearcool L1 Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation

Quality and Comfort

Despite the highlighted uses of these headphones while flying, the overall quality and comfort of this model makes them great for any occasion. The headphones include dual 40mm drivers that deliver high quality audio with a high-frequency range, meaning that you get to hear even the smallest details in whatever audio you listen to. You can also be assured of being able to use these for extended listening sessions, as these headphones were built for comfort. The earcups include super soft memory protein cushions that let them mold to the shape of your ears without exerting an uncomfortable amount of pressure on them. The earcups also rotate 90 degrees, letting you set them to the optimal angle for maximum comfort.

Plenty of other features are included with these Bluetooth headphones as well. The built-in 360mAh battery provides enough battery life for up to 30 hours of music time, and the wired mode lets you use them as regular headphones without draining the battery. With the combination of both wired and wireless modes, as well as the inclusion of the airplane audio adapter, there is virtually no type of audio output that isn't compatible with these air travel headphones, which means you can use them to enjoy your favourite audio anywhere you go.

FITFORT Hiearcool L1 Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation in the use

 

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!

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