Noise-canceling headphones to avoid | CHOICE

Must know

  • Our experts have tested over 40 pairs of popular brands such as Sennheiser, Sony, Apple, Audio Technica and more
  • We evaluate key factors like sound quality, noise canceling listening, comfort, durability, battery life, etc.
  • Become a CHOICE member to access our full reviews

Whether it’s blocking out your neighbor’s barking dog on a video call or silencing the background buzz of other commuters on the train, a good noise-canceling headset can save your life.

But if you pick the wrong pair, you can say goodbye to the sound of silence – and they can even affect the quality of the audio you listen to. That’s why it’s worth doing your research, especially given the high price tag of some brands.

“A good pair of noise canceling headphones can provide a great listening experience when you’re on the go, because they’re designed to filter out ambient noise,” says Peter Zaluzny, audiophile expert at CHOICE.

“However, just because some headphones have this feature doesn’t necessarily mean they sound good. In fact, poorly implemented noise cancellation technology can actually make your music sound worse, which is why we let’s test the audio quality with it on and off. “

CHOICE has tested the range of noise canceling headphones in the market, reviewing over 40 products from popular brands such as Sennheiser, Sony, Apple, Audio Technica, Huawei, JBL and more. Our experts assess key factors such as sound quality, listening (with noise cancellation on and off), comfort and durability.

Poorly implemented noise cancellation technology can actually make your music sound worse

CHOICE expert Peter Zaluzny

So that you don’t choose a lower-than-normal pair, here are the five lowest-rated products in our latest sound lab tests. Consider becoming a CHOICE member to access our full reviews and test results.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live.

  • CHOICE expert rating: 41%
  • Sound quality: 53%
  • Noise-canceling listening score: 13%
  • Price: $ 319

Buy them and you might have steam coming out of your ears, rather than music. Despite their luxurious, shiny look and hefty price tag of $ 300+, these wireless headphones ranked last in our review group with a dismal CHOICE expert rating of 41%.

They got an ordinary score of 53% for overall sound quality, but they got even worse when noise cancellation was turned on, with a shocking 13% rating in our test. With this option off, they sounded better but still only scored a poor 50% rating.

They also received medium ratings for comfort and durability. If you fancy amazing sound, tThese buds are not your friends. See our full review.

Jabra Elite 85T

jabra elite 85t
  • Expert score CHOICE: 45%
  • Sound quality index: 47%
  • Noise-canceling listening score: 13%
  • Price: $ 299

Music to your ears, these in-ear phones are not. Despite their “Elite” designation, our testers found them fair at best with an overall CHOICE expert rating of 45%.

As the Samsung shockers above, this pair only scored 13% in our noise canceling listening test. Luckily they’re a lot better at 95% with noise cancellation turned off, but that’s not really what you’re buying them for, is it?

Likewise, they only rated OK for comfort and durability, which is also a concern. See our full review.

Sony MDR-ZX110NC

sony mdr zx110nc
  • CHOICE expert score: 46%
  • Sound quality rating: 56%
  • Noise-canceling listening score: 13%
  • Price: $ 79

Proving that it’s not just the headphones that perform poorly, these on-ear headphones also deliver a pretty lousy listening experience. Oddly, these offer excellent passive noise reduction, but they are negated by very poor active noise cancellation, also noting an unlucky 13% in the test.

In contrast, they’re cheaper than the other pairs here and offer the longest battery life in the test at 80 hours, so you can sing and dance for days without recharging. See our full review.

Huawei Freebuds 4

huawei freebuds 4
  • CHOICE expert rating: 49%
  • Sound quality rating: 44%
  • Noise canceling listening score: 50%
  • Price: $ 159

These Huawei in-ear headphones failed to impress our experts with every test, but especially with battery life. They will only give you two hours of listening – bIn comparison, other headphones offer a duration of six to seven hours.

With or without noise reduction, these headphones deliver poor sound quality, scoring only 50% for both tests. And they don’t fare much better in terms of comfort or durability either, scoring only 56 and 50 percent, respectively.

See our full review.


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