ANC headphones aren’t cheap. That’s because the technology, which involves generating a signal to cancel out unwanted noise via microphones and specialized circuitry, is very hard to perfect. While most over-ear headphones already provide a physical layer of noise suppression, if you really want onboard active noise-cancellation you’d normally have to shell out at least $300. Well, not anymore, as we’ve found three excellent yet affordable ANC headphones on Best Buy that only cost $150 or less. Save as much as $89 when you get the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BT, Sony WH-CH700N, and JBL Live 650BTNC today.
— $91, was $180
For just $91 on Best Buy, a huge $89 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 wired.
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 $91 on Best Buy today.
— $130, was $200
The Sony WH-CH700N sports an over-the-ear design that fits both ears snugly while providing an impressive level of noise cancellation. Its elliptical earcups are softly padded, while the metal slider on the headband lets you adjust the fit of the headphones for maximum comfort. The cups have a hinge design that adds further comfort and they also swivel flat so you can store them easily inside your bag.
Volume and playback control buttons are located on the left earcup, while power and noise cancellation, as well as the MicroUSB charging port and 3.5mm jack (for wired connectivity), are on the left. The buttons are easy to operate, and the noise-canceling button serves another function: It can be reconfigured to work with Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri via the Sony Headphones Connect app. Incoming texts can be conveniently read to you aloud and you can make phone calls totally hands-free.
These headphones are equipped with a Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) that restores the quality of a compressed music file, and the 40mm drivers deliver deep basses and rich tones. You have the option to fine-tune the headphones through the app, including adjusting the audio levels and digital sound field modes with a variety of presets and EQ settings. There are also modes that you can activate that will make the audio sound like it’s coming from an outdoor stage, club, hall, or arena, thanks to Sony’s VirtualPhones Technology (VPT).
In terms of its noise-canceling capability, the Sony WH-CH700N won’t let you down. These headphones are outfitted with a digital noise-canceling technology that effectively blocks out unwanted noise without affecting the quality of the music. The device also has artificial intelligence noise cancellation (AINC), a feature that automatically adjusts the level of noise-canceling frequency depending on where you are, from relatively quieter environments like cafés to far noisier ones such as public transport and airports.
These headphones’ lithium-ion batteries can power them for an impressive 35 hours. They have quick-charging capability, which provides 60 minutes of playback after a mere 10 minutes of charging. When low on juice, just plug the audio jack from your smartphone to the headphones and carry on listening.
With excellent noise cancellation, terrific acoustics, and an array of features that is hard to beat for the price range, the Sony WH-CH700N stands out in a sea of great headphones. Get them for just $130 instead of $200 on Best Buy today — a huge $70 worth of savings.
— $150, was $200
Thanks to a range of technical advances, 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 looks like any other over-ear set of headphones but is still positively eye-catching. With a clean and understated design with JBL’s logo adorning the earcups’ exterior, you get plush leather padding running along the earcups and the 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 comes in an assortment of colors, including black, blue, and white, but we recommend not getting the latter as our white review unit quickly appeared 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 the very affordable price of $150 instead of $200 on Best Buy, the JBL Live 650BTNC proves that you don’t have to spend too much money to achieve audio nirvana.
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