While working from home, one always tries to maximize productivity. With constant Zoom or Skype meetings, background noise can be distracting. That is why picking the right headphones for your work environment is vital. With a plethora of options available on the market, choosing the perfect noise-canceling headphones can be a daunting task.

What features do great noise-canceling headphones have? Do they provide good value-for-money and fit in your budget? In this blog, we aim to answer these and any other queries you may have before you venture out into the vast world of headphones searching for the right fit. Check our suggestions for the best noise cancelling headphones for work in 2021 below and you’re likely to find one that ticks all the boxes.

Headphones VS Earbuds

While these terms are often used interchangeably, there is actually a stark difference between headphones and earbuds. The main difference between headphones and earbuds is that headphones are worn over the ear. A well-fitting pair of headphones is comparatively more comfortable than earbuds. The ear-cups of the headphones embrace your outer ear and do not directly apply pressure to the ear canal. If you’re looking for impeccable sound quality and the best noise cancellation then headphones are the right pick. However, they do come with their fair share of downsides. Over-ear headphones are rather big and bulky compared to earbuds, hence making portability a bit of a hassle. They also tend to be uncomfortable for users who wear glasses.

Earbuds are a more feasible option when comparing portability and subtlety. They are lightweight and inserted into the ear canal. There is minimal noise leakage too. However, they tend to fall short when it comes to comfort. Since they’re inserted into your ear canal, having earbuds on for prolonged periods of time can cause discomfort. And while noise leakage is minimized, earbuds tend to have a lower noise cancellation performance. The question that is raised quite frequently is, which one is better? At the end of the day, it all boils down to personal preference and which one suits your work-life best.

On-Ear Headphones VS Over-Ear Headphones

There are also two types of headphones when considering which one to buy. While the difference from a viewer’s standpoint is negligible, performance can vary vastly. Over-Ear headphones, as the name suggests, fall over your ears and cover them entirely. While sound quality mainly depends on the quality of the headphones themselves, Over-Ear headphones tend to generally do a better job at noise cancellation. They do not press on your ears and hence, are more comfortable in the long run. However, since the ear-cups are a bit bigger than their counterparts, carrying them around can become somewhat of an inconvenience.

On-Ear headphones are ones that rest on your ears. They are considerably more lightweight and smaller than Over-Ear headphones and hence, easier to carry. Ambient noise is still audible to an extent, hence making them safer to use in public places. However, they compromise in comfort as they rest on your ears and constant pressure can cause aches.

Best Noise Cancelling Headphones in 2021

Best Wireless Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony’s top-of-the-line noise-canceling headphones have dominated the market for quite a while. And it’s to no surprise that their latest product, the WH-1000XM4 lives up to its hype. Compared to their predecessors, the WH-1000XM4 ear pads’ have a greater surface area resulting in more contact with your head. The cushioning on the headband is slimmer as well, making these as comfortable as they come. The soft finish gives them a premium, long-lasting feel as well. Along with 30-hour battery life, these headphones offer fast charging as well. They use a USB-C cable and a 10-minute charge can last almost 5 hours.

However, this isn’t all. The WH-1000XM4 offers a wide array of features as well. It has seamless dual-pairing which means you can connect two devices at a single time. Along with that, the headphones have high-quality touch sensor controls to pause/play or attend to your calls. On the inside of the left ear-cup is a small sensor that stops playback when the headphones are removed. A subtle but quite significant feature.

Sony spared no expense when it came to their Active Noise Cancellation technology. They use dual noise sensor technology, where two microphones capture ambient noise and then pass the data to the processor to cancel the noise. Along with this, these are some of the best-sounding Bluetooth headphones you could go for. They do an outstanding job of bringing the best out of different types of sounds and especially most music genres. Oh, and they even feature an equalizer so you can customize the sound to your liking.

In conclusion, if you’re willing to spend some money, then it doesn’t get better than this. With great battery life, exceptional noise-canceling, and even better sound quality, the Sony WH-1000XM4 are surely ones to splurge on.

Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Bose’s latest Noise-Cancelling Bose -700s have set the benchmark when it comes to this category. Their revolutionary technology coupled with premium design and comfort is the reason why we included them as our Best Noise-Cancelling headphones in 2021.

The Bose-700s feature a lightweight stainless steel headband and follow a minimal design. They are Over-Ear headphones and the ear-cups are tilted perfectly to provide you with a luxurious and extremely comfortable feel. The headphones are charged using a USB-C cable and can easily last around 20 hours on a single charge. Along with that, with the help of the app, you can set times to switch the headphones off, helping you conserve battery. The star of the show, however, is the noise-canceling ability. Bose uses a six mic feature where all the mics collect ambient sound and cancel it out. The clarity of your own voices is also impeccable as they use an additional four mics to collect your sound and isolate it.

The Bose 700s also feature a range of other features. The touch control on the ear-cups allows you to seamlessly connect to different voice assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa. All in all, the Bose-700s have unrivaled noise-canceling and comfort. They do come with a hefty price tag of around $350, but they are definitely worth it. 

Best Over-Ear Headphones

Jabra Elite 85h

The Jabra Elite 85H is a pair of active noise-canceling headphones that boast a massive battery life and offer immense comfort. Along with its several AI features, these are some of the best you can find in the market.

The Jabra 85H’s are known for their comfort. Even for people who have glasses on. The soft faux leather case with a fabric interior radiates a sense of quality and class from the start. The ear-cups are massive, exceptionally soft, and foam cushioned. This means you can use them for extended periods of time without feeling intense pressure on your ears. Jabra offers a variety of functions in terms of noise cancelation. It allows the user to choose from different levels of noise-cancellation and set it according to their liking. It also features a ‘Smart Sound’ mode which adjusts the level of noise cancellation depending on the environment. 

The Elite 85H offers up to 36 hours of battery life along with fast charging where a 15-minute charge can last up to 5 hours. Along with that, it includes several features where you can fine-tune the audio performance using their sound++ app. The call quality is also commendable as they come through loud and clear. With astounding battery life, exceptional comfort, and plenty of sound profile personalization, the Jabra Elite 85H’s are easy to recommend. Some arguments could be made regarding the slightly unrefined sound quality; however, for a price tag of $300, these are definitely a bargain.

Best On-Ear headphones

Jabra Elite 45h

The Jabra Elite 45H that costs only $99 offers exceptional sound quality wherever you go. And while it lacks some features like noise-canceling or ambient listening mode, they still excel in the features that are available.

Having headphones constantly press against your ears can be uncomfortable. However, Jabra has taken comfort to the next level by introducing soft and moldable memory foam on both the ear-cups. The underside of the headband is a cushioned material making the headphones lightweight. The Elite 45H uses on-ear headphone buttons on the edge of the right cup to control playback, volume, and call interactions. They also allow you to access smart assistants of your choice. Along with that, their app allows users to personalize their listening experience.

When it comes to sound quality, they offer clear, precise, and incredible sound. The 40 mm speakers create a nicely detailed sound for almost all frequencies. Similarly, the mic offers excellent intelligibility too. The Jabra Elite 45H boasts a battery life of almost 50 hours. If you’re a user who enjoys energetic, assertive sound and wants them to last for days, then these headphones are for you. With the price tag it offers, the sound quality isn’t as impeccable as the Bose 700s or Sony WH-1000XM4, but it’s a considerably cheap and long-lasting option if you’re on a budget.

Best Budget Headphones

Anker Soundcore Life Q20

The Soundcore life Q20 are Anker’s entry-level Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones and it’s safe to say that they’re a bargain. They are by far some of the cheapest headphones available in the market from a reputable company.

The Life Q20’s have a sleek and lightweight design. The headband is thick with foam padding on the underside and the memory foam in the ear-cups makes them comfortable to use for long periods of time. They use control buttons on both ear-cups. The sliders on the right handles volume while the one of the left controls power and noise cancellation. Noise-cancellation on these headphones is fairly average. The headphones are able to block out most low-volume background noises, however struggle to do so with higher frequencies. For work-from-home purposes, the noise cancellation works efficiently and blocks out most of the noises.

For fans of the EDM or hip-hop music genre, these headphones are a treat. The sound focuses more on emphasizing bass and hence, makes it easy to listen to for extended periods. The quality and sharpness is somewhat lost, however, and it also does not offer customization of sound. There is a BassUp option that only boosts the bass. The Life Q20 offers a battery life of up to 30 hours with ANC on and 60 with ANC off. A 5-minute charge can last you almost 4 hours too.

If you want to prioritize comfort and battery life over flawless sound quality and noise cancellation, then the Soundcore life Q20s are surely one to look into. The quality isn’t as impeccable as some of the high-end ones, but if you’re looking for decent and cheap headphones, with a price tag of only $40, you won’t find a better pair.