Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Ask HN: Best Noise Canceling Headphones
87 points by matt_the_bass on Nov 18, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 124 comments
Hi all, I have Bose Quiet Comfort nc headphones from 2004. I loved them. Electronically, they still work great, but mechanically they are on their last legs.

I’ve had a hard time finding what seem like good reviews online.

My use case is primarily for airline flights.

Can anyone make any suggestions? Any thoughts about in ear vs over ear?

I've had Sony WH-1000XM2 for two years now.

Bought it just before boarding for a 7-hour flight, and it was great. Even after a dozen flights since then, I'd still recommend it anytime. Its noise cancelling is amazing (source: I've tested it in comparison with Bose QC35, everyday in the shop before going for this one).

The XM3 has been released a while ago (minor update IMHO), has good reviews and is regularly discounted. With Black Friday almost there, you should get good deals on it.

I personally don't feel the need to buy it since I have the XM2, but I could get it for my wife.

I've had the XM3 for a year. It's a great set of headphones and the noise canceling works great. It does have a few peculiarities to be aware of.

My biggest issue is you can't use the noise cancelling or the bluetooth connectivity while it's charging. You either have to wait for it to charge (which is absurdly fast. 10m will give you at least 4-6 hours) or you have to plug in an 1/8th inch audio cable.

The touch controls are kind of odd. If the headphones are tilted slightly forward or backward and you try to increase the volume, you can accidentally trigger backward or forward. It also doesn't trigger consistently. Sometimes, I have to try once or twice before it recognizes the gesture. However, Cupping the hand over the right headphone to hear what's going on around you works every time and is priceless in an office environment.

The built in microphone is terrible. Don't use it. I use either the built in microphone in my 2015 macbook pro or the Antlion ModMic Wireless.

If you live in an area where winter is a thing and like going for walks while listening to podcasts, then don't use the gestures at all. Once the temperature dips below 32F, touching the touch-sensitive controls even once will cause the headphones to switch to "ambient sound" mode, where it pipes in the sounds around you. You can't switch it off and you can barely hear the podcast. To sony's credit, this isn't permanent. You can reboot the headphones and it works perfectly again, provided you avoid those touch controls.

All that said, I don't regret my purchase in the least. They're great headphones and I'll use them until they die on me.

Hey, thank you for the extended review. I agree on all the points you've made.

Concerning the microphone, yes it's terrible enough for me to avoid taking my calls with it. So whenever I have a incoming call in the middle of my music/podcast, I have to take off the XM2 and put on a tiny bluetooth earset (both connected to the phone). A bit cumbersome and not great.

For the touch controls, I live in a very hot (tropical) area, so no chance of having winter here ^^

I'll second these. Best headphones I've ever owned.

I bought a used XM2 because the number one question I wanted to know was, "If you already own an XM2, is it worth it to upgrade to an XM3?"

I did some research and it turned out that while there were some differences between the two, there weren't many.

To this day I have zero regrets with getting the XM2.

Thanks! I’ll check them out.

I've had:

1. Bose QC-15

2. Bose QC-25

3. Bose QC-35

4. Bose QC-35 ii

5. Bose 700

6. Apple AirPods Pro

Far and away my choice now is AirPods Pro. They are comfortable to wear whilst sleeping on a flight (over ear can't be worn comfortably), and the noise canceling is significantly better than the Bose.

The only downside for me is battery life (I get about 5hrs out of them).

For sleeping on a flight, you can switch to a $0.25 pair of earplugs. Today’s technology consumer seems to forget about the simple and obvious things.

Earplugs are great, but they can't play the podcast I use to fall asleep (Sleep With Me).

Without it, it's hard to quiet the racing thoughts in my mind that keep me up for hours.

Earplugs don't really block sound, they just muffle it. They're mostly made to make very loud sounds not damage your hearing. But you can still easily hear people talking and other noises, even if they're quieter than without them.

A lot of people like to fall asleep to music or a podcast (including me!).

I have both the Bose QC-35 ii and the Airpod pros. The Bose have better noise reduction. Plus, if you really want total quiet, you can wear earplugs underneath the Bose.

The Airpod Pros are good but the physical noise isolation isn't that great. The rubber tips in Etymotics are far superior. Even my Jabras had better physical noise isolation than the Airpod Pros.

My friend has the Sony WH1000XM3, so I got to play around with those. They have slightly better noise cancelation than the Bose. However, the Bose are more comfortable to me because they rest around your ear instead of on your ear like the Sony's.

I'm pretty sure those M3's are around-the-ear. Unless you have gigantic ears. I'm wearing the M1 right now and it's around-the-ear.

They Sony is around the ear but the speaker still rests against the ear. On the Bose, the only part that touches my head is the cushion.

The noise cancelling is very good, but not better according to rtings.com [1].

I think that the comfort while sleeping/resting is a valid concern. I really like how comfortable the QC-35 II are, but you can’t rest your head against them. The Bose 700 headphones appear to have better mics as the main advantage over the QC-35 II.

Personally I like the sound of the Bose headphones better than Sony’s, but judging from online comments I think that most people prefer the more bass heavy Sony sound.

My advice to OP for over ear headphones would be the QC-35 II. Physical buttons, decent sound quality (although you can get better sound quality if you don’t need noise cancelling) and very comfortable. I can’t speak for the Apple AirPod Pros, as I’ve never used them.

[1] https://www.rtings.com/headphones/tools/compare/bose-quietco...

I actually can't see rtings saying that noise cancelling is better on there -- just noise isolation. But I'm probs missing it and also think it's highly subjective -- in-ear just feels more effective to me.

Wow, you are right! I'm reading the reviews of the Airpod Pro vs QC 35 for noise cancelling and the pros look like they are able to match the tried and tested Bose and Sony headphones. I think I will wait for gen 2 before I splurge. 5 hours of battery life isn't even enough to get through the work day.

After 5 hours you can put then in the case for charging:

> 5 minutes in the case provides around 1 hour of listening.

Together with the case Apple quotes 24h.

Don't buy things with a repairability score of zero.

Not only repairability, but the battery can't be changed not even by paying Apple to do it. And with such a tiny battery, cycles will accumulate rapidly, degrading its performance.

I understand that a lot of folks don't care about that, but to me it's a bit mind boggling the electronic waste being generated with these kind of earphones.

Also, this isn't exclusive to Apple.

Do you have to be playing something with the AirPods pro, or can you just turn on the noise cancelling function (e.g. sleeping on a plane)

They can cancel noise without anything playing.

Same here, tried or owned nearly all on your list + others. Airpods pro are magical.

I have tried quite a few different as I value th sound quality as high as the noise cancelling.

I originally had Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2. They had amazing sound, connected quickly and quite good battery life. They were however not that comfortable for long durations as the headband lacks padding.

I then bought B&O H9 which was almost as good sound quality wise but a lot more comfortable. They however ended up having problems with bluetooth and I had to switch them.

Both Sony MX3 and Bose QC35 have a way too synthetic sound to them for my taste. I then tried the third gen H9 but they did not sound as good as my old ones for some reason. I then tried the new Sennheiser Momentum 3 which sounded quite good, with really good deep bass, but it lacked some control at places and was just a very large headset.

Then finally B&W came out with the PX7 recently and once I tried those I just had to have them. Their sound is almost bar none - at least to my taste, and their noise cancelling is exceptional on par with MX3 to my ears and finally they have extremely long battery life.

So 4 weeks in or something like that, I am really loving my PX7's and would recommend giving them a listen.

I have the QC35 and the WH-1000XM3.

The Sony have punchy sound. If you're a bass head, you are going to love them. The application that goes with them also gives you a lot of control. However, after playing with all the settings for a few days, I found myself not touching them ever again.

For noise cancellation on airline flights, the Bose do a better job. Even after adjusting the Sony to the aircraft pressure level. Maybe the Sony are better at canceling other people's voice, but they are not as good as the Bose to cancel the noise of the aircraft engine.

The Airpods Pro also do a surprisingly good job at canceling the noise of the engine. During my last flight, I used the Airpods Pro and the Sony on top of them. Not very comfortable, but noise cancellation was amazing :)

When it comes to comfort, the Sony tend to hurt the top of my head after a while. The Bose are more comfortable.

I have experience with both WH-1000XM3 and Bose QC35 II and I must say, your description is spot on for both headphones. Bose QC35 II has a very balanced sound spectrum and I like them a lot when I am listening relaxing music and everything. Sony WH-1000XM3 has great bass and the noise cancelling is really good but I like balanced headphones more, so I just go with my Bose instead.

This is contrary to my personal experience so I would recommend people test it for themselves. The Sony to me sound far more balanced compared to the muddy, bass-heavy Bose.

I love the Sonys, with a couple caveats that have been mentioned: hand gestures are a gimmick (sometimes skips a track if you remove your headphones the "wrong" way), default charging cable is too short, and my number 1 pet peeve, the announcer voice (for low battery, changing NC modes) mutes the sound, and those announcements are slooooow, which means you sometimes have to skip back if you miss something you were listening to. All minor annoyances compared to the great experience of using the product, though.

Although it’s definitely subjective whether or not you like them, I can objectively say that the Sonys are more bass heavy than the Boses [1]. I’ve tried both of them extensively and I also found that to be the case subjectively. The Sonys do offer some ways to adjust this, but in the end I went for the out of the box sound of the Boses.


Interesting data! I wonder what explains my perception.

I purchased the BOSE QuietComfort 35's - and they felt nice, were lightweight, cancelled noise well. They did not give me a headache, etc. For my personal taste, I found the bass lacking. I like to listen to dubstep when it gets noisy at work (something that I can just zone out to and not have lyrics to listen to, etc). And the lows just didn't hit hard enough for me.

Shortly after, I returned them and got Sony WH-XB900N -- after reading many reviews on both headsets. They are also lightweight, do not give me a headache, and were easy to set up / pair. The bass in them is amazing. If I'm ever distracted, throw them on, turn on some dubstep and just feel the music. It's a totally different experience. I feel much more immersed in the sound with them.

I should say that prior to purchasing either of the above, I only used the stock earbuds that come with the iphones. They weren't so compatible with the shape of my ear canal though, and my ears would start to hurt around the 30 minute mark.

Is the headache concern something you’ve dealt with from using tight/heavy headphones or is that something to do with noise canceling?

Yes. I haven't found over the ear gaming headphones that I can wear. I've tried countless sets, and all result in a headache after about 30 minutes. My preferred gaming headset is a behind the neck style.

I think the headaches (for me) result from pressure (clamping force), not necessarily the noise-cancelling. The Sony's and the Bose were both light enough that there isn't much of a clamping force from left to right on my head. I do not get a headache from the Sony's and did not from the Bose either.

Some people feel headache due to Noise canceling. There are lots of reports about it.

I never felt anything.

https://www.reddit.com/r/headphones/ and https://www.reddit.com/r/HeadphoneAdvice/ are much better source for this kind of info than HN.

Apart from Bose the other popular choice is Sony.

I wound not underestimate normal headphones as well.

Senheiser HD280 for example are very good with passive isolation at a really low price.

I personally use PXC 550 Wireless which can connect to two devices at the same time (a feature not always present to NR headphones)

Bowers & Wilkins PX are a solid alternative to Bose/Sony and similar price range.

If you want to listen to silence or audiobooks then the others have a stronger cancelling effect and will probably suit better. But if you enjoy listening to music I found the PX is more subtle, with 'just enough' NC that it does not compromise on sound quality but still removes annoying environment noise.

I have flown with them a few times now as well as the QC35 and prefer the PX. The build feels better (a little heavier) and has the same nice features like fold flat and removable cups. I think they will hold up well with travel abuse.

The new B&W PX7 actually has much improved ANC and is getting very close to the QC35.

I think the new benchmark seems to be the Sony WH-1000XM3. I was lucky enough to be able to try these and the Bose QC35II and for me the Sony just edged it. They are over ear, have extraordinary battery life and are very comfortable. They can even hold their own on the London Underground which is saying something. Highly recommended!

Everyone seems to talk about noise cancellation as it relates to wearing them on an airplane.

Airplanes are an easy problem to solve for because the engine noise is loud and of a constant tone.

The problem I need to solve for is random noises found in the workplace like people talking, printers printing, and other inconsistent tones that’s happen throughout the day.

Has anyone found a good pair of noise cancelling headphones that work in an office environment?

I'm not sure if any products like that exist. The problem is twofold:

1. Noise cancellation works best for consistent noises

2. Noise cancellation doesn't really work for high frequencies (in headphones, at least)


Your best bet is just to get some closed-back headphones with good noise isolation, like the:

* Sennheiser HD280 Pros

* Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros.

I second the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros. I've been using them for the past 3 years in the workplace and they work wonders. If you really want to go overboard with them, and care about excellent sound quality, I suggest getting a DAC and tube eventually.

I have the Sennheiser HD380 Pros for this purpose (originally worked in an open office with hard ceilings and floors, now work in a home office with kids). They work quite well. I haven't compared them to active noise cancelling, but I'm pretty satisfied. If I need total isolation, I put in foam earplugs, then put on the headphones, then play white noise over them.

One thing I would recommend is getting an aftermarket set of earpads, as they're far more comfortable and they do a better job of sound isolation. I just got some pads by Brainwavz because the originals wore out, but I wish I'd done it a while ago because of how much better the isolation is.

I use noise cancellation in-ear earphones to reduce the sound of the radio.

it works decently well for the low and some mid frequencies. It helps.

Probably your best bet is headphones or earphones with both noise-cancelling and good noise-isolation.

Well, I did specifically state that was my target use case.

Sorry, not trying to spread FUD but is nobody worried about the fact that new findings [1] have put a questionmark behind the safety of bluetooth headphones? I use my QC35 only in wired mode nowadays anymore.

[1] https://qz.com/1572885/the-truth-behind-claims-airpods-cause...

I really like the performance of my Bose QC-35. The problem is the slide switch: it broke with days left on the one year warranty so I called Bose expecting an ordeal but within five minutes a “new or refurbished” QC-35 unit was on the way — with the warranty extended out another year - along with a return shipping label to send back the broken pair. It’s been a couple years since the warranty swap and the slide switch on the replacement QC-35 has also broken. I simply set the auto-time-off to five minutes and use the pause/play button to turn them on after auto shutoff. The only problem is pairing the headset with another/new device as the slide switch needs to be gingerly manipulated in just the perfect manner, something you’re not going to do while driving.

All of that to say that when I saw the details on the model 700 I smiled when I saw there was no more slide switch on the device. I’m patiently waiting for my QC-35 to die completely before buying the model 700 as a replacement.

Wirecutter[0] always has the best in-depth reviews for headphones (of every type). I have the Bose QC35's (older generation, they were just refreshed) and they are great. I would recommend over the ear, especially if you are using them on flights or a noisy office.

[0] https://thewirecutter.com

I'll echo on the older pair of QC35s. They still work great. I bet you could find a screaming deal on eBay. I've refreshed mine with new pads and a bluetooth adapter.

At the time, the Beats noise cancellation was considered sub-par compared to the Bose. That may have changed.

I haven't tried the new AirPods, but I do very much like an over-the-ear form factor for long sessions. (I have "regular" AirPods, too.) Anything in or on my ear get uncomfortable after a while for me.

Sony WH-1000XM3: I've used several ANC headphones before. None of those come close to this. Sound quality is extremely good too. Good battery life. A 15 minutes charge gives me 5 hours of playback. On the negatives: A bit heavier than Bose headphones but not by much. The "touch control" is sometimes annoying to use.

I had to return by Bose because the NC gave me a weird pressure like feeling and it was uncomfortable to listen for more than 20 minutes at a time. Funny enough, the Sony 1000XM3 don't give me that feeling at all, I can listen to it all day no problem. I highly recommend the Sonys.

If you're after a very good set of budget noise canceling headphones, I would recommend Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2.

Over hear are the best in my opinion, but now that it's winter I regret that it's difficult to use a hat and over hear headphones at the same time.

I have a pair of Bose QuietComfort 32 II, which are quite lightweight and absolutely love them. However before the new 700 model came out, Bose released a firmware that reduced the noise cancelling impact on the QuietComfort 32 II (although they swear that the firmware upgrade shouldn't change impact noise cancelling it was measured by independent parties and it is indeed reduced).

As far as noise cancelling goes, there's really only 3 phones that are worth considering:



Bose 700

As a side note, I use a pair of beyerdynamics DT770 80 ohm headphones, and they have positively excellent isolation. With music on, I can't hear anything outside, and nobody can hear anything I'm hearing at all. Have you tried to see if closed, isolated headphones fit your use case? There's way more options in that space, so you're more likely to find something comfortable and with a sound signature you really like.

Apparently in tests the new Sony’s are slightly better NC than the Bose, but I tested them in a store and preferred the audio quality of my Bose QCs and couldn’t personally tell a difference in NC.

I couldn’t live without my Bose QCs and they go everywhere with me. You don’t realise how much noise there is in day to day life until you’ve worn some good NC headphones around for a while then forgotten to take them with you one day.

I'm the same. I kind leave the house without my BOSE headphones. THey make just walking about outside, or the office or public transport bareable.

I don't know what I'm going to do when they break as they don't make spare parts for my model anymore. I tried their wireless equivalent and just wasn't that impressed with the audio quality compared to my wired ones.

Noise and stimulation pollution is a thing. I play brown noise most of the time in my noise cancelling headphones. Love it.

Thanks for the input!

I can't believe no one else has mentioned the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 headphones. They are $139 the last time I checked and they blow the doors off of any Bose noise-cancelling headphones I've tried. They are great for flights. I've had mine for years and bought several pairs for friends and family, and everyone I've gotten them for loves them.

I use Nuraphones at work. Their main advantages are a gel-based ear surround and in-ear deliver of most non-bass sound, combined with environmental filtering and pass-through option if you need to hear around you.

Also, they detect your hearing range though some sort of auditory feedback they're sensitive to, and are really clear as a result.

Beoplay H9. Had QC35 for years until they broke and have tried Sony’s, but like H9 the best so far.

Cost a few dollars more though.

I'm using the Bose QuietComfort 25 wired headphones right now. I've been using them for years. Every time an ear cushion wears out or falls off, I buy new ear cushions and replace the old ones. I've now resorted to even using Gorilla glue to keep them attached (because the base isn't in good shape any more). They're still perfect in sound quality and really, really comfortable.

I tried buying beyerdynamic headphones a couple weeks ago, but the comfort didn't compare - at all. They were too tight and the cushion wasn't nearly as soft.

I'd strongly consider comfort as one of your metrics. There are a lot of nice over-ear headphones with good sound quality, but the cushion padding and stretch of the bridge matters too. Bose uses really nice cushions. I've heard good things about Sony's as well.

I bought a pair of Sony MX3 earlier this year, or maybe late 2018 and at the time I did a lot of research on them. I think it boils down to a choice between the MX and the QC and the best option for you is probably going to be a tad personal. I know people who swear by the the QC, my wife included, but the MX fit me (and my rather sturdy glasses) much better.

There may be a few technical favours either way as far as version goes, the MX3 has an advantage when I bought them, but having tried my wife’s QC for a week they certainly do the job as well.

The hand control features/gestures on the MX suck by the way, so don’t take those as a selling point. Solely go for long term comfort.

I also have a pair of QuietComforts that are over a decade old. I recently bought replacement ear covers from Bose, and an aftermarket cable on Amazon, and after using them all day yesterday, can report that they seem to be good as new!

Yeah, I’ve already replaced the ear covers once. Now the head band broke. I’m limping along with electrical tape repair. I think 14+ years is reasonable life expectancy though l!

I've been using the same set of parrot zik v1's for about 7 years. Cons: heavy, 6 hour battery life Pros: good sound, comfortable (for all day wear), over ear - so good for blocking out the extraneous noise, funky design

I quite often check mixes I'm working on from home while day jobbing on them and they are not studio grade, but they are good clear revealing without too much hype in any of the frequency ranges - they are a little 'smooth' compared to studio quality, but that seems good in a set of headphones that are primarily for blocking out noise.

I replaced the ear pads for the first time this year - now good as new.

On a plane, I double up. Either my Shure in-ear (noise-insolation) or my Bose QC30 in-ear (noise-cancellation) with my older Bose QC15 (noise-cancellation) over-ear on top. Seems to work really well for me. Obviously, if I have any music/film on then the in-ear are the ones plugged in.

For my commute (train+tube/bus+walk) I use my Bose QC30. Full-on noise cancellation on the train/tube, then I dial it down to 50/50 on the noise passthrough when walking in London to avoid being crushed by a bus or cyclist. (And also in-ears are harder for moped based thieves to steal off your head)

Audiophile perspective: Even though i like the idea of ANC , it can fail in so many places. If you want something that can block noises, i would consider going for noise isolation instead. Shure earbuds offer great isolation. But they tend to have flatter bass. Shure SE535 is a great balanced one but expensive a little.

Sony’s ANC is your bet if you are looking for ANC headphones. Any of their line has a good implementation.

For overly expensive ANC, you can try the AKG noise cancellation headphones. They are extremely expensive to the point i don’t recommend them

I don't have much experience from a NC perspective, but I recently got the Sony WH-1000X MK3 for office & travel and I greatly enjoy them. From a an amateur audiophile perspective, they sound pretty good, they're pretty comfy, and the touch controls are pretty nice.

One nice feature that I found out about digging around the manual is that if you touch your whole palm to the right side (the touch control side) the sound quiets and the ambient noise is amplified, kinda like taking one ear out. It's a nice little touch.

Not exactly to the question, but for reference in an office environment (where the noise is more intermittent): several years ago my Bose headphones weren't helping me for that, and I found the best combo for me was industrial earmuffs (like 3M, blocking maybe 30 decibels), combined with foam (or noise-blocking) ear buds placed underneath, and a white noise or similar app (like chroma doze off the f-droid.org app store). If there is better general noise blocking for offices, I'd like to know.

While I know this post is specifically about Noise Cancelling Headphones, Let me introduce you to a combination of Noise Cancelling, Personalized Sound Profiles, and Bass that you can adjust and feel:



I'm using WH-1000XM3. I bought it couple of months ago. I think it is good. But, it also depends on your music taste. I mean if you are bass-heavy, WH-1000XM3 might not be enough for you.

that's interesting. if you read reviews about Bose (qc35 ou bose 700) they say to go to XM3 of you want more bass power. maybe you have a faulty unity?

I would prefer sony wh-xb900n extra bass model for better bass experience.

I have a pair of Bose QC 25. I don't know whether they're the best in terms of noise cancellation (certainly good enough for listening to music or watching movies at a comfortable volume on a flight), but they are the most comfortable headphones I've ever owned, which is an important factor if you intend to wear them for long stretches of time. They are literally the only pair of over-ear headphones I can wear for a workday without my outer ears hurting.

I have the Bose QC 25s and the Sony WH-H900N headphones.

I am not an ANC expert and it is subjective, but they're both great, but if I had to pick one, I'd say the Sonys edge it out for sound isolation and noise-cancelling.

The QC 25s are nice, because they use a AAA battery, and not a sealed, lithium ion battery. So, with proper care, they should last a while and aren't obsoleted by a bad, sealed battery.

I have an old wired Bose QC25 which still works great.

Although I have taken it to many flights, I recently bought the Bose QC20 wired earbuds because the QC35 are headphones and they seem to be harder to sleep in especially if you sleep on the side. I would recommend the old Bose QC20! Loving it so far. I wish Bose would update this and still keep it wired, it's great.

Not one Sennheiser post here? I have the Momentum 2.0 and have found them to be very comparable to Bose in noise cancelation, and better for music.

I have the HD 4.50 BTNC and they are very good.

I compared them vs the QC35 I believe, and I loved that the noise cancelling in the Senn's were very good but also the audio quality was much better.

The QC35's had a pretty good sound, but it just lacked the "clarity" of the HD's.

The QC35s were a bit more comfortable and lightweight though, but since my primary use was the office I wasn't planning on putting on the headphones for more than 2 hours straight.

I have used the HDs for long flights and I do have to take them off after some time due to the weight and headphone cushion material.

They were also cheaper than the QC35s at the time, so all in all, for ny particular use case the HDs were fantastic. Also the battery is pretty good, especially if you use the audio cable + noise cancelling. I get several days of use that way.

I have Momentum 3 and I'm quite disappointed. Sound quality is cheap, I get headache & hot spots after a couple hours, and there are issues with stuttering (bluetooth) or completely cutting out (bluetooth, USB) as well as noise cancellation randomly turning off and sometimes music playback stopping. These are the first pair of headphones I need to reboot every once in a while. Also sometimes they connect in a weird state that gives very shitty sound quality, again resolved by reboot & reconnect... Sigh

Having to fold them to turn them off is just silly too.

Right?? Bose is fine but Sennheiser makes fantastic stuff. I have the PXC 550s and they are excellent. Well worth it, especially now you can get them for ~$200.

Strongly agree. I have had my PXC 550s for about 2 years now, and they have held together very well. In my opinion, they are comparable with the Bose and Sony flagship NC headphones.

I have never owned those, but generally I think sennheiser makes the best quality headphones on the market

I have a pair of 2004-era QC and they’re super nice, but I found that the Beats Studio Wireless noise cancellation was as good as theirs and have been happy.

I can’t use the modern Bose QC because they cancel so strongly that it makes me want to vomit, so apparently there’s a limit somewhere.

I haven’t had a chance to try the AirPods Pro in an airplane yet, but their noise cancelling seems equivalent to the other two so far.

For what it’s worth, I have the QC35 II and they do have a “low cancellation” setting. It’s not the default though, which would be annoying to change every time you turned the ‘phones on.

Valid, but: “Annoying” is a significant understatement in my personal context - what for others might be annoying inconvenience is, for me, “remember to flip this switch every time you use this device or you’ll hurl” - making the device unsafe to use.

Senheiser PXC 550 Wireless have a setting from 0 to 100% for Noise Reduction.

The setting persists everytime you power the headphones, so if you set it once there is nothing to remember.

You can change it on the fly with the mobile app.

Thanks, good to know. Does it persist across 0% battery remaining events?

I use both inner ear and over ear Bose. I find noise cancellation feeling is more prominent to the point of distraction on the inner ear QC 30s. I find the QC 35 over ear provide better experience. Sony's 1000 seems to edge Bose out in noise cancellation. However I have been impressed with the 700, and I think Bose is now back on top. Either of them are cracking noise cancellation headsets.

QC35 is the reason I still haven’t quit my noisy open office job

If you are looking for Noise Cancellation, there's just ONE answer: Bose. In my experience, no other brand provides a better active noise cancellation. Bose is still king (and by far). I've tried Sony, Schneider and others that I forgot. The QC35 were by far the best ones. I have not tried the latest Bose version tho, so I don't know if they are worth it or not.

Bose QC 35 ii is not worth the money. They are overpriced and have bunch of problems:

* QA seems lacking. Our whole team has company sponsored QC 35 ii's and one came as DOA, couple of them have suffered the same fate within a year * Noice-cancellation is good. It's so good that I can't keep it fully on for more than 15 minutes and the lower cancellation level leaks more sound. Maybe personal problem but annoying still * Audio quality through bluetooth is lacking. The integrated amp doesn't have the oomph for the elements and the sound sounds a bit muddy * AQ problem can be remedied with the provided cable which is short. And what's the point of wireless headphones if it lacks on that side? * In the plane I have bunch of other stuff with me so I don't want to reserve so much of space for the headphones

I like my own AKG NC60 sound quality, size and the noise cancellation is usually enough (although not so all encompassing as the Bose's) but AKG's problem is really bad mechanic quality. With even lightweight usage they end up breaking badly, so I'm going to need to buy a ned headphones and for that I'm looking forward for Sennheiser's and Sony's. Stay away from AKG and Bose ;)

I used to agree, but I find Sony is slightly better now. I only use silently for noise cancellation when working, no music/flights.

My main gripe is that they power off after time if not connnected to a Bluetooth source, but there’s probably a fix.

I’m also not a fan of the talking command voice and find the touch controls overly sensitive (they beep if you bump them)

They absolutely were. But I have to say that in recent years competitors have caught up and surpassed in some aspects. The newest models from Sony, Sennheiser, B&W, B&O have really stepped up and is on par with the QC35 or above.

The QC-35 ii product is a regression. I use both all day. Changing pairs when the battery dies. Bluetooth range is about half as good as original QC-35. When I go in/out of range there is a ~5 second audio delay until power cycle the headphones. I have to frequently re-pair bluetooth. It tries to intelligently switch between my phone and laptop but this doesn’t work at all.

I hope the next gen is better.

I'm using Sony WH-1000XM3 and I'm extremely satisfied. Before I was using some JBL in ear. Expecially in an open office, the additional passive noise cancellation of good over ear headphones is important for me. I find the Bose QC 35II at the same level (and now cheaper) but the Sony look better :)

If anyone has issues with ANC, I suggest giving Etymotic IEMs a shot. I have ER2XRs, they provide a quoted 34-42dB of isolation. I never had a problem with the deep insertion, they sound great and are relatively cheap.

This isn't necessarily directed at OP since he's been using Bose since 2004

For whatever it's worth, I've had the same pair of Bose QC-15's for many years. I have replaced the cable twice and the ear pads twice. They are comfortable and have decent noise cancelling. I won't use wireless anything if I can avoid it, but I am weird that way.

In terms of reliability and support I would say whatever Bose's latest NC headphone is in the QC line.

Have you had recent interactions with Bose? I’ve heard they’ve gone downhill over the past few years. Any thoughts?

I bought Bose QC 35 last year and they are great, definitely my personal favorite of the ones I sampled or tried by borrowing from friends. I would disagree with any claims Bose NC models are dropping in quality.

Thanks for the follow up!

There will always be people in the good and bad camps but for the price I think they offer the best mix of design, durability and NC capabilities. I would definitely always go for the wireless version because the moment you have a wire again, you notice how clumsy and annoying it is.

I owned a few (sony, beats, Samsung, and others - all over the ear) and settled with Bose. My QC35 was great and worked for years, but recently I upgraded to a Bose 700 and can say that, if you're looking specifically for Noise Cancellation, you can't go wrong with it.

Slightly ot.

For sound quality, go for B&O Beoplay h9i.

Worse ANC than Sony XM3s or Bose, but the sound is so nice. I tried Bose QC35, bought and returned Sony XM3. For flights, as others have said, bose or sonys (maybe airpods pro?). But for music listening in the office, can't recommend h9i enough.

Somewhat related, current discussion: "Why office noise bothers some people more than others." https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21565841

The QCs are unbeatable for noise cancelling. My QC15s are my best friend at school, or, at least they were until I got the new AirPods. If you’re using them on a plane, I doubt anything could beat the QC35s.

Can I crash your topic ?

I'm looking for a similar recommendation but with one additional requirement - minimal latency, as one of my use cases will be watching movies. Any ideas ?

Sony XM3, Bose QC 35 or Bose 700 - try them all and pick whatever is most comfortable. Noise cancelling in all 3 is good enough that you're unlikely to be able to tell the difference.

Sony WH-1000XM2 can be had for a steal occasionally - given that it's last gen model.

Definitely over ear for flights. Combined with foam plugs you can pretty much sleep in silence on overnight flights

Don't buy the 1000XM2's. Although cheaper, there's lots of reports that the XM1's (and 1st gen) have cracking issues on the headband portion. XM3 appears to have fixed that. XM3's go on sale for high $200s often, so it's not much of a stretch to get XM3's.

Edifier W860NB. I never wore anything more comfortable on my head. It's half as cheap as the popular mentions here (bose and sony), but the sound quality is miles better.

If you're going for Bose, their latest Headphones (NC 700) is something you should look at. Sony came a close second, but that was before Bose updated the QC35.

I just returned the Bose QC35 - was worsening my tinnitus, they are really flat and uncomfortable to wear around neck.

Sticking with Sennheiser HD25s

Piggy-backing this question: does anyone knows good noise cancelling headphones that are wired?

I have done extensive testing and review reading. You have two options: sony xm3 or bose 700.

I love my PSB M4U 8s. Great sound, replaceable batteries. Been using them for about a year.

Any of these in budget range?

I have a pair of cheap (£30), Chinese Bose knock-offs. In terms of performance they're pretty much indistinguishable from a pair of genuine Bose I tried, but to my tastes not quite as good as a pair of recent Sonys. I strongly suspect that they're almost identical internally to Bose.

Mine are unbranded, but search for "JH-ANC804" and you'll find them.

I have an Anker Soundcore over-ears set that works pretty well, maybe not as good as other sets that cost three times as much, but for the money I'm very happy (they also sound good). They were some 90 euros.

I’m quite happy with my Anker noise cancelling headphones. They were ~$50.

I haven’t tried the Bose ones that are the consensus best, but somehow I doubt they’re 6x better.

I've asked this many times, but I don't think it's possible due to patents owned by Bose & Apple.

Which other companies pay license fees for.

I'm pretty happy with Anker Soundcore Space NC.

I've had Bose QC-35, one word: amazing! Extremely recommended.

QC35 ll best there is.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2023

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact