The 5 Best Active Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones (2022)

Looking for new headphones with active noise reduction? The supply will be greater than ever in 2022, especially now that even companies like Apple are getting in on the action. We list five of the best options.

Whether you want to focus while working from home with your favorite music, or on the tram, the perpetually humming air conditioning disappears so you can listen to your podcast: headphones with active noise reduction (ANC) is a result.

What is active noise reduction?

But what exactly is it? ANC is a technology within, among other things, headphones that ensures that you hear less ambient noise. Microphones on the outside (and inside) of your headphones continuously monitor what sound is being produced in your environment.

Through a smart chip in the shells of your headphones, sound waves are then produced that ensure that your surrounding noise is neutralized. Hence the name: you sort of cancel sound.

What is active noise reduction?
(Image: WikiCommons)

Suddenly, you don’t have to turn your music up too much, because you don’t have to drown out all kinds of ambient noise. Hasn’t the penny dropped yet? Check out this video from YouTube channel SciShow where the technique is further explained.

Before we give you the 6 best active noise reduction headphones from 2022, we will first explain two terms that often cause confusion when consumers are in the market for new headphones.

Passive noise reduction?!

At first this was pretty much the only form of noise reducing on the market. The idea is quite simple: the shells of these headphones physically surround your ears, sealing your ears almost perfectly from the environment. The headphones therefore only keep out purely physical ambient noise. No microphones or software magic, just an efficient physical design.

Adaptive noise reduction?!

Initially, most headphones are included noise reducing not feeling on the move adapt to your environment. You simply got a constant level white noise to neutralize ambient noise. Whether your office is quiet or you’re sitting on a train full of crying babies. However, depending on your situation, it was often far too extreme or not sufficient.

When the first adaptive headphones hit the market, such models were indicated with the additional word ‘flexible’.

After several years of technological development, practically all modern headphones have the adaptive variant of noise reducing. In fact, the term has actually just become part of active noise reduction. You can say that word flexible has become redundant, with all the initial confusion it entails.

Don’t worry: every pair of headphones below has noise reducing through microphones and adaptive white noise. So the whole package.

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The best active noise canceling headphones of 2022

Currently, there are five headphones that do the job when it comes down to it active noise reduction go. It is always the same models from, among others, Sony, Apple and Bose. These are the best headphones of 2022 that are definitely worth considering.

  1. The Complete Package: Sony WH-1000XM5

On virtually every chart, the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the Bose 700 are fighting for the gold medal. Still, as far as we’re concerned, Sony is the winner this year. Compared to the XM4, the XM5 has got one processor and four microphones, and you notice that. That active noise reduction is almost perfect. Give it a few more years and you won’t even notice it’s on.

Bose 700 remains the king what active noise reduction worried, but this time Sony is in first place. This is due to the headphones’ fantastic battery life: thirty hours with ANC, forty hours without. Add to that the premium sound quality and you are left with little to be desired. At least one thing: the design could be a little less plasticky and more luxurious.

Price tag: 381 euros
Battery life with ANC: 30 hours

These are the 5 best active noise canceling headphones of 2022
(Image: Sony)

2. The ANC champion: Bose 700

The Bose 700 beats the Sony in terms of design. The headphones just look a little more premium. That active noise reduction is undoubtedly the best on the market. You can even adjust its intensity in ten degrees in the accompanying app. Still, the Bose 700 loses to the Sony WH-1000XM5. This is due to the battery life: the 700 unfortunately runs out after twenty hours with ANC. That’s a big difference compared to the thirty hours that Sony offers you. Especially if you travel a lot. Also good to know: you can’t fold these headphones.

Is twenty hours more than enough for you? Then Sony and Bose are practically interchangeable. Plus: a few years ago, twenty hours was still mind blowing!

Price tag: 268 euros
Battery life with ANC: 20 hours

These are the 5 best active noise canceling headphones of 2022
(Image: Bose)

3. The young contender: Bose QuietComfort 45

We will stay with Bose for a while, because at the end of last year the audio giant launched a new model: the Bose QuietComfort 45. On paper, it is a cheaper model, but because the Bose 700 is already two years old, the price difference is not so bad. However, there are a number of important differences.

First of all, you can fold the QuietComfort 45. Still practical for compact transport. The design is perhaps much more generic and a bit smaller premiumbut sometimes practical considerations win out appearance.

What active noise reduction As far as QuietComfort goes, the QuietComfort is practically the same as the 700. Still, there’s something to be said for the cheaper brother of the 700, because with a battery life of 24 hours, the QuietComfort 45 lasts longer. At the same time, the 700 allows you to turn off ANC, which unfortunately does not apply to the QuietComfort 45. The 700 also offers you a little more functionality when it comes to adjusting the sound and ANC.

This is a typical case of ‘watch the deals’. As a complete package, the Bose 700 are the better headphones, but on paper premium Headphones are a bit more expensive than its brother. In practice, however, 700 is regularly on offer. At the time of writing, the QuietComfort 45 was even cheaper.

Price tag: 279 euros
Battery life with ANC: 24 hours

These are the 5 best active noise canceling headphones of 2022
(Image: Bose)

4. The Battery Life King: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

What about Sennheiser? The German company has dominated the headphone market for decades, but unfortunately has invariably had to put up with Sony and Bose in recent years. It still is, but with the Momentum 4 Wireless, Sennheiser has headphones that are definitely worth checking out.

In terms of sound, Sennheiser can compete with Bose and Sony. That active noise reduction is not as strong as the competition, but still very solid and most likely much better than what you are using now. Unfortunately, the headphones cannot be folded. Still, the Momentum 4 is a modern pair of headphones with a killer function: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless has a battery life of up to sixty (!) hours with ANC on.

Price tag: 339 euros
Battery life with ANC: 60 hours

These are the 5 best active noise canceling headphones of 2022
(Image: Sennheiser)

5. The luxury option for Apple fanatics: Apple AirPods Max

We’ve already heard you think, ‘What about Apple?’ As a newcomer, the tech giant has immediately taken big steps with its first headphones. Everything is typical Apple: you can only turn on one level of ANC, where, for example, Bose gives you much more control. So you have to settle for what Apple thinks is right. All in all, AirPods Max comes remarkably close to ANC king Bose. For now, Apple is just losing, but Bose can certainly start to worry. Both headphones score excellently in that area.

Apple AirPods Max is undoubtedly a top product. However, you can already feel it coming: Whether AirPods Max is actually an option depends entirely on your budget. With a price of X, you pay a large premium. Apple’s headphones are much more expensive than the competition, without better battery life (twenty hours), ANC or sound quality.

Still, but still: With an Apple Music subscription already and an iPhone in your pocket, AirPods Max are definitely worth considering. Spatial sound ensures that you can experience the sound even more spacious than you were used to. But yes, you are fist-deep in Apple’s ecosystem. AirPods Max is truly a typical luxury product from Apple, and that makes it technologically that much more spicy compared to the competition. Luckily, if you’re reading this, chances are you already know whether you want to go for the AirPods Max, or you think it’s expensive nonsense. But do you want the best ratio between price and quality? Then you’d better turn to Sony or Bose.

Price tag: 629 euros
Battery life with ANC: 20 hours

These are the 5 best active noise canceling headphones of 2022
(Image: Apple)

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