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The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones for 2022 in the UAE and Saudi Arabia

Headphones are great for blocking out the world and letting you enjoy your favorite music, podcast, or audiobook. Sometimes the outside world can bleed through, though, and the sound of planes, traffic, and crowds can cut into your listening experience. If you want to avoid all the noise, you should consider headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) to really get the job done.

Now is a good time to consider a pair of noise-canceling headphones, as the once-wide gap between Bose and other audio manufacturers has finally shrunk enough for Bose to face some serious competition in the space. It still offers some of the best ANC on the market, but several other brands are now highly competitive. Beyond that, many of these options offer sound signatures that you might prefer over what you get from Bose, along with better apps that allow for more customization of the listening and ANC experience.

Here we’ve gathered our favorite noise-cancelling headphones and earphones. Read on for our top picks, followed by everything you need to know about buying noise-cancelling headphones.

AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

Pros Cons
+ Rich, well-balanced audio performance – No hi-res codec support
+ Excellent active noise cancellation – Offers only non-adjustable EQ presets
+ Adaptive Transparency mode is geninuely impressive
+ Charging case has a useful built-in speaker
+ Seamless integration with Apple devices

AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

The second-generation AirPods Pro deliver exceptional ANC and audio performance, making them the best noise-cancelling true wireless earphones for Apple device users.

د.إ 949.00

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Why We Picked It

The second-generation AirPods Pro deliver exceptionally strong noise cancellation, even though the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II edge them out slightly overall. Nonetheless, the AirPods wipe out deep, low-frequency rumble and are very effective against more complex higher-frequency sounds. Beyond ANC, Apple’s Adaptive Transparency mode gives you a more natural way to monitor your surroundings without letting loud noises (above 85dB) harm your hearing. It works much better than Bose’s equivalent mode.

Who It’s For

First and foremost, anyone who wants seamless integration between their earphones and iPhone should enjoy the AirPods Pro experience. Pairing is as simple as opening the case, while the iOS settings menu offers all the controls and features you need. The other stealth use for these earbuds is as active, transparent earplugs—in Adaptive Transparency mode, you can wear them to a concert (if you’re okay with getting some confused looks) or a job site and still monitor your surroundings without the risk of hearing damage.

Bose QuietComfort 45

Pros Cons
+ Best in class noise cancellation – ANC can’t be adjusted
+ Sculpted audio with rich bass and crisp highs – Sound signature isn’t accurate for true audiophiles
+ Exceptionally comfortable

Bose QuietComfort 45

Though the competition is stiffer than ever, the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones continue to lead the industry with the best active noise cancellation you can buy.

د.إ 1,349.00

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Why We Picked It

There are a lot of headphones on this list, but no over-ear models deliver more consistently excellent noise cancellation performance than the Bose QuietComfort 45. Head to head with the Sony WH-1000XM5, Bose is slightly better at dialing back mids and highs, though both pairs are about as effective at blocking out the low-frequency.

Who It’s For

Anyone looking for the best noise-cancelling headphones should at least start their search here. You get more in the audio and app department from the WH-1000XM5, but if ANC is your top priority, this is our top pick.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Pros Cons
+ Engaging audio performance with deep lows and bright highs – No way to turn off noise cancellation altogether
+ Fantastic low-and-high frequency noise cancellation – Case doesn’t support wireless charging
+ Useful Active Aware mode
+ Water-resistant build

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

The true wireless Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II set a new standard for in-ear active noise cancellation while delivering a powerful, bass-forward audio experience.

د.إ 1,199.00

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Why We Picked It

The Bose QC Earbuds II reset our expectations for noise-cancelling earphones. They use a combination of calibration tests and subtle adaptive ANC tweaks to produce impressive results. Although their performance against higher frequencies is comparable with that of other high-end options, they outclass everything else against low-frequency noise. The earbuds also now offer an Active Aware mode, which, like Apple’s Adaptive Transparency mode, tamps down louder environmental noises while still allowing you to hear your surroundings.

Who It’s For

Audiophiles might prefer the Sony WF-1000XM4 (for superior codec support) and iPhone owners might favor the second-gen AirPods Pro (for their seamless integration with Apple products), but you should choose the QC Earbuds II if you want the most effective noise cancellation. Other top-tier options sometimes get close to what the Bose achieves, but aren’t nearly as consistent overall or effective against the deep lows. Otherwise, this pair offers a pleasing bass-forward sound signature and a snug in-ear fit.

Sony WF-1000XM4

Pros Cons
+ Exceptional active noise cancellation – Expensive
+ Powerful bass depth and crisp, defined highs
+ Adjustable EQ
+ Good battery life

Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony’s true wireless WF-1000XM4 earphones pair excellent audio performance with class-leading active noise cancellation.

د.إ 798.00

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Why We Picked It

The Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds don’t cancel noise as effectively as the latest flagships from Apple and Bose, but their foam eartips help them perform the best against high frequencies out of the three. They also feature the most comprehensive EQ of the group and support the audiophile-friendly LDAC Bluetooth codec.

Who It’s For

If you value noise cancellation and audio performance equally, these are the earphones to buy. They’re a particularly strong option for Android users who can take advantage of the hi-res-capable LDAC codec.

Sony WH-1000XM5

Pros Cons
+ Excellent audio performance with robust bass depth and crisp highs – Expensive
+ Top-notch active noise cancellation
+ Intuitive on-ear controls
+ App offers an adjustable EQ and other customization settings
+ Comfortable, stylish design

Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony’s WH-1000XM5 headphones pair top-notch noise cancellation with class-leading audio quality in a comfortable, attractive design.

د.إ 1,109.00

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Why We Picked It

Two headphones sit at the front of the pack for active noise cancellation: the Bose QuietComfort 45 and the Sony WH-1000XM5. Both are so good that it almost feels absurd to pick a winner, but Sony’s headphones sound better, while Bose maintains the ever-so-slight edge in the noise cancellation department. That makes these our top pick for audiophiles.

Who It’s For

If you like to make changes to how your headphones sound, Sony’s companion app (with its adjustable EQ) offers more flexibility than you get with Bose. And, if you use an Android device, Sony’s support for the high-end LDAC codec can help you take the fullest advantage of hi-res streaming services.

Anker Soundcore Space A40

Pros Cons
+ Rich, detailed audio performance – Light on sub-bass
+ Quality active noise cancellation for the price – Noise cancellation mode slightly affects sound signature
+ App includes customizable EQ and controls
+ Strong battery life
+ Water-resistant build

Anker Soundcore Space A40

The Anker Soundcore Space A40 earphones deliver quality active noise cancellation and balanced, detailed audio for a modest price.

د.إ 365.00

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Why We Picked It

We’ve reviewed a number of solid noise-cancelling earbuds under $100, including some from Anker. But the company’s latest earphones, the Soundcore Space A40, punch far above their price with above-average active noise cancellation abilities and an excellent app that offers a customizable EQ.

Who It’s For

If you have a budget of around $100 and don’t want to compromise on sound quality or noise cancellation performance, look no further. These earphones deliver a natural sound signature by default and last for roughly 10 hours on a charge (with ANC off). Anker even lets you adjust the ANC behavior to a degree.

Urbanista Los Angeles

Pros Cons
+ Solar-powered charging – No in-app EQ
+ Impressive audio performance with rich, deep bass and crisp highs – Noise cancellation slightly impacts sound signature
+ Quality noise cancellation for the price
+ Stylish design

Urbanista Los Angeles

The stylish Urbanista Los Angeles headphones deliver deep bass, sculpted highs, and solid active noise cancellation in a unique design that supports solar-powered charging.

د.إ 562.00

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Why We Picked It

What’s not to love about headphones that recharge via all sources of light, from the sun to an ordinary light bulb? The Urbanista Los Angeles over-ears are one of the most unique picks on this list. In addition to their admirable eco-friendly tech, they cancel noise effectively and reveal plenty of details in your music.

Who It’s For

This Urbanista pair is an obvious pick for anyone who wants to use less energy or spend less time charging their devices (the company says the headphones should last for around 80 hours on a full charge, which is impressive). You do get a USB-C port for the charging cable, but you likely won’t need it often.

Apple AirPods Max

Pros Cons
+ Excellent audio performance with rich lows and crisp, detailed highs – Expensive
+ High-quality active noise cancellation, especially for low-frequency rumble – Sound signature and Adaptive EQ/spatial audio aren’t for purists
+ Stunning, unqiue design – No user-adjustable EQ
+ Adaptive EQ and Spatial audio – Button placement makes it easy to misfire when adjusting fit
+ Hands-free Siri acces – Smart Case does little to protect the headphones

Apple AirPods Max

Apple’s AirPods Max headphones deliver excellent audio performance, top-notch noise cancellation, and a bevy of useful features in an absolutely gorgeous design for a bit too much money.

د.إ 1,999.00

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Why We Picked It

If you want to stay in the Apple ecosystem and prefer proper headphones, the AirPods Max are a striking (and very expensive) option. They offer very effective noise cancellation that’s just slightly less consistent than that of the best Bose and Sony models and look very cool (picture the melted remains of a futuristic Knoll office chair).

Who It’s For

Like the AirPods Pro, the primary advantage of these headphones is their seamless integration with Apple devices and services. And, in addition to excellent audio and noise cancellation performance, you get Spatial audio support.

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Pros Cons
+ Excellent audio performance with robust bass, detailed highs – Underwhelming in-app EQ
+ Effective noise cancellation – App sometimes has trouble connecting to headphones
+ Strong Bluetooth codec support
+ Handsome design with easy-to-operate on-ear controls

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless headphones deliver a wonderful audio experience and high-quality active noise cancellation at a fittingly high price.

د.إ 1,349.00

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Why We Picked It

Although the aforementioned Bose and Sony headphones are our clear front-runners, Sennheiser’s Momentum 4 Wireless over-ear headphones are also worth a look. They sport a refined design, deliver excellent audio performance, and cancel ambient noise quite well.

Who It’s For

If you don’t want to buy headphones from Bose or Sony for whatever reason, this pair is a great alternative. The headphones look handsome and boast excellent audio chops. They also offer strong Bluetooth codec support—you don’t get LDAC, but AptX Adaptive is an option.

1More SonoFlow

Pros Cons
+ Bass-forward, sculpted sound signature – Clunky, beta-like app
+ Effective noise cancellation – No customizable EQ
+ Attractive, comfortable over-ear design – Odd layout of on-ear controls

1More SonoFlow

If you can look past a weak app and cumbersome on-ear controls, the 1More SonoFlow headphones reward you with quality audio performance and surprisingly robust active noise cancellation for under $100.

د.إ 350.00

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Why We Picked It

We get it—not everyone wants to spend $400 or even $200 on noise-cancelling headphones. The affordable 1More SonoFlow headphones buck the trend a bit by providing commendable active noise cancellation for around $100. If you can look past a disappointing app experience, 1More also delivers quality audio performance here in an exceedingly comfortable design.

Who It’s For

If you have a strict budget of $100 for ANC headphones, these are your best option. They aren’t quite as effective at lowering outside noise as the slightly pricier Anker Soundcore Q45 (let alone flagship models from Sony and Bose), but they still beat our expectations. Otherwise, LDAC support makes the SonoFlow headphones even more of a bargain for Android users.

Anker Soundcore Space Q45

Pros Cons
+ Full-bodied audio experience with rich lows and bright highs – Light on sub-bass frequencies
+ Decent noise cancellation performance – Noise cancellation modes impact audio signature
+ App includes customizable EQ

Anker Soundcore Space Q45

The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 headphones offer solid audio quality and moderately effective noise cancellation for a reasonable price.

د.إ 916.00

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Why We Picked It

Until recently, we haven’t reviewed many headphones that deliver quality active noise cancellation for under $200. Anker’s Soundcore Space Q45 over-ears break that trend, and we also like their full-featured companion app.

Who It’s For

These Anker headphones effectively dial back deep, low-frequency rumble as well as some more complex mids and highs; they are thus useful both on planes and in noisy cafes. Frequent travelers who value sound quality should also appreciate their companion app’s customizable EQ.


Active Noise Cancellation vs. Passive Noise Isolation

Plenty of headphones (and earphones) claim to isolate or reduce noise, but that doesn’t mean they offer proper ANC.

Passive noise isolation, sometimes called passive noise cancellation, is basically a fancy term for what earplugs do. Simply put, when an object blocks sound, like a thick earpad with memory foam sealing off the area around the ear, it is passively (without any battery power) reducing the ambient noise you hear. When you put your fingers in your ears when a loud siren goes by, that’s a form of passive noise isolation.

Active noise cancellation is much more complicated. It uses microphones that actively sample the surrounding noise in a room, and then produce an inverse wave that essentially cancels out the sound. Think of it like this: If you have a perfect sine wave and play it along with its inverse wave—the mirror opposite—the result would be no wave at all. It works on a graph, though, in real life, the results are messier. Regardless, ANC is quite effective at (nearly) eliminating low and mid-range frequencies. Battery power is required for ANC circuitry to work, hence the “active” part of the name.

Nearly all ANC headphones use some degree of passive noise isolation in addition to their active circuitry, primarily for one reason: It’s an easy way for the noise cancellation to sound even more effective, and ANC is typically not nearly as good at tamping down high-frequency noises compared with low and middle frequencies.


What Noise Cancellation Can and Can’t Do

If you haven’t used ANC headphones before, you need to understand this: Although noise cancellation does decrease the volume of surrounding noise, it doesn’t fully eliminate noise and is notably less effective at eliminating inconsistent noise. It’s not like going into a soundproof chamber every time you put ANC headphones on—it’s more like using highly effective earplugs.

What does this mean? Most ANC headphones worth their price can tamp down the rumble of an airplane or a train quite well. The same goes for the whir of a loud AC unit or fan. But these are consistent, relatively unchanging noises—it’s easy for the circuitry to reduce lower- and middle-frequency sounds that don’t change much. But noise like music, conversation, dogs barking—anything that is more complex than a constant drone—is likely to give ANC some trouble. The best noise-cancelling models eliminate these sounds to a degree, but you’re still going to hear some of them.


What Is Adaptive Noise Cancellation?

Adaptive noise cancellation refers to active noise cancellation that adjusts to environmental sounds it measures with mics in real time. Technically, all ANC must be adaptive to a degree or it wouldn’t work—after all, as the sound around you changes, so must the ANC’s inverse response. But the term adaptive ANC refers to models that adjust not only to surrounding noise changes, but also to changes in your head’s position and more.

With plenty of adaptive models, you can quite literally hear the noise cancellation changing in real time when you turn your head slightly, or even feel pressure changes in your ear canal. For some users, adaptive ANC represents a crucial advancement, and to others, it’s a more distracting form of ANC. Some apps now let you switch between adaptive or manual ANC modes based on your preference. You might even be able to set the ANC to focus on a specific frequency range or use a fade to change its overall intensity.


What Is Hybrid Noise Cancellation?

Hybrid ANC is the combination of feed-forward (exterior mic-based) and feedback (interior mic-based) noise cancellation technology. While many of the most effective (and expensive) models use hybrid technology, that feature doesn’t guarantee top-notch ANC performance. Even within hybrid ANC, the number of mics and their placement (to highlight only two of many factors) can have a tremendous impact on the system’s effectiveness. Hybrid ANC implementations are present on both in-ear and over-ear models.


Should Noise Cancellation Add Hiss?

Some ANC adds an audible hiss—like white noise—to the signal. It doesn’t sound awful, but it serves to mask the high frequencies that the circuitry is less effective at eliminating. As mentioned, ANC works far better on lows and mids than it does on highs, so reducing some of the high-frequency noise passively is essential. The hiss adds another layer that can enhance the sense of quiet you get but is actually somewhat deceiving.

You can tell if a hiss is present or not when you enable ANC in a very quiet room. If it’s there, the hiss will have the opposite effect of noise cancellation in this scenario—it will sound louder than the room itself. Most hiss is not a deal breaker, and when the music is playing, it won’t even be audible. But generally speaking, the better the noise cancellation, the less it relies on a masking hiss.

Here we should also note that some people feel pressure inside their ears with powerful ANC, while others don’t notice a thing. It’s worth trying on multiple pairs of headphones in a store before you invest in an expensive product that can potentially cause you discomfort.


Noise-Cancelling Headphones vs. Earphones

The most effective ANC is typically found in over-ear (circumaural) headphones. The earcups can create a seal around the ear, and the earpads act as a barrier. That said, the less-common on-ear ANC models can still eliminate plenty of surrounding noise, are often far more comfortable, and stow away more easily.

In-ear ANC has also improved quite a bit in recent years. In-ear models also have perhaps the greatest advantage in terms of passive isolation—the eartips seal off your ear canal, so high frequencies are more or less eliminated before you enable the ANC. The advantages one style may present over another are less about ANC performance at this point, and more about your preference and comfort. As wireless in-ears shift to cable-free true wireless designs, there are now solid ANC options in this realm, as well.


How Do Noise Cancellation Apps Work?

Many noise-cancelling headphones work with free apps that can alter the ANC’s performance to better suit your environment. And most ANC models feature an ambient mode, which allows you to hear your surroundings and talk with someone nearby without removing the headphones. It’s a useful, nearly ubiquitous feature, but some manufacturers go further and let you blend ANC and ambient levels to your preference. When this is available, you can usually adjust the levels with a slider in a companion app.


Is It Worth Buying Noise-Cancelling Headphones?

Noise cancellation circuitry isn’t cheap. If a model has been around for more than a year or two, you might find some deals, but a quality pair of headphones rarely sells for less than $200. If they do, the ANC on offer is probably solid for the price, but not on the same level as the top-tier options. If you’re looking for the best of the best, be prepared to pay between $350 and $400. The exception is in-ear models, which can have solid ANC at prices below $300.

If noise cancellation isn’t a big deal for you, you can focus on other characteristics with our lists of the best wireless headphones, the best earphones, and the best headphones overall. And if you’re shopping on a tight budget, check out the best headphones for under $50.

Once you find the right pair of headphones, make sure to take good care of them. To start, explore more of our audio coverage: 5 Easy Tips to Extend the Life of Your Headphones and 8 Ways You’re Using Your Headphones Wrong.


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