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You have a paper due on Monday. The dorm is up to its usual shenanigans on Saturday night. How do you cut out the noise and concentrate? Enter noise-cancelling headphones, which will eliminate distracting ambient sounds. And no, they don’t need to be too expensive either.

There are two types of noise cancellation: passive and active. Passive noise-cancelling headphones just seal your ears with enough padding to block out noise. Active noise cancellation headphones emit a pitch that cancels out incoming sound, thus letting you hear what’s playing only through headphones.

Active noise cancellation is almost always the way to go. If you want passive noise-cancelling headphones, you can buy a good pair of in-ear headphones like the Panasonic ErgoFit series (UK), which starts at $10.

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But ideally, spend a little more and get a good pair of on-ear or over-ear active noise cancellation headphones. They don’t cost as much as you think.

In fact, three noise cancellation headphones stand out from the pack for delivering great features and sound on a student-friendly budget.

Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B ($89) ($89/£135)

The most highly recommended budget active noise-cancelling headphones

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Audio Technica’s ANC7B is one of the best-reviewed, most-recommended noise cancelling headphones out there. It’s an old set of cans, first released back in 2009. But it got the formula right, and after successive price drops, it’s probably the best value-for-money option out there.

Inner Fidelity’s Tyll Hertsens is one of the industry’s most respected audio device reviewers, and he uses an ANC7B. It’s his primary recommendation for budget noise cancelling headphones—an opinion shared by several other sound experts. The headphones can handle high volumes without distortion, has a deep bass, and excels with mid-range audio.

The ear padding has memory foam coated with leather, which holds its closed-back 40mm drivers. The ANC7B has a removable 3.5 mm cord, which is excellent since that’s what breaks headphones This Is Why Your Headphones Keep Breaking This Is Why Your Headphones Keep Breaking I can’t be the only one frustrated by the constant breaking of my headphones, earbuds, and pretty much anything else that has wiring, right? There are few feelings in the world that are worse than... Read More . So if your wire breaks, just buy a new one.

An AAA battery powers the noise cancellation unit, which lasts for about 40 hours of usage. The ANC7B continues playing with passive noise cancellation even when the battery dies, which is a major bonus.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B Headphones,Wired Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B Headphones,Wired QuietPoint active noise-cancellation technology reduces environmental noise by up to 90% Buy Now At Amazon £135.00

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint ($47/£60)

Cheap and reliable earphones that get the job done

If you prefer earphones to headphones, then the Audio Technica’s ANC23 will wow you with its bang for the bucks. Again, this is an older set of headphones, but price drops over the years have made it possibly the best sub-$50 noise cancelling headphones around today.

Unlike most headphones, noise-cancelling earphones have a little adapter-like attachment. The attachment is where noise cancellation happens. The feature does make the device a bit more cumbersome, but the elimination of background noise is worth it. And, no, it’s not a headphone amp to improve sound quality What Is a Headphone Amp and Do I Need One? What Is a Headphone Amp and Do I Need One? If you're serious about music, you may be disappointed by the audio quality your mobile device manages -- particularly when paired with high-end headphones. The solution? A headphone amplifier. Read More .

Wearing these, you can listen to music at the normal volume you prefer, without having to pump it up to cut out the frat party outside your room. Which is a good thing anyway, since the ANC23 struggles with sound quality at high volumes.

But otherwise, with normal usage, these in-ear headphones pump out a stable, detailed sound. In fact, it’s quite adept at playing live concerts and bringing alive the ambient sound in the venue.

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Bohm B66 Noise Cancelling Bluetooth ($85)

They’re wireless, have active noise cancellation, and cost less than $100. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

If I had to pick a pair of active noise cancellation headphones to buy today, I’d go with the Bohm B66. This is a pair of fantastic Bluetooth headphones Best Bluetooth Headphones in 2016 Best Bluetooth Headphones in 2016 Android and Apple phones may dispense with their audio jacks. Bluetooth, on the other hand, may replace wires entirely. So you may want to invest in Bluetooth headphones. But which one? Read More that comes packed with features. Active noise cancellation, Bluetooth, good sound quality, and a sub-$100 price tag isn’t something you’ll see often.

The B66 has decent bass but it’s not exactly punchy. You’ll do better with pop songs and movies than dubstep or rock here. Not that it sounds bad, just that it’s not great. Multiple buyers noted how good they are for watching dialogue-heavy movies.

Naturally, Bluetooth is a big deal. Since the iPhone 7 has ditched the 3.5mm stereo jack No Stereo Jack, No Problem: Why the iPhone 7 Sounds Great No Stereo Jack, No Problem: Why the iPhone 7 Sounds Great It's official -- Apple has removed the standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7. But don't worry, this is a good thing. Read More , you can expect others to follow suit, so a wireless connection is good to have. But if you do want to go wired, there’s a simple stereo jack on the B66 to connect it to any device.

The most noticeable aspect about the B66 is its looks. It has a clean aluminum body, plush faux leather padding on the cans and the headband, and it comes in gorgeous colors. You’ll be proud to be seen with these on your ears.

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I should note, though, that Bohm doesn’t produce or design the B66. The B66 is a rebranded headphone from an unknown white-label manufacturer. You can find identical headphones from Diskin on Amazon for $50, which costs around $35 less than Bohm’s offering.

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A Few Notes About Other Cheap Options

These aren’t the cheapest noise-cancelling headphones you’ll find. But there’s a reason we’re recommending these. Based on headphones we have tried, reading far too many reviews, and looking at customer feedback on Amazon, we’re confident about these recommendations over cheaper options.

sony-mdrzx100

For example, the Sony MDR-ZX110 (UK) has the big-name Sony brand and retails at around $30. That sounds tempting, but the sound profile of those headphones is something we simply can’t recommend. Its noise cancellation also isn’t that great. In our opinion, your money is better spent on quality headphones at that price while sacrificing noise cancellation. Otherwise, save up another $20 and buy the Audio Technica ATH-ANC23.

And as much as we like Audio-Technica, its $50 ANC27x headphones should be avoided. Once again, it’s noise cancellation just in name. Multiple users have noted that this is a case of “you get what you pay for” and ended up upgrading to a better pair soon, so just save yourself the money and invest in something better.

In the case of active noise cancellation headphones, you need to stop buying cheap junk Stop Buying Cheap: 7 Tech Products Worth Spending More On Stop Buying Cheap: 7 Tech Products Worth Spending More On Sometimes the best way to save money is to spend a little more on a quality product that'll last you a while. These products are worth the extra dollars. Read More and spend on quality.

What Did We Miss?

Are you using a pair of active noise cancellation headphones that we haven’t mentioned here? We’d love to know what you have on your ears, how much you paid for it, and what you think of it. Drop a line in the comments below!

  1. FLONG
    January 30, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I am looking for something to listen to music/movies/etc. on airplanes. But, I don't want to spend much over $100 if at all. Do these do well on the plane? I don't need 100% noise cancelling; however, I want to be able to be comfortable with what I am listening to.

  2. Tom
    January 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I purchased a pair of JVC 250s in 2008 and love them. Very comfortable on 11~12 hour trans Pacific flights but they do leak a little. Last year I bought Comply T-400 tips for my ear buds which by themselves eliminate a lot of noise. I can barely hear the lawnmower when using them. Boarded a plane with both earbuds and headphones. During the comparison I put in my ear buds and put the JVCs over them. Turned on the JVC's noise canceling and the crying child in the next aisle disappeared. Unconventional, and I'm not recommending purchasing two pairs of phones. Just saying it works great.

  3. Jade
    December 15, 2013 at 12:38 am

    I have no experience with these kinds of headphones. My only purpose is noise cancellation, so I don't play music while I study. Do the active noise cancellation headphones only work while the user plays music, or does it also actively cancel noise with no music on?

    • Dan
      December 22, 2013 at 5:43 am

      The active noise cancellation works even with no music, but it would still be a good idea to have white noise or something playing. I really like this site for something to have playing while I study: http://simplynoise.com/

    • Joyner
      February 19, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      This is for Dan above... if you like a little background noise while studying, check this website out: http://www.coffitivity.com

      It simulates the sounds of a coffee shop. The hiss from white (or pink or brown) noise can get a bit bothersome after a while. I found this site to be a welcome alternative. I combine it with Pandora and a Cool Jazz station and it's almost like I'm at a coffee shop. Hey, where's my coffee?!

  4. Earnst White
    November 7, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    I am using Audio-Technica ATH-M50 and I would say, these are the best pair I have ever had. The highs are pretty clear and the bass is thumping. Bought these pairs from http://www.headyo.com which gave me amazing discount on them.

  5. Yaa Owusuaa Ampofo
    November 6, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Some good cheap noise cancelling headphones are the logitech 200 the come in different colors and are like 15 bucks best thing i ever spent my money on

  6. Joel L
    October 18, 2013 at 6:18 am

    Noise cancelling headphones for $60? Holy moly, that's a surprise to me. I always thought $200 was the bottom end for those, but maybe that was a few years ago. I'm really tempted to buy the Creative just because my apartment walls are so thin and my neighbors suck. :(

  7. Dead_Phish
    October 17, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Appreciate the article. I have the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC27 active noise-cancellation headphones, which were highly rated by Consumer Reports and can be bought at around $50. However, I am not impressed by the ATH-ANC27, as the noise-cancellation is barely noticeable with lawnmower or traffic noise. Sound quality is also only fair IMHO. Maybe the ATH-ANC7B are worth the extra $80. BTW, Your title I find a little puzzling. Students are the only ones that need affordable noise-cancellation headphones ???

    • Adam
      October 17, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      Yup. Only students.

  8. Ashraf M
    October 17, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Creative <3

  9. Corby
    October 17, 2013 at 5:02 am

    You call these affordable? For whom? Donald Trump? Us normal wage slaves are lucky to be able to shell out ten bucks for a walmart special pair of headphones. This article is fail.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 17, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Sorry Corby, this is as low as it gets for active noise-cancellation that's worth buying.

    • None
      October 19, 2013 at 5:49 am

      Try Philips Citiscape Downtown, Mihir. It's not an active noise canceling headphone but its isolability so good. You hardly hear someone speaking to you even when they're sit next to you.
      Sorry for my E

    • Brixton Sandsley
      February 10, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      $60 bucks is not bad at all considering just how expensive headphones really can get.

      I mean if you want you can buy cheaper ones but you'd just be wasting your money. Go work in a third world country and see how different your view of "wage slave" changes ...geeez

      That's America I suppose :(

  10. Zurich
    October 16, 2013 at 9:45 pm

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