As you may already know, the world we live in can be noisy. Some of this noise may be desirable, while other noise may be irritating; many of us would prefer to simply block out this obnoxious noise stemming from the environment around us. We can all surely think of moments in our life when we would have loved to own an excellent pair of noise-canceling headphones. Whether you are a student, requiring a peaceful state of concentration for studying during finals week in a noisy apartment full of roommates and are unable to use a white noise machine, a frequent traveler on airplanes, trains, or other public transportation, or you just want to listen to zone out and listen to your music, noise-cancelling headphones are essential. Finding the best noise cancelling headphones on a budget can be a daunting task.
Fortunately, for those of you on a budget, there are many great headphones available to purchase for less than you might think. Budgets for the technology have fallen, and it is now possible to buy some very high-quality noise-canceling headphones within this budget. We went ahead and organized an easy-to-read list of our top 10 product choices to aid you in your purchasing decision.
You will thank us later.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones on a Budget: Complete Guide
Before you go out and make your headphones purchase, it is imperative that you understand the differences between the many types of headphones available today, and the pros and cons of each.
What You Need to Know About the Best Noise Canceling Headphones Under 200
Noise-Cancelling Headphones Will Block Most Ambient Noise
Most people are rather pleased when they first try out their new noise-canceling headphones. It is expected that they will block out all noise – generally, this is true, although there are certain situations in which they will not be able to deliver the same great results.
Noise-canceling headphones use active noise control to cancel out active external noise, which is why they are called ANC headphones. Different types of ANC headphones vary in their ability to isolate or cancel background noise.
Lower Volumes Needed
This is definitely a plus. While it is true that many people enjoy their music at high volumes, it is also true that people often raise the volume strictly to compensate for external noise. The potential negative effects on hearing loss, when cranking up the volume of headphones, have been well established. Fortunately, with noise-canceling headphones, most ambient noise is completely blocked, and so the consumer is able to listen to their music at an enjoyable level, while at the same time preserving their hearing. It is a common misconception that music sounds better the louder it is. It is true that music tends to sound better at higher volumes, but when it is too loud the music quality actually suffers. Noise-canceling headphones will not need to be turned up any louder than is needed to enjoy the music, as external noise will not be interfering. As a result, music can be played as intended. The richness and complexity of the music that is normally drowned out in exceptionally high volumes can now be enjoyed.
Noise-canceling Headphones and Studying
One of the most common complaints by students studying for school is their difficulty concentrating. More often than not, distracting sounds seem to follow us no matter where we go. Noise-canceling headphones allow students to study peacefully, without any distracting stimuli. If you are known to crank up the volume while studying, you may find that your new noise-canceling headphones will not need to be played so loud, and you will actually be better able to concentrate. With an excellent pair of headphones that have an active noise cancellation capability, you can play soft classical tunes to help you concentrate on your lessons and block out external noise simultaneously.
Noise-Cancelling Headphones and Traveling
Any frequent traveler has surely experienced the loud and distracting passengers, or even just the irritating hum of the plane, bus, or train. Noise-canceling headphones are great for those who would simply like to sleep on a flight, read a book or magazine, or just listen to their music in a noisy environment. Frequent travelers often look for the best quality wireless headphones with noise cancelation capability due to their convenience and portability. Freedom from cables, no matter how tangle-free they claim to be, means freedom to enjoy your journey but just make sure to get wireless headphones with the longest battery life so you won’t have to recharge the batteries in case they die on you along the way.
Active Noise-Cancellation vs. Passive Noise-Isolation?
Active-noise canceling headphones are often confused with those offering only passive-noise isolation capabilities. Consumers may face further difficulty differentiating the two when the salesperson at the electronics store is also unsure of the differences. The degree to which the headphones are able to block external noise depends on the type of noise-cancellation being offered.
Noise-Isolating headphones do not actively block out ambient noise with the use of an “active” technology – rather they work passively. In other words, the headphone’s physical design alone is responsible for blocking out external noise. This is made possible with a special cushion in or around the ear (over-ear headphones), or soft silicone inserts that are placed into the ear canal (in-ear headphones), effectively isolating your eardrums from external noise. Most of the in-ear and on-ear headphones you find in the market today have external noise reduction capability, but if you want it to actively cancel out background noise, you need to ask for a pair of headphones that’s capable of active noise cancelation.
Noise-canceling headphones, on the other hand, actively block out external noise, electronically countering sounds originating in the world around you. Unlike noise-isolation, which is made possible simply by design, active-noise cancellation is achieved with sophisticated technology. Although this sounds pretty great, the technology is far from perfect and still needs improvement. They work great with everyday repetitive noise, such as the loud chatter in a stadium or the low hum of an airplane. They tend to work less when it comes to isolated noise, such as a crying baby, or short loud bursts of noise, such as a knock on a door. Additionally, this active technology requires additional battery power, compared with headphones or earbuds that only offer noise-isolation capabilities. This is why you will find that most active noise canceling headphones are battery-powered, although they can also be plugged into your music player or computer with a compatible cable.
Some noise-canceling headphones come with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery while others use AAA batteries. A rechargeable battery will require you to hitch your device to a power source, which can sometimes cause inconvenience if you are on the road so if you know you will be traveling a lot with your wireless headphones, it would be wise to get those that make use of AAA batteries so you can easily replace them with they run out on the road. Whether you are choosing one with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or an AAA battery, however, you can rest assured that the audio quality remains the same as long as the batteries are working properly.
Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones on a Budget Reviews
1. Sony MDR10RNCIP Review
The Sony MDR10RNCIP noise-canceling headphones were unanimously chosen by our team to take the number one spot. By far, these headphones offer some of the best noise-cancellation capabilities we have seen. While these headphones are more expensive than some of the others, the benefit you will receive with those extra few bucks is well worth it. These over-ear headphones are equipped with 40mm drivers, which is above-average standard for headsets within this category. The portable design is a nice addition – the earcups can be easily rotated to allow for easy travel and storage.
With the active noise-canceling technology turned on, the overall quality of sound is fantastic. Some noise-canceling products are notorious for their detrimental effects to music quality. While the music does sound slightly tweaked in these, it is nothing very noticeable, and I found it actually enhanced it just a bit – it is almost as if the bass and mids are turned up on the EQ dial slightly. Overall, the bass sounded great. Not as defined as some other headphones, and not as much boom as others – the sound this produces lies somewhere in the middle with an overall balanced but deep sounding bass. Additionally, if you find you do not need the noise-cancellation feature turned on, or you’ve just run out of battery, these headphones can still play and sound excellent. Even without the active technology running, the design allows for some decent noise-isolation capabilities, and so you are still left with some great sounding headphones.
These Sony headphones not only sound excellent, but they feel great – how a pair of high-quality noise-canceling headphones should feel. The sleek surface, with comfortable yet supportive cushioning on the headband and earcups, gives it almost a nurturing feel. Overall, the comfort-factor we rated a perfect 10. Not only are they lightweight, but they apply just enough pressure so as not to fall off. Often times we have encountered some excellent sound headphones, only to be rated much lower than they should have because the clamping pressure was excessive, which is irritating after extended use – not the case with the Sony MDR10RNCIP noise-canceling headphones.
2. Audio Technica ATH-ANC9 Review
These circumaural headphones were designed to compete with products in a similar budget. With a battery life of up to 35 hours on a single Lithium AAA battery, these headphones do just that. The Audio Technica ATH-ANC9 noise-canceling headphones stood out from the rest when it came to their bass capabilities and good sound quality. If you’re a bass-head like me, you will absolutely love these headphones. These headphones may look small, but they deliver a forceful bass response with help from its closed-back design, which is quite deep and sounds very solid.
This is not to say that the bass overpowered the rest of the music, in fact, it seemed to fit very snugly with the mids and highs. Overall, these headphones sound excellent, very comparable to the Sony MDR10RNCIP’s above – which were rated slightly higher on sound due to the more overall balance in its tones. For someone who prefers a more balanced range of bass, mids, and highs, the Sony’s would be your better option. If you enjoy some extra bass thump, whilst still maintaining excellent overall sound quality, the Audio Technica ATH-ANC9 noise-canceling headphones are just for you.
Just like Sony’s, the Audio Technica ATH-ANC9’s can be used in passive mode as well. I like to point this feature out because it is not standard. Many noise-canceling headphones can no longer be used without a battery charge to power the active noise-cancellation technology, an example being the majority of Bose’s QuietComfort headphones. This is a definite plus for us – nobody should be left stranded mid-flight without headphones because the battery charge ran out.
The comfort factor these headphones provide is a definite selling point. With a nice supple feel to the cushion, any length of extended use should not be a problem at all. If you’re looking for some great-sounding noise-canceling headphones, with nice bass response, the Audio Technica ATH-ANC9’s are just for you.
3. SOUL by Ludacris SL100 Review
The SOUL by Ludacris SL300 high definition noise-canceling headphones comes in at number three. A tad cheaper than our #1 and #2 products above, the overall performance of these headphones has no problem competing with the more expensive headsets we’ve rated above. I do believe some quality is sacrificed for the name brand and fashionable logo that the Ludacris headphones provide, but they still sound excellent, they are very comfortable, and they are quite stylish – a nice change from the huge variety of all black noise-canceling headphones. The SOUL headphones come in many colors, which gives a more personalized feel.
The noise-canceling ability is pretty fantastic, which actually surprised us. The Bose noise-canceling headphones pride itself on its excellent noise-canceling performance – we found the noise-canceling capabilities of the SOUL SL300’s to be just as good, if not better, than its Bose counterparts. As expected, these headphones were found to sound best with R&B, Hip-Hop, Reggae, Rap, and Dubstep. These headphones are also aimed at those bass-heads out there. The mids and highs also fit nicely into the music, but the bass does jump out, maybe even a bit more than the Audio Technica ATH-ANC9’s we reviewed above. If you enjoy some skull-rattling bass, these headphones may be just for you.
One of our readers had a question:
Should I buy the Soul SL300’s or the Beats SOLO HD?
The Beats Solo HD does offer some very good sounding music, but the SOUL SL300’s would be our choice between the two. The SOUL’s seem to sound better, they sound clearer when making calls, and we personally found them to look way more attractive and stylish.
4. Monoprice 110010 Review
The Monoprice 110010 noise-canceling headphones fit over-ear and sound great in the mid and high-range. With a battery life up to 50 hours (we tested just under that at 45, which is still great) you can rest assured that you should have no problems listening to music in-between charges. The noise-canceling technology is top of the line. The music quality is also pretty great, though we found the bass to be lacking a little bit in certain situations when a heavy bass response was expected.
The main feature of this product is the excellent noise-cancellation capabilities, comparable to other headphones selling for double the budget. Frequent travelers who enjoy an overall balanced sound will probably love these headphones.
5. Solitude XCS2 Review
The Solitude XCS are much cheaper than the other headphones we have reviewed thus far, but still, pack a punch in regards to quality. The sound quality is pretty great considering the budget, but obviously, lack when compared to our other top picks above. A cool feature is the three different listening modes that can easily be switched on the side of the earcups: regular, noise-canceling and amp boost. It’s almost like a miniature EQ dial preset with three options, allowing for enjoyable music listening in a variety of situations. In addition to the excellent audio quality, this affordable pair of ANC headphones offers unparalleled comfort to its users. If you are a fan of the Plantronics Backbeat Pro Noise Canceling headphones, then you know how utterly important cushioned headbands and ear cups for headphones are. Aside from outstanding noise cancelation and sound quality, everyone knows that the Backbeat Pro throws in a whole lot more; multiple device sync technology, long battery life, and unrivaled comfort. But we also all know how much a Plantronics Backbeat Pro can run. Yes, you get money’s worth, but when you are on a budget like most of us are, the Solitude XCS provides a superior alternative. You get the same sound quality, noise-canceling capability, and comfortable headband and ear cups the Backbeat Pro wireless headphones provide but for a lower budget.
If you’re looking for some high-quality sounding headphones without the high-end budget, the Solitude XCS headphones may be just for you.
What Are the Things to Consider When Buying Noise Canceling Headphones
Getting a new pair of noise-canceling headphones in your budget should be easy, especially with the help of this extensive review that we have so meticulously prepared for you. With all the excellent options available in the market today, however, it’s easy to lose your focus and end up choosing something you’re not going to cherish for a long time.
Aside from superior sound quality and ability to actively cancel ambient noise, there are a few other factors to consider when buying ANC headphones.
One thing that we think is the most important is your personal reason for getting one. If you think you will be using your ANC headphones mainly for taking or making calls at home or in the office, Mondays through Fridays, then you can go ahead and take advantage of the maximum comfort over-ear, and on-ear headphones have to offer. While these things can be bulky at times, their noise cancellation capability and the luxurious feel of the pillow-soft cushioned ear cups can more than compensate for this flaw. Besides, you won’t be taking them out of the house that often anyway.
It makes no sense to get the most expensive underwater headphones if you hardly have the time to go to the beach or hang around the pool, but if you like to swim a lot and listen to good music while soaking up some sun in the sand or the poolside, a pair of waterproof in-ear headphones would be the perfect option for you.
If you don’t already know, in-ear headphones top the list in noise cancelation, making them the most suitable to use in public swimming pools or crowded beaches. If you want to get both convenience and functionality, you can even get one of those ANC Bluetooth headphones with in-line remote control and microphone that allow you to listen to your favorite tunes, watch a movie on your tablet, and take phone calls without touching your mobile phone at the same time. While these noise-canceling earbuds do not offer the same level of comfort that over-ear and on-ear headphones do, some models now have soft, silicone ear cups that fit comfortably well in your ears. Usually, these Bluetooth headphones are powered by a rechargeable battery that you can recharge using a micro-USB/USB cable that comes along with it.
Some people prefer form over function, others like to have both. If you tend to use your headphones outdoors frequently and do not like attracting too much attention while warding off unwanted background noise, getting a pair of in-ear wireless headphones with in-line remote control and mic and a considerably longer battery life would be your best bet. Not only are noise-canceling earbuds the most proficient in canceling out ambient noise; they are the smallest among the types of headphones as well. You can simply stash them into a small pouch and shove them into your pocket.
If, on the other hand, you don’t mind having to pack a carrying case when you travel to work or go on a weekend vacation, then, by all means, get one of those ultra-comfortable, over-ear and on-ear headphones we have reviewed above for you. If you seek all the wonderful features in a brand new Plantronics Backbeat Pro but can’t spend a fortune for a pair of ANC headphones, then go ahead and choose any of the five products reviewed. They give you most, if not all, of the fantastic attributes of the Backbeat Pro for a significantly lower budget.
Final Review of Best Noise Canceling Headphones for a Budget
So, if you believe you’re ready to make a purchase right now, always keep in mind that more than choosing the best noise-canceling headphones in the market, you also need to consider your needs, the product’s functionality and design as well as your budget.
Last update on 2021-07-26 at 10:05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API