Noise-Reducing headphones: The 4 Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones of 2023

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Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless Headphones Are Built to Take On Sony

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Shipping Aug. 23, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless headphones have a more subdued look and fold flat.


Sennheiser’s previous-generation Momentum Wireless headphones have always had a pretty distinct look that was part retro, part modern, and stood out for the exposed metal on their headband. For better or worse, that’s all gone now, and the new Momentum 4 Wireless, Sennheiser’s flagship noise-canceling headphones, look a bit more subdued and also a bit more like some of its competitors. Available for preorder Aug. 9 for $350 (£250, AU$500), the Momentum 4 ship on Aug. 23 in two colors — black and white.

See at Sennheiser

While I haven’t had a chance to test the Momentum 4 Wireless long enough to post a full review, I did get a chance to play around with them for a few days and have been generally impressed with the listening experience, though I’m still trying to figure out whether they actually rise above competitors like the Sony WH-1000XM5 ($400) and Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 ($400) — or not. The Bose QuietComfort 45 ($279 to $329) is another model we like in his price range. 

Read more: Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for 2022

The one big design issue with the earlier Momentum 3 Wireless (2019 release) was that the headphones folded up but not flat. The Momentum 4 Wireless do fold flat (though now they don’t also fold up like some models do), and most people will appreciate that. The case is similar in size to that of the Sony XM5 and thanks to their plush memory foam ear pads, I found the headphones quite comfortable to wear, though maybe not quite as comfortable as the Sony. That Sony model weighs in at 250 grams, while this Sennheiser tips the scales at 293 grams.

The white model in its case.


The Momentum 4 Wireless offers superior performance over the Momentum 3 Wireless in every regard, though the biggest gains are with noise canceling and voice-calling performance as well as battery life, which is outstanding at up to 60 hours at moderate volume levels. There’s also a transparency mode that allows ambient sound in and the ability to create a custom sound profile in the Smart Control app for iOS and Android using the built-in EQ, sound modes and a new Sound Personalization feature that “assesses the user’s listening preferences and adjusts the listening experience according to their taste.” 

Additionally, I liked how the headphones automatically turn on when you pick them up and put them on and automatically turn off after 15 minutes if you stop using them. And last but not least, Sennheiser says these offer multipoint Bluetooth pairing (they utilize Bluetooth 5.2), which allows you to pair two devices simultaneously to the headphones, such as a smartphone and PC. (I didn’t get a chance to test the multipoint but will confirm that it works once I do.) 

Equipped with 42mm drivers, Sennheiser says the Momentum 4 Wireless offer “best-in-class” sound, which is debatable, of course. I’d say the Momentum 4’s sound quality is right there with other models in this price range — they sound excellent, with the requisite well-defined, punchy bass, relatively wide soundstage (they sound pretty open) and smooth treble that brings out some of the finer details in well-recorded tracks. They’re a pleasure to listen to. However, my initial reaction was that they didn’t necessarily beat the competition on the sound-quality front. 


I had some trouble connecting my early review sample to my iPhone 13 Pro, so I mainly tested the headphones with a couple of Android smartphones using the aptX Adaptive codec for wirelessly streaming high-resolution tracks from the Qobuz music streaming service. In theory, that setup should offer a pretty optimal listening experience. (In addition to aptX Adaptive, the Sennheisers support AAC and SBC.)

I’ll be spending some more time with the Momentum 4 Wireless headphones in the coming days and will be able to add more depth and comparisons to my initial observations and fully test them for voice calls (they have two beam-forming microphones on each ear cup dedicated to voice calls) and noise canceling, which I thought was significantly improved and is at least in the same ballpark as Sony’s and Bose’s noise canceling, though maybe not quite up to their playing level (the Momentum 3 Wireless didn’t offer particularly good noise canceling).  

While some people may be a little disappointed that their design has become a bit too straightforward and less distinctive (with less premium materials), they essentially check all the boxes for what you want in a premium noise-canceling headphone from the standpoint of comfort, features and performance. We’ll see how their price shakes out down the road, but stay tuned for the full review before the headphones ship on Aug. 23. 

The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones for 2023

Headphones are great for blocking out your surroundings and letting you enjoy your favorite music, podcast, or audiobook. Sometimes the outside world can bleed through, though, and the sound of planes, traffic, and crowds can cut into your listening experience. If you want to avoid all the noise, you should consider headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) to really get the job done.

Now is as good a time as any to consider noise-cancelling headphones because the once-wide gap between Bose and other audio manufacturers has shrunk enough to allow for some serious competition in the space. Bose still offers some of the best ANC on the market, but several other brands are now highly competitive. Beyond that, many of these options offer sound signatures that you might prefer over what you get from Bose, along with better apps that allow for more customization of the audio and ANC experiences.

We’ve gathered our favorite noise-cancelling headphones and earphones below. Read on for our top picks, followed by everything you need to know to assist your search.

Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

Best Earphones for iPhone Users

4.5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

The second-generation AirPods Pro deliver exceptionally strong noise cancellation, even though the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II edge them out slightly overall. Nonetheless, the AirPods Pro wipe out deep, low-frequency rumble and are effective against more complex, higher-frequency sounds. Beyond ANC, Apple’s Adaptive Transparency mode gives you a more natural way to monitor your surroundings without letting loud noises (above 85dB) harm your hearing. It works much better than Bose’s equivalent mode.

Who It’s For

First and foremost, anyone who wants seamless integration between their earphones and iPhone should enjoy the AirPods Pro experience. Pairing is as simple as opening the case, while the iOS settings menu offers all the controls and features you need. The other stealth use for these earbuds is as active, transparent earplugs—in Adaptive Transparency mode, you can wear them to a concert (if you’re okay with getting some confused looks) or a job site and still monitor your surroundings without the risk of hearing damage.


  • Rich, well-balanced audio performance
  • Excellent active noise cancellation
  • Adaptive Transparency mode is genuinely impressive
  • Charging case has a useful built-in speaker
  • Seamless integration with Apple devices


  • No hi-res codec support
  • Offers only non-adjustable EQ presets


Learn More

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) Review

Bose QuietComfort 45

Best Headphones Overall

4. 5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

There are a lot of headphones on this list, but no over-ear models deliver more consistently excellent noise cancellation performance than the Bose QuietComfort 45. Head to head with the Sony WH-1000XM5, Bose is slightly better at dialing back mids and highs, though both pairs are about as effective at blocking out the low-frequency.

Who It’s For

Anyone looking for the best noise-cancelling headphones should at least start their search here. You get more in the audio and app department from the WH-1000XM5, but if ANC is your top priority, this is our top pick.


  • Best-in-class noise cancellation
  • Sculpted audio with rich bass and crisp highs
  • Exceptionally comfortable


  • ANC can’t be adjusted
  • Sound signature isn’t accurate for true audiophiles


Learn More

Bose QuietComfort 45 Review

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Best Earphones Overall

4. 5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

The Bose QC Earbuds II reset our expectations for noise-cancelling earphones. They use a combination of calibration tests and subtle adaptive ANC tweaks to produce impressive results. Although their performance against higher frequencies is comparable with that of other high-end options, they outclass everything else against low-frequency noise. The earbuds also now offer an Active Aware mode, which, like Apple’s Adaptive Transparency mode, tamps down louder environmental noises while still allowing you to hear your surroundings.

Who It’s For

Audiophiles might prefer the Sony WF-1000XM4 (for superior codec support) and iPhone owners might favor the second-gen AirPods Pro (for their seamless integration with Apple products), but you should choose the QC Earbuds II if you want the most effective noise cancellation. Other top-tier options sometimes get close to what the Bose achieves, but aren’t nearly as consistent overall or effective against the deep lows. Otherwise, this pair offers a pleasing bass-forward sound signature and a snug in-ear fit.


  • Engaging audio performance with deep lows and bright highs
  • Fantastic low- and high-frequency noise cancellation
  • Useful Active Aware mode
  • Water-resistant build


  • No way to turn off noise cancellation altogether
  • Case doesn’t support wireless charging


Learn More

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Review

Sony WF-1000XM4

Best Earphones for Audiophiles

4.5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

The Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds don’t cancel noise quite as effectively as the latest flagships from Apple and Bose, but their foam eartips help them perform the best against high frequencies out of the three. They also feature the most comprehensive EQ of the group and support the audiophile-friendly LDAC Bluetooth codec.

Who It’s For

If you value noise cancellation and audio performance equally, these are the earphones to buy. They’re a particularly strong option for Android users who can take advantage of the hi-res-capable LDAC codec.


  • Exceptional active noise cancellation
  • Powerful bass depth and crisp, defined highs
  • Adjustable EQ
  • Good battery life


  • Expensive


Learn More

Sony WF-1000XM4 Review

Sony WH-1000XM5

Best Headphones for Audiophiles

4.5 Outstanding

Why We Picked It

Two headphones sit at the front of the pack for active noise cancellation: the Bose QuietComfort 45 and the Sony WH-1000XM5. Both are so good that it almost feels absurd to pick a winner, but Sony’s headphones sound better, while Bose maintains the ever-so-slight edge in the noise cancellation department. That makes these our top pick for audiophiles.

Who It’s For

If you like to make changes to how your headphones sound, Sony’s companion app (with its adjustable EQ) offers more flexibility than you get with Bose. And, if you use an Android device, Sony’s support for the high-end LDAC codec can help you take the fullest advantage of hi-res streaming services.


  • Excellent audio performance with robust bass depth and crisp highs
  • Top-notch active noise cancellation
  • Intuitive on-ear controls
  • App offers an adjustable EQ and other customization settings
  • Comfortable, stylish design


  • Expensive


Learn More

Sony WH-1000XM5 Review

Anker Soundcore Space A40

Best Earphones Under $100

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

We’ve reviewed a number of solid noise-cancelling earbuds under $100, including some from Anker. But the company’s latest earphones, the Soundcore Space A40, punch far above their price with above-average active noise cancellation abilities and an excellent app that offers a customizable EQ.

Who It’s For

If you have a budget of around $100 and don’t want to compromise on sound quality or noise cancellation performance, look no further. These earphones deliver a natural sound signature by default and last for roughly 10 hours on a charge (with ANC off). Anker even lets you adjust the ANC behavior to a degree.


  • Rich, detailed audio performance
  • Quality active noise cancellation for the price
  • App includes customizable EQ and controls
  • Strong battery life
  • Water-resistant build


  • Light on sub-bass
  • Noise cancellation mode slightly affects sound signature


Learn More

Anker Soundcore Space A40 Review

Urbanista Los Angeles

Best Energy-Efficient Headphones

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

What’s not to love about headphones that recharge via all sources of light, from the sun to an ordinary light bulb? The Urbanista Los Angeles over-ears are one of the most unique picks on this list. In addition to their admirable eco-friendly solar charging tech, they cancel noise effectively and reveal plenty of details in your music.

Who It’s For

This Urbanista pair is an obvious pick for anyone who wants to use less energy or spend less time charging their devices (the company says the headphones should last for around 80 hours on a full charge, which is impressive). You do get a USB-C port for charging, but you likely won’t need it often.


  • Solar-powered charging
  • Impressive audio performance with rich, deep bass and crisp highs
  • Quality noise cancellation for the price
  • Stylish design


  • No in-app EQ
  • Noise cancellation slightly impacts sound signature


Learn More

Urbanista Los Angeles Review

Apple AirPods Max

Best Headphones for iPhone Users

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

If you want to stay in the Apple ecosystem and prefer proper headphones, the AirPods Max are a striking (but very expensive) option. They offer effective noise cancellation that’s just slightly less consistent than that of the best Bose and Sony models and look cooler than most of the competition.

Who It’s For

Like the AirPods Pro, the primary advantage of these headphones is their seamless integration with Apple devices and services. And, in addition to excellent audio and noise cancellation performance, you get Spatial Audio support.


  • Excellent audio performance with rich lows and crisp, detailed highs
  • High-quality active noise cancellation, especially for low-frequency rumble
  • Stunning, unique design
  • Adaptive EQ and Spatial audio
  • Hands-free Siri access


  • Expensive
  • Sound signature and Adaptive EQ/spatial audio aren’t for purists
  • No user-adjustable EQ
  • Button placement makes it easy to misfire when adjusting fit
  • Smart Case does little to protect the headphones


Learn More

Apple AirPods Max Review

Monoprice Horizon ANC

Best Earphones Under $50

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

The Monoprice Horizon ANC earphones are one of the least expensive models on this list, but they don’t disappoint. They offer rich sound, support for both the AAC and AptX Adaptive codecs, and surprisingly competent active noise cancellation for the price.

Who It’s For

If you are looking to spend the least amount of money possible on noise-cancelling earbuds, these are the ones we recommend.


  • Rich, detailed audio performance with bright highs
  • Good Bluetooth codec support
  • Affordable


  • No app
  • Cumbersome touch controls


Learn More

Monoprice Horizon ANC Review

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Most Stylish Headphones

4.0 Excellent

Why We Picked It

Although the aforementioned Bose and Sony headphones are our clear front-runners, Sennheiser’s Momentum 4 Wireless over-ear headphones are also worth a look. They sport a refined design, deliver excellent audio performance, and cancel ambient noise quite well.

Who It’s For

If you don’t want to buy headphones from Bose or Sony for whatever reason, this pair is a great alternative. The headphones look handsome and boast excellent audio chops. They also offer strong Bluetooth codec support—you don’t get LDAC, but AptX Adaptive is an option.


  • Excellent audio performance with robust bass, detailed highs
  • Effective noise cancellation
  • Strong Bluetooth codec support
  • Handsome design with easy-to-operate on-ear controls


  • Underwhelming in-app EQ
  • App sometimes has trouble connecting to headphones


Learn More

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless Review

1More SonoFlow

Best Sub-$100 Headphones

3.5 Good

Why We Picked It

We get it—not everyone wants to spend $400 or even $200 on noise-cancelling headphones. The affordable 1More SonoFlow headphones buck the trend a bit by providing commendable active noise cancellation for around $100. If you can look past a disappointing app experience, 1More also delivers quality audio performance here in an exceedingly comfortable design.

Who It’s For

If you have a strict budget of $100 for ANC headphones, these are your best option. They aren’t quite as effective at lowering outside noise as the slightly pricier Anker Soundcore Q45 (let alone flagship models from Sony and Bose), but they still beat our expectations. Otherwise, LDAC support makes the SonoFlow headphones even more of a bargain for Android users.


  • Bass-forward, sculpted sound signature
  • Effective noise cancellation
  • Attractive, comfortable over-ear design


  • Clunky, beta-like app
  • No customizable EQ
  • Odd layout of on-ear controls


Learn More

1More SonoFlow Review

Buying Guide: The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones for 2023

What’s the Difference Between Active Noise Cancellation and Passive Noise Isolation?

Plenty of headphones and earphones claim to isolate or reduce noise, but that doesn’t mean they offer proper ANC.

Passive noise isolation, sometimes called passive noise cancellation, is basically a fancy term for what earplugs do. Simply, when an object (such as a thick earpad with memory foam) blocks sound, it is passively (without any battery power) reducing the ambient noise you hear. When you put your fingers in your ears when a loud siren goes by, that’s a form of passive noise isolation.

Active noise cancellation is much more complicated. It uses microphones that actively sample the surrounding noise in an environment and then produce an inverse wave that cancels out those sounds. Think of it like this: If you have a perfect sine wave and play it along with its inverse wave—the mirror opposite—the result would be no wave at all. It works in theory on a graph, but the results are messier in real life. Regardless, modern ANC implementations are quite effective at (nearly) eliminating low and mid-range frequencies. This all requires battery power to work, of course.

Nearly all ANC headphones use some degree of passive noise isolation in addition to their active circuitry, primarily because it’s an easy way to improve performance against high-frequency noises, which tend to give headphones more trouble.

What Noise Cancellation Can and Can’t Do

If you haven’t used noise-cancelling headphones before, you need to understand that they don’t fully eliminate noise and are notably less effective at eliminating inconsistent noise. It’s not like going into a soundproof chamber every time you put them on—it’s more like using highly effective earplugs.

Sony WH-1000XM5
(Credit: Tim Gideon)

What does this mean in practice? Most of the headphones worth their price can tamp down the low, consistent rumble of an airplane or a train quite well. The same goes for the ongoing whir of a loud AC unit or fan. That’s because these are consistent, relatively unchanging noises. But noise like music, conversation, or dogs barking—anything that is more complex than a constant drone—is likely to be more problematic. The best noise-cancelling models eliminate these sounds to a degree, but you’re still going to hear some of them.

What Is Adaptive Noise Cancellation?

Adaptive noise cancellation refers to active noise cancellation that adjusts to environmental sounds it measures with mics in real time. Technically, all ANC must be adaptive to a degree or it wouldn’t work—after all, as the sound around you changes, so too must the ANC’s inverse response. But the term adaptive ANC refers to models that adjust not only to surrounding noise changes but also to shifts in your head’s position. Apple’s adaptive transparency mode is one of the best we’ve tested and can protect your hearing.

With plenty of adaptive models, you can quite literally hear the noise cancellation changing in real time when you turn your head slightly or even feel pressure changes in your ear canal. For some users, adaptive ANC represents a crucial advancement, and to others, it’s quite distracting. As such, some apps now let you switch between adaptive or manual ANC modes based on your preference. You might even be able to set the ANC to focus on a specific frequency range or use a fader to change its overall intensity.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
(Credit: Tim Gideon)

What Is Hybrid Noise Cancellation?

Hybrid ANC is the combination of feed-forward (exterior mic-based) and feedback (interior mic-based) noise cancellation technology. While many of the most effective (and expensive) models use hybrid technology, that feature doesn’t guarantee top-notch performance. Even within hybrid ANC implementations, the number of mics and their placement (to highlight only two of many factors) can have a tremendous impact on the system’s effectiveness. Hybrid ANC implementations are present on both in-ear and over-ear models.

Should Noise Cancellation Add Hiss?

Some noise cancellation modes add an audible hiss—think white noise—to the signal. It doesn’t sound awful, but it serves to mask the high frequencies that the circuitry is less effective at eliminating. As mentioned, active noise cancellation works far better on lows and mids than it does on highs, so reducing some of the high-frequency noise passively is essential. The hiss adds another layer that can enhance the sense of quiet you get but is actually somewhat deceiving.

You can tell if a hiss is present when you enable the ANC mode in a very quiet room. If it’s there, the hiss will have the opposite effect of noise cancellation in this scenario—it will sound louder than the room itself. Most hiss is not a deal breaker, and when your music is playing, it won’t even be audible. But generally speaking, the better the noise cancellation mode, the less it relies on a masking hiss.

We should also note that some people feel pressure inside their ears with powerful ANC, while others don’t notice a thing. It’s worth trying on multiple pairs of headphones in a store before you invest in an expensive product that can potentially cause you discomfort.

Should You Get Noise-Cancelling Headphones or Earphones?

Over-ear (circumaural) headphones typically offer the most effective ANC. Their earcups can create a tight seal and the earpads act as an additional barrier. That said, the less-common on-ear ANC models can still eliminate plenty of surrounding noise, are often far more comfortable, and stow away more easily.

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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
(Credit: Tim Gideon)

ANC-capable earphones have also improved quite a bit in recent years. The greatest advantage of these models is their passive isolation—their eartips seal off your ear canal and effectively eliminate high frequencies even before you enable the ANC.

The advantages one style may present over another are less about ANC performance at this point and more about your preference and comfort—you can find class-leading active noise cancellation in each category.

How Do Noise Cancellation Apps Work?

Many noise-cancelling headphones work with free apps that can alter the experience to better suit your environment. And most ANC models feature an ambient mode that allows you to hear your surroundings and talk with someone nearby without removing your headphones. The latter is a useful, nearly ubiquitous feature, but some manufacturers go further and let you blend ANC and ambient levels to your preference. When this is available, you can usually adjust the levels with a slider in a companion app.

4 ways you’re using your headphones totally wrong — Clarification Please

Is It Worth Buying Noise-Cancelling Headphones?

Noise cancellation circuitry isn’t cheap. If a model has been around for more than a year or two, you might find some deals, but a quality pair of headphones rarely sells for less than $200. If they do, the ANC on offer is probably solid for the price, but not on the same level as the top-tier options. If you’re looking for the best of the best, prepare to pay between $350 and $400. Earphones are the exception and you can get good performance for less than $300.

If noise cancellation isn’t a big deal to you, focus on other characteristics with our lists of the best wireless headphones, the best earphones, and the best headphones overall. And if you’re on a tight budget, check out the best headphones for under $50.

Once you find the right pair of headphones, make sure to take good care of them. To start, explore more of our audio coverage: 5 Easy Tips to Extend the Life of Your Headphones and 8 Ways You’re Using Your Headphones Wrong.

4 main criteria for choosing noise-canceling headphones

Those who like to listen to music anywhere: in the park, trolleybus, at home and in the office – noise-canceling headphones will definitely come in handy. They not only isolate the user from ambient noise, but also prevent bus neighbors, colleagues and family members from hearing what is playing.

The article tells what ACP in headphones is, how it works, what are its advantages and disadvantages. A brief overview of the 4 key criteria for selecting headphones with an active noise cancellation system will help you to choose the best one.

What is Active Noise Cancellation?

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) is implemented using specially generated sounds that are superimposed on each other. In theory, everything is simple: the basis for creating an ACP system is based on the superposition of sound waves. In other words, the noise disappears when two waves (or more) are added in space, where at different points the amplitude of the resulting wave weakens or, conversely, increases.

See also: We select headphones – where and how they will be used: 10 main criteria

How these headphones work

If in theory everything looks simple, then in a technological sense it is not easy to make such a system, because it must fall into antiphase very accurately. ACP dampens monotonous, low-frequency sound well. But with medium and high everything is more difficult. In cases of significant mismatch between the phase and antiphase of such signals, hissing may be heard.

To suppress extraneous sounds, the headphones are equipped with:

  • microphones that set the degree of background noise;
  • speakers that generate reversed-phase (anti-phase) waves at the same amplitude.

As a result, the waves cancel each other out as described above. Because of this, extraneous sounds are muffled.

Tip: If you’re looking for a compact version that will perfectly muffle extraneous sounds, the MDR-EX750NA h.ear in NC with powerful bass is the best fit.

Interesting : In-ear vacuum headphones – 4 features and 9selection criteria

Disadvantages and advantages of noise reduction system

Headphones equipped with ACP have their own advantages. So, the main advantage of models that are equipped with such a system is the ability to improve the sound quality of the file. Full immersion in the atmosphere of a musical composition, film or game, the ability to “pause” what is happening in the world around is another plus.

In addition, headphones of this kind guarantee some safety for the ears: you don’t have to turn up the volume to levels that adversely affect hearing, because everything will be perfectly heard anyway.

Tip: If you’re looking for great noise canceling headphones with a powerful battery, the Sony WH-1000XM2 is the way to go. They can play music for 30 hours in a row, have decent performance and can connect via Bluetooth or NFC.

The active noise reduction system also has disadvantages. So, some owners of anti-noise headphones may have a headache out of habit. Another disadvantage is that the system needs to be recharged. This means that wireless models need a more powerful battery (sometimes it can make the device noticeably heavier), and wired models can “land” the sound source faster: a smartphone, tablet or MP3 player.

Educational program : How to choose wireless headphones – 6 top tips

How to choose active noise canceling headphones?

Anti-noise headphones are created by many advanced companies, such as BOSE, SONY, Philips. But which option to choose? First of all, you should pay attention to the type of model. Connoisseurs of compactness will need tablets or intracanal options. For gamers and lovers of listening to music, watching movies alone, full-size or overhead ones are suitable.

Article on the topic: Choosing headphones – attention to characteristics: 7 main selection parameters

Connection method is another significant criterion. According to this parameter, all headphones are divided into 2 types:

  1. Wired. It is better to pick up anti-noise headphones with a cord about 1.3 meters long. This is enough to keep him moving. It is good if the wire is braided, thick or flat, and the plug is L-shaped. These types of cables break less.
  2. Wireless. For sports, it is better to choose bluetooth devices; for home use, Bluetooth headsets, radio headphones, and Wi-Fi models are also suitable. Battery capacity is also important: the larger it is, the longer you can listen to music without interruption.

The microphone is not the most significant, but sometimes necessary option. It is useful for those who like to walk or cook to the music: to answer a call, you do not have to take your smartphone out of your pocket or run to another room. Fans of online games and Skype conversations will also need this detail.

See also: Sony Wireless Headsets WI-SP500 and WI-SP600N: so similar yet so different

Headphones that actively muffle external sounds can be of great use. The owner of such a model will not interfere with others when he listens to music, plays or watches a movie. In addition, with a wide frequency aisle, sounds will be heard more clearly. For those who value compactness and freedom of action, it is better to choose wireless plug-in options; anti-noise models with a microphone are good for games and video communication. Connoisseurs of the most dense, detailed sound will need a Hi-Fi class model (for example, full-sized Monster Inspiration Active Noise Canceling). They have a microphone, and the wire is quite long and strong. In addition, there is a 3.5 mm plug and a 6.3 mm jack. Thanks to this, the option is freely connected to both a smartphone and equipment for the pros: midi keyboards, as well as audio cards.

Ear muffs for children with autism • Autism is

Some sounds can be physically painful for people on the autism spectrum. Other autistic people can’t stand just loud background noise. Some of them need frequent breaks for rest, and in this they can be helped by pleasant music or soothing sounds with protection from extraneous noise.

Parents of children with sensory problems are increasingly considering buying their children headphones. But questions about whether their child really needs headphones and which ones are best for him can seem too complicated. In this article, I want to briefly talk about the world of headphones, why they may be needed for our children’s too delicate ears, and how to choose headphones for an autistic child.

Why might people with autism need noise canceling headphones?

According to one study, more than 90% of people with ASD have unusual reactions to sensory stimuli (ASD; Ben-Sasson et al., 2009). Although it is still unknown whether sensory processing disorders are a feature of autism or are associated with comorbid disorders (Landon et al., 2016), sensory stimulation behavior is so common in autism that it has been included in the ASD criteria. in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). According to the manual, one of the diagnostic signs of ASD is increased or decreased responses to sensory stimuli (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

The world around you can be a very noisy place. Children on the autism spectrum often experience sensory overload from sounds or noise that are too loud. Another problem in autism can be “sensory seeking” when the child wants to focus on certain pleasant sounds. In this case, the child needs a “good” noise that will block the surrounding noise.

Headphones that suppress or reduce noise can help with hypersensitivity. Which headphones are suitable for a child is largely determined by what and in what situations he will use them.

Some people need headphones in noisy environments to reduce auditory stimulation and prevent overload. Others need headphones with music or pleasant sounds to drown out ambient noise to relax in their spare time or break and rejuvenate.

For both adults and children with autism, noise-cancelling or noise-reducing headphones can be essential items that can significantly improve their standard of living. Autistic adults and children can use them to:

  • sleep better;
  • feel better in noisy and crowded places;
  • take a break if the ambient noise has led to sensory overload;
  • relax with relaxation music or other therapeutic sounds;
  • focus on the task without being distracted by the sounds around;
  • to be distracted by some desired sounds without disturbing others.

Many autistic adults use noise-canceling headphones and have realized that different headphones can be suitable for different situations. So parents of children with ASD and other sensory issues should talk to autistic adults about their experience with earmuffs.

What is the difference between active and passive noise canceling in headphones?

If you’re thinking about buying headphones or a headset for a child with autism, the first thing to consider is the difference between active and passive noise canceling headphones. Although they operate on the same basic principles, their functions differ.

Active Noise Canceling Headphones: cancels background noise from the environment by generating the same but opposite noise. Active noise-cancelling headphones do a great job of letting you listen to music without any problems, even in noisy environments, without turning up the volume, which is important for protecting your ears. All active noise canceling headphones are electronic, meaning they require a power source.

Passive Noise Canceling Headphones: The are essentially headphones that mechanically block out ambient noise to help you listen to music, they just do it better than other headphones. All headphones have some passive noise cancellation, but its effectiveness depends on the materials and design.

Are noise canceling headphones good for children with autism?

I am of the opinion that no one can answer this survey better than the child with autism. So I talked about this topic with Jonas Goddard. He is 13 years old and wears earmuffs. He has been using them for several years and in a variety of situations.

He shared with me some tips and personal experience with earmuffs for autism. He also spoke about what brands and models he prefers.

– Jonas, why did you and your family decide to wear earmuffs?

– To relax and not feel overwhelmed.

— How old were you when you first started wearing earmuffs?

– I think about nine years.

— How did you feel when you first put them on?

— It was cool and relaxing. For example, when I first used AirPods Pro, they even got rid of any distracting noises like fan noise. It helped me reduce stress.

— What earmuffs are you wearing now?

– Well, I would wear my AirPods Pro, but they broke. Maybe I’ll fix them or something.

— What would you say to parents who think they should buy noise canceling headphones for their child?

– Try someone else’s headphones and ask the child how they are for him and whether they help him or not.

– Do you use headphones while you sleep?

— No, I don’t like wearing headphones or earplugs when I sleep.

— Where do you most often use noise canceling headphones?

– In busy places or at a party if I don’t know anyone there. And at home if I just want to relax.

– And when are you sure you won’t wear headphones?

– When you need to talk a lot with people. Don’t even know.

— Do you like over-ear headphones, in-ear headphones or in-ear headphones? And why?

– On-ear headphones are better for when I’m just sitting at home or playing video games. Earplugs are more for when I’m walking down the street or somewhere else outside of the house.

– AirPods Pro are the thing where you can press a button to switch from noise canceling mode to microphone mode so you can hear everything around you. I think in this mode they are like hearing aids.

— Do you prefer wireless headphones? Why?

— I love the wired over-ear headphones and the non-wired earbuds. Because I don’t wear headphones on my head on the street, and the sound in them can sometimes be better. And with wireless headphones, it’s easier to walk.

— What specific noise canceling headphones would you recommend and why?

— My favorite AirPods Pro from Apple. Especially that they have a button to immediately switch noise cancellation to hear everything around. And in them you can listen to the music that you like, and they are comfortable. Probably, if you use Samsung or Android, then there are AirPods Pro analogues, but I don’t know.

What are the disadvantages of headphones for children with autism?

“Owen… Owen… OWEN!” I had already switched to screaming when he finally answered me.

We ordered food to go at the restaurant window, and the employee processed our order. “What are you going to eat?”

Ordering something he doesn’t want is a risky business. He is very happy about the food from this restaurant and disappointment can turn into hysteria for the next 45 minutes, even if I change the order.

“Headphones are a blessing and a curse,” I shyly explain to the cashier. He smirks knowingly. Finally, Owen’s voice is heard: “I want chicken and fries, please.” He doesn’t know that I started to panic.

One of the main and obvious disadvantages of noise canceling headphones lies in their name – we often need to hear what is happening around us for the sake of safety and communication with other people. For example, a child wearing headphones may not notice that parents or teachers are yelling… um… talking to them.

This is not such a straightforward question. Some people, on the other hand, find it easier to talk to others while wearing anti-noise headphones. On the other hand, people around may not address or speak to a child or even an adult if they see that he is wearing headphones. Because of this, autistic people may miss opportunities for communication and friendship.

Fortunately, many people these days, even movie stars, often use headphones for a variety of reasons. Last but not least is educating the public that people with autism and other conditions often need to wear headphones. This helps to reduce prejudice and treat those who wear them in public with more acceptance.

How do I find the right headphones for my child with autism?

There are a few things to consider before buying headphones for a child with autism. Here are just a few of them:

  • How comfortable is the child wearing on-ear headphones?
  • how comfortable the child is in earbuds or in-ear headphones;
  • whether he will be able to use headphones with a wire or wireless headphones;
  • can the child wear ear plugs;
  • whether the sound quality in headphones is important;
  • what is the noise reduction rating of the headphones;
  • whether the headphones need recharging and how long it lasts;
  • how much are you willing to spend on headphones;
  • what sounds and noises usually cause overload in a child;
  • to what extent the headphones are suitable for the age of the child.

We will talk a little about some of these aspects. Just in case, I will make a reservation that we are in no way associated with specific manufacturers or products, and we do not recommend purchasing certain brands. If something suited our family or Jonas, then this article indicates so.

Headphones for children with autism


  • more secure on the head;
  • can be adjusted to fit your head;
  • there are models with very soft pads for the head and ears, they are very comfortable;
  • young children may find it easier to learn how to use them;
  • if you listen to music in them, then the sound quality can be better.


  • they can get hot in the head;
  • they can cause an unpleasant feeling of constriction of the head;
  • they are more difficult to remove if it is important to hear something;
  • they can be quite bulky.

Personally, I use Dr. Dre beats. This is a very popular brand with high ratings. They have a soft lining, and their noise reduction coefficient is very high. Butter-soft materials make them very comfortable.

In-Ear Headphones for Children with Autism


  • it’s easier to just take one earbud out to hear something;
  • they are less bulky;
  • they can be used for sleeping;
  • they attract less attention from others.


  • if they are not padded enough, they can be uncomfortable;
  • they may be difficult to sleep in;
  • they are easier to lose;
  • may not be suitable for small children.

Wireless headphones for kids with autism


  • more freedom of movement;
  • In general, wireless headphones are more popular if the goal is noise cancellation;
  • is easier to use while sleeping;
  • fit more mobile devices.


  • may be discharged;
  • may depend on Bluetooth technology;
  • tend to cost more.

Classic AirPods are a popular choice in this category. They can be quite expensive, but they also have more features. Logitech headphones may work well for autistic people in the workplace. My husband (he’s on the autism spectrum) uses them at work and he loves them. There is also such a moment that the other person will also not hear ambient noise when you talk to him with this headset. For example, if you are talking to a close autistic person while at work, then it will be easier for him not to be distracted by the noises around you.

Active Noise Canceling Earplugs

These earplugs can be a great alternative to headphones. Earplugs are now available with a wide range of noise reduction levels, allowing you to choose. If you combine earplugs with soft earmuffs, you can achieve the greatest noise reduction.


  • suitable for children and adults;
  • can be inexpensive;
  • are more comfortable than in-ear headphones;
  • are great for sleeping;
  • do not require recharging;
  • easy to remove one if necessary;
  • can be combined with earmuffs or soft earmuffs for added protection.


  • they can not listen to music or sounds for relaxation.

Are the headphones suitable for young children with autism?

Sometimes it is more difficult for small children to wear headphones. They may not like the tactile sensation of the headphones, they may lose them, or they may not understand that they need to be used if it is noisy.

There are brands of headphones designed specifically for young children. They come in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and are often not that expensive. There are other options for different soft and fluffy headphones that can be more comfortable and better suited for sleep. By the way, my seven-year-old son has these, and in two years they have experienced a lot (for example, when they were thrown during a tantrum). Children’s headphones come with and without a wire. They can be combined with earplugs for better noise reduction.

Where can I find headphones for children with autism?

I recommend starting with large online stores and marketplaces that have customer reviews and ratings. It’s important to make sure there’s a return option, as you may need to try different headphones until you find one that works best for your child.

YouTube reviews can also be a good source of information. Many people make videos with reviews and unboxing, including for noise canceling headphones. Here you can also look for cheaper options to buy.


Earmuffs can help some autistic children as well as autistic adults. They can also improve the lives of non-autistic children if they have similar sensory issues.

Choosing headphones for your child doesn’t have to be hard work. On the contrary, the opportunity to reduce the negative experiences of the child is a pleasant and rewarding task.

I hope someone might find this article useful. I wish everyone good luck on the path to happiness and well-being for your child and your entire family!


American Psychiatric Association (2013).