Comprehensive Comparison of the Best Active Noise Cancellation Headphones of 2023
In this article, we’ll compare the top active noise cancellation (ANC) headphones available in the market. As more and more people look for headphones that offer exceptional sound quality and the ability to block out noise, we have conducted extensive research and testing on the top ANC headphones from reputable brands like Sony, Bose, and Apple. So whether you’re a music lover, a frequent traveler, or simply looking for peace, we’ve got you covered. So join us as we delve into the world of ANC headphones and evaluate the pros and cons of each model.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones: Exceptional Sound Quality and Immersive Features
The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones have features that deliver excellent sound quality in a lightweight and comfortable design. Let’s explore what sets them apart:
Multi-Point Pairing and DSE Extreme Audio Upscaling
– The headphones offer multi-point pairing, allowing seamless switching between two Bluetooth devices like a phone and a laptop.
– The DSE Extreme Audio upscaling feature enhances the sound quality of compressed audio files, making them sound closer to high-resolution audio.
360 Reality Audio and Spatial Sound
– These headphones support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format, enabling spatial audio.
– With the 360 Reality Audio technology, the headphones create a 3D sound stage, immersing you in the middle of the music and adding depth and richness to the audio.
Customizable Bass and Companion App
– The headphones produce bass-heavy audio that can be tuned using the companion app.
– The app also allows you to customize the sound according to your preferences, ensuring an optimal listening experience.
Design and Controls
– The design of the headphones is similar to its predecessor, the WH-1000XM3, with added internal improvements.
– They are made of high-quality plastics with supple leather padding, providing durability and comfort for extended listening sessions.
– Physical control buttons include power and pairing buttons, a button for cycling through noise-canceling modes, and a 3.5mm aux and USB-C port for charging.
– The touch capacitive control panel on the ear cups allows easy control of playback, volume adjustment, and track skipping.
Value for Money
– With a current discounted price of $220, the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones offer great value for the money.
– They provide excellent noise cancellation, surprising sound quality, and a lightweight and comfortable fit.
– Features like multi-point pairing, DSE Extreme Audio upscaling, and support for 360 Reality Audio make them a top choice for music enthusiasts.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones: Sleek Design and Advanced Noise Cancellation
The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are the latest addition to Sony’s renowned noise-canceling headphones. But first, let’s take a closer look at their features and improvements:
Redesigned Sleek and Comfortable Design
– The WH-1000XM5 headphones have a sleeker and curvier look than their predecessors.
– The visible points of articulation have been reduced, and the noise-canceling microphone ports are more discreet.
– The slimmer headband has an additional leather look covering to conceal extension points, enhancing the overall aesthetic.
– Despite the design changes, the headphones remain comfortable for long listening sessions, with ample padding and adjustable ear cups.
Improved Noise Cancellation and Smart Ambient Sound Control
– The WH-1000XM5 headphones continue Sony’s tradition of excellent noise-cancellation performance.
– They feature active noise cancellation that effectively blocks out external noise.
– These headphones can teach your daily routine to adjust the Ambient Sound Control settings based on your location and preferences.
– This means that whether you’re at home, in the office, or out for a walk, the headphones adapt to provide the appropriate level of noise cancellation or allow external audio to keep you safe while remaining aware of your surroundings.
Enhanced User Experience and Battery Life
– The WH-1000XM5 headphones incorporate remote sensors in the ear cups that automatically pause audio playback when you remove the headphones.
– They also have innovative features like automatic power-off when left unused for an extended period, preserving battery life.
– Additionally, these headphones allow you to connect to two devices simultaneously, making it easy to switch between them based on your needs.
– While the WH-1000XM5 headphones offer improved features over their predecessors, they come with a price tag of $400.
– For those seeking more affordable noise-canceling headphones, the WH-1000XM4 headphones still provide excellent value, especially with their current discounted price of $220.
– The WH-1000XM4 headphones deliver exceptional noise cancellation and sound quality in a lightweight and comfortable design.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Exceptional Noise Cancellation and Sleek Design
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 offer excellent noise cancellation and sound quality with a sleek and stylish design. Let’s explore their features:
Stainless Steel Headband and Adjustable Fit
– These headphones feature a stainless steel headband that seamlessly transitions from a flat to a cylindrical shape, providing a comfortable and secure fit.
– The ear cups can be easily adjusted by sliding them up and down the headband, allowing you to customize the fit according to your preferences.
– The soft cushions and lightweight build of the headphones make them perfect for long listening sessions.
Intuitive Touch Controls and Voice Assistants
– The touch controls on the headphones are intuitive, allowing you to adjust volume, pause/play music, and skip tracks by swiping on the ear cups.
– With Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri built-in, you can easily control your music playback and manage commands using your voice.
Superb Noise Cancellation and Audio Quality
– The noise cancellation on the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is superb and comparable to Sony’s equivalents, such as the WH-1000XM4.
– The headphones offer 11 noise cancellation settings, including three presets you can select according to your preference.
– The conversation mode turns off noise cancellation completely, allowing sound to pass through uninterrupted, facilitating natural conversations without removing the headphones.
– The headphones provide a vibrant and lively sound character with a well-balanced soundstage, offering unparalleled detail and clarity.
Battery Life and Pricing
– The battery life of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is around 20 hours, slightly lower than Sony’s WH-1000XM4 headphones, which offer up to 30 hours.
– While the Bose headphones may not have the most extended battery life or be the most affordable option, their premium features and superior noise cancellation make them a worthwhile investment for serious audiophiles.
Apple AirPods Max: Premium Sound Quality with Some Drawbacks
The Apple AirPods Max are known for their exceptional sound quality and advanced ANC performance. However, they come with a high price tag and certain drawbacks. So let’s explore their features:
Outstanding Sound Quality and Advanced Features
– The audio quality offered by the Apple AirPods Max is outstanding, providing a clean and whole ANC experience that surpasses many competitors.
– These headphones come packed with features such as spatial audio, seamless automatic connection, and switching between Apple devices, thanks to the H1 chip with ten audio cores.
– The transparency mode on the AirPods Max offers the best audio experience compared to other devices.
Design Flaws and Weight
– However, the Apple AirPods Max does come with some drawbacks that may be important to consider:
Weight and Comfort
– These headphones are relatively heavy, weighing 385 grams compared to the Sony WH-1000XM4’s 250 grams.
– Wearing them for extended periods can become uncomfortable and strain your neck and head.
Uncomfortable Headband and Lack of Headphones Jack
– Although solid, the AirPods Max’s headband design is uncomfortable for some users.
– Additionally, these headphones are not equipped with a 3.5mm headphone jack, which can be inconvenient if you want to use them with non-Apple devices.
– To connect them to devices with a headphone jack, use a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter.
Strange Case Design and Limited Protection
– The AirPods Max has a unique case with limited protection and functionality.
– The case does not provide sufficient protection against scratches, dents, or falls, which may concern those who want to keep their headphones in pristine condition.
– The Apple AirPods Max has a hefty price tag of $550.
– While they deliver exceptional sound quality and ANC performance, the high price, weight, uncomfortable headband, lack of a headphone jack, and limited case protection may deter some potential buyers.
Conclusion: Choosing the Right ANC Headphones
Personal preferences and budget are crucial when choosing the best ANC headphones. Here’s a summary of the top models:
– Sony WH-1000XM5: Offers the latest features like multi-point Bluetooth pairing and LDAC support. However, they come at a higher price point.
– Sony WH-1000XM4: Provides great value for money with excellent noise cancellation and sound quality, making them a preferred choice for many.
– Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700: Delivers superb noise cancellation and audio quality but falls slightly behind in battery life and price compared to Sony headphones.
– Apple AirPods Max: Offers exceptional sound quality and ANC performance. However, the high price, weight, uncomfortable headband, lack of a headphone jack, and limited case protection may be deterrents.
Ultimately, deciding which ANC headphones to buy depends on individual preferences and priorities. This comprehensive comparison should provide valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each model, helping you make an informed decision.