Are you looking for cheap noise-cancelling headphones? You don’t have to spend too much these days to get a good set of noise-cancelling earphones or headphones.
The best budget noise-cancelling headphones come in two types: passive and active. Passive noise-cancelling headphones create a physical seal around your ears to block out the noise. If it’s passive affordable noise-cancelling headphones you’re after, you can buy some great ones for relatively little money.
For most people, Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) will be the way to go. Headphones with ANC use microphones to pick up the sound and broadcast their own sound waves to cancel out the noise.
Here are the best noise-cancelling headphones available on a student-friendly budget.
1. Best Budget Noise-Cancelling Headphones:
Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B
The Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B are among the best-reviewed, most-recommended noise-cancelling headphones out there. This model was first released in 2009, and has been regularly refreshed since. They got the formula right, and after successive price drops, it’s the best value-for-money option today.
The ATH-ANC7B headphones are well-reviewed, and many sound experts recommend them too. They can handle high volumes without distortion, deliver deep bass, and excel with mid-range audio. The ear padding has memory foam coated with leather, which holds its closed-back 40mm drivers.
The headphones come with a removable 3.5 mm cord, which is excellent since that’s what breaks headphones. If your wire breaks, you can buy a new one. A single AAA battery powers the noise cancellation unit, which lasts for about 40 hours. The ANC7B continues playing with passive noise-cancellation even when the battery dies, which is a significant bonus.
2. Cheap Noise-Cancelling Headphones:
Anker Soundcore Life Q20
Anker’s Soundcore audio equipment impresses time and again with the value it offers. The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 are among the cheapest noise-cancelling headphones worth buying. There’s even a Bluetooth connection for wireless playback.
Most reviewers agree that that the Soundcore Life Q20 aren’t the best-sounding set of headphones you can get. However, the sound profile is balanced and pleasing. This pair can also get quite loud if needed. The BassUp feature gives an artificial bass boost. It is nice at times, but it feels unnatural.
The Life Q20 come with ANC, but there’s no ability to adjust the level of noise-cancellation. You also have to switch it on and off manually. But such misses are to be expected with inexpensive noise-cancelling headphones. Overall, it does a good job of filtering out background noise, even if it’s not as good as the Audio Technica set, for example.
The Soundcore Life Q20 has particularly impressive battery life, clocking in 30 hours of music playback on a single charge. That’s incredibly long for cheap noise-cancelling headphones. The memory foam cups on the over-the-ear design ensure you won’t feel uncomfortable during long listening sessions. And, if you run out of battery, you can use the headphones in wired mode instead.
3. Best Budget Noise-Cancelling Earphones:
Phiaton BT 120 NC
Not everyone wants a set of over-ear headphones, but you may still want ANC. The Phiaton BT 120 NC are the best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds set today. As it would be impractical to include the ANC module on the earbuds themselves, it is integrated into the neckband instead. This makes the weight of the earphones more balanced.
Unlike their over-ear counterparts, earphones and earbuds don’t offer the highest-quality ANC. So, you’ll need to be ready for that compromise. Nonetheless, you’ll get decent noise cancellation for continuous sounds like the hum of an airplane. The Phiaton BT 120 NC makes up for the noise-cancelling shortcomings of earphones by offering extra convenience. These cheap wireless earbuds have a battery life of over eight hours with ANC, and double that without ANC.
Reviewers also agree that the sound quality is good, rather than great, and, overall, you won’t have any major complaints. All in all, this is one of those purchases where you get what you’re paying for. If you want better sound quality or stronger noise cancellation, you need to spend more money. But if you are restricted by price, then these are the best budget noise-cancelling earbuds.
4. Best Value Noise-Cancelling Earphones:
The best value products aren’t always the best. Most of the time, we really mean they are the best for that price. That’s what you’d need to say for the TaoTronics TT-BH042. But since we are talking about affordable noise-cancelling headphones, it definitely deserves to be mentioned.
Again, this is a neckband-style pair of cheap noise-cancelling headphones. Honestly, this style is best if ANC is important to you because otherwise, the bulk of the adapter is a turn-off. The noise cancellation is surprisingly good for the price, but only at the lower frequencies.
The sound is probably best described as mediocre. Sure, they aren’t bad, but they don’t stand out either. The bass is often overwhelming, and the higher frequencies come out a little tinny. To include ANC at this price, TaoTronics have compromised, to a degree, on sound quality. But, hey, you also get eight hours of battery life with ANC and a comfortable fit. Overall, it’s a great package… for the price.
5. Cheapest Noise-Cancelling Headphones:
The Sony brand is well-respected in the headphone space, and the Sony MDR-ZX110NC come in at an affordable price too. They are popular enough for the company to upgrade them each year since 2014, too. They are the cheapest noise-cancelling headphones worth buying today, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are right for you.
The problem is that the MDR-ZX110 only make sense if you absolutely, desperately want noise cancellation but are on a tight budget. That’s a common enough situation as a student. You want to drown out the noise in the dorms, but you also want to eat something other than ramen again, so budgeting for headphones takes a backseat.
So, how does the ANC actually perform on these? A lot of the customer reviews on Amazon and Newegg are from students who say this set of cans did exactly what they wanted it to. Yes, the sound quality isn’t great, and yes, some noises still bleed in. But hey, when it comes to affordable noise-cancelling headphones, they get the job done.
The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones for You
Even in the quite-recent past, noise-cancelling headphones would have set you back financially. The sets we included above show, though, show that it is possible to get some of the best noise-cancelling headphones without breaking the bank. For those on tight budgets, you can now get affordable, comfortable, and high-quality headphones.
However, the same can’t be said of cheap noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds. There are plenty on the market sub-$100, but you should avoid these. Unless you are willing to spend significant sums, you won’t get high-quality ANC. If it’s true wireless earbuds you are after, you should consider the best true wireless earbuds for going cord-free.