Listening to music on public transport, on the street or just at home can sometimes be complicated, due to the surrounding noise pollution. Whether it's the discussions next to you, work or the unbearable sound of the train, you don't always get the most out of your music. To better isolate you, more and more manufacturers of headphones are offering models with a active noise cancellation, in addition to passive insulation due to the helmet pads. Tom?s Guide?s writing has compared around 30 products and selected the best ear muffs.
Check out our guide to buying headphones
What are the best earmuffs
279.00 at Darty's
Design : Circum-aural | Weight : 255 g | Autonomy : 30 hrs | Active noise reduction : Yes | NFC compatible : Yes | Foldable helmet : Yes
With its very effective noise reduction, exceptional audio quality and great comfort, the Sony WH-1000XM3 simply stands out as one of the best Bluetooth headphones available today. It offers numerous customization options, ensures an autonomy of around thirty hours and benefits from a premium finish quality. A purchase that will please you for years.
(Test) Sony WH-1000XM3: the Bose QC35 II may tremble
QuietComfort 35 II
277.00 at Darty's
Design : Circum-aural | Weight : 235 g | Autonomy : 8 p.m. | Active noise reduction : Yes | NFC compatible : Yes | Foldable helmet : Yes
Like its predecessor, the QuietComfort 35 II is an excellent noise canceling Bluetooth headset. In addition to the many qualities of its predecessor, we particularly appreciate reading the notifications, very practical. The integrated Google Assistant is more of a gadget. Too bad, however, that the headset sometimes suffers from loss of connection.
(Test) QuietComfort 35 II: what is the Bose smart earmuff worth?
Design : Circum-aural | Weight : 250 g | Autonomy : 8 p.m. | Active noise reduction : Yes | NFC compatible : No | Foldable helmet : No
With great care, the Jabra Elite Active 65t are among the best Bluetooth in-ear headphones on the market. They offer perfect insulation and fit comfortably in the ear, even for an extended cost. The audio quality is extremely convincing for such a compact design and the official application offers many unique features. Ideal for athletes.
(Test) Headphones 700: Does Bose reinvent the noise canceling headphones?
Which headphones have the best noise cancellation?
If you are looking above all for a helmet to isolate yourself from the outside world, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is an unbeatable choice. This latest revision of the Japanese manufacturer's flagship headphones offers a particularly effective active noise reduction, which immerses you in your music. The official application allows you to refine the rendering, by choosing a profile capable of identifying announcements of stations or airports, for example, so as not to miss anything. To make matters worse, the audio quality is top notch.
Check out our comparison of the best in-ear earphones
279.00 at Darty's
WE LOVEGreat comfortExcellent audio qualityCustomized noise reductionLarge autonomy
We are not bornThe price is a bit high No multi-device Bluetooth connection Plastic materials
VERDICT : With the WH-1000XM3, Sony offers one of the most advanced noise canceling headphones on the market. You customize the insulation finely, and you enjoy high quality sound, with well-presented bass and a natural look. The comfort is exemplary and you can easily wear the helmet for hours, while enjoying a very effective hands-free kit.
What are the best in-ear noise reduction
When we think of noise-canceling headphones, we always imagine wide hoops and well-wrapped ear cups, like a construction helmet. In-ear users will be delighted to learn that Bose successfully ventures into this market, through the QuietComfort 20. Comfort is ideal, with silicone ear tips that push the roof, and active noise reduction is very effective. We are not in an audiophile reproduction, but the rendering remains quite convincing, given the large miniaturization. One solution to consider if you favor a minimum footprint.
249.99 at Darty's
WE LOVEThe comfort of the tips The small footprint The effective noise reduction Works even without battery
We are not bornThe price a little high The average autonomy The remote a little bulky
VERDICT : In the field of pure noise canceling headphones, the QuietComfort 35 II simulates as a safe bet and clearly plays elbows with the Sony model. But in the noise reduction in-ear market, Bose reigns supremely with this astonishing QuietComfort 20. The insulation is really convincing and you enjoy a well balanced sound.
Read the Bose QuietComfort 20 review
Noise cancellation, what is it?
On paper, the principle of phase cancellation used in the technology of these headphones is simple: against a disturbing external noise, the headphones generate a contrary noise which de facto cancels the disturbance. Thus, persistent background noises such as that of a train or an airplane are suppressed. Noise canceling headsets are thus endowed with an ingenious system based on microphones which analyze external noise. They then insert an opposite sound which cancels the first one.
In reality, the helmets that really get there are not legion. The main problem, on the one hand, is the relative efficiency of some, but above all the propensity to create another buzzing which can be very unpleasant depending on the model.
On-ear or over-ear headphones?
Two design models confront each other in this comparison: type helmets supra-aural and circum-aural. The former rest entirely on the ear and thus only cover the ear canal. This is for example the case of Fidelio NC1 from Philips, of the'AKG K 495 NC or Sony MDR-ZX750BN. The advantage of this type of helmet is obviously the size and the compactness. Much smaller, they can be stored more easily and are also lighter. Disadvantage: their wearing can be painful after a few tens of minutes since they press fully on the ear. Eyeglass wearers will have their ears, their ears so stuck on their branches. We have known more comfortable.
The second, circumaural, lean on the top of the skull and encompass the whole ear. They are therefore much more insulating. It is logically towards this type of headphones that the majority of manufacturers orient themselves in terms of noise cancellation, whether it is Bose, Sony or Beats. The ear is thus saved and only surrounded by the helmet. Reverse of the medal, the helmet is necessarily larger and bulky. Difficult for example to store it in a jacket pocket, a bag will necessarily be necessary. In addition, wearing it all day in a dopen space environment, for example, a heavy helmet with poor padding at the headband can be annoying. This is also a point to observe when buying all types of headphones.
Finally, this difference in design does not only affect comfort, but also the efficiency of the noise reduction. Over-ear headphones will be much easier to isolate disturbing sounds. By its shape, it already filters passively much better than a supra-aural model much less insulating by nature. That?s why Sennheiser, which puts the package on noise canceling headphones for a few years, opted for a circum-aural design on its HD 4.50BTNC.
Which noise canceling headphones have the best sound quality?
Sound is obviously the sinews of war for headphones. It is also the most objectionable point for some models and that in which others stand out completely. It is always difficult to deal with the quality of a sound. If objective criteria can be advanced, such as the balanced reproduction of each frequency, the choice of a helmet is also a matter of preference. Each manufacturer likes to tint the sound of their headphones with their personal touch.
Should you fall for HD audio?
this little game, Audio-Technica is certainly the one that comes closest to a sound as neutral as possible. With his ATH-MSR7NC the Japanese manufacturer has chosen the balance. If at first glance, the model may sound poor in bass, it is mainly because of a distortion acquired by listeners, now used to bass under strodes as proposed by Beats headsets for example.
With a wide range of wireless earphones, Jabra is far from being a beginner in the world of audiophile headphones. LElite 85h is however its first active noise reduction model. And for a first try, it's a blow of master: the ergonomics are excellent in every respect, with a pure design and a format as compact as comfortable. The helmet is very easy to handle, with physical buttons distributed over the fabric ear cups. On the audio side, the rendering is particularly balanced, with deep bass and very detailed and precise treble. The active noise reduction is effective and the headphones experience 36 hours of autonomy, a real record.
199.99 at Fnac
For a significantly higher budget, music lovers can trust the illustrious British manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins, which offers the PX, an active noise reduction headset with a very convincing sound rendering. The finish is exemplary and the headphones distill a balanced and powerful sound, especially in the bass. Active noise reduction is also very well done and the PX benefits from good battery life (22 hours in Bluetooth and with noise reduction) and full functionality. In addition to its price, the only big defect is the shape of the atria, a little narrow, which will not suit all body types.
Freshly brought up to date with the return of 2019, the active noise reduction headphones Sennheiser Momentum Wireless is one of the most luxurious on the market. First, it surprises with its very pure look, with a metal arch on which freely slide large oval ear cups. We enjoy very good comfort, with excellent support and a system that directly puts the helmet on as soon as we unfold the headband. Compatible with Bluetooth 5.0 and supporting a large assortment of codecs, pairing takes place very quickly and the latency remains low. The controls are directly accessible on the earphones and you quickly master all of the features. But its real interest lies in the audio rendering and the efficiency of the active noise reduction. The sound is perfectly balanced, both in the bass and in the treble, and we are very well isolated without distorting the audio quality. The only regret is that the autonomy tutoie the 17 hours only and the microphone of the hands-free kit is less efficient than the competition.
Momentum 3 Wireless
The WH-1000XM3 from Sony and Bose QuietComfort 35 II also offer very good sound quality in active mode. They both come with an official app that lets you finely customize the audio signature. With this equalizer, you will be able to boost the bass or, on the contrary, favor the treble, while keeping control of the noise reduction level.
Our overview would not be complete without mentioning the Marshall MID A.N.C., a more affordable helmet with a rendering clearly above the average. In this look, we find the amp manufacturer's leg, with a faux leather finish and square ear cups. The foam of the hoop is gaining in thickness, which greatly improves comfort and support compared to the previous helmets of the brand. The sound rendering is surprisingly homogeneous at this price level, with an audio spectrum well reproduced on all its ranges. All the features are easily accessible and you benefit from low latency in Bluetooth, the guarantee of perfect sound / image synchronization. Only downside, the active noise reduction is less convincing and tends to inflate the bass to hide its average efficiency.
229.99 at Darty's
The importance of different features
Among the other criteria to be observed, certain functionalities are important. This is particularly the case of the presence or not of Bluetooth. Active noise canceling headsets are indeed all fitted with a battery or battery power. Therefore, some manufacturers like Creative, Sennheiser, Sony or Bose, take advantage of this power supply to integrate a functionality Bluetooth their helmet. This is also a fundamental trend among manufacturers who are accumulating technologies on their high-end models by offering both noise cancellation and wireless. Thus, you no longer need to worry about the quality of the audio cable, it becoming superfluous for most uses. On the flip side, once Bluetooth is activated, the headphones will necessarily consume more power and will need to be charged more often. The two helmets we have selected still offer more than twenty hours of battery life, a rather comfortable value.
Also pay attention to the different sources that can be connected to a wireless headset. If the QuietComfort 35 II Bose can be connected to two different devices at the same time, for example a computer and a smartphone to answer a call, this is not the case with the Sony WH-1000XM3. The latter can only receive sounds fromone source and you will need to manually switch between different devices.
Check out our guide to buying the best Bluetooth headsets
With its matt aluminum silhouette and its atria covered with memory foam, theAKG N700NC is one of the most modern and stylish helmets on the market. On the audio side, it favors a neutral and balanced rendering, without excessively overriding the bass. Active noise reduction is effective, reducing outside noise by almost 25 dB. In addition to its easily accessible touch controls, the N700NC also deserves to be accompanied by a very efficient mobile application, thanks to which you will very finely modify the legalization. A real promising alternative to the Sony and Bose models, slightly more luxurious, however.
299.99 at Darty's
The type of food is also a criterion to take into account. Whether the helmet works with a drums rechargeable or powered by Battery, whether it is a battery with a proprietary plug or micro-USB, more widespread and therefore easier to recharge on the wire, as many points which can have concrete consequences on your use of your noise canceling headphones:
- Battery : more autonomy, no loading time, requires regular supply.
- Drums : less autonomy, no need to pass the suprette, longer loading.
Finally, for the less attentive, it may be advantageous to choose a helmet that automatically offers a detachable cable. Most noise canceling headsets well over a hundred euros, it would be a shame to have to change headphones purely and simply only because of a damaged cable.