You may no longer be hearing the usual traffic and office noises, but being stuck at home doesn’t mean you’re not subjected to noise pollution. There’s the constant background noise between kids listening to godawful music and your toddler’s temper tantrums. Throw in this seemingly infinite isolation and it’s quite the burden. You should get yourself a pair of noise-canceling headphones, great for blocking out those maddening sounds so you can work in peace. Right now, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BT, Bose QuietComfort 35 II, and Sony WH-1000XM3 are on sale at Best Buy for as little as $90.
— $90, was $180
For just $90 on Best Buy, a huge $90 off their normal retail price of $180, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BT 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 price: 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, 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 BT’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-sounding. The 4.50 BT’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 just 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 BT’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 and more reasonably priced pair than these. Get them for just $90 on Best Buy today.
— $298, was $350
The new and improved WH-1000XM3 is Sony’s premium noise-canceling headphones offering and our choice for the best headphones of 2020. They’ve got a lot going for them. First is how cool they look. Sony got rid of the rugged, leathery finish around the earcups and replaced it with a new plastic chassis, making for a far sleeker silhouette. The change in material made the WH-1000XM3 more lightweight and slender, enhancing wearability. Plus, the swivel design of the earcups guarantees supreme comfort. The cups are ergonomically padded and made even larger for bigger ears, and the material is nicely breathable, so you won’t feel uncomfortably hot even after long wear.
Aside from their pleasing aesthetics, the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones are very solid when it comes to noise cancellation. Thanks to Sony’s new QN1 processor, this technology has dramatically improved both audio processing and noise cancellation. Turning on the ANC practically obliterated every loud sound in the environment, from people to vehicles. The WH-1000XM3 also adapt their noise cancellation based on where you are. Through Sense Engine, these headphones let in certain traffic noises like horns and sirens, so you won’t get run over by a car while listening to music.
Music sounds immaculate with these headphones, supported by 32-bit signal processing, a high signal-to-noise ratio, and low distortion. Studio recordings sound impeccable, while live recordings are completely immersive. Basses sound punchy and strong, but without overpowering the beauty and subtlety of the mids and highs.
You can operate these headphones through gestures as well as by pushing buttons. When you cup your hand over the right earcup, music will automatically pause so you can have a conversation. Swiping and tapping also lets you play/pause, skip/return tracks, and adjust the volume. Lastly, the Sony WH-1000XM3’s battery life can last an epic 30 hours between charges. Even charging these for just 10 minutes allows you to use them for five hours with active noise cancellation.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 are hands-down the best headphones that you can buy right now. They are a bit pricey, but as they say, you’ve got to spend a bit of money for real quality. They normally retail for $350, but with Best Buy’s awesome $52 discount, you can snag them for $298.
— $300, was $350
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 $300 instead of their usual retail price of $350 — a cool $50 worth of savings.
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