Noise Cancelling Headphone review


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Noise Cancelling Headphones

With Noise Cancelling headphones you can enjoy your music without being disturbed by the loud environment. We've tested 6 Noise Cancelling headphones, paying special attention to noise reduction and comfort. Our test winner are the PXC 550 headphones from Sennheiser: they convince with their extremely good sound quality, intuitive operation and combine the advantages in an attractive design. Our favourite with a score of 9.8/10!

We test independently. uses affiliate links. For a purchase via a link marked with a or our price comparison, we may receive a small commission.

last modified: 18.03.2020, 18:29
Winner Best price winner
Our winner: Sennheiser PXC 550 NoiseGard Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones Review Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Review Bowers & Wilkins PX5 with Noise Cancelling Review SKULLCANDY Venue Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Review Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear Review

Sennheiser PXC 550 NoiseGard

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II)

Bowers & Wilkins PX5 with Noise Cancelling

SKULLCANDY Venue Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear

Test seal: Sennheiser PXC 550 NoiseGard, Rating 1.2
Test seal: Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, Rating 1.35
Test seal: Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II), Rating 1.75
Test seal: Bowers & Wilkins PX5 with Noise Cancelling, Rating 1.8
Test seal: SKULLCANDY Venue Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, Rating 1.9
Test seal: Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear, Rating 2.05
  • Very good Bluetooth stability
  • Adaptive noise cancelling
  • Touch control
  • Very good sound quality
  • Delivered charged
  • A quick charge of 10 minutes for 5 hours running time
  • Quick attention mode to quickly hear important environmental sounds
  • Touch sensor
  • 3-step noise reduction
  • Dual microphone system
  • Voice command access
  • Delivered precharged
  • Simple operation
  • Sound quality
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Ambient switching
  • App
  • Good ANC
  • Good sound resolution
  • Sturdy case
  • Four-stage noise cancelling
  • Touch control panel
  • Adjustment and control via an app
  • Easy connection with the smartphone
  • Noises are not completely suppressed
  • During calls, the voices are doubled
  • Delivered uncharged, recharge in the beginning for 3 hours
  • Very short charging cable
  • Charging cable very short - 30 cm
  • Bluetooth connection does not extend to the next room
  • Echoes during calls and the connection breaks off
  • Noise-cancelling rather average
  • Aux cable very short
  • Lift-off sensor can be incorrectly triggered by hair between the ear and the auricle
  • Pressure on ears
  • Bass somewhat weak
  • Sound profiles have no effect
  • Not very comfortable for spectacle wearers

Disturbing noises are cancelled. Good flexibility thanks to very good Bluetooth stability.

Perfect noise cancelling, but the smartphone should always be nearby for very good Bluetooth stability.

Good noise cancelling. Unfortunately, other criteria stand out negatively.

Stylish, comfortable headphones with average noise cancelling, but very good sound quality.

Very good noise cancelling and good sound. Only wearing comfort could be better.

Reliable on-ear headphones with slightly poor sound quality.

Sound quality
Scope of delivery Headphones, travel case, USB cable, adapter, manual, safety guidelines Headphones, heaphone cable, USB-C cable, case, manual, adapter Headphones, charger cable, travel case, connection cable, manual Headphones, charging cable (USB-C), Aux cable, carrying case, operating instructions, safety and warranty card Headphones, charging cable (USB to micro-USB), aux cable Headphones, case, charging cable, jack cable, manual, safety instructions
Height 17 cm (case) 21 cm (case) 21 cm (travel case) 21.5 cm 18 cm 4 cm (case)
Width 18.5 cm (case) 17 cm (case) 14,5 cm (travel case) 16.5 cm 14 cm 20,5 cm (case)
Depth 5.5 cm (case) 6 cm (case) 5 cm (travel case) 6.7 cm 7,5 cm 20,5 c, (case)
Weight 227 g 255 g 236 g 267 g 243 g 214 g
Charging time 3 hrs 3 hrs 96 minutes 3h, quick charge: 15 min for 5h battery 2.5 hours, "Rapid Charge": 10 minutes for 5 hours 3 hours
Battery life 30 hrs 30 hrs Without cable - 20 hrs ; with cable - 40 hrs 25 h 24 hours 20 hours
Quality of instructions Satisfactory, foldable, incomprehensible Foldable, clearly arranged, very comprehensible Good, clear, very small font Good Very good Foldable, clear, comprehensible
Manual language EN, GER, ES, FR, IT GB, FR, ES, GER, NL, IT, HU, PL, BG, CZ, PT, SK, RO, SI, GR EN, DK, GER, NL, ES, FI, FR, IT, MG, NK, PL, SV, AR EN GB, FR, ES, ZH, FI, IT, PT, NL, AR, SE, DK, NO, JP, KO, RU GER, EN, DK, ES, FR, NL, IT
Packaging Appealing Simple, doesn't look impressive, yet appealing Classy, appealing Illustrated cardboard Black, illustrated Round, robust
Bluetooth stability Very good Good Satisfactory Excellent Very good Excellent
Speech quality (telephone) Satisfactory Satisfactory Bad Good Very good Good, a little tinny
Control Touch control Touch sensor At the push of a button Via buttons on the headphones Headphone buttons Touch control or app
Quality impression Very good Very good High-quality Good Good High-quality
Additional warranty 2 years European Sony warranty Constrained warranty by Bose (check their website for more information) 2 years 2 years 2 year limited warranty
Foldable No - -
Travel case
Cable connection (without Bluetooth) ✔ length -1,40 m ✔ length -1,20 m ✔ length - 1,13 m ✔ Length: 1.10 m ✔ length - 120 cm ✔ length - 125 cm
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*All prices include VAT (if applicable, extra charge for delivery. Check the particular online shop to find information about the availability. Changes of indicated prices since the last update remain reserved.

Tested products

1st place: Sennheiser PXC 550 NoiseGard

Test seal: Sennheiser PXC 550 NoiseGard, Rating excellent

The Sennheiser - PXC 550 NoiseGard convince with very good sound quality, adaptive noise cancelling and with touch control. This makes the headphones very easy to operate and the Bluetooth stability is good. The only problem is the poor quality of calls.

read review
Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones - thumbnail Test seal: Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, Rating excellent

2nd place: Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

The Sony - WH-1000XM3 Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones impress with a Quick Charge mode, charge for 10 minutes, 5 hours of performance. The touch sensor also makes a very good impression. Unfortunately, the headphones aren't delivered charged and the charging cable is only 16 cm long.

read review
Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) - thumbnail Test seal: Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II), Rating good

3rd place: Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II)

The Bose - QuietComfort 35 II convince with their three-stage noise reduction, dual-microphone system and voice command access, so you always have your assistant with you. The first negative thing we noticed was the very short charging cable of only 30 cm. In addition, the Bluetooth connection only reaches the next room and the voice quality is poor.

read review
Bowers & Wilkins PX5 with Noise Cancelling - thumbnail Test seal: Bowers & Wilkins PX5 with Noise Cancelling, Rating good

4th place: Bowers & Wilkins PX5 with Noise Cancelling

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 has a modern design, with great sound and comfort. Even though the noise cancelling is only average, it suppresses most of the environmental noise and, combined with the excellent sound, is absolutely sufficient for a pleasing sound experience. Bluetooth stability and call quality are also good. On the negative side, it should be noted that the lift-off sensor can be falsely triggered by hair between the ear and the auricle. Moreover, you're not really well served with the only 1.10-meter long aux cable, although you can consider this a minor issue with headphones that are mainly intended for Bluetooth connections. A final plus point is the 25 hours of battery life and the 15-minute quick charge, which gives you another 5 hours of battery life.

read review
SKULLCANDY Venue Active Noise Cancelling Headphones - thumbnail Test seal: SKULLCANDY Venue Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, Rating good

5th place: SKULLCANDY Venue Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

The Skullcandy Venue headphones convince with their very good sound and effective noise reduction. The operation is also very simple.

For people with a big head and big ears, however, the headphones quickly become uncomfortable. The design doesn't convey a high-quality impression either.

read review
Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear - thumbnail Test seal: Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear, Rating good

6th place: Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear

The Libratone Q-Adapt is a chic headphone with some weaknesses. The operation and the Bluetooth pairing work very well. The sound is fine, but the active noise reduction causes annoying background noise. In addition, the wearing comfort depends very much on the shape of the head.

read review

Sennheiser - PXC 550 NoiseGard

Winner: read review
  • Sound level (dB)
    Put simply, it is the volume that the headphones can produce. In the normal range, we are at 90dB. For comparison, a jet has about 150db, which is already very loud and dangerous to your health in the long run.
  • Frequency (Hz)
    The frequency range is given in Hz or kHz and usually looks like this: 30 Hz - 20 kHz. 30 Hz are for the low tones (subs, bassline), in the normal case 30 Hz are already enormously low and should make the headphones vibrate properly. 20.000 Hz is for the high tones, this number probably tickles your eardrum. The wider the frequency spectrum, the more sound is covered.

  • Processing & Quality
    A few questions about good quality: What is the flexibility of the headphones? Can I wear the headphones on just one ear without feeling uncomfortable?

  • Duration of wearing
    The wearing comfort of good headphones is characterized by the fact that they do not feel uncomfortable even during longer sessions. Various models are available, such as over-ear and in-ear headphones. Over- and On-Ear have another difference due to the ear padding: leather or velour.

  • Weight
    The headphones should support you and not burden you. Therefore the weight also plays a role in the purchase.

  • Interchangeability of small parts
    A cable break can always happen, small parts can come loose or the headphone padding wears out. Many manufacturers offer spare parts for these problems for quick replacement.

For some time now, a new generation of headphones has been attracting a lot of attention. We are talking about noise-cancelling headphones, which minimize external noises and help to perceive the useful sound perfectly even at low volumes. In this regard, we would like to introduce you to the innovative technology and illuminate noise-cancelling headphones from different sides.

The special feature of the Noise Cancelling headphone is based on its ability to completely eliminate ambient noise and direct the focus on the desired useful sound. Traditional headphones and earpads quickly reach their limits in noisy environments, requiring you to adjust the volume for the desired sounds to an unhealthy level.

Noise-cancelling headphones eliminate unwanted outside noise with a special technique that eliminates interfering signals and replaces them with phase-out signals. A special feature of these headphones with noise reduction is the wide range of applications. You can use Noice Cancelling headphones both for sound insulation at work and for listening to music at home. Optically, the noise-reducing headphones do not differ from classic models. The special feature lies in the detail and the technical innovation of their function.

Noise-cancelling refers to the reduction of external noise. This means that these headphones try to keep any ambient noise away from your ear and make sure you hear the sounds you want, even at low volumes. When it comes to occupational safety, noise-cancelling headphones have established themselves in various industries. In helicopters, in industrial and production halls, on construction sites and when operating loud machines, the headphones protect your hearing and prevent ear diseases such as tinnitus caused by continuously monotonous noise.

The noise-cancelling technique is based on the conversion of ambient noise into electrical voltages. To achieve this effect, microphones are installed on the outside of the headphones. The microphones of your Noise Cancelling headphones pick up the ambient signals, convert them into electrical voltage and pass them on to the electronics of the headphones. There they connect to the desired sound, for example, the music. However, the interfering noises do not remain, but are kept away from your ear by an opposite phase and are completely eliminated. In order for the noise to be eliminated, every noise cancelling headphone must have its own electronics and an energy source, which means a rechargeable battery for wireless use.

headphones in use
headphones in use

The answer is simple. As soon as you are exposed to activity with strong environmental sounds, you should protect your hearing. Noise-cancelling headphones don't just attenuate your hearing for outside noise, they also allow you to hear the sounds that are important for safe working or listening to music. In the case of permanent monotonous or very loud ambient noises, there is a danger of permanently damaging your hearing and promoting tinnitus. Apart from that, the continuous influence of outside noise reduces your quality of life and becomes a disturbing factor that causes headaches, concentration problems and annoyances. If, for example, you are annoyed by the loud street noise while listening to music in your home and have only been able to compensate for it by increasing the volume of the system, you will experience a completely new musical experience with noise-cancelling headphones. Even at very low volume, ambient noise stays away from your ear and you hear what you really want to hear.

Because the Noise Cancelling headphones are comfortable to wear and do not press on your ears, they are suitable for everyone and can replace the classic headphones in your work and private life. The existence of wireless models with Bluetooth transmission means that even with noise-cancelling headphones you are not tied to a small radius around your system. In addition to the effective external noise cut-off, these headphones are characterized by a high signal range and a long-lasting battery.

One technology - many applications

In the area of work safety, noise-cancelling headphones are already an integral part of the equipment in many companies. Do you like to travel and prefer to use the train, plane or bus? On longer journeys, the sounds produced by the means of transport can be truly annoying. For a relaxed journey, noise-cancelling headphones are recommended to keep the noise away from you and guarantee a relaxed arrival at your destination. A big advantage of the headphones is their comfortable fit and the possibility of noise shielding without you having to make a useful noise. For a noisy train ride or a plane ride, you can keep calm by wearing noise-cancelling headphones and falling asleep relaxed and enjoying the journey.

Meanwhile, the innovative technology is so mature that there are Noise Cancelling headphones for every use and of course in numerous designs. You won't have to reckon with high costs, but you'll be amazed how cheaply you can provide peace and quiet while travelling, at work and even within your own four walls. You can use the Bluetooth transmission to listen to music, have mobile phone conversations transmitted or set a video running on your smartphone to music via noise-cancelling headphones. What you don't hear are the monotonous and annoying noises that spread around you.

One primary advantage is obvious. What you don't want to hear stays away from your ear. Traffic noise, the rattling of the train on the tracks, hours of sawing and drilling noise from the neighbourhood or machine noise on the construction site are some of the disturbing noises that must no longer affect you negatively. Noise-cancelling headphones are comfortable, fit perfectly on every ear and are no longer noticed even a short time after putting them on. The high-quality, very light and comfortably padded headphones will often remain on your head without you noticing it. You'll enjoy the peace and quiet and only notice the headphones when you hear a lip movement from the person you're talking to, but not a sound from the words directed at you. The many advantages of noise-cancelling headphones will inspire you in many different situations. That's why we present them in a short overview for quick readers.

  • Maximum and safe switching off of all external disturbing noises
  • Comfortable to wear due to high-quality padding and ergonomic shape
  • If desired, absolute silence
  • Very clear noise even at low volumes
  • Music enjoyment of a new level and guaranteed without outside noise
  • Wireless operation due to the powerful rechargeable battery
  • Music and noise transmission via Bluetooth
  • Areas of application in business, travel and at home
  • Trendy designs

A noise-cancelling headphone has only advantages and comes without any disadvantages. You can wear it at any time and protect yourself from annoying and ear-damaging noises at work, travel peacefully by public transport from now on and listen to the desired sounds without annoying external influences when listening to music.

Noise suppression is active. The externally mounted microphones with noise converters capture environmental noises, convert them into voltage signals and transmit them to the electronics. There they are completely suppressed and you only hear what you really want to hear. You can transfer your favourite music from the system or smartphone directly to the noise-cancelling headphones via Bluetooth.

The high range of Bluetooth technology gives you unlimited freedom to move around the house or property with your headphones and listen to music undisturbed. The lawn needs to be mowed and you don't want to let the loud noises in your ear? With noise-cancelling headphones, you can set the trimmer in motion and enjoy your favourite songs. So the lawn mows itself much more pleasant and your motivation will reach new heights. Even in the kitchen, or while the kids are watching cartoons and you're already thinking about the shrill voices from the TV, not pleasant goosebumps, noise-cancelling headphones do the best service.

Noise-cancelling headphones are a great everyday companion when you opt for high quality and complete outdoor noise reduction. In order to make the right choice when buying, you should focus primarily on the application area. For home use, for listening to music or for noise reduction when travelling, the noise suppression does not have to be as strong as for the model you wear in the purpose of health and safety at work. However, it is recommended that you compare the best-rated noise-cancelling headphones and look at the aspects that are most relevant to you.

The wearing comfort of good headphones is characterized by the fact that they do not feel uncomfortable even during longer sessions. There are different models for this, such as over-ear and in-ear headphones. Over- and On-Ear have another difference in the ear padding: Leather or velour.


The fact is that every noise cancelling headphone eliminates unwanted external noise. After all, it is his task and the reason why this special type of headphone was produced. If you're using the headphones in the office or want to combine them with your headset, you can look at smaller models and choose a model that won't give you astonished faces in the office. This is where in-ear noise-cancelling headphones come in handy. For a trendy appearance and your favourite music on the go, you go for classics and opt for a model that is also a fashionable accessory in the form of a headband. No matter what size or design you are interested in, quality is the most important purchase criteria for noise-cancelling headphones.

Pay attention to the interchangeability of the small parts. Many manufacturers offer spare parts that can be replaced quickly and easily.

In comparison, products from renowned manufacturers in the sound and audio industry have scored the best results. If you save on quality, you always save on the wrong end and will not be convinced of the function of your noise-cancelling headphones. It's best to try out different models in a specialist shop. The ambience in a busy electronics store is an ideal testing ground for checking whether the headphones really suppress all outside noise. For the endurance test, you can turn on a music system in the store and stand directly in front of it with your headphones. If you don't hear anything, you'll make a good choice and you won't notice the much quieter sounds around you.


Don't let yourself be bothered. Do you want to make phone calls from the train without the whistling signals of the conductor and without the confusion of voices of other train travellers? Then you are guaranteed to love Noise Cancelling headphones. Are you bothered by the typing of your employee in the office and you can't get rid of the computer's thousandfold daily banging noises even after work? With noise-cancelling headphones, you no longer have to expose yourself to the sounds. Whether you prefer complete silence or listening to your favourite music via Bluetooth is entirely up to you. In fact, a Noise Cancelling headset can provide you with the peace and quiet you want anytime, anywhere by shielding you from outside noise.

In January 2018, Stiftung Warentest also tested noise cancelling headphones. The nine tested devices were all rated "Good" and were very close to each other. In May 2018, six new devices were added to the test and two devices from the January test were replaced by their successors. The reason for this was that brand names such as Bose, Sony and JBL launched new devices on the market after the test in January. Stiftung Warentest's current test consists of 13 noise cancelling headphones.

Also the new devices were graded all with good. The five headphones that took last place were rated 2.5, including devices from Teufel, JBL, Sony and Philips. This was followed by four products that received a 2.4. Third place went to JBL's E65BTNC headphones, with a 2.3. Second place went to Beats' Studio 3 wireless headphones, with a 2.2. The first place was shared by Sony's WH-1000 XM2 and Bose QuitComfort 35 II both with a score of 2.0 test winners. The result consisted of five criteria: Sound (25%), suppression of ambient noise (25%), handling (25%), wearing comfort (15%), battery and environment (10%). Both tests were conducted under the same conditions.

When testing the sound quality, the noise cancelling headphones were played with different genres in a quiet and noisy environment. Special attention was paid to volume, dynamics and naturalness. In addition, lip synchronicity was assessed in television. Two units only performed satisfactorily, the rest received a good rating. The PXC 550 headphones from Sennheiser scored with the best sound quality.

The noise reduction was judged with and without playing music. The reduction was evaluated for continuous noises, cyclic noises as well as conversations and wind. Furthermore, the noise level caused by the electronics was investigated. Again, all but two of the headphones were rated "Good". The Philips device and JBLs Everest Elite only achieved satisfactory results.

The evaluation of the handling drew the overall mark of almost all headphones down. The examiners of Stiftung Warentest judged the enclosed information and instructions for use to be sufficient or inadequate. This was mainly due to the fact that the detailed information could only be found on the manufacturers' websites. Also with the evaluation of the control elements and displays satisfactory results were obtained on the average, exactly the same as with the Bluetooth coupling. Especially Sennheiser's PXC 550 suffered from this evaluation. Only three devices could convince with a good handling.

In order to assess the wearing comfort, five testers wore the headphones for 30 minutes each in everyday life and during strong movements of head and body. Meanwhile, attention was paid to how pleasant the headphones are, whether heat accumulates strongly and whether glasses affect wearing comfort. Here, too, the results were predominantly good, with only Sony and Bowers & Wilkins devices achieving satisfactory results. Finally, the charging time and running time as well as the workmanship of the headphones were checked. In addition, it was determined whether others could listen in within a radius of 20 cm.

We also tested a test winner from Stiftung Warentest: Boses QuietComfort 35 II was even rated a little better by us. However, unlike the other test participants, the sound quality in particular was not convincing, which is why it was not enough for us to win the test. We also tested the successor to Sony's WH-1000 XM2 headphones: The WH-1000 XM3 Headphones only just finished second in our ranking. The PXC 550 headphones from Sennheiser only made it to seventh place with our colleagues, mainly because of the handling. Although we also noticed the confusing instructions for the Sennheiser headphones, we didn't go to court with them so severely. Positive points like the good sound quality and the stable Bluetooth connection predominate, so that the Noise Cancelling headphones from Sennheiser are our test winners and even price-performance winners.

How do we test at

Live and authentic: We get the devices into our Hamburg test laboratory. Here we take a close look at everything.

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  • What current products are there?
  • What are the comparison criteria?
  • What tests are we going to run?
  • What is the test procedure?

When everything's settled, we'll bring the devices to us. For each product the test procedure, the measured values and product properties are documented in detail. We create photos and videos. We evaluate the results for you, summarize everything in a test report and calculate the test grade.

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Which are best Noise Cancelling Headphones?

With Noise Cancelling headphones you can enjoy your music without being disturbed by the loud environment. We've tested 6 Noise Cancelling headphones, paying special attention to noise reduction and comfort. Our test winner are the PXC 550 headphones from Sennheiser: they convince with their extremely good sound quality, intuitive operation and combine the advantages in an attractive design. Our favourite with a score of 9.8/10!


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