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The best noise-cancelling headphones in the UAE for 2021: our top ANC headphones for every budget

the best noise-cancelling headphones of 2021, the sony wh-1000xm4, on a table with a magazine, phone, and drink
(Image credit: Sony)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best noise-cancelling headphones take your music listening to the next level. These advanced headphones can block loud outside noises and ambient sounds, which lets you to focus on whatever you’re listening to and tunes out nearly everything else. 

Whether you plan to use them at home or take them with you on the move, ANC (active noise cancelling) headphones are a must-have for music lovers, commuters, intrepid explorers, and office workers alike – especially if noise distractions stop you from focusing and immersing yourself in whatever you’re doing.

Let's jump right to it: the absolute best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy right now are the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones. However, it might be worth considering some other cheaper options on our list first if the steep price ($349.99 / £349 / AU$549) puts you off. Or, if you're a devoted Apple fan, you might want to check out the AirPods Max, the newest addition to this list and Apple’s first pair of over-ear wireless headphones.

If you’ve never tried a pair of ANC headphones, you’re missing out. As well as tuning out unwanted noise, they can make your music sound better than any pair of earbuds (well, except for fantastic noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds, like the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Apple AirPods Pro, of course. 

According to audio experts, noise-cancelling headphones can even protect your ears from damage. That’s because you don't need to crank up the volume of your music to block out the sound of the world around you. 

Happily, even high-end ANC tech isn’t restricted to the most expensive models. There are many styles and brands to choose from these days, from the ultra-premium to more budget-friendly cans. 

Whatever style, price, or features you're looking for, we've selected the very best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy right now, based on value for money, design, and sound quality.

Our favorite models

the sony wh-1000xm4 noise cancelling headphones in black

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony WH-1000XM4

The best noise-cancelling headphones have a new winner

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 253g
Frequency response: 4Hz to 40kHz
Drivers: 1.57-inch dome type
Battery life: 30 hours
Reasons to buy
+Improved noise-cancellation+DSEE Extreme audio upscaling+Multipoint pairing
Reasons to avoid
-Not water-resistant

The Sony WH-1000XM4 deliver excellent noise-cancellation and surprising sound quality all in a lightweight, comfortable design. 

While they don't look significantly different from their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM3, a number of new features including multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, conversational awareness and auto-play/pause using a built-in sensor all help the WH-1000XM4 claim the title of best headphones in 2021.

By every possible metric, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is a wonderful pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones. They deliver exactly what they promise and then some thanks to their exceptional noise cancellation and cutting-edge codec support.

On top of the adjustments listed above, the Sony WH-1000XM4 support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format that enables spatial audio on stereo headphones plus the LDAC codec that can send a bitrate of up to 990 kbps. The unfortunate bit there, though, is that it no longer supports aptX or aptX HD, so your Hi-Res Audio support mileage may vary.

Read more: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones review

the Sony WH-1000XM3 noise-cancelling headphones in silver

(Image credit: Sony )

2. Sony WH-1000XM3

A close second-best

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 254g
Frequency response: 4Hz to 40kHz
Drivers: 40mm dual-Layered diaphragm / dynamic
Battery life: 30 hours
Reasons to buy
+Outstanding noise cancellation+Fantastic sound quality+30-hour battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Small tweaks from 1000XM2

The Sony WH-1000XM3 were the best noise-cancelling headphones in the world for two years running – and while they've been surpassed by the new Sony WH-1000XM4, there's still loads to love about these over-ear cans.

For music lovers, the Sony WH-1000XM3 features aptX HD and Sony LDAC, two of the best ways to listen to Hi-Res music from your phone without a wire. Plus, all of Sony's former flagship ANC headphones offer both Google Assistant and Alexa support.

Read more: Sony WH-1000XM3 review

the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 in silver

(Image credit: Bose)

3. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Class-leading noise cancellation, but not the best battery life

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 25g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: N/A
Battery life: 20 hours
Reasons to buy
+Outstanding noise cancellation+Fun, lively sound+Elegant design
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be better

They don't quite beat the Sony WH-1000XM4 in terms of battery life and price, but the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are still a brilliant pair of over-ear cans – and the best Bose headphones we've reviewed. 

Traditionally, noise-cancelling headphones have been designed to block out the environmental sounds around you, so that you can hear your music more clearly (or catch some shut-eye on a noisy flight). 

This can be really effective if you’re listening to music. If you’re making a phone call however, the person you’re speaking to can still hear everything that’s happening around you.

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 seek to remedy this, by applying noise-cancellation to phone calls as well as music, which is fantastic feature – that's why these are the best noise-cancelling headphones for making calls.

The sound quality is undeniably good, with a vibrant, lively character and well-balanced soundstage.

If you’re trying to decide between buying the Sony WH-1000XM4s and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, we’d recommend going for the former because of that lower price and better battery life. That being said, you wouldn’t be making a mistake if you opted for the Bose cans instead – they sound great, look stunning, and the noise-cancellation is out of this world. 

Read more: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review 

the Bose QuietComfort earbuds in white

(Image credit: Bose)

4. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Noise cancellation in the true wireless market just got serious

Specifications
Acoustic Design: Closed
Weight: 8.5g
Frequency Response: N/A
Drivers: N/A
Battery on-board: 6 hours (earbuds) 12 hours (charging case)
Reasons to buy
+Best-in-class ANC+Rich, clear sound+Secure, comfortable fit+Wireless charging
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky charging case-Case could offer more charge

It’s Bose’s second attempt at a set of true wireless headphones, and the QuietComfort Earbuds are leaps and bounds better than the older SoundSport Free. Not only is the design a lot better, but the noise cancellation is also exemplary. Sound quality is also really very good – albeit a touch less bassy as compared to Sony – with superb clarity. They’re incredibly comfortable and well balanced too, despite their bulky form factor.

Read more: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review

sony wf-1000xm4

(Image credit: Sony)

5. Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds

The best all round true wireless earbuds you can buy today

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 7.3g
Frequency response: 20-40,000Hz
Drivers: 6mm
Battery life : 8 hours (earbuds) 16 hours (charging case)
Reasons to buy
+Rapid, full-bodied and eloquent sound+Truly useful features+Impressive call quality
Reasons to avoid
-Unremarkable battery life-No aptX support

Sony is largely responsible for the rude health of the active noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds market, and with the WF-1000XM4, the company has combined performance, ergonomics, and build quality more effectively than ever before. 

Compared to their predecessors, the Sony WF-1000XM3, the new wireless earbuds offer enough quality-of-life features to make them worth upgrading to, even if they are more expensive. 

While other true wireless earbuds surpass the Sony WF-1000XM4 in particular areas – noise cancellation, for example – no other model comes close to offering such excellent quality across the board. That’s why the Sony WF-1000XM4 are hands-down the best wireless earbuds you can buy today.

Read more: Sony WF-1000XM4 review

the shure aonic 50 noise cancelling headphones in brown

(Image credit: Shure)

6. Shure AONIC 50

Shure has finally joined the wireless noise-cancelling party

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 334g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: 50mm dynamic
Battery life: 20 hours
Reasons to buy
+Expansive, convincing sound+Sturdy construction+Good ANC
Reasons to avoid
-No touch controls

The Shure AONIC 50 sports a wireless, active noise-cancelling over-ear design, selling at a premium price to compete with the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose NC 700 Headphones.

Ultimately, while you won't find every feature under the sun here, the Shure AONIC 50 are laser-focused on delivering the best sound-quality of almost any noise-cancelling headphone – making them the best noise-cancelling headphones for audiophiles.

Read more: Shure AONIC 50 review

the Bose QuietComfort 35 II noise cancelling headphones in silver

(Image credit: Bose)

7. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Smart noise-cancelling headphones for voice assistant diehards

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 308g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: N/A
Battery life: 20+ hours
Reasons to buy
+Broad and clear soundstage+Amazing noise cancellation
Reasons to avoid
-Active EQ an acquired taste-Boring looks

Coming in at number seven are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II – a nearly identical product to the already-excellent Bose QuietComfort 35 but updated with Google Assistant. This means you still get the class-leading noise cancellation Bose is known for, good sound quality and incredible comfort, plus a convenient assistant to answer any inquiries you might have while traveling.  

Taken as a whole, the Bose QC35 II NC are an excellent  pair of headphones for travelers and commuters. Bose has found a good balance of features that will satisfy most mainstream listeners. 

Read more: Bose QuietComfort 35 II review

the Jabra Elite 85H noise canceling headphones in cream

(Image credit: Jabra)

8. Jabra Elite 85H

Jabra's noise-cancelling headphones give Sony and Bose a run for their money

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 294g
Frequency response: 10Hz to 20kHz
Drivers: 40mm dynamic
Battery life: 36 hours
Reasons to buy
+Class-leading battery life+Excellent ANC performance
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks support for high-end codecs-Bass could be punchier

Offering class-leading battery life, terrific style and plenty of personalization when it comes to sound profiles, the Elite 85h is easy to recommend. That said, purists will bemoan the lack of high-end codec support and there are punchier headphones on the market at this price point. 

When you consider that Jabra’s Elite 85h headphones are the company’s first attempt at premium wireless ANC headphones, the result is quite commendable. We can’t wait to see what the company’s next premium ANC headphones will accomplish.  

If you want an alternative to Sony's WH-1000XM4, these are a great pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

Read more: Jabra Elite 85H review

a close up of the apple AirPods Pro wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Apple)

9. Apple AirPods Pro

The perfect earbuds... for Apple fans

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 5.4g
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: Dynamic
Battery life (on-board): 5 hours (earbuds) 24 hours (charging case)
Reasons to buy
+Good noise cancellation+Better fit than AirPods (2019)
Reasons to avoid
-More expensive than better rivals-USB-C charging cable in box

Apple's most recent true wireless earbuds come with active noise cancellation, as well as a better fit and sound than their predecessors, the Apple AirPods.

However, they’re pretty pricey but optimized for iPhone users. The redesign means they’re far less likely to fall out, and the additional microphones provide strong noise cancellation, as well as a useful Transparency mode, which really does let the outside world in.

The sound quality of the AirPods Pro has certainly improved since the previous iteration – there’s a notable emphasis on vocals and bass, meaning these earbuds are better for pop fans than those that enjoy a more natural presentation that lends itself to classical music or more orchestral sounds.

Apparently, there's a new AirPods model on the horizon to join the original buds and the newer Pros. The AirPods Pro 2 are rumored to be a new, cheaper variant of the company's popular true wireless earbuds, and they could be released this year.

Read more: Apple AirPods Pro review

the Bowers and Wilkins PX7 Wireless noise canceling headphones in navy and gold

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

10. Bowers and Wilkins PX7 Wireless

Strong all-rounders with a stylish look

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 310g
Frequency response: 10 – 30,000 Hz
Drivers: 43.6mm full range
Battery life: 30 hours
Reasons to buy
+Best-in-class sound quality+Competitive battery life+Robust Bluetooth connection
Reasons to avoid
-Earcups don't collapse

If you’re looking for really stylish noise-cancelling headphones and you're not put off by AED 1,700 price tag, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 are well worth considering. 

With sophisticated noise cancellation, brilliant sound quality, and a honed aesthetic, the PX7 could give any of the headphones on this list a run for their money. 

Plus, they're packing aptX Adaptive for improved stability and latency between the headphones and your device, as well as high-quality (24-bit) streaming aptX HD brought to the table.

Read more: Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless Headphones review

the Apple airpods max wireless noise cancelling headphones in red

(Image credit: Apple)

11. Apple AirPods Max

The perfect headphones for Apple devotees

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 350g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: 40mm dynamic
Battery life: 20 hours
Reasons to buy
+Unbelievable audio performance+Fantastic user experience+Brilliant extra features for iOS+Great noise cancellation
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-No 3.5mm audio port-Limited features for Android-Ineffective carrying case

The Apple AirPods Max were the most hotly-anticipated headphones for quite some time, having been the subject of rumor and speculation for two years, and come with active noise cancellation, superb audio quality, and a design that sets them apart from most noise-cancelling headphones on the market.

While their exceptional audio performance and class-leading ANC impresses, they're  let down by their eye-watering price, baffling carrying case, and lack of support for Hi-Res Audio codecs.

Despite their high price, the AirPods Max aren’t exactly aimed at the audiophile crowd, owing to their lack of 3.5mm audio port; instead, these cans are squarely targeted at card-carrying members of the Apple ecosystem, with nifty features for iOS users and an unmistakably ‘Apple’ design.

For Android users, the AirPods Max are simply a high-performance pair of noise-cancelling headphones with an unusual design, as fantastic as they may sound – and for these users, we can't see how the high price is justified. 

But, if you've already bought into the Apple ecosystem, you have a lot of money to burn, and you don't care about Hi-Res Audio, you won't find headphones that sound better or are easier to use than the AirPods Max.

Read more: Apple AirPods Max review

the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless noise cancelling headphones in white and gray

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

12. Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless

Headphones that don't skimp on smart features

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: N/A
Frequency response: 6Hz - 22,000Hz
Drivers: 42mm
Battery life: 17 hours
Reasons to buy
+Brilliant audio quality+Cool design+Customizable settings
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life isn't great

In terms of sheer sound quality, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones sound brilliant, with high levels of detail, warm bass, and natural-sounding highs. 

The customizable noise cancellation on offer here is also good, but it doesn’t quite reach the class-leading standards set by the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless headphones.

They have nowhere near the battery life of Sony’s headphones, and are more expensive – which begs the question, why buy the Sennheisers when you could have the WH-1000XM4?

Well, if built-in Tile tracking appeals to you, and you like the industrial design and premium materials of the Momentum 3 Wireless, that could be reason enough – and if you do opt for them over the Sony model, you won’t be missing out on any audio quality. In that respect, they’re truly matched. 

Read more: Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless review

the jbl tune 750btnc wireless noise cancelling headphones in black

(Image credit: TechRadar)

13. JBL Tune 750BTNC

Quality noise-cancelling headphones for a great price

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 220g
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
Drivers: 40mm
Battery life: 15 - 22 hours
Reasons to buy
+Good sound quality+Strong active noise cancelation
Reasons to avoid
-No waterproofing-Average battery life

JBL is a popular name in the world of headphones and Bluetooth speakers, and rightly so. Solidly dependable, consumers know what to expect from the brand – decent sound quality for a decent price. 

That's what we found with the JBL Live 650BTNC last year – and now, ready to take their place are the JBL Tune 750BTNC, a superior successor to the 650BTNC's as a high-spec and well-priced set of over-ear headphones.

The JBL Tune 750BTNC sound great, look great, and they fit well. Reliable and easy to use, you might miss waterproofing and a few minor features – but at this price, it feels foolish to complain too readily.

Read more: JBL Tune 750BTNC review

the sennheiser momentum true wireless 2 earbuds

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

14. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

A great Sony WF-1000XM3 alternative

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 6g
Frequency response: 5Hz to 21kHz
Drivers: 7mm dynamic
Battery life: 7 hours (earbuds) 28 hours (charging case)
Reasons to buy
+Incredible sound+Sleek design+Support for Hi-Res Audio
Reasons to avoid
-Pricier than rivals

The sound quality, battery life, and design of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are truly brilliant – and they're a really good alternative to the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, particularly if you prefer a more flashy design to adorn your ears.

We did find that those with smaller ears sometimes find them a little uncomfortable, however, and their high price just stops them from taking the top spot of this round up. 

Otherwise? Sennheiser has pretty much knocked it out of the park with these buds, offering great noise cancellation alongside smart looks and stunning sound. 

Read more: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review

the urbanista miami noise cancelling headphones in bright red

(Image credit: Urbanista)

15. Urbanista Miami

Budget noise-cancelling headphones with a bassy sound

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: N/A
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
Drivers: 40mm moving coil
Battery life: 40 hours
Reasons to buy
+Cool design+Extended bass response+Excellent battery life and connectivity
Reasons to avoid
-Noise cancellation isn’t the best-Audio could be more detailed

Urbanista has exceeded expectations with its first pair of noise-cancelling over-ear headphones – they’re an easy recommend for those on a budget, who don’t want to sacrifice style or sound performance. Noise cancellation itself isn’t the best on the market, and while the audio could be more detailed, an extended bass response makes the Urbanista Miami ideal for pop and RnB. Battery life and connectivity are also decent for the price, making these a great alternative to pricier models such as the Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Apple AirPods Max.

Read more: Urbanista Miami review

the Nura Nuraphone headphones in black

(Image credit: Nuraphone)

BONUS: Nura Nuraphone

The strange in-ear, over-ear hybrid boasts decent ANC

Specifications
Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: N/A
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: Dynamic
Battery life: 20 hours
Reasons to buy
+Rich, full sound+Excellent noise isolation
Reasons to avoid
-Limited controls on headphones-Form factor can be restricting

If you haven't found something quite to your liking so far, we have one last option for you to look at – the all-new Nura Nuraphone over-ear/in-ear hybrid. Their form factor means you’ve not only got an earbud sitting at the entrance of your ear canal, but also an over-ear cushion sitting over your entire ear. This effectively means you’ve got two physical barriers meaning that the noise from the outside world can’t get to your ears. While more traditional over-ear headphones do a better job offering useful features at a reasonable price, the Nuraphone will appeal to the more experimental audio crowd looking to be on the bleeding-edge of the next big thing.

Read more: Nuraphone Headphones review

Noise cancellation explained

What is noise cancellation?

Noise-cancelling headphones use analogue and electronic methods to block out the environmental sound around you, allowing you to listen to your music in peace without distraction. Most noise-cancelling headphones make use of the following two approaches:

Passive noise cancellation
This is when the headphones physically block outside sound from reaching your ears, and this can be achieved in a number of ways. Noise-cancelling over-ear headphones typically have heavily padded earcups to achieve this, while in-ear headphones need to fit snugly in your ear to create a tight seal, stopping environmental sounds from entering.

Active noise cancellation
This method uses inbuilt microphones to analyze environmental noise and create 'anti-noise' frequencies that are mixed in with your music playback. This effectively cancels out the sound of your surroundings using analogue or digital filters.

What to look for

How to choose the best noise-cancelling headphones

We believe that noise-cancelling headphones are just as vital as your laptop, TV or mobile phone when it comes to tech that'll change how you live, work and play – especially if you have a long commute each day or a flight ahead of you. That means that choosing the right pair for you is important – the demands of a good pair of headphones for a flight are different to those you'll only ever use at home.

Design is hugely important, as a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones need to be comfortable for long listening sessions – look out for padded earcups and headbands in materials like memory foam for ultimate comfort. 

Padded earcups also help with passive noise cancellation – in other words, they physically block sound from entering your ears. This works in tandem with active noise cancellation, with the best noise-cancelling headphones using a combination of the two methods to get rid of outside noise. 

Not a fan of over-ear headphones? Nowadays, you can even find true wireless earbuds with noise cancellation built-in, so there really is an option for everyone.

As with any pair of headphones, the sound quality needs to be good, even if your focus is blocking out the world around you. How you define good sound quality depends on your personal taste. Do you like a warm, well-rounded sound, or do you prefer ultra high-fidelity that allows you to hear every single detail of your music? Are you a dedicated bass head or a classical music junkie?

Best noise-cancelling headphones, at a glance:

  1. Sony WH-1000XM4
  2. Sony WH-1000XM3
  3. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
  4. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
  5. Sony WF-1000XM4 True Wireless Earbuds
  6. Shure AONIC 50
  7. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
  8. Jabra Elite 85H
  9. Apple AirPods Pro
  10. Bowers and Wilkins PX Wireless
  11. Apple AirPods Max
  12. Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless
  13. JBL Tune 750BTNC
  14. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
  15. Urbanista Miami

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