Top 5 Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under $200 Of 2021


Noise-cancelling headphones have become very popular in the consumer market, and for good reason. These headphones utilize active noise-cancelling systems to greatly reduce the level of outside noise the listener will hear when wearing the headphones. This makes them an excellent choice for noisy environments where the listener wants to listen to audio or simply wants a reduction in noise.

Not all noise-cancelling headphones are created equal. Like anything, there are certain noise-cancelling headphones that are superior in their class. In this article, we’ll discuss the best noise-cancelling headphones that fit within a $200 USD budget.

The top 5 best noise-cancelling headphones under $200 are:

At $200, you won’t find the best of the best. However, there are excellent options at this price point. Each of the headphones listed above is a fantastic choice if you’re after a pair of great noise-cancelling headphones.

Since we’re having a discussion within the context of a price cap, I figure I should leave a link to a related My New Microphone article: Are Expensive Headphones (Or Cheap Headphones) Worth It?


What Makes A Great Noise-Cancelling Headphone?

Though the term “best” is subjective, we should still list out the criteria used for determining what makes a great noise-cancelling headphone.

  • Comfort: this is perhaps the simplest yet most important criterion of any headphone. Though highly subjective, specifications such as weight; contact pressure; earpad shape/material; stiffness, and the overall dimension play a role in comfort.
  • Noise cancellation: this is obvious but a pair of noise-cancelling headphones needs good noise-cancellation. Often this is specified in negative decibels. Low frequencies are generally easier to cancel out so listen for higher frequencies when trying noise-cancelling headphones out.
  • Battery life: because active noise-cancellation requires power, noise-cancelling headphones will generally require batteries. The amount of time it takes for the battery to drain from fully charged is an important factor to consider. It’s also worth noting whether the battery is internal or if the headphone will require external batteries.
  • Impedance/device compatibility: consumer-grade noise-cancelling headphones should be compatible with mobile devices. This means that the impedance should be low to avoid required a portable headphone amplifier. The sensitivity rating should also be considered in this discussion.
  • Frequency response: a great pair of headphones should be able to reproduce the full audible spectrum from 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz with clarity.

Wireless (especially Bluetooth) capabilities are also seen as a benefit since they further improve the functionality and general comfort of the headphones. Many noise-cancelling headphones today are wireless as well since they require power anyway (why not add in a Bluetooth receiver that runs off the same battery source?).

With that, let’s get into our top 5 best noise-cancelling headphones under $200!

To learn more about noise-cancelling headphones before we jump into the best models under $500, please consider reading the following My New Microphone articles:
How Do Noise-Cancelling Headphones Work? (PNC & ANC)
Passive Vs. Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones


Related articles:

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Sony WH-CH700N

The first headphone we’ll be discussing is the Sony WH-CH700N (link to check the price on Amazon).

Sony WH-CH700N

The Sony WH-CH700N is a wireless noise-cancelling headphone with a circumaural closed-back design.

Let’s discuss the active noise-cancellation.

Sony’s WH-CH700N uses artificial intelligence noise-cancelling (AINC) that constantly adjusts to the environment to provide remarkable noise-cancellation.

Engage the AINC with a single button on the headphone itself. The technology will analyze background noise and adjust the noise-cancelling signal to optimally rid of noise in the headphone.

The AINC is designed with a feedforward circuit, having microphones on the exterior of the earcups to pickup external noise in order for the headphones to create the anti-noise signal.

Of course, ANC isn’t perfect. It’s very difficult to filter out inconsistent or otherwise transient noises and sounds in the mid-to-high frequency ranges (due to shorter wavelengths). That being said, the WH-CH700N’s AINC does a relatively good job at reducing sounds into the low-mids (along with the low-end). The over-ear closed-back earcups help in this regard by offering excellent passive noise isolation.

In addition to the microphones used for active noise cancellation, this headphone has 2 electret microphones for telephony. Enjoy clear communication during calls and easy use of voice assistants.

For more information on electret microphones, check out my article The Complete Guide To Electret Condenser Microphones.

The headphone can be paired with compatible devices via Class 2 Bluetooth 4.1. An operational range of 10 m (33 feet) is made possible via Bluetooth.

In addition to Bluetooth, the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology makes complex set-up sequences a thing of the past. Simply touch selected NFC-enabled devices to the on-body N-mark for a quick, seamless connection, then start streaming content via Bluetooth connection.

If Bluetooth connectivity isn’t possible (or it’s just not your thing), a 1.2m audio cable is included to make a wired connection between these headphones and the chosen audio device. This cable has 3.5mm stereo plugs at either end. A 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter will be required if we want to plug into a 1/4″ (6.35mm) headphone jack.

The rated nominal impedance of this Sony headphone, when wired, is 22 ohms with ANC on and 48 ohms with ANC off. An impedance this low makes the headphone fully functional with mobile and consumer-grade devices as well as with professional audio equipment and dedicated headphone amplifiers.

If you’re like to learn more about headphone amplifiers, check out my article What Is A Headphone Amplifier & Are Headphone Amps Worth It?

ANC and Bluetooth connectivity both require power to function. The built-in lithium-ion battery of the WH-CH700N has a 35-hour lifespan with both features engaged. Quick-charging via the included Micro-USB cable nets 60 minutes of playtime from a 10-minute charge.

Note that, when wired, the fully charged battery will give 50 hours of ANC.

To learn more about wireless headphones, please consider reading the following My New Microphone articles:
• How Bluetooth Headphones Work & How To Pair Them To Devices
• How Do Wireless Headphones Work? + Bluetooth & True Wireless

These headphones sound great, too, which is one of the most important factors for a headphone. The 40mm dynamic dome drivers deliver deep bass and a wide frequency response from 7 Hz – 20,000 Hz (wired) or 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz (wireless).

The soft oval earpads shape around the listener’s ears for a snug and comfortable fit. An adjustable slider headband and swivelling earcups make it easy to find the perfect fit and to travel with these great headphones.

The WH-CH700N features DSEE Extreme (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) technology, which also utilizes artificial intelligence to upscale compressed digital audio files in real-time. This tech aims to restore the lost quality that comes with compression for a more complete listening experience.

The Sony | Headphones Connect app allows users to adjust audio levels and the virtual sound field (outdoor stage, club, hall or arena) via Virtualphones Technology (VPT). An EQ section features a range of presets and the option to personally customize the headphone EQ.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 1.57″ Dynamic with Neodymium magnets
  • Impedance: 22 Ω (with ANC on) or 48 Ω (with ANC off)
  • Frequency Response: 7 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 97 dB/mW (at 1 kHz) or 98 dB/mW (at 1 kHz)
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 8.47 oz.
  • Wireless/Wired: Bluetooth 4.1

To learn more about headphone specifications, be sure to read my article Full List: Headphone/Earphone Specifications w/ Examples.

Sony is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World and Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.


Bose QuietComfort 35 II

The second great noise-cancelling headphone on the list is from the well-known American manufacturer Bose. It’s the Bose QuietComfort 35 II (link to check the price on Amazon).

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is another circumaural (over-ear) closed-back headphone. It features Bose’s renowned active noise-cancellation technology along with Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Wireless Headphones Under $200
Top Best Closed-Back Headphones Under $200
Top Best Moving-Coil/Dynamic Headphones Under $200

The Bose QC 35 II is designed with Bose’s renowned ANC tech. This adjustable hybrid noise cancellation circuit works with proprietary hybrid electronics featuring both feedback and feedforward circuits. Microphones are built both inside and outside the earcups in order to react to noise and produce anti-noise signals in real-time to keep the audio clean.

The remarkable ANC cancels out low-end rumble as we’d expect and also keeps a significant amount of the mid frequencies at bay as well. The form-fitting circumaural earcup design (with Alcantara cushions) maintains passive noise isolation to improve the ANC even further.

Proprietary TriPort acoustic headphone structure utilizes external ports to vent the earcups. This gives the sense of a larger acoustic volume without a larger earcup. It keeps the ears a bit cooler in terms of comfort and even helps with ANC by giving the feedback circuit clearer sound (making the noise easier to pick out).

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II actually has 2 different noise-cancelling modes. Note that ANC can also be turned off. The High mode delivers world-class noise cancellation with Bose-optimized sound. The Low mode’s noise cancellation is fine-tuned for audio listening in quiet or windy environments.

In addition to the mics used for active noise-cancellation, the QC 35 II has a noise-rejecting dual-microphone system for telephony, making calls and voice assistant direction clear and easy.

The headphone can be connected wirelessly via Bluetooth 5.0 and even with NFC if we so choose (to facilitate Bluetooth pairing). The operating range for the Bluetooth connection is 10 m (33 ft). These headphones will also automatically pair to the last paired device as they’re turned on, so long as the device is in range.

With music playback via Bluetooth with ANC activated, the QC 35 II’s lithium-ion battery has 20 hours of operation time. Charging is made possible via USB. A quick 15-minute charge nets another 2.5 hours.

The 47.2″ 3.5mm audio cable allows users to go easily switch to a wired connection if need be. The Bose QC 35 II, when wired, will sound great with mobile and pro devices alike.

For more info on headphone cables, check out my article An In-Depth Look Into How Headphone Cables Carry Audio.

The expertly-crafted dynamic drivers are fully capable of reproducing clean accurate audio across the audible frequency spectrum. The headphones are designed with a volume-optimized EQ that delivers clear, balanced audio performance at any volume.

If you’re familiar with the Fletcher-Munson curves, you’ll know that the ear reacts to different loudness levels with varying responses across the audible frequency spectrum. The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is designed to take this into account and present the same sound at all volumes.

The Alcantara cushioning on the headband and plush synthetic protein leather earpads make the durable, impact-resistant frame of the QC 35 II comfortable for extended wear. Once adjusted to the proper fit, the noise cancellation can really take place.

Download the Bose Connect app on the paired device to unlock the QC 35 II’s full potential. Personalize your listening experience and level of active noise cancellation. Connect to two Bose headphones at once so you and a friend can listen to the same thing at the same time.

These headphones feature the typical controls such as volume up/down, on/off, pairing, and multi-function (for calls, voice assistant and ANC level).

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: no info
  • Frequency Response: no info
  • Sensitivity: no info
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 8.3 oz / 235.31 g
  • Wireless/Wired: both

Bose is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World, Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World and Top 13 Best Headset Brands (Gaming, Aviation, Communication).


Sennheiser HD 450BT

Third up is the Sennheiser HD 450BT (link to check the price on Amazon).

Sennheiser HD 450BT

The Sennheiser HD 450BT is a circumaural (over-ear) closed-back headphone with both active noise cancellation technology and Bluetooth functionality.

The Sennheiser HD 450BT is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Wireless Headphones Under $200.

The active noise cancellation is pretty standard with these headphones. It works well enough, cancelling low-end continuous noise and reducing the level of speech and high-frequency noise. Active noise-cancellation is easily activated and deactivated via a button on the headphone. There’s no proprietary tech to discuss here but know that the ANC is perfectly fine.

The Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity of the HD 450BT supports high-quality wireless codecs including SBC, AAC, AptX and aptX Low Latency. When paired with compatible devices, we should expect solid connectivity with clear audio and no drop-outs.

Sennheiser’s HD 450BT has a built-in lithium-polymer battery with an operating time of 30 hours with both Bluetooth with ANC activated. A depleted battery will take 2 hours to get fully charged via the included USB-C charging cable.

In addition to the charging cable, the HD 450BT comes with a 4-pin 3.5mm audio cable for secure and quality wired connectivity.

The ANC microphones aren’t the only mics built into this headphone. Dual-beamforming MEMS microphones are incorporated into the earcups for crystal clear calling and voice assistant functionalities.

For more info on MEMS microphones, check out my article What Is A MEMS Microphone? (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems).

The dynamic drivers and closed-back design offer great bass response along with detailed mids and highs. The published frequency response is 18 Hz – 22,000 Hz, which extends beyond the range of human hearing into infrasound and ultrasound.

To learn more about headphone frequency response, check out my article What Is Headphone Frequency Response & What Is A Good Range?

Each of the headphones in Sennheiser’s HD line is crafted with high-quality materials for superior durability and sonic performance. The 450BT combines these traits with excellent active noise cancellation and wireless connectivity.

The adjustable headband and adjustable earcups make for a compactable and ergonomic design that’s easy to carry around and comfortable for extended listening sessions.

The right earcup features a dedicated on-headphone control panel with an on/off button for the headphones, ANC and Bluetooth pairing. It also has controls for volume up, volume down, voice assistant and music/call functionality.

Download the dedicated Sennheiser Smart Control App onto your smart device and get access to an intuitive EQ control to set the sound of the HD 450BT to your liking. Update firmware, check on the battery life and even set the headphones to “podcast mode” to increase speed intelligibility for speech-heavy media via this easy-to-use application.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 32 mm Dynamic
  • Impedance: no info
  • Frequency Response: 18 Hz – 22,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 238 g
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 238 g
  • Wireless/Wired: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Microphone: MEMS|80 Hz to 6,000 Hz (-3 dB)

Sennheiser is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World and Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.


JBL LIVE 650BTNC

Next up is the JBL LIVE 650BTNC (link to check the price on Amazon).

JBL LIVE 650BTNC

The JBL LIVE 650BTNC is a wireless over-ear noise-cancelling headphone.

The active noise-cancelling on this headphone is actually pretty average. It utilizes the typical feedforward technology to cancel out external noise, working well with consistent low-end sounds and struggling with mid/high frequencies and more percussive sounds. Luckily the closed-back circumaural design will help isolate these sounds with passive noise isolation.

To learn more about closed-back (and open-back) headphone designs, check out my article The Complete Guide To Open-Back & Closed-Back Headphones.

That being said, the LIVE 650BTNC is still a great value and it does offer ANC, giving it a spot on this list.

With Bluetooth 4.2, the LIVE 650BTNC is easily paired with compatible devices for wireless connectivity. Its operating range is up to 10 metres (33 feet).

It takes 2 hours to charge the built-in polymer lithium-ion battery from empty via USB-C (the headphone comes with a dedicated charging cable). Get up to 20 hours of playtime with Bluetooth and ANC engaged. A quick 15-minute charge extends the battery life by an extra 2 hours.

The headphone can also be connected via an included detachable “aux” cable. The cable has 3.5mm plugs at either end. A 3.5mm to 6.35mm (1/4″) adapter will be necessary to plug into 1/4″ headphone jacks.

For more info on 3.5mm and 6.35mm headphone plugs and jacks, check out my article The Differences Between 2.5mm, 3.5mm & 6.35mm Headphone Jacks.

Built-in telephony microphones make calls and voice assistant usage easy when the headphone is connected via Bluetooth. The convenient 3-button earcup remote allows us to control audio (pause, play, skip) and calls (take, make, reject, etc.) without ever having to reach for the paired smart device.

JBL’s LIVE 650BTNC is equipped with 40mm dynamic drivers for a powerful sound across the audible frequency spectrum. These drivers, combined with the closed-back housing, are designed to deliver JBL Signature Sound punctuated with enhanced bass response.

To learn more about dynamic drivers and driver size, check out my articles The Complete Illustrated Guide To Moving-Coil Dynamic Headphones and What Is A Good Driver Size For Headphones? respectively.

The frequency response of these headphones range from 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz (the audible range of human hearing). Though the headphones are arguably focused on producing remarkable bass, the mids and high are also well-represented.

The earpads of the JBL Tune 600BTNC are made from PU leather for a comfortable fit. Adjust the soft fabric headband to your liking and enjoy the audio without being distracted by how this lightweight headphone feels.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: 40 mm Dynamic
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 100 dBSPL@1kHz/1mW
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 260g
  • Wireless/Wired: Bluetooth 4.2

JBL is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 14 Best Earphone/Earbud Brands In The World.


AKG N700NC M2

Let’s wrap things up by talking about the fifth and final headphone: the AKG N700NC M2 (link to check the price on Amazon).

AKG N700NC M2

The AKG N700NC M2 is a circumaural (over-ear) closed-back headphone with active noise-cancellation and Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology.

The AKG N700NC M2 is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Wireless Headphones Under $200.

Like all active noise cancelling circuits, the AKG N700NC M2 is “adaptive”. Its external microphones are constantly recording the environment in order for the headphone to produce a cancelling anti-noise signal for the listener.

The adjustable ANC allows us to control the amount of surrounding noise we let in with the touch of a button.

This AKG headphone also features Smart Ambient and TalkThru technology, which both pass the external microphone signal through the drivers in order to help us hear our surroundings without having to remove the headphones. The TalkThru option will lower the audio level in addition to letting the ambient noise through.

Like many modern wireless headphones, the N700NC M2 is compatible with an app. The AKG App allows users to adjust bass and treble, turn on/off the Smart Ambient and TalkThru features, and set up auto-off to save battery life.

With Bluetooth 4.2, we can pair two Bluetooth devices at once. The headphone will intuitively switch between devices. The wireless connection is strong and pairing is made easy with auto-pairing (the headphone will automatically pair to the last paired device as it’s turned on, so long as that device is within range).

The polymer lithium-ion battery of the N700NC has a total operating time of 23 hours when Bluetooth and ANC are both activated. Charging is made possible via USB and the headphone comes with a dedicated USB charging cable.

This pair of headphones from AKG has the option to go wired if need be. In fact, the headphone even comes with a detachable 3.5mm stereo plug cable. The nominal impedance of 16 ohms means the headphone will work with mobile devices along with consumer and professional-grade equipment. Get yourself a 3.5mm to 6.35mm (1/4″) adapter if need be.

The built-in microphone offers clear telephony (for calls and voice assistants), which has become standard in modern Bluetooth headphones.

The AKG N700NC M2 brings the studio-quality sound AKG is known for to a wireless on-the-go pair of headphones. The dynamic drivers reproduce audio accurately with a fantastic frequency response and dynamic range.

Marketed as “luxuriously comfortable”, the N700NC M2 features soft ear cushions with dual memory foam and a padded adjustable headband for superior comfort over other models in its price class. Extended listening sessions (at appropriate volume levels) are made easy with these comfortable cans and the long battery life.

Key Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Dynamic
  • Impedance: 16 Ω
  • Frequency Response: no info
  • Sensitivity: no info
  • IP Rating: no info
  • Open/Closed-Back: Circumaural/Closed-back
  • Weight: 261g
  • Wireless/Wired: Bluetooth 4.2

AKG is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headphone Brands In The World.


Honourable Mentions

Here are another 5 noise-cancelling headphones within the same price range that didn’t quite make the cut but are still definitely worth considering:

Arthur

Arthur is the owner of Fox Media Tech and author of My New Microphone. He's an audio engineer by trade and works on contract in his home country of Canada. When not blogging on MNM, he's likely hiking outdoors and blogging at Hikers' Movement (hikersmovement.com) or composing music for media. Check out his Pond5 and AudioJungle accounts.

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