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The best noise-canceling earbuds for 2022

If you're searching for a set of earbuds with true active noise-canceling (ANC), you have more options than ever: Many recognizable (and not so recognizable) audio brands offering ANC buds, many at competitive price points, making the search difficult. We've tested tons of noise-canceling earbuds, and although everyone has their own specific needs and wants, we believe that the Sony WF-1000XM4 are the best noise-canceling earbuds you can buy right now.

But let's assume you want to explore your options to look at the best design, battery life, transparency modes, and other specs. That's where we come in! As experts on all things audio and audio-adjacent, we've compiled this roundup of the best noise-canceling earbuds you can buy right now.

Sony WF-1000XM4
Sony WF-1000XM4
The best overall noise-canceling earbuds
Jump to details
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
The next best noise-canceling earbuds
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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Best ANC tech in noise-canceling earbuds for all users
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AirPods Pro 2
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Best noise-canceling earbuds for Apple users
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Technics EAH-AZ60
Technics EAH-AZ60
Best sound quality for the price
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JBL Reflect Flow Pro
JBL Reflect Flow Pro
Best athletic noise-canceling earbuds
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Google Pixel Buds Pro
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Best ANC earbuds for Android users
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Denon Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Denon Noise Canceling Earbuds
Best AirPods Pro alternatives
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Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
Great audio in noise-canceling earbuds
Jump to details
Soundcore Space A40
Anker Soundcore Space A40
Best affordable noise-canceling earbuds
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sony wf 1000xm4 review featured
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Sony WF-1000XM4

The best overall noise-canceling earbuds

Pros
  • Great sound quality
  • Good battery life
  • Great noise cancellation
  • LDAC Bluetooth codec
  • Wireless charging
  • IPX4 water resistance
Cons
  • May not fit small ears
  • Slightly lacking in high-end detail
  • No Bluetooth multipoint

Why you should buy them: Some of the best noise-canceling in the business, plus all-day comfort and great, balanced Sony sound.

Who they’re for: People who don't want to compromise on quality.

Why we picked the Sony WF-1000XM4:

Sony's insanely popular Sony WF-1000XM4s remain firmly at the top of our list, with the $250 true wireless noise-canceling earbuds offering quality for just about anyone.

And to jump right in with the main reason you're probably here, the XM4's noise-canceling is excellent, but Sony has always done this really well. The XM4s not only do an effective job at eliminating high- and low-frequency noise and sounds, but they manage to achieve this without adding an audible hiss or frequency to do it. The result is super-clear audio, even when there's no music playing. They even have an optional automatic wind-noise reduction feature that works great.

The Sony WF-1000XM4s are solid on the transparency mode front, too, with a speak-to-chat feature that detects when you're speaking and automatically pauses your music so you can talk. All this and more can be customized with the Sony Headphones Connect app. Additionally, Sony recently announced that Bluetooth multipoint connectivity will be added to the XM4s in November 2022, which will allow for seamless switching between two simultaneous connected sources.

With deep bass, and clear mids and highs, the XM4s sound great, too. The XM4s employ memory foam eartips, which create a comfortable seal that helps block outside noise. Sony's customizable touch controls will have you navigating your music and other features easily, too.

Battery life is top-notch, with eight hours of playtime with ANC turned on and 12 hours with it off, and the charging case doles out two full charges for a total of 24 hours. The XM4s have also stepped up to water-resistance level with an IPX4 rating, making them much more usable at the gym or out for a jog on a rainy day.

With their compact form, snug and comfortable fit suitable for all-day use, full Sony sound, and some of the best ANC around, you can't go wrong with these formidable noise-canceling true wireless earbuds.

Sony WF-1000XM4
Sony WF-1000XM4
The best overall noise-canceling earbuds
jabra elite 7 pro review 00018
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Jabra Elite 7 Pro

The next best noise-canceling earbuds

Pros
  • Super comfortable
  • Great sound quality
  • Excellent call quality
  • Very good ANC and transparency
  • Good battery life
  • Wireless charging
  • Tons of customization options
  • Excellent water/dust protection
Cons
  • None

Why you should buy them: Full of great features, exceptional sound, and top-notch noise cancellation without emptying your wallet.

Who they’re for: Anyone looking for reliable, high-performing earbuds with a reputable lineage.

Why we picked the Jabra Elite 7 Pro:

Like our top-pick Sony WF-1000XM4s, the Jabra Elite 7 Pro earbuds are descendant from a family of outstanding earbuds whose praises we've sung for years. Aside from being one of if not the most comfortable pairs of earbuds we've ever tried, the Elite 7 Pro have outstanding noise cancelation, due in part to their fully closed design that provides a tight seal. The result is comfy and ultra-quiet earbuds that will bring you peace and quiet.

The Elite 7 Pro's transparency mode (called HearThrough) is also pretty great, and switching between it and ANC is as easy as a tap on the left earbud. Add to that the fantastic Jabra Sound+ app that makes the Elite 7 Pros the most customizable earbuds we've ever tested, and the sky's the limit at roughly $50 less than the XM4s.

The Elite 7 Pros have managed to combine rich and powerful bass that make everything from guitars and synths to vocals sit where they're supposed to in the soundstage for accurate reproduction of your favorite tunes. Call quality is also superb on the Elite 7 Pros, and it's worth noting that a firmware update in January this year added a multipoint Bluetooth connection, meaning you can do things like listen to music from your phone while participating on a Zoom call on your computer at the same time.

If working out is on your list of main uses for a pair of earbuds, then the Elite 7 Pro's IP57 rating will please you, as they're waterproof in up to a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

Battery-wise, the Elite 7 Pro will last for eight hours with ANC on, and a quick charge of five minutes will net you an hour of listening. All in, with the power provided by the charging case, the Jabra Elite 7 Pros boast 30 hours of total playtime, and even more with ANC turned off.

Jabra Elite 7 Pro
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
The next best noise-canceling earbuds
bose quietcomfort earbuds ii review 00013
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Best ANC tech in noise-canceling earbuds for all users

Pros
  • Very comfortable
  • Very good sound quality
  • Outstanding noise cancellation
  • Very good transparency
  • Adjustable EQ modes
Cons
  • No wireless charging
  • No Bluetooth multipoint
  • Poor outdoor call quality

Why you should buy them: They pack the best combination of sound quality and noise cancellation we've found (for non-Apple users).

Who they’re for: Those who aren't especially interested in Apple AirPods Pro, but want the best possible noise cancellation they can get.

Why we picked the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II:

When Bose released the upgrade version of its QuietComfort earbuds, it made a bold claim – that they had the best active noise cancellation available. That includes new technology like CustomTune, which is supposed to run a test of your ears and adjust the ANC as a result. We don’t know how much difference that makes, but we do know that these earbuds have some of the best ANC that we’ve experienced, outshone only by the very latest releases like the AirPods Pro 2.

The ANC includes both Quiet and Aware transparency modes (we appreciate the option to choose which we prefer), along with an adjustable EQ that offers several presets for boosts or reductions. The design also saw a welcome upgrade with now-separated eartips for easier fits, and although they stick out a bit the design remains entirely comfortable. The IPX4 rating also removes any fears of using these buds outdoors, no matter the weather. The touch controls have also added volume swiping (which is making the rounds in the latest high-tech earbuds).

Not everything is perfect with Bose’s latest entry: The battery life remains average at up to six hours plus three full charges in the case, which for some reason doesn’t support wireless charging. But if you’re looking for earbuds that put the “cancellation” in ANC – and aren’t a big Apple user – Bose has the quiet you’re listening for.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Best ANC tech in noise-canceling earbuds for all users
apple airpods pro 2 review 00025
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Apple AirPods Pro 2

Best noise-canceling earbuds for Apple users

Pros
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Top-notch transparency
  • Very good sound quality
  • Great call quality
  • Fun charging case features
Cons
  • Not ideal for Android
  • Still no EQ adjustments

Why you should buy them: Apple built a pair of premium noise-canceling earbuds that are tailor-made for its own community.

Who they’re for: Apple users in the market for immensely effective ANC.

Why we picked the Apple AirPods Pro 2:

As popular as the cheaper Apple AirPods are, the AirPods Pro 2 (now officially replacing the first Pro model) eclipse them in every way. According to our experienced reviewers, the ANC in these high-end earbuds is best-in-class. They create a cone-of-silence effect that has to be experienced to be appreciated.

The AirPods Pro 2 feature super-simple pairing (its own version of multipoint, that works quite well) and hands-free Siri access when connected to an iPhone, as well as an IPX4 water-resistance rating that protects against sweat and splashes during workouts. Apple also added an adaptive EQ technology that adjusts the frequency response to your listening conditions, something that few other companies offer. The latest version includes updated touch controls including a volume slider, and improved technology for spatial audio, among other tricks.

Battery life for the AirPods Pro 2 is enough for a full day at around five hours per charge and 24 hours of total life with the earbuds’ included case, though this is on the low end when you look at other models in this roundup. There’s no doubt that these buds are pricey at $249, but for Apple users in particular, they represent the best combination of noise cancellation and operating system integration available today.

AirPods Pro 2
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Best noise-canceling earbuds for Apple users
technics eah az60 review 00008
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Technics EAH-AZ60

Best sound quality for the price

Pros
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Hi-res audio support
  • Hands-free Alexa
  • Bluetooth multipoint
Cons
  • No wireless charging
  • No in-ear sensors

Why you should buy them: They rival the sound quality and features of higher-end earbuds but for a more reasonable price.

Who they’re for: Those with audiophile standards who don't want to pay audiophile prices.

Why we picked the Technics EAH-AZ60 noise-canceling earbuds:

A more affordable version of Technic's excellent but pricey EAH-AZ70 true wireless noise-canceling earbuds, the AZ60s offer up Technics' legendary sound and are packed with primo ANC.

Comfy and light, the AZ60s are easy to wear for long periods of time, with their soft silicone eartips (in seven sizes) creating a full seal to help block outside noise to complement the ANC (more on that below).

The AZ60's ANC? Amazing. Ambient noise, hums, traffic, and nearby conversations are well and properly filtered, making for a clear, clean experience.

Transparency mode is activated easily with a long press on the right earbud, and the Technics Audio Connect app allows for ample fine-tuning, including a feature that lets you bump up and enhance voices for when you're having a conversation.

As you would expect from Technics, the makers of some of the most legendary audio equipment ever, the sound quality from the EAH-AZ60s is superb, making these earbuds one of the best-sounding pairs on our list. With their default EQing, the EAH-AZ60s are controlled and stable across the whole bass-mid-high spectrum, but that can all be tailored to your liking with the Audio Connect app.

As with the Sony WF-1000XM4s, these Technics also support Sony's hi-res LDAC Bluetooth codec, which you can experience when connected to a compatible phone or device.

The Technics EAH-AZ60s battery life isn't anything to write home about, though, with roughly seven hours per charge with ANC activated and a total of 24 to 25 hours of playtime with the charging case (which isn't wireless, by the way). Using the LDAC will yield even less playtime. But that's a reasonable tradeoff considering the sound quality for the price.

Technics EAH-AZ60
Technics EAH-AZ60
Best sound quality for the price
jbl reflect flow pro review featured
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

JBL Reflect Flow Pro

Best athletic noise-canceling earbuds

Pros
  • Solid, secure fit
  • Excellent noise-canceling
  • Choice of hands-free voice A.I.s
  • Completely waterproof
  • Wireless charging
Cons
  • Limited control options
  • No quick-charge option

Why you should buy them: They sound great, offer superb ANC, and have an IP68 waterproof rating to handle the most rigorous workouts.

Who they’re for: Anyone looking for a great set of athletic earbuds that rival the Beats Fit Pro for way less.

Why we picked the JBL Reflect Flow Pro:

Finding a great pair of earbuds for your workout isn't an easy feat. They have to fit securely, sound great, and offer some top-notch ANC. Well then, the JBL Reflect Flow Pro sports buds could be the perfect pair.

Super comfortable, the Reflect Pros offer three sizes of silicone eartips and four choices of wingtips that help secure the earbuds. The My JBL Headphones app can also run a test to help you zero in on the perfect fit. Their IP68 rating means they can take on whatever dust, water, and sweat your activities can throw at them, and you can completely submerge them in water to rinse them off afterward.

But that's putting the cart before the horse. During your workout, the Reflect Flow Pros deliver all the tub-thumping bass you'll need to drive you further while not skimping on the clear mids and highs for those motivational lyrics. The My Headphones app also offers some EQing features to help you dial in your perfect sound.

But what about the noise-cancellation and transparency modes? Outdoors, traffic and ambient noises were kept in check, while inside (should you want to use them for work, too), annoying sounds like hums and bathroom fans were filtered out. The Reflect Flow Pros' transparency mode is also really good. Two presets are available – Ambient Aware (for general environmental sounds) and TalkThru for conversations.

Battery power in decent, with 10 hours of playback time on a single charge (eight with ANC on) and an extra 20 hours with the Qi-compatible wireless charging case, which competes with some of the best on our list. There's also voice assistant support for Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, plus a Find My Buds feature that will help you locate them if they're lost or stolen.

JBL Reflect Flow Pro
JBL Reflect Flow Pro
Best athletic noise-canceling earbuds
google pixel buds pro review 00012
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Google Pixel Buds Pro

Best ANC earbuds for Android users

Pros
  • Compact and comfy
  • Very good sound quality
  • Very effective ANC/transparency
  • Wireless charging
  • Bluetooth Multipoint
Cons
  • No real EQ adjustments
  • No high-quality/low-latency codecs
  • Still no iOS Pixel Buds app

Why you should buy them: They offer amazing sound and ANC for a great price point when compared to some of the bigger players.

Who they’re for: Google and Android fans.

Why we picked the Google Pixel Buds Pro:

Google knew that Android fans were looking for highly compatible earbuds with up-to-date ANC tech, and the Pixel Buds Pro were designed to deliver. Fortunately, they succeeded in almost all respect. These earbuds make the perfect companion for Android phone fans, especially if you’ve got a Pixel phone to pair with them. They’re also more affordable than competitors from brands like Apple or Bose, which wins them an extra nod.

These buds are designed for a tight, minimalistic in-ear fit with a vented design, plus a variety of eartips to choose from and an eartip seal test to improve the ANC and find the right fit. Whether you’re using the Pixel settings or the Pixel Bud app, controls are a breeze and the ANC comes with easy off and transparency modes … plus, of course, access to Google Assistant, which is a serious advantage if you’re already plugged into the Google smart world.

But perhaps best of all, the Pixel Buds Pro sound great, better than any Pixel Buds before with crisp sounds – albeit combined with a lack of EQ options or high-res audio support (the latter of which, Google says is on the way). But if you’re already invested in the Android ecosystem, they’re the perfect companion earbuds that will fit in like a dream.

Google Pixel Buds Pro
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Best ANC earbuds for Android users
denon noise cancelling earbuds ah c830ncw review featured
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Denon Noise Canceling Earbuds

Best AirPods Pro alternatives

Pros
  • Comfortable fit
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Very good noise-canceling
  • Very good transparency
  • Good call quality
  • IPX4 water resistance
Cons
  • No wireless charging
  • No EQ or control customization
  • No Bluetooth multipoint
  • Require frequent fit adjustment

Why you should buy them: They offer noise cancellation on par with the likes of Bose, Apple, and Sony at a fraction of the price.

Who they’re for: Those who prefer the AirPods Pro-style of earbuds.

Why we picked the Denon Noice Cancelling Earbuds:

This is Denon's first stab at true wireless earbuds, and it's not really a surprise that the acclaimed Japanese audio makers have hit it out of the park with Denon-level audio quality and smooth and quiet noise-canceling tech that might make you question why Apple's little white buds are such a big deal.

That said, with an obvious nod to Apple's AirPods design (with slightly thicker stems and also available in black), the Denon Noise Cancelling Earbuds offer a cheaper alternative but deliver Denon's praised sound quality across the full spectrum of low, mid, and high frequencies with accurate sound reproduction and wide soundstage.

But how do the Denon Noise Cancelling Earbuds fare with their ANC? Very well, it turns out. Outside of a slight hiss when listening to them with no music playing, the Denons do a great job at blocking out everything from traffic and background conversations to machine hums, highway noises, and more.

Transparency mode, on the other hand, while decent, doesn't live up to its AirPods Pro doppelganger, and, oddly, there's no companion app with the Denons, so all the controls (including for activating/deactivating the ANC) are handled with taps on the buds themselves. This also means there's no EQ or feature customization, but the controls work well enough and it does keep things simple.

The cheaper price tag also reflects some other features, including one of the lower battery performances on this list, with just 4.8 hours per charge with ANC on and a total of 19 hours with the charging case (non-wireless charging). An IPX4 rating, however, means you can confidently take them for a run in the rain or sweat on them at the gym.

Denon Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Denon Noise Canceling Earbuds
Best AirPods Pro alternatives
sennheiser momentum true wireless 3 review 00028
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3

Great audio in noise-canceling earbuds

Pros
  • Superb sound
  • Comfy, secure fit
  • Wireless charging
  • Wear sensors
  • Customizable controls
  • IPX4 water resistance
Cons
  • No Bluetooth multipoint
  • No side-tone/transparency for calls
  • ANC isn't very effective
  • Mediocre call quality

Why you should buy them: They represent some of the best true wireless sound we’ve heard to date.

Who they’re for: Those who refuse to compromise on audio quality, regardless of the price.

Why we picked the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3:

While Sennheiser has embraced earbud technology like ANC, its specialty has always been incredible sound, and the Momentum 3 has some of the best audio we’ve ever heard in earbuds. There are also many important updates here compared to the second-gen model, including a sleeker design, support for AptX Adaptive Bluetooth – and a significantly lower price to make them more competitive with similar options.

So, the sound is superb. Now let’s talk about that ANC: Sennheiser uses an interesting hybrid ANC model that offers active noise cancellation, an anti-wind setting, and a transparency mode for hearing environmental sounds. That’s a solid offering, but the efficacy doesn’t get close to ANC from brands like Apple or Sony. Choose these buds for the Sennheiser sound experience, not the best noise cancellation in the world.

Other important features include IPX4 water resistance, as well as wear sensors to automatically shut off the earbuds and save on battery life (something we’d like to see become more common). There’s also a full-featured Smart Control app that lets you customize touch controls, set Sound Zones based on your location, and make EQ adjustments. This is a fine pick if your priority is excellent sound over other earbud features.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
Great audio in noise-canceling earbuds
soundcore space a40 review 00019
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Anker Soundcore Space A40

Best affordable noise-canceling earbuds

Pros
  • Compact and comfortable
  • Good sound quality
  • Very good ANC/transparency
  • Good call quality
  • Excellent battery life
  • Wireless charging
  • Bluetooth multipoint
Cons
  • No wear sensors
  • So-so wireless range

Why you should buy them: They offer cheap and cheerful ANC.

Who they’re for: Budget-minded listeners who want ANC but aren't willing to fork over the bacon for it.

Why we picked the Soundcore Space A40:

Budget true wireless earbuds typically have to sacrifice something to get the price under $100, often sound quality, noise cancellation, or battery life. The Soundcore Space A40 is impressive because of just how little it gives up, making it the perfect choice for those who love true wireless but would like to save some money when they buy. And unlike some true wireless buds, this pair is particularly comfortable and likely to fit well in all kinds of ears.

You won’t be sacrificing much sound, either: SoundCore’s earbuds have a full frequency response with a HearID tuning process that helps tweak the EQ (which comes with an impressive number of presets on its own). The result isn’t perfect, but it’s deeply impressive at this price range, and Android users will appreciate the LDAC support, too.

Plus, the Space A40 offers more effective ANC than our previous pick, the EarFun Air Pro (one of our only complaints about those buds), with easy mode switching using the touch controls and a surprisingly good transparency mode. Unfortunately, there’s no wear sensor here, that handy feature that automatically pauses music when you pop off one of the earbuds.

While we praised the remarkable battery life of the Earfun Air Pro, the Space A40 once again goes above and beyond, sporting up to 10 hours of playtime for a single charge, making a total of 50 hours with the charging case. Even when powering ANC and other features, they still grind out around 5 hours per charge, which is what the AirPods Pro top out at.

Soundcore Space A40
Anker Soundcore Space A40
Best affordable noise-canceling earbuds

Frequently Asked Questions

What are noise-canceling earbuds, and how do they work?

Noise-canceling earbuds are in-ear audio products that utilize a number of internal microphones and inverted noise waves to pick up ambient sound and cancel out the most externally distracting frequencies, leaving you with crystal-clear audio without the background noise of bustling cities, airplane engines, and more.

Which are best — headphones or earbuds?

That depends on your preferred listening experience. Headphones typically provide a cushioned barrier between your ears and the music/content streaming into your canals. Additionally, if you spend your days predominately in one space, headphones may be ideal for all-day comfort. If you find yourself constantly on the go or can't stand the bulk of a set of headphones, earbuds are certainly a more minimalist alternative. While a bit more intrusive to your ear canals, earbuds are easy to travel with, simpler to recharge, and provide equal listening experiences to some of the best-quality headphones available today.

Is it bad to sleep with noise-canceling headphones?

While the best earbuds are designed for comfort in most body and ear positions (standing, sitting, lying, etc.), it's especially important to regulate the volume level of your buds while you're asleep. Loud music through earbuds can cause damage to several parts of the ear, especially when buds are in place over several hours. That being said, earbuds are routinely used to help restless sleepers with white noise apps, relaxing music, and other calming audio sources.

Can earbuds damage your ears?

Yes, because of their isolation and because the drivers are closer to your eardrums, it is not recommended to listen at higher volumes for extended periods of time.

Are earbuds waterproof?

Many are water-resistant; few can be fully submerged. We recommend checking for an IP rating if you want to make sure you are treating them properly.

Can earbuds sound as good as over-ear headphones?

Yes, at the high end, in-ear monitors can sound as good as virtually any headphones on the market. That said, you’ll have to pay a hefty premium to get top-tier sound.

How should earbuds fit?

Comfortably and securely. A good fit is essential to getting the best sound quality from any set of earbuds. If the eartips that come with your earbuds don't provide a good fit, Amazon carries plenty of third-party eartips that can help. You may want to find a pair with earfins or earclips if you are planning on working out.

Should I use earbuds when driving?

No. It is dangerous and illegal in many places.

Can active noise cancellation be turned off?

Yes. Today's top earbuds often come with two options. You can either turn ANC off altogether, or you can switch to a transparency mode, which lets a certain degree of sound filter through (how much depends on the specific technology). Either allows you to hear environmental cues that may be important for safety or convenience.

What type of noise cancellation is best?

Noise cancellation technology can have many forms. Active noise cancellation refers to what we described above, with mics picking up nearby sound waves and canceling them out. Environmental noise cancellation is commonly used to refer to reducing background sounds when you are on a call so mics can pick you up clearly. Passive noise cancellation typically refers to the design of the earbuds themselves and how capable they are at blocking noise via their materials. A combination of methods typically works best, as seen with our top Sony WF-1000XM4 pick.

How we test

We test headphones and earbuds the way normal people live.

We run every pair of earbuds through a rigorous process over several days. That includes playing them in all sorts of scenarios — be it on a bus, in the listening room, or at the office — and playing back from a wide array of sources. We know most people use their headphones with a smartphone, often with lower-quality MP3 resolution tracks, so we test that, too.

However, we also move up to high-resolution audio files, as well as a wide variety of sources, including plugging in directly to a PC or Mac, using USB DACs (digital-to-analog converters), and employing high-quality dedicated portable players and amplifiers. Finally, we compare the earbuds to some of our go-to models, both in their class and price point, as well as a level or two above to find out if they can punch above their weight.

Glossary

  • Driver: The unit that produces sound in a headphone, made up of magnets, voice coils, and other materials. Typically, the larger the driver, the more power a headphone has, and generally bigger drivers in in-ear headphones indicate a better range of frequencies can be reproduced.

  • Dynamic driver: A single driver capable of covering the entire frequency range. The diaphragm is connected directly to a voice coil in the headphone, with the voice coil moving between magnets to produce sound.

  • Balance armature driver: In a balanced armature driver, the headphone’s diaphragm is connected to the armature, with micro-vibrations producing the sound. Most balanced armature drivers are best within a specific frequency range, which is why many headphones contain multiple balanced drivers, with certain frequencies divided between drivers for full-spectrum sound. If you see a model advertised as a "triple-driver" or "quad-driver," it's likely referring to multiple balance armatures.

  • Soundstage: The perceived size and depth of the sound coming through the headphones.

  • Passive noise isolation: Noise that is blocked out by the headphone based on its physical shape and size in your ear.

  • Active noise cancellation (ANC): A technology that blocks outside sounds by producing sound waves that are the exact opposite in terms of frequency and amplitude, thereby "canceling" the unwanted sound before it reaches your eardrum.

  • Frequency response: The spectrum of frequencies that a headphone can reliably reproduce.

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