Comparison Review : Affordable Noise-Canceling Headphones

Eliminate stress with noise-canceling headphones

Affordable noise-canceling headphones filter out unwanted interference and allow you to enjoy the silence.

Affordable Noise-Canceling Headphones

As of now, we are at the height of the corona crisis, and a record number are forced to work from home. Many people have not tested it for more than a short time, and then it is actually good to get away with the laptop to write an email or similar. When you suddenly have the whole work week at home, you quickly discover several things. It is inconvenient to sit at the kitchen table in the long run. And it’s hard to concentrate when a hundred other everyday matters take up space in the conscience. Suddenly you miss the office.

In addition to creating a more ergonomic workplace, there are things you can do to be able to concentrate. Partly to have clear working hours when you do not want to be disturbed. Partly to be able to lock yourself in to get some peace and quiet. It is not always possible to close a physical door, but there are technical aids that last a long time.

Noise-Canceling Headphones, block out much of the disturbing sounds. Partly because they are physically sound-insulating and partly because they also work actively to remove even more. Microphones record what sounds in the environment, and then a negative sound signal is generated that simply eliminates the noises. In this test, we look at more affordable models that more people can afford to get in order to work more efficiently.

Different types of noise reduction

How is it that noise-canceling headphones can cost anywhere from a few hundred bucks up to four times as much? It depends on the technique they use.

Feed Forward uses an out-of-the-clock microphone to detect noise. Thus, it hears the sound before the ear, and has more time to generate the signal and becomes better at filtering out high-frequency sound. The downside is that it does not hear what you hear, which can result in it actually amplifying the noise. It also operates on a narrower frequency range and is sensitive to wind noise.

Feedback uses a microphone inside the watch that hears what you hear. This allows it to adjust the signal if necessary. On the other hand, it is not enough to adjust high-frequency sound. It also requires a little finesse so that it does not filter out parts of the music along with the noise.

Hybrid noise reduction combines the two techniques and has microphones both inside and outside the watch. This allows it to filter high frequency sound and adjust the signal. On the other hand, the solution costs twice as much, and better microphones are also required, which further increases the price tag.

What do you think?

0 / 5. 0

Supra Nitro-X BT

Superb sound quality

Supra Nitro-X BT passes competitor after competitor, but unfortunately stumbles on the finish line.

Our verdict

Brilliant sound quality. Very fast charging. Comfortable comfort with ventilating pillows.
Moderate noise reduction. Micro-USB charging. No mobile app.
  • Type: over-ear, closed, wireless, active noise reduction
  • Connection: 3.5 mm, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Microphone: yes
  • Element: 40 mm
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Battery life: 28-35 hours
  • Weight: 285 grams
  • Web: soundbysweden.com
show more
show less

Price 190 £

The small headphone manufacturer Sound by Sweden, a subsidiary of Supra Cables, has succeeded surprisingly well in our tests. Both when it comes to wireless plugs like Nitro-X2 or completely wireless plugs like Nero-TX. Now they not only start with headphones, but strike with noise reduction at once. This is one of the few in the test that offers a proper case, something we are grateful for. Inside, we find both a micro-USB charging cable and a better quality audio cable, along with an aircraft adapter.

Construction and comfort

At least the black model is very discreet as you can barely make out the logo. Thanks to the fact that the watches can be folded both flat and together, they are easy to carry in your luggage. Despite some plastic, the feeling of quality is good and the construction feels robust. The hoop gives a suitable pressure against the ears, and is sufficiently padded to be comfortable. The watch’s cushions are unusually delicious and, thanks to a breathable material, give no sweaty ears even with prolonged use.

Well-built headphones with good padding that sits very comfortably. (Photo: Tech Reviews)

Features and handling

Supra has also set all its buttons on the right clock. But they sit sufficiently far apart, and feel different with your finger so that you can easily find the right button. The handling is straightforward. A switch turns the noise reduction on or off. The multifunction button turns on the volume control. We are also not completely happy with the micro-USB charging, as most people today have switched to USB-C. However, we are impressed that they charge in just one hour. And 15 minutes of fast charging gives a full 6 hours of listening.

Sound quality and noise reduction

They simply sound very musical. And to the extent that Nitro-X BT were the only headphones that we actually continued to walk around with and listen to when we had finished testing them. The bass is solid but controlled, the middle register present and the treble ready. However, the noise reduction does not maintain the same level. It does not dampen noise as effectively as Sony, and gives a lot of unwanted noise when you do not have the music on.

Conclusion

Supra Nitro-X Wireless is very comfortable, even with longer listening, and does not give the same sweaty ears as many others. The functions are straightforward and easy to handle. Battery life is good and they charge exceptionally fast. But most importantly, the music sounds brilliant in them. Unfortunately, the noise reduction does not reach the same level, so there the top grade breaks. But if this had been a test of ordinary wireless headphones, the question is whether we would not have had a winner here.

Sony WH-XB900N
Sony WH-XB900N

Good noise-cancelling has become cheap

Sony's budget model Sony WH-XB900N borrows from the luxury model and thus becomes impossible to beat.

Our verdict

Good build quality and convenience. Easy handling. Feature-rich app. Excellent sound and noise reduction.
Well dominant bass if you do not adjust down EQ.
  • Type: over-ear, closed, wireless, active noise reduction
  • Connection: 3.5 mm, BT 4.2, AAC, aptX HD, LDAC
  • Microphone: yes
  • Element: 40 mm
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Battery life: up to 32 hours
  • Weight: 254 grams
  • Web: sony.com
show more
show less

Price 150 £

It’s no secret that our and many others’ references in noise reduction headphones are Sony WH-1000XM3. With that in mind, one might suspect that the Sony WH-XB900N is a little brother. You get a bag for storage and not a case. The audio cable is the same, but you do not get an aircraft adapter. On the other hand, they have the same modern USB-C charging cable.

XB900 is a pure copy of the luxury model 1000XM3, and is also a leader in its price range. (Photo: Sony)

Construction and comfort

The XB900N not only resembles the 1000XM3, they could have been molded into the same shape. They are available in the same black color, but the alternative is blue instead of silver. The bells can be both folded flat and angled together. Thus, you can choose which joint they fit best in the luggage. The feeling of quality is excellent, and since Sony has borrowed the construction from the luxury model, we feel confident in the durability. The padding is also recognizable, even if the pads do not have the same memory foam. They are therefore comfortable even with prolonged listening.

Despite the fact that they can be folded so well together, the joints are powerful and the headphones feel robust. (Photo: Sony)

Features and handling

The headphones are charged with the same USB-C cable as the mobile phone, and can be quickly charged for 10 minutes for one hour of listening. Sony is known for going all-in with features, and the XB900N is no exception. They are mainly controlled with touch controls, which for once work well. All features are controlled from the excellent app, such as automatic noise reduction level, surround sound, 360 sound, sound enhancements, programming of the buttons and an EQ setting.

For once, a touch control that works properly. (Photo: Sony)

Sound quality and noise reduction

The latter is the rescue as XB in the name stands for Xtra Bas, and it is no exaggeration. If you love pumping bass, it is an advantage, but for the rest of us you should turn it down. Then you get a completely excellent sound quality. Even the noise reduction is better than expected in the class. Of course, it does not reach the same levels as its big brother, but the XB900N has clearly borrowed technology and experience. The noise reduction also does not affect the sound quality to a greater extent.

The app is packed with all the features imaginable. (Photo: Sony)

Conclusion

While Sony’s luxury model is the king of noise reduction, the WH-XB900N is the rebellious prince. Thanks to the same shape, they sit comfortably even for longer periods of time, the battery life is excellent and the handling is surprisingly good despite touch controls. The app contains more features than you knew you needed, but above all you can adjust the bass. It is the only thing we have to notice when it comes to sound. Even the noise reduction is clearly better than average.

 

Philips PH805
Philips PH805

Philips is back with affordable headphones

Philips PH805 sounds good for the price even if they didn't have noise reduction.

Our verdict

Very fast charging despite micro-USB. Good sound quality. Comfortable on the head.
Feels like plastic. Micro-USB charging. No app. Sensitive touch controls.
  • Type: over-ear, closed, wireless, active noise reduction
  • Connection: 3.5 mm, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Microphone: yes
  • Element: 40 mm
  • Frequency range: 7 Hz – 40 kHz
  • Battery life: up to 30 hours
  • Weight: 281 grams
  • Web: philips.com
show more
show less

Price 130 £

After a period of absence, Philips Audio is finally back in the game, now supported by TP Vision, which has long been behind Philips TV. Partly with a pair of luxurious Fidelio headphones, partly with these noise-canceling PH805. They offer a proper case for the headphones that keeps them well protected in the bag. Of course, you also get an audio cable, as well as if you are sitting on the plane, an adapter that is sometimes needed there.

For once, you actually get a protective case. (Photo: Philips)

Construction and comfort

Oddly enough, the headphones are so discreet that they look dull. Philips could have come up with something that made them a little more interesting. As the watches can both be turned flat and folded, they take up as little space in the luggage as possible for such large headphones. However, they feel quite plastic-like, and it creaks disturbingly when you fold them together. More metal in the joints had made us less restless. On the other hand, they sit comfortably, thanks to a generous padding in the hoop and pillows.

A discreet design that could still have been made a little more exciting? (Photo: Philips)

Features and handling

Most of the handling is done on the right clock. A multifunction lever is used to turn on and off, pair, play and pause, change songs, and answer the phone. But it must be said that one has to look in the instructions a couple of times. To adjust the volume or change the noise reduction, use touch controls instead. It is easy to activate some of the functions when adjusting the headphones. Philips could have placed an extra button there instead. Charging is fast with just two hours for full charge, five minutes fast charging for 2 hours listening or 15 minutes for 6 hours.

They can be folded into two joints to make it easier to fit in the luggage. (Photo: Philips)

Sound quality and noise reduction

Just as we had hoped, Philips has surpassed itself in terms of sound quality. You get a controlled and summarized sound image without anything sticking out. Like most consumer headphones, the sound is on the hot side, but it’s as expected. If you turn on the noise reduction, however, the bass becomes a little intrusive and humming. It is also the noise reduction that is the weak point of the headphones as it is not better than most others in the test.

Conclusion

After a long absence, we finally get a pair of new headphones from Philips. And they do again what they do best, namely to deliver something that sounds better than you might think at the price. On the other hand, they feel a bit plastic-like, which makes us wonder about the durability. Fortunately, you get a nice case that protects them in the bag. The noise reduction is not something to write home about, but it is also the case with most headphones in the price range.

 

Jays q-Seven Wireless
Jays q-Seven Wireless

Best budget choice

Jays q-Seven Wireless: It is impressive that you can get both good sound and ok noise reduction at this price.

Our verdict

Comfortable thanks to generous upholstery. Clear buttons. Captivating sound.
Takes up space as they cannot be folded. Micro-USB charging. No app.
  • Type: over-ear, closed, wireless, active noise reduction
  • Connection: 3.5 mm, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Microphone: yes
  • Element: 40 mm
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Battery life: up to 30 hours
  • Weight: 215 grams
  • Web: jaysheadphones.com
show more
show less

Price 150 £

To protect the headphones, a cloth bag is included to prevent any sharp objects from making marks when you have them in your bag. It’s not as good as a hard case, but wait in this price range. There is also an audio cable, which is needed on the plane, but no adapter for the planes that still have the old double connectors. However, one can buy cheap ones in most home electronics stores. Also a short Micro-USB cable for charging.

Construction and comfort

As usual, Jay’s design is straightforward and without unnecessary frills. The headphones can be folded completely flat when they go into the bag. However, they can not be folded further, which means that they take up more space in the luggage than most of the competitors in the test. They feel a bit plastic when touched, but thanks to the simple construction, they still feel robust. A generous padding in the hoop and in the ear pads means that the q-Seven fits well on the head even when listening for a long time. They sit tight enough against the ears so as not to slip around, but without pressing so much that it becomes uncomfortable.

Generous padding makes q-Seven comfortable even when listening for a long time. (Photo: Jays)

Features and handling

On the left clock is the button that controls the noise reduction, while the right clock has the volume control and a multifunction cap. It is used to handle phone calls, pause and play music, and to activate the voice assistant. The noise reduction can be switched on or off, and there is a listening mode so that you can listen to what someone is saying without taking off your headphones. Or to hear the traffic when crossing a street. When the headphones are charged with micro-USB, there is no fast charging, but it still takes no more than 2 hours to fully charge the battery.

The headphones can be folded flat, but no more. (Photo: Jays)

Sound quality and noise reduction

Q-seven has a flattering and pleasant sound that makes pop and dance music sound captivating. This is of course because the Jays have raised the bass, which makes them less suitable if you want to listen to acoustic music with a natural sound. The noise reduction gives a bit of a buzz, but you only hear it if you use them to keep it quiet without playing music. It is otherwise ok for the price range, without sticking out in any way. The noise reduction makes the music sound more confined and makes the treble a little sharper. But if you are in a noisy environment, there are details you can overlook.

Conclusion

Jay’s first noise-canceling headphones look nice and sit comfortably on the head, even when listening for longer. However, they take up space in the luggage. They sound captivating with dance music, and make the film feel engaging. The noise reduction is approved, but affects how the music sounds. The handling is simple, although we would like an app as well. Battery life is good, but we miss fast charging. In terms of price, the compromises feel affordable, and we therefore give the thumbs up.

JBL Live 650BTNC
JBL Live 650BTNC

Headphones full of contradictions

With as many disadvantages as advantages, it is difficult to recommend JBL Live 650BTNC.

Our verdict

Sound settings app. Fast charging. Tough design that stands out.
Not good enough padding in the hoop. Mediocre noise reduction and sound quality. Micro-USB connector.
  • Type: over-ear, closed, wireless, active noise reduction
  • Connection: 3.5 mm, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Microphone: yes
  • Element: 40 mm
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Battery life: 20-35 hours
  • Weight: 249 grams
  • Web: jbl.com
show more
show less

Price 90 £

The live series are JBL’s youth headphones for an urban lifestyle. JBL Live 650BTNC is the top model which, unlike the others, has noise reduction. With regard to the device, it is acceptable to only have a fabric bag for storage rather than a case. It also comes with a micro-USB charging cable as well as an audio cable which for once also has a more easily accessible remote control.

With budget headphones, you have to settle for a cloth bag as protection. (Photo: JBL)

Construction and comfort

Since these are supposed to be street headphones more than something for discreet users, it is no wonder that they have a prominent JBL logo. They are available in black, white or blue. Thanks to the fact that the clocks can both be turned and folded, the headphones take up relatively little space in the luggage. The feeling of quality on the hangers’ clothes, watches and the metal in the hoop is good. On the other hand, the hinges look a little bad in our eyes and can probably be a hot spot. We probably think that the hoop could have been more padded and the ear pads are so tight that you get sweaty around the ears when listening for a long time.

The headphones can be folded on both joints to take up minimal space. (Photo: JBL)

Features and handling

For some reason, JBL has placed all the buttons on the right clock, which makes it difficult to distinguish them from each other. There is a separate Bluetooth connection button, a button to turn on and off the noise reduction, volume controls same a multifunction button. It is used to answer the phone, start and pause music, and activate the phones’ voice assistant. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are officially supported. There is also an app to set the voice assistant, upgrade the software and set the EQ. Despite the old micro-USB connector charging the battery in just two hours, and a 15 minute fast charge provides 2 hours of continued listening.

A nice app with the most necessary settings. (Photo: JBL)

Sound quality and noise reduction

To begin with, the noise reduction has a noticeable own soda that is disturbing if you try to keep it completely quiet. And if you only play music, it sounds a bit hissed and it sounds absent and little in the remote control. Oddly enough, the 650BTNC actually sounds better if you turn off the noise reduction, which creates a better presence and takes the top of the treble. On the other hand, the bass hums and you pull down the battery to no avail.

The prettiest headphones in the test are, after all, the JBL Live 650. (Photo: JBL)

Conclusion

We have a bit of a hard time understanding ourselves on JBL Live 650BTNC. On the one hand, this should be a youthful street headphone, but on the other hand, the sound is thin and bland. On the one hand, you can turn on the noise reduction to get a slightly more engaging sound, but on the other hand, it draws power from the battery to no avail. On the one hand you have an app to make settings easier, but on the other hand the buttons are difficult to use. If it is not the case that you absolutely want the headphones with the toughest look, there are better choices in the test.

Pioneer SE-S6BN

More for commuting than long flights

Pioneer headphones Pioneer SE-S6BN works well on the street, but are not the most effective at reducing noise.

Our verdict

Neat size makes them easy to carry. USB-C fast charging. Nice colors.
The on-ear design is not good for flights. Moderate noise reduction.
  • Type: on-ear, closed, wireless, active noise reduction
  • Connection: 3.5 mm, Bluetooth 5.0, AAC
  • Microphone: yes
  • Element: 40 mm
  • Frequency range: 10 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Battery life: 20-30 hours
  • Weight: 205 grams
  • Web: eu.pioneer-av.com
show more
show less

Price 140 £

From time to time, Pioneer strikes with headphones that make us stop. Like the musical Pioneer SE-MS7BT. But this time, they are trying to combine a pair of on-ear street headphones with noise reduction. A not quite simple combination. It should be noted that the Pioneer SE-S6BN is not a travel headphone as it does not come with any protection for transport. Maybe because you have them around your neck when you are not listening? However, we provide an audio cable for those cases where it is necessary. The headphones are available in black, gray, blue and red.

You do not get a lot of accessories, and above all not a protective case. (Photo: Pioneer)

Construction and comfort

There is a lot of plastic in the construction, which makes them not feel particularly luxurious or robust. By all means, they seem to hold up well in our aggressive bending attempts, but we question the joints in the long run. The hoop has padding, but it is so soft that the hoop still rests against the head. They do not press too hard against the ears, but since it is after all an on-ear model, you can only wear them for a limited time. After that, the ears need to rest.

Folded up, Pioneer headphones do not take up much space in the bag. (Photo: Pioneer)

Features and handling

The handling buttons are located on the left clock. An on / off button that also activates pairing and switches the noise reduction on or off. As well as a triple button for all other functions. Up and down changes the volume, or changes the song if you hold it down. As well as a button that answers the phone, pauses or resumes music, and activates the phones’ voice assistant. The buttons sit quite well apart. The headphones are charged with USB-C and it takes 3 hours. They can also be fast charged for 10 minutes for an additional 3 hours of listening.

There is no doubt that they are meant for cool kids. (Photo: Pioneer)

Sound quality and noise reduction

The sound goes well with electronic dance music and list pop, which is a good match for the decoration of the headphones. On the other hand, they lack a bit of finesse, and can be perceived as raw if you push them with difficult music or high volume. The noise reduction is, as on many other headphones in the price range, functional, and filters out monotonous dull sound, but is worse on fast or glaring sounds. They also have their own noise that becomes obvious when you turn off the music.

Conclusion

The handy size and gorgeous colors make it obvious that Pioneer’s headphones are more suitable for the street than for the business plane. As they are against the ears, you can still not wear them for an entire flight. And it does not come with a travel case. They have no special features, but the few buttons are still easy to use. USB-C charging is convenient. The sound quality is perfectly ok for street headphones as long as you do not make unreasonable demands, but the noise reduction is only in a medium good class.

 

Sennheiser HD 450BT
Sennheiser HD 450BT

Reliable Sennheiser headphones

Sennheiser's most affordable NC headphones Sennheiser HD 450BT is a safe purchase.

Our verdict

Nice feeling of quality. Good sound and ok noise reduction. AAC and aptX support. USB-C charging.
Cannot be folded. A little uncomfortable. Too many confusing buttons.
  • Type: over-ear, closed, wireless, active noise reduction
  • Connection: 3.5 mm, Bluetooth 5.0, AAC, aptX
  • Microphone: yes
  • Sound pressure level: 108 dB (1 kHz / 0 dBFS)
  • Frequency range: 18 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Battery life: 30 hours
  • Weight: 238 grams
  • Web: sennheiser.com
show more
show less

Price 2000 £

Two years ago, we also tested affordable noise-canceling headphones, and then the Sennheiser HD4.50 BTNC did very well. Now comes the modernized model with the snarky name Sennheiser HD 450BT. As before, you only get a simpler carrying case that does not protect against unkind treatment. On the other hand, you get both an audio cable for the aircraft and a USB-C cable for charging. The headphones are available in black or white.

Well-built headphones with a classic design. (Photo: Sennheiser)

Construction and comfort

The design has become more sober, as Sennheiser has skipped the flashing logos of its predecessor. On the other hand, you can still not fold them completely flat, which makes them difficult to fit in smaller bags. However, it is possible to fold them together. Despite the fact that the material is mostly made of plastic, they do not feel cheap or weak. It seems like a reliable construction. The comfort suffers somewhat from the thin padding in the hoop, as well as the fact that the headphones press hard against the ears.

 

The headphones can be folded, but unfortunately not completely flat. (Photo: Sennheiser)

Features and handling

Even Sennheiser seems to think that you should squeeze as many buttons as possible on one watch. There is therefore an unnecessary amount of trial and error before you have learned it all. Sure, there is an app, but it does not allow you to do anything other than set EQ, and it is in a non-intuitive way. As one of the few headphones in the test, they are charged with USB-C. The same as modern mobiles, and it only takes two hours to fully charge the battery.

The app needs an update. (Photo: Sennheiser)

Sound quality and noise reduction

The sound in HD 450BT is soft, warm and appealing with marked bass. Support for better audio transmission gives quality a push forward. This makes most genres sound good, even if it is not correct. If you have to complain about something, it is that they lack a little detail and clarity. If you turn on the noise reduction, the middle register is raised and amplifies voices. It does make the music a bit unbalanced, but more like an advantage if you sit on the plane and try to hear the dialogue on the film.

Conclusion

To begin with the negative, the Sennheiser HD 450BT are large headphones that cannot be folded flat, which means that they take up space in the bag. There are also quite a few small buttons to keep track of, and the app does not add much. With that said, these are a pair of well-built headphones that feel significantly more expensive than they are. You get what you pay for with the noise reduction, but they make music sound appealing, and elevate the dialogue in movies.

Alternatives to Affordable Noise-Canceling Headphones

Shure Aonic 50 lifestyle

Silencers with proper sound

Shure Aonic 50 has perhaps the best sound we have heard from noise-canceling headphones.

Takstar HF 580

Chinese luxury on a budget

Planar headphones are usually very expensive. But Takstar HF 580 manages to bring high-end technology into something everyone can afford.

Affordable Noise-Canceling Headphones

Peace and quiet at the home office

Affordable noise-canceling headphones filter out unwanted interference and allow you to enjoy the silence.

Ikko OH10 Obsidian

Chinese precision tools at a low price

The special edition of ikko's earplugs Ikko OH10 Obsidian gives you monitor sound directly in the ear canal - without emptying your wallet.

Marshall Monitor II ANC

Marshall's travel headphones

Marshall's best wireless headphones Marshall Monitor II ANC have been equipped for long-haul flights.