Whether you have a loud commute or you want to work from home in peace, Noise-cancelling headphones are a must-have. The ability to just block out the world around you can be a key to concentration. However, the best headsets around often put a real hurting on your wallet. Luckily for you, there are some exceptions to the rule, and here are the best noise-cancelling headphones under $100 you can get.
While you won’t find the top headphones in the world on this list, these headphones offer a good mix of value and quality. You just might be surprised by what you can get for your money, so let’s dig in.
Best noise-cancelling headphones under $100:
Editor’s note: We’ll make sure to update this list of the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones as new options launch.
1. Anker SoundCore Life Q20
The SoundCore Life Q20 is the best option for most people as Anker continues to push the limits of budget-friendly audio. It strikes a great balance between power and value and comes in at nearly half of the $100 budget.
Although the noise-cancelling may not be up to the likes of Sony’s top-end WH-1000XM4, the Life Q20 is a force to be reckoned with in terms of comfort and battery life. The headset is light and it sports plush ear cups for long listening sessions. You can pretty much listen to your heart’s content too as Anker’s headphones boast 40 hours of battery life with ANC active.
Like most noise-cancelling headphones under $100, the Life Q20 is better suited to tune out conversations and basic background sounds than airplanes or lawnmowers. You generally get what you pay for, and the Life Q20 offers a consumer-friendly emphasis on bass.
Overall, the blend of ergonomic design, incredible battery life, and decent noise-cancelling is tough to beat. It gets even better once you remember just how affordable these cans can be.
2. Sony WH-CH710N
As long as you don’t mind a refurbished headset, the Sony WH-CH700N offers $200 value in a sub-$100 package. We already know that Sony has been killing it with its top-end sets, but the WH-CH700N is a great alternative for you on-the-go listeners.
For starters, you won’t have to be nearly as worried as if you were toting $350 cans throughout your day. The headphones offer a tough plastic construction, rotating ear cups that flatten for storage, and enough comfort to listen for hours on end. They may be noise-cancelling headphones for under $100, but you can easily see the Sony flagship influence.
See also: The best Sony headphones you can buy
As for sound quality, the WH-CH710N delivers a neutral-leaning frequency response, though it’s not like that of the Life Q20. Instead of boosted bass, you’ll find an emphasis on vocals and stringed instruments. It’s great for you indie-rockers, but you may want to look elsewhere for EDM beats.
The WH-CH710N manages decent noise-cancelling if you’re puttering around your home office, though they really can’t compete with the best headsets. Both Bose’s Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 and Sony’s own WH-1000XM4 pack bigger punches, but you can’t beat the value.
3. Sony MDRZX110NC
Surprise, surprise, Sony is right back on our list with a slightly different option — the MDRZX110NC. The name might be a mouthful, but these cans offer noise-cancelling for under $100 with an on-ear design. They may not be as effective as over-ear options, but it all comes down to your personal preference.
If you don’t want to spend time sitting around while your headphones recharge, the MDRZX110NC might be your best bet. They rely on AAA batteries to keep the tunes going, and you should be good for about 80 hours of power at a time. As long as you keep your battery drawer stocked, you might not have to worry about a charging cable ever again.
Sony’s MDRZX110NC are yet another pair of noise-cancelling headphones for commuters, and the 1.2-meter audio cable is a key accessory. It has an L-shaped 3.5mm gold tip that should last a good long time on your daily commute. Sony even includes an in-flight adapter with each pair so you won’t have to use those airline headphones ever again.
4. JLab Audio Studio ANC
If you’re working with an even more limited budget, the JLab Audio Studio ANC is a perfect pick at around $60. It’s an easy way to test the noise-cancelling waters without putting your wallet through some pain.
The design isn’t our favorite on the list, as they’re not the most comfortable cans for long listening sessions. JLab Audio describes the ear cups as having “plush cloud foam cushions,” but they just didn’t work as well over time. On the other hand, the headphones keep the weight low and the minimalist aesthetic helps to redeem the overall look.
When it comes to noise-cancelling and overall sound, you get what you pay for from JLab Audio. As a result, it may not be your best pick if you fly often as you might still pick up some engine sounds.
5. Phiaton BT 100 NC
We’ve been leaning heavily on the headphones for our under $100 noise-cancelling list, but earbuds are worth consideration as well. There aren’t many options, but the Phiaton BT 100 NC gets the job done thanks to the behind-the-neck design.
See also: Best Bluetooth headphones
Thanks to that extra real estate, the Phiaton earbuds manage to pack a little extra punch in the form of NFC pairing, aptX codec support, and an IPX4 rating for water and sweat resistance. While the feature list sounds pretty good, it’s once again not perfect. You won’t get much in the way of battery life, and we found that the noise-cancelling was really not great. Worse yet, there aren’t too many alternatives to try at the same price point when your battery hits empty.
What you should know about the best noise-cancelling headphones under $100
Noise-cancelling technology isn’t something you can really cheap out on. The world of consumer audio is full of products that push past the point of diminishing returns, but noise-cancelling tech isn’t one of those features.
It takes a lot of research and development to create an effective set of noise-cancelling headphones, and unfortunately, this means stretching your budget. These cheap ANC headphones are still perfectly fine for the price, but they can’t hold a candle to mid-tier options like the Jabra Elite 85h, let alone premium picks like the Shure Aonic 50.
Fit matters, a lot
To get the most out of any headphones, you have to take the time to get a proper fit. When wearing headphones this means that the ear cups must completely encircle the outer ear, without leaving any gaps between the ear pads and skull. A proper fit is very hard to achieve and maintain with on-ear headphones. If a pair of on-ears fits well on the head, it’s usually because of undue clamping force.
What is a Bluetooth codec?
Bluetooth codecs are important for any wireless headset; the Bluetooth codec is how your handset communicates with your Bluetooth headphones. Both devices need to support the same codecs in order to “talk.” By default, virtually all Bluetooth devices support the SBC codec, which is reliable but offers sub-0ptimal streaming quality. Android users should lookout for headphones with aptX or LDAC, while iPhone users need AAC for high-quality audio.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
SoundGuys is our sister site focused on all things relating to consumer audio. The team has a vast understanding of audio, and understands it to be an objective science while also respecting the importance of subjective experience and preference. SoundGuys cuts through the jargon in to lay the facts bare as they are, and make it easy for readers to understand what will and won’t work for them.