We are bombarded on a daily basis with a cacophony of noise and there’s really not much we can do about it. Well, actually, there is. Noise-canceling headphones allow us to enjoy some much-needed peace through total music immersion. Below is a trio of top-of-the-line noise-canceling headphones that are on sale on Amazon ahead of Presidents Day. Save as much as $129 when you get the JBL Live 650BTNC, Bose QuietComfort 35 II, or Bowers & Wilkins PX today. Or if it’s true wireless earbuds that you want, here are some excellent deals on the Amazon Echo, Jabra Elite 65t, and Sony WF-1000XM3.
– $150, was $200
Thanks to a range of technical advancements, you no longer have to spend close to $400 for a great pair of noise-canceling headphones. Take JBL’s Live 650BTNC for example. At just $150, it’s half the price of the Sony WH-1000xM3 (our choice for the best noise-canceling headphones for 2020) but is pretty good in all essential departments. Noise-canceling prowess? Extremely solid. Sound quality? No qualms there. Battery life? Terrific! A couple of things that we didn’t like though: Its cloth headband easily takes on dirt, and there’s no song-skip control on the earcup.
The JBL Live 650BTNC look like any other over-ear set of headphones but they’re still positively eye-catching. With a clean and understated design with JBL’s logo adorning the earcups’ exterior, there’s plush leather padding running along the earcups and headband’s interior that provides a secure yet comfortable fit. What’s more, these headphones are impressively light, so you’ll never feel them crushing your skull even with long listening sessions. The JBL Live 650BTNC come in an assortment of colors, including black, blue, and white, but we recommend not getting the latter as our white review unit quickly got dirty after just a short span of time.
On the right earcup you’ll find buttons for power, volume, play/pause, Bluetooth pairing, and noise-canceling, as well as a 3.5mm jack for wired listening, while the left earcup houses the Micro USB charging port. To access a voice assistant (either Google Assistant or Alexa) or skip songs, you can tap the outside of the left earcup, although a designated touch control for song skipping would have been more convenient.
We were able to listen to a variety of music using the JBL Live 650BTNC, and we’re happy to report that everything sounded superb. For some reason, listening with these headphones seemed like we were in an open musical space with none of the usual hollow and echoey quality you come to expect with over-ear headphones. Moreover, the noise-canceling lends a certain level of clarity and nuance to the music. Speaking of noise-canceling, the JBL Live 650BTNC was able to eliminate most, if not all, of the usual ambient sounds, including people talking, traffic noises, and the roar of a plane’s engines. Finally, battery life is fantastic at 20 hours with ANC on and 30 hours with it off.
For just $150, which is $50 less than its normal retail price of $200 on Amazon, the JBL Live 650BTNC proves that you don’t have to spend too much money to achieve audio nirvana.
— $220, was $349
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-star 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’s also one that calls up either Alexa or Google Assistant for voice-activated commands. The QC35 II comes 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 is 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 on Amazon for $220 instead of their usual retail price of $349 – that’s a whopping $129 worth of savings. To make the deal even more irresistible, you can enjoy an additional $50 off instantly upon approval for the Amazon Rewards Visa Card, bringing the price even lower to $170.
– $317, was $400
The Bowers and Wilkins PX look astonishingly good. The exterior is covered in leather (either in space gray or soft gold) with a matte finish that gives it a cool vintage look. Its elliptical earpads are narrower compared to most over-ear headphones though. We were initially skeptical that this design choice would compromise comfort, but upon wearing them they actually do an excellent job in surrounding the ear and blocking out noise.
Unfortunately, the headband squeezes a bit, and we wished for more cushioning as we found ourselves adjusting it to remove pressure off the top of our head during extended listening sessions. A little more padding would have gone a long way. It’s also worth noting that these headphones don’t fold up, but the cups do rotate to lay almost flat, and the headband is flexible, making them easy to store. The control buttons are found on the right earcup, including pause/play, and volume control.
We’re pleased to report that in terms of features and performance, the PX proved excellent. The active noise canceling is courtesy of B&W’s proprietary algorithm, which is adept at eliminating crowd hubbub, air conditioning buzz, the sound of the daily commute, and even a plane engine’s roar. On the PX’s app, there are modes that you can activate in order to fine-tune the PX’s noise-canceling capability.
Music sounded immaculate when listened to through the PX. Unlike other active noise-canceling headphones where the frequency played to combat the background noise ruins the quality of the music, these headphones managed to retain the subtle nuances. The PX is outfitted with aptX HD, an enhanced codec engineered to improve the signal-to-noise ratio resulting in lower background noise, so every genre of music we played on them sounded great, with superb bass to boot.
Bowers and Wilkins claims that the PX’s lithium polymer battery can provide up to 22 hours of playback, and they aren’t wrong. In fact, under normal use conditions where they’re paused and removed repeatedly, the headphones’ battery life can be extended to as much as 50 hours.
Excellent build quality, superb sound, terrific noise canceling, tremendous battery life, the Bowers and Wilkins PX headphones are slightly marred by their uncomfortably tight fit. Get them for $318 instead of $400 on Amazon today – a huge $82 worth of savings.
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