The best cheap noise-cancelling headphones won’t match the elite ANC performance of category leaders like the Bose 700 or Sony WH-1000XM5. However, they won’t cheat you out of a peaceful listening experience either. If you look around, there are numerous options available that can block out ambient noise well enough to enjoy your Apple Music/Spotify playlists distraction-free.
Consumer favorites Anker, JBL, and Plantronics have great noise-cancellers available at unbeatable prices. The same goes for newer, yet lesser-known brands like Tribit and ZVOX. Searching online could lead you down a rabbit hole of extremely poor products. Lucky for you, the Laptop Mag crew can help narrow down your selections.
We’ve tested hundreds of models and put together this list of the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones based on performance, price, and purpose. Scroll down to see which ones you can score for under $100.
What are the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones?
Ranked No. 1 among our best cheap noise-cancelling headphones are the Anker Soundcore Life Q30. Despite the newer Life Q35 featuring upgrades like AI-enhanced mics and LDAC technology, this version is the more reliable all-around performer. It has better ANC and smart controls, along with bold sound, long battery life, and Soundcore app access with multiple features.
In second place are the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810, a mid-range model that has dropped significantly in price over the years and remains as popular as ever. Going for as low as $73, these headphones give you solid sound quality, battery life, and noise cancellation in a clean, minimalist design. The Plantronics app has an EQ setting to personalize sound, along with HD voice support for calls and a Find MyHeadset feature to track lost headphones. We also like that the headphones feel light and pleasant on the skull.
The JBL Live 650BTNC fill in the No. 3 spot with fantastic voice command integration and signature JBL sound, which is highlighted by boomy bass and clear mids. Access to the JBL Headphones app is essential for improving audio performance, letting users manually adjust frequencies or select from a handful of decently engineered presets. JBL’s noise cancellation performs better than most rivals at their original price point ($199). Battery life isn’t bad either at 20 hours with ANC on, which is the same as the Bose 700.
Here are our full rankings of the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones you can purchase right now!
The best cheap noise-cancelling headphones you can buy today
At $80, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 are one of the best noise-cancelling headphones deals you’re going to find. Aesthetically and sonically, this model is a major upgrade from the popular Life Q20 and has the longest playtime of any model in the class: 40 hours (with ANC on). Don’t want to kill the battery too quickly? No worries, because the headphones can be used in passive mode to gain an extra 20 hours of listening time. What’s cool about the Life Q30 is that they now support the Anker Soundcore app, granting access to a customizable EQ and over 20 different presets that enhance the soundstage, depending on the content; we like Electronic for EDM tracks and Podcast for (you guessed it) podcasts. Sound has also been fine-tuned to deliver more detail and tonal balance in recordings.
The build quality feels and looks more premium than its predecessor. At the same time, these are some big cans that feel heavy on the head. It also would have been cool if Anker programmed more touch controls.
Read our full Anker Soundcore Life Q30 review.
Plantronics’ ANC model is a solid entry-level option for music lovers who want dependable noise cancellation and the same audio performance as the BackBeat Pro 2 SE. The lows are prominent and responsive, giving bass-heavy content some extra oomph. It’s cool to see these cans support the Plantronics app as well, giving users the option to enhance sound for music and voice output on phone calls. Another brand hallmark that remains intact is strong battery life, as the BackBeat Go 810 give listeners 22 hours with ANC mode on and 28 hours in standard mode.
There are two ANC modes – Low and High – each engineered to deal with ambient noise in different settings. You’ll want to be selective when choosing one over the other, as the built-in mics do pick up a lot of noise when outdoors. Also, be mindful that the controls and connectivity become finicky at times.
The JBL Live 650BTNC are skillful noise-cancellers with rich sound and noticeable flaws. As for the positives, the headphones pump out well-balanced mids and powerful bass. Many low-fi recordings receive a boost in clarity. Playing with the EQ in the JBL Headphones app lets users personalize audio by creating their own sound profile or selecting from different music presets. We also love that the headphones come with smart assistant integration, so you can execute tasks hands-free using Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri or Bixby voice commands.
While possessing many good traits, the Live 650BT aren’t perfect by any means. JBL’s noise-cancelling technology does block out low-frequency sounds very well, but don’t expect it to mute an airplane engine or marching band. In addition, bass is barely noticeable without ANC on, so you’ll want to just leave it enabled to achieve the best sound possible.
A newcomer with plenty of promise, the QuietPlus 72 are the latest creation from Amazon darling, Tribit. These are bass-heavy cans that produce full, emphatic lows without hindering vocals. Enabling noise-cancelling mode slightly increases the bass levels and minimizes environmental distractions a lot better than you would expect for $70 headphones. It’s capable of hushing cat meows and loud door buzzers, though it’s not a pair that will grant you complete silence when walking past a construction site. The controls are a surprise as well; they’re responsive to multi-press commands and the buttons provide great tactility, while showing the playback options on the side.
The company’s track record with aux cables isn’t the greatest, and that trend continues with the QuietPlus 72. Refrain from using wired mode because it absolutely destroys the soundstage; everything sounds hollow and distorted. Another problem you’ll encounter is the carrying case, which, for some odd reason, doesn’t store the headphones properly and makes for a very tight and awkward fit.
We didn’t stumble upon these cans until their retail price was slashed in half. It seems we lucked out, as the Zvox AV50 showed us they’re a capable noise-canceller with innovative features. It uses Zvox’s patented AccuVoice technology to brighten up vocals, which are crisp and prominent, even over boomy productions. Enabling ANC mode gives bass a strong presence that doesn’t distort the soundstage, while also doing an admirable job of blocking out low-frequency rumblings.
As impressive as these bland-looking cans sound in ANC mode, the results are less desirable when turning off that feature. Bass levels are brought down several notches and lack the oomph present when noise cancelation is turned on. The all-plastic, bare-looking design doesn’t have the same flair to it as other minimalist headphones in the category either, though if you want more vibrance, the AV50 comes available in three other colors besides black, including navy, pink, and red.
The Z2 Wireless HD have enough going for them to convince gym rats to switch over from wireless in-ear to over-ear form, especially if they want something with bigger sound and battery life, and minor ANC. Treblab’s 40mm drivers don’t skimp on bass, pounding your ears with boom-filled sonics to fuel your intensity. Battery life is rated at 35 hours, though it’s really about 32 when factoring in volume and noise cancellation, which isn’t great, but still useful if you want to block out overly loud exercisers. The Z2 also breaks free from the notion of low price equaling cheap quality, as these cans are built from a nice mix of sturdy plastic materials and come waterproof and sweat resistant. Each of the buttons offer great tactility to manage calls and music playback seamlessly, plus the digital assistant feature operates well for hands-free commands.
The sound quality when ANC is turned off really needs to be fixed, as highs take a dip and sound unclear. Another issue is snugness, as the headband is too tight and exerts unwanted force on the top of the skull after about 30 minutes of use.
Despite some design flaws and operational issues, the E7 Pro stand out as a reasonably-priced pair of over-ears that do an admirable job of neutralizing noise. They’re capable of drowning out nearby conversations and loud TVs, but not much else. The real value of these affordable wireless headphones comes from the laudable soundstage, which promotes booming lows and decent mids for quality listening. Using the bundled auxiliary cable slightly improves audio output.
Unfortunately, that’s where the highlights end for the E7 Pro. The control panel is poorly designed with rickety buttons that require extra pressure to register commands. Audio dropout tends to occur when in noise-cancelling mode. In addition, the brushed metal finish on the earcups looks nowhere near as premium as what’s shown in the ads.
The Life Q20 is further proof that you can score a nice pair of cheap, noise-cancelling headphones for less than a Benjamin, even with noise cancellation serving as its third-best feature. Audio is the Life Q20’s main attraction with custom 40mm drivers that produce rich sound; bass is punchy and doesn’t muffle the mid-range or vocals. Battery life is up there as well, generating up to 40 hours of playtime on a full charge, which can be extended up to 60 hours when ANC is off.
Anker’s headphones have better-than-average noise cancellation that realistically blocks out 70% of environmental sounds (Anker claims 90%). Although, the feature struggles to filter out proximate noises such as keyboard clatter and neighborly chatter. You’ll also want to refrain from using the included aux cable since it hinders audio performance. Nonetheless, it’s impressive for such a dirt-cheap set of headphones.
How to choose the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones for you
Noise cancellation is always the priority. The best cheap noise-cancelling headphones are engineered to block out a vast amount of ambient noise across the frequency spectrum. It’s even better if they come with an ambient listening mode, so you can gain greater awareness of your surroundings and communicate clearly without having to take off your headphones.
Audio quality is second on the check list. It’s hard to find a pair of cheap noise-cancelling headphones that delivers satisfying sound, but they do exist. Explore models with powerful drivers and customization settings to personalize how you hear all media formats. Bonuses like an EQ, music presets, or aptX codec support are greatly appreciated.
ANC is a huge battery drainer. Therefore, you’ll want a pair of cheap noise-cancelling headphones that can last several days on moderate use. The industry standard for battery life on noise-canceling headphones is 20 hours, though you can find models that offer double (sometimes triple) that amount.
Most noise-cancellling headphones support the latest Bluetooth 5.0 version, giving users faster connectivity, increased range (est. 120 meters max), longer battery life, and even multipoint technology to pair two audio sources simultaneously. Check for other sweet wireless features like digital assistance (Siri, Google, Alexa, Bixby), companion app support, and one-tap Google Fast Pair.
How we test the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones
Our process for determining the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones consists of evaluating several factors. These include design, comfort, sound, and value. All selections are compared to similar products in the category in terms of features, fit, and pricing.
Noise-cancelling headphones are worn over the course of a week for 2 to 3 hours at a time. We assess comfort, ease of use, and audio quality. Our team listens to sample tracks across several music genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, EDM, and classical, while analyzing clarity, depth, imaging, and volume. Audiobooks, games, podcasts, and videos are also accounted for.
Headphones featuring the latest audio codecs (e.g., aptX, LDAC) and spatial audio are tested using compatible hi-res streaming services (e.g., Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal).
If you want to learn more about how these services can improve the sound quality on your laptops and mobile devices, check out this expert audio codec FAQ that breaks down all you need to know about FLAC files, MP3s, and other audio file codecs.
Once testing is completed, every model is rated based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that is truly exemplary is awarded an Editor’s Choice.