When shopping for over-ear headphones, it’s best to look for those that already offer active noise-cancellation. While they do tend to be a bit more expensive, what’s the point of having incredible sounding headphones if they don’t block out ambient sounds? This is especially important now that we’re stuck at home and you might want to tune out distractions so you can focus on work. Right now, you can get the Sennheiser HD 4.50, Beats Studio 3, Bose QuietComfort 35 II, and Bose 700 noise-canceling headphones starting at only $91 at Best Buy.
For just $91 on Best Buy, a huge $89 off their normal retail price of $180, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 are wonderfully inexpensive for a pair of noise-canceling headphones. However, it’s apparent where Sennheiser had to cut corners in order to lower their cost: Build construction. What you get is an all-plastic affair and although there’s memory-foam cushioning, the synthetic leather covering the earcups doesn’t scream opulence. Thanks to the memory foam, though, wearing these circumaural headphones even for long periods of time won’t feel like a pain endurance test. You don’t get any fancy case for storing these headphones, but they do swivel flat and the simple canvas bag that they come with is fine.
For controls, the right earcup features a multifunction button for music playback and accepting calls, and volume up and down buttons which you have to press simultaneously to turn the ANC on. The 4.50’s noise canceling is decent but can’t compete with more premium noise-canceling headphones. It’s enough to eliminate the low hum of air conditioning, normal crowd hubbub, and traffic noises, but not enough to completely muffle the roar of a plane’s engines. If you’re a frequent flyer and want to be fully immersed in your in-flight entertainment, these may not be the headphones for you.
The sound quality is really good. The bass is full-bodied but not overpowering, the treble sparkles, and the mids are warm and very natural. The 4.50’s sound signature would definitely work well with a variety of music genres.
Battery life is also top-notch. With ANC on, you get 19 hours of playback and an even longer 25 hours if you’re going to use Bluetooth. Once it’s out of juice, just connect the cord and continue listening to your music with a wired connection.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50’s noise canceling is good but far from perfect. There are definitely other headphones out there that can offer total music immersion. However, if you’re budget-conscious and don’t really need that much noise-canceling power, you won’t find a better or more reasonably priced pair than these. Get them for just $91 at Best Buy today.
Recently, Apple-owned Beats has been receiving a lot of flak from audiophiles, claiming that the company’s headphones are all style and no substance. While we can agree to a certain extent that Dr. Dre’s headphones’ build quality is a bit questionable, we can’t deny the fact that they do sound great. Case in point: The Beats Studio 3. There is a lot to love about these wireless headphones, including outstanding iOS connectivity, fantastic noise-canceling, and phenomenal battery life. We even have little to complain of in terms of audio quality, although like most Beats headphones the Studio 3 can get excessively bass-heavy. Right now, you can score them on Best Buy for $200 instead of $350 — a massive $150 off.
The Beats Studio 3 look perfectly well-built even though they are made almost entirely of plastic. For the price, most people would expect real leather, aluminum, or Alcantara, but Beat’s choice of materials is fine, albeit far from luxurious. These headphones have a beautiful matte coating that’s fingerprint- and dirt-resistant. Best of all, they don’t dig into your skull even with prolonged use, unlike the ill-fitting Solo3. This is due to the earcups’ uber-soft cushioning, pivoting action, and advanced venting, which makes for a secure but super comfortable fit.
Thanks to Apple’s W1 wireless chip (the same one found inside the AirPods), all you need to do is to turn these headphones on and if they’re in close proximity to your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook, a nice little pop-up will appear for immediate pairing. All you need to do is hit “yes.” Aside from the seamless pairing, another benefit of the W1 chip is the tremendous battery life. These headphones can last up to 22 hours and even longer with active noise cancellation off.
Speaking of noise-canceling, Studio 3 boasts some of the best ambient sound-eliminating tech in the business. Called Pure ANC, it involves two onboard microphones inside the earcups that monitor and adapt to environmental sounds many thousands of times per second. A lot of noise-canceling headphones noticeably distort audio or have a faint hum to them, but we didn’t notice any of that with the Studio 3.
As mentioned, Beats put a tad too much emphasis on the bass with the Studio 3. While this would definitely make pop songs and other beat-driven music sound toe-tappingly good, it does tend to drag down mid-frequency sounds (mostly vocals and instrumentation) a bit. Still, we think many would appreciate this kind of sound, especially young people. Get the Beats Studio 3 noise-canceling headphones on Best Buy for $200 instead of $350 today.
The QuietComfort 35 II, or QC35 II for short, was one of our favorite noise-canceling headphones for 2019, earning a solid 4 out of 5 rating in our review last year. Out of the box, you’ll immediately notice that these are well-crafted headphones. The earcups are encased in supple leather and the headband has soft microfiber padding. They’re very lightweight and fit on the head quite comfortably; wearing them for long periods of time won’t be an issue. You’ll find the control buttons beneath the right earcup, alongside a USB Type-C charging port and, thankfully, a headphone jack. Buttons include the standard ones: Volume control, play/pause, and track advance or reverse. There is also one that calls up either Alexa or Google Assistant for voice-activated commands. The QC35 II come with a zip-locked protective case so they’ll remain scratch-free during travel.
These headphones’ noise-canceling prowess is amazing. The feature comes in three settings: Low, medium, and high. Obviously, if you still want to hear a bit of what’s happening around you, you can set it at low. To become completely oblivious to the world for total music immersion, crank it up to high. The thunderous roar of plane engines can be completely eradicated, and quieter sounds won’t even stand a chance. These headphones are also outfitted with a noise-rejecting dual-mic system that ensures noise-free phone calls regardless of how loud your surroundings are. Bluetooth connectivity is also pretty impressive. The QC35 II can pair with multiple devices simultaneously.
As far as sound quality goes, the QC35 II are excellent. Music sounds great, with punchy bass, adequate midrange presence, and zesty treble. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better-sounding pair of cans for the price. Unfortunately, some of the music’s richness and subtlety gets lost when the noise cancellation is at its highest setting, but not enough to ruin your listening experience.
These cans’ battery life is tremendous, capable of lasting up to 20 hours when used wirelessly with noise-canceling on — and an even more impressive 40 hours when wired. Perfect for frequent flyers who travel long distances, the QuietComfort 35 II headphones are currently available at Best Buy for $299 instead of their usual retail price of $349 — a cool $50 worth of savings.
For the longest time, Bose has been killing it in the noise-canceling headphones department. Sure, the Sony WH-1000XM3 may be our choice for the best ANC headphones for 2020, but frankly, Bose’s offerings aren’t that far behind. Take the Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones 700 (or simply Bose 700) for example. Their noise-canceling prowess is phenomenal, they’re extremely comfortable even with prolonged use, boast a gamut of top-of-the-line features, and are terrific for taking phone calls and interacting with digital voice assistants. Simply put, these headphones are the best pair you can get for business, and frequent flyers will truly want these in their arsenal.
Bose took a different approach when it comes to designing these headphones. The Bose 700’s earcups are affixed to the headband rather than having the typical yoke-style mount, allowing more pivot and tilt. We personally think this is a great ergonomic decision and actually distributes the weight more evenly, but it might not be suitable for everyone. During our test, we never experienced any pain or discomfort even with long listening sessions. Again, this might not be the case for other people. We suggest trying these on for a short while to determine whether they feel like an improvement in comfort or a step backward.
Controls for play/pause, track advance/reverse, and volume are all managed via a touchpad located on the right earcup. They’re very easy to use and we’re confident that it wouldn’t take long for anyone to master them. There are physical buttons for noise-canceling adjustment (levels 0, 5, and 10) as well as controls for power/Bluetooth pairing and summoning the voice assistant of your choice, including Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana.
We normally don’t bother with companion apps because they rarely add to the overall experience, but that cannot be said about the Bose Music app. It boasts an assortment of fun and useful features, including pairing the headphones to your phone (which can be done just as easily without the app), renaming the Bose 700 whatever you like (Bose’s name suggestions are hilarious, like Thunder Flash), exerting granular control over noise-canceling effectiveness from 0 to 10, and managing multiple paired devices. The app also lets you manage all your music services from one place and save favorite playlists as convenient presets for one-touch access.
As expected, the Bose 700’s noise-canceling is superb, capable of completely blocking out everyday noises and even the roar of a plane’s engine. Sound quality is also very good, although we did find the obvious boost in the upper midrange and lower treble regions a little harsh. This is probably due to the fact that Bose envisioned these headphones as the ideal travel companion since forward presentation in the high end will help cut through any noise the cans can’t cancel. Finally, battery life is fantastic. The Bose 700’s total play time with noise canceling on is roughly 20 hours, and an even longer 40 hours when deactivated. Once they’ve run out of juice, you can just retrieve the headphone cable from the case and continue listening wired.
The Bose 700’s acoustic and noise-canceling performance is very impressive, although we admit their $399 price tag might be too expensive for most people. Fortunately, they’re currently on sale at Best Buy for $349 – a cool $50 off.
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