Best Noise Cancelling Headphones of 2014 with Reviews

Hi, I am Josh and welcome to my website Head Yo. This website covers detailed noise cancelling headphones reviews and helps you select the best noise cancelling headphones from the various ones available in the market. If you are planning to purchase a new pair of headphones and looking for quality information and recommendations, you have come to the right place.

I use headphones for various purposes like travelling, working out, in my office or watching my favourite movie and they work perfect for me. I love music of different genres and if it is coming out from a great pair of headphones, delivering pristine quality of sound, it makes my day.

Top 3 Picks of 2014

Before we move forward, let me share the top 3 headphones which performed really well when I tested them and deserve the title of being the best noise cancelling headphones. Here are my top 3 picks:

Audio-Technica ATH-M50

Audio-Technica ATH-M50Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50 comes first in my list. Why? These headphones are especially designed for professional monitoring & mixing as well as provide maximum comfort.

Let me talk straight about the sound – only one word can describe it “accurate”. It has crystal clear highs with no disturbance, solid mids with the fullness towards acoustics and mind boggling bass that will definitely blow your mind away.

It does not come with active noise cancellation but the passive mode does the full justice to it. The acoustic seal leaves any unwanted noise out of the headphones.

Coming to the build quality, these foldable headphones are made with a very high grade plastic and have extremely comfortable earcups. The cable comes in two modes coiled and straight.

At a given price, these headphones are damn cheap and their performance is exceptional. With all the given features, amazing sound quality and built for maximum durability, these headphones top the chart.

Overall Rating – 4.9/5

Bose QuietComfort 15

Bose QuietComfort 15For a frequent flyer, irritated by constant plane’s engine noise; Bose QuietComfort 15 is a perfect pair. It is undoubtedly the most sought after pair of ANC headphones by flyers across the world.

The noise cancellation is supreme even when no music is being played. They also come with a battery life of approximately 35 hours which is sufficient for any flight.

Bose QC 15 is a very lightweight pair and comfortable for extended periods of wearing. Sound quality is decent and bass is on a little heavier side. Build wise these are somehow delicate pair in my opinion.

These pricey headphones are worth the money for people who fly a lot. The superb noise cancellation and great comfort make them secure second spot in my list.

Overall Rating – 4.2/5

Klipsch IMAGE S4

Klipsch IMAGE S4Klipsch IMAGE S4 beats its many high priced competitors when it comes to sound, comfort and noise cancellation. With price around $100, I found these headphones incredible. Walking in New York wearing these headphones, you won’t hear too much of the great city’s street life.

With balanced highs, resonant mids and thumping bass, Klipsch S4 excels in the sound department. Acoustic seal provided by oval shaped ear tips gives long term wearing comfort and excellent sound isolation.

Impeccable sound, great build, wearing comfort and nice noise isolation, make these pair extremely popular. Their overall performance and the price bring them at third place in my list.

Overall Rating – 4.7/5

My Top Picks by Category and Reviews

  • Best Over Ear Headphones: I have listened to Audio-Technica ATH-M50, asked many people and read online reviews. These pair topped the charts without any doubts. ATH-M50 is also the best seller dj headphones at Amazon. Read Audio-Technica ATH-M50 review
  • Best On Ear Headphones: I did not review any on ear headphones in this site but not mentioning Bose QuietComfort 3 would be a shame. These are undoubtedly the best on ear noise cancelling headphones available. View the product on Amazon for further details
  • Best In Ear Headphones: Choosing the top in the ear headphones was not an easy task as there are many competitors for the first position but comparing overall quality and pricing, Klipsch IMAGE S4 came out as arguably the best in-ear headphones. Read Klipsch IMAGE S4 Review
  • Best Wireless (Bluetooth) Headphones: If you are looking for style, beauty and quality with wireless/Bluetooth technology, there are none who beat the Parrot Zik. Read Parrot Zik review
  • Best Headphones with Mic: Sony MDR1-RNC is a great pair of headphones which comes with ANC technology, good bass and style. This is my top pick for over ear headphones with mic. Read Sony MDR1-RNC review
  • Most Popular Active Noise Cancelling Headphones: Bose are among the pioneers when it comes to sound innovation. Bose QuietComfort 15 is very balanced and amazing noise reducing headphones. Read Bose QC 15 review
  • Most Popular Bass Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 990 is a super cool pair of headphones which delivers excellent sound with thumping bass. After its release, this pair has been constantly praised among audiophiles. It is also one of the top rated headphones. Read Beyerdynamic DT 990 review
  • Most Popular Gaming Headphones: Steelseries Siberia V2 is favorite amongst the gamers. It comes in 10 different colours and is perfect for gaming. Read Steelseries Siberia V2 review
  • Most Popular Cheap Headphones: Nothing can beat MEElectronics Sport M6 when it comes to sound quality against the price. With more than 3500 reviews on Amazon and rated as the best seller in In-Ear audio monitors category, these headphones are priced only at $20. Unbelievable but true! Read MEElectronics Sport M6 review

Rating Process: What determines a Good Pair of Noise Cancelling Headphones?

Before you move down to reading my reviews, the explanation of rating process will definitely help you choosing the perfect pair for your music listening needs. Below is the detailed rating process guide that I followed while rating various headphones on different parameters:

Category of Headphones: For your convenience, the noise cancelling headphones are divided among two main categories which are Over Ear and In Ear. For the ease of use, these are further divided in Wireless and With Mic. These broad categories will help you choose the headphones as per your criteria.

For your interest, I have written a guide on different types of headphones which will help you understand these gadgets better. You can check out the In Ear guide here and the Over Ear guide here.

If you have a price bucket in your mind and you do not want to spend more than a certain amount, do not worry. You can filter out headphones by the price range.

Ratings: While picking up a pair of headphones, I looked down on various aspects and found out that the four main factors are of utmost importance which no one can neglect. These are:

Sound Quality: Since we are talking about headphones and planning to shell out some bucks, any pair would be worthless if it does not deliver great sound. That is why the sound quality plays a major role in determining which headphones are at the top.

You may be a listener of blues, metal, hip-hop, rap, classical or country songs. As a matter of fact, any genre you choose, you do not want the vocals and instruments distorting or hiding in the background. These should have a striking balance to provide great output. The various quality parameters while judging the sound are:

  • Highs: Do you like classical, you may need headphones delivering amazing high pitches. Piccolo, violins, flutes etc. are the ones which fall under high pitch instruments. Listening to Maurice Ravel, Mozart or Beethoven will be at a very different level with the right pair of headphones.
  • Mids: If the vocals are not harsh and you feel that you are in front of the singer and listening to him/her live, the mids are great.
  • Lows: This factor is a very important one for all the bass-heads. Headphones should deliver thumping bass that should have depth.
  • Noise Cancellation: Every pair is tested in various environments like walking in streets, sitting in car, simulating airplane engine noise etc. and then rated accordingly. If the noise cancellation is below par my expectations, I have not even bothered to write down the review. Lazy me?.
  • Overall Performance: The overall performance of the headphones keeping highs, mids, lows and noise cancellation in mind and the balance in the output.

The aforementioned parameters are rated individually and the overall sound quality rating is calculated.

Build Quality: Each of the headphones is rated on its build quality. The overall design, what are the features provided, accessories, battery life (if applicable), quality of the microphone (if applicable), quality of material used, quality of the wire, durability, portability and compatibility with the device are weighed while testing the headphones.

Comfort: Headphones are tested for their comfort, quality of sleeves or cushions, pressure on the ears while wearing for extended period of time, heating of ears, balance on the head (in case of over ears) and popping out of ears (in case of in ears).

Price: Price played a major role while calculating the overall rating of the headphones. Some headphones were very cheap but the sound they delivered was astonishing. The premium and high end headphones were excellent but weighing the sound quality and the price of these headphones against each other, I’ve put them below in my ranking. If I am going to spend $300 or more on a pair, I will definitely look for perfect output, excellent comfort and longevity.

Rating the headphones was a cumbersome and tedious task but it had to be done in order to provide you detailed insights. I have spent many days working on this site and I hope you will find the reviews useful.

How to choose the Best Noise Cancelling Headphones?

Below are some tips that will help you choose the kind of headphones that you are looking for and you will have an idea of what all things to consider while buying them.

Close Your Requirements: Not every pair is for everyone. If you are a bass-head, you may be looking for bass heavy headphones rather that a balanced pair. Fly too frequently and not an audiophile, you may opt for good noise cancellation or isolation rather than excellent music and average noise reduction.

Choose the type of Noise Reduction: You have two options to choose from – Active Noise Cancellation or Sound Isolation. For any confusion, you can refer to my guide on “how do noise cancelling headphones work”, to get more clarity.

Decide on Your Budget: First and foremost thing, decide on the amount you want to spend on headphones. Go for deals, discounts or some festive season shopping for huge price drops.

Read Reviews: Read what other people are saying. I always find amazon reviews very helpful.

Try them out: Borrow the pairs from a friend or visit to the nearest store and try couple of songs, comfort, noise reduction etc.

Value for Money: Try to avoid headphones which come with very less period of warranty. You may find some great products with 2 years limited warranty or lifetime limited warranty.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you are an audiophile who loves his music without interruption, a frequent traveller who hates engine noise and neighbour passenger stories, a professional who cannot concentrate on work due to incoming noises or even a regular guy or a girl who occasionally listens to music, you must find a great pair and invest in it. It is not an expense; it’s an investment for you.

With every passing day, new headphones keep coming and filling music lovers with excitement by their cutting edge features, designs and superb music output. Every time, when there is a new pair of headphones with a bang in the market, the comparison guide will be updated, the noise cancelling headphones review and complete details will be added. You will have every reason to come back to this website again and again to see how these products are competing with each other.

Please feel free to drop a comment and share your opinion as I would love to hear from you all.

10 comments

  1. Hey Josh, I love the way you have reviewed various headphones and the way you have detailed out everything. I bought the Audio Technica M 50 and am super excited to hear its sound. I am planning to buy another one for myself, would you suggest me going for Bose Quiet Comfort 15 or Parrot Zik? Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Jason,
      Congrats on buying AT M50. Would like to know your experience with it.
      If you travel a lot, I would suggest QC 15, it is the best in its category. Parrot Zik are good if you want wireless ones. These are great as far as sound is concerned, stylish in looks and cater excellent experience.

  2. I am hunting for a pair of KIDS noise canceling earphones that also play music (I have both a bose and an able planet). We only fly about 2x a yr but these are looong flights (across the planet) and I feel guilty for the quiet my daughter does not get because my ear phones don’t fit her little kid head and her kid earphones are not noise-canceling. Any help would be appreciated! KLN

    • Hi Kimberly,
      Thanks for dropping by.
      Kindly let me know age of your daughter so that I can suggest you the best pair for her. 3M Peltor H10A Optime , Baby Banz Hearing Protector Earmuffs, Howard Leight by Honeywell & Vic Firth Kidphones are some great pairs which may suit her.

      Josh

      • I’m in the same boat as Kim. I have kids who are 2 & 4, and I can’t find any noise canceling earphones that fit them. We do have earmuffs, but that doesn’t help when we go for LONG flights, and the kids like to watch movies on the plane. I hate to blast the volume so they can hear…

        Is there a product that goes under the headband to allow my headphones to fit better on my kids head?
        Thanks!

        • Hi Ted,

          I know that earmuffs won’t help in flights. I haven’t come across any product which allows bigger headphones to sit comfortably on kid’s head. Buying headphones especially for kids or probably behind the ear headphones may help in a better way.

          I think I should spend some time trying headphones on kids and come up with better solutions.

          Josh

      • I have also been searching for kids noise-cancelling headphones that can be plugged into the airplane so my daughter can watch the movies. She is 5.

        • Hi Chris,

          You can try from 3M Peltor H10A Optime , Baby Banz Hearing Protector Earmuffs, Howard Leight by Honeywell & Vic Firth Kidphones. I think these would fit her.

          I have started working on reviewing some headphones for kids and will update site very soon. I never knew parent look for these gadgets for their kids.

          Josh

  3. Deanna Marie De'Liberto

    I purchased the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint headphones. No sound comes from the left ear. I purchased these at Radio Shack and thought I’d check to see what else was out there. Are the 9s better than the 7bs? I’ve been told that Bose is the best. OK it really depends on what you are using them for, so here is what I intend to use them for. I want to be able to do podcasts, online radio shows, make YouTube videos, listen to music as I love to listen to music. I am not a frequent flyer anymore. I’m using the Audio-Technica ATR2500 USB Microphone with them and am seriously considering returning those to get the AT2020USB+ Microphone. I figured this would give me the option of USB as well as other uses. Any advice on headphones and microphones would be appreciated.

    • Hi Deanna,
      I would rate AT 9 series little above than 7.

      Bose are best for flyers. For your requirements, my suggestions are Audio-Technica ATH-M50, Beyerdynamic DT 880 or 990, Sennheiser HD Series and Grado Prestige Series or Reference Series.

      Looking at microphone choice, AT2020 USB+ is a better choice or you can opt for Blue Yeti USB Microphones.

      Hope the above options help you to get the best result for your podcasts and shows.

      Josh

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