best noise cancelling headphones under 100 header

As is implied by their name, noise cancelling headphones are listening devices which improve the quality of audio playback by reducing and removing noise before it reaches your ears.

Anyone who has ever tried to listen to music through earbuds on a flight will already understand the importance of noise cancelling headphones. True to their name, noise cancelling headphones prevent unwanted sounds and frequencies from muddying up your listening experience, whether it be the intrusive noise of a jet engine or loud passengers conversing on the train ride home from work.

Headphones with noise cancelling properties are designed to improve the listening experience by removing or blocking outside sounds, and are used both by music enthusiasts and audio professionals alike.

Your listening environment will determine whether or not noise cancelling headphones are right for you. The jogger who runs along a quiet country road may have little to no need to spring for this feature, but a businessperson who flies frequently will likely not want to travel without a decent pair.

Luckily, there are tons of great noise cancelling headphones on the market, many of which can be found without spending a fortune. For your convenience, we’ve compiled the top 10 best noise cancelling headphones under 100 dollars to help you settle on the perfect pair.

Headphones vs. Noise Reduction Headphones

The difference between regular headphones and noise reduction headphones is pretty self explanatory; noise reduction headphones isolate unwanted frequencies and prevent them from being heard, while regular headphones do not have this feature.

Regular headphones are often quite ineffective in environments with lots of outside noise, which can have the negative effect of causing you to listen to your music louder and possibly damage your hearing, or just plain ruining your listening experience altogether.

There are two primary types of noise cancelling headphones, active and passive. In the next section we’ll break down the difference between the two and explain the reasons for using one over the other.

Active Noise Cancellation

Active headphones use a process called phase cancellation in order to reduce and remove noise while you’re listening. Active headphones utilize internal microphones to listen to the sounds around you while your headphones are in use; they then use an audio processor to invert the frequencies heard through the microphone.

When added to the original signal captured by your active headphones, the inverted frequencies actually remove outside noises by cancelling them out through a process called destructive interference.

Passive Noise Cancellation

Passive noise cancellation uses a different method to quiet the noise outside of your headphones. Rather than use phase cancellation to remove certain frequencies, passive headphones utilize noise reducing materials in their construction to block out any unwanted sound from entering your ears.

By simply cutting off outside noise, passive headphones achieve the same effect as their active counterparts by only allowing the signal from your music player to make it to your ears.

Choosing Between Active and Passive Noise Cancellation

When choosing between active and passive headphones, you will need to take a few things into consideration, such as price range and your listening environment. For instance, passive headphones would be a better fit for an audio engineer, because they are designed to playback the original signal while isolating and removing noise.

Active headphones are generally marketed to casual listeners, and use Digital Signal Processing not only for the purpose of noise cancellation, but to make the sound quality more appealing by introducing EQing and compression.

These features tend to make playback more desirable by boosting the bass and treble frequencies, but at the cost of altering the original sound. Because of this, Active headphones would be less ideal for an audio professional because the process of phase cancellation introduces destructive interference that may alter the way the music sounds.

You can often easily determine if a pair of headphones are active or passive by whether or not batteries are needed. Because active headphones use microphones and digital signal processing, they must be powered, while passive headphones simply use soundproofing material. It’s important to note that once a set of active headphones run out of battery power, they will no longer be cancelling noise.

Top 6 Noise Cancelling Headphone Features

If you are looking to purchase a pair of noise cancelling headphones, there are several features that you will want to take into consideration before you make the final choice. Here are 6 features that should not be overlooked.

Sound Quality

Sound quality will always be the most important feature to look for when shopping for a playback device, and the same holds true for noise cancelling headphones. Keep in mind that sound quality will vary from product to product, and price will generally correlate with sound quality.

Another thing to keep in mind is that active noise cancellation will have an effect on sound quality. Because the tones that we usually want removed with noise cancellation tend to fall in the mid range of the frequency spectrum, in some environments this may cause the noise cancellation to degrade audio quality in the mid range. This will most likely not be a big issue, but it’s something to keep in mind when deciding on active or passive noise cancellation.

Battery Life

If you wind up going with a set of active headphones, you will need to take the battery into consideration. Because active headphones require a power source to cancel noise, you will need to take into account the type of batteries used, how long they will last, and whether or not they are rechargeable.

If you’re going to be using your headphones on the go, you will want to make sure they can hold a charge long enough to get you from point A to B. Likewise, you will want to consider whether or not the battery is rechargeable or if you will have to regularly purchase and replace the batteries. For passive headphones, batteries will not be required.

Bluetooth Capability

Another handy feature of modern headphones is Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth can be a very convenient way of listening to music as you can listen to music from your smartphone and eliminate the need for an additional mp3 player as well as headphone wires. Many Bluetooth enabled headphones can also be used to make phone calls with, which can be really convenient, especially if you are listening to music on your phone already.

While Bluetooth is a common feature that can be found on most headphones, keep in mind that some models will still be wired.

Microphone

While active headphones use microphones to listen to their environment and reduce noise with phase cancellation, many headphones include voice microphones as well that can be used to make calls. This is especially handy if you’re listening with a Bluetooth device such as your smartphone, meaning you can take calls without having to deal with the hassling of turning your music off and getting the headphones off.

This won’t be available on all models, though, so you’ll want to pay attention if it’s a feature that is important to you.

Price

Even though all the items on this guide can be found for under $100, there is still plenty of price range among the various products on the market. A number of products can be found for as little as around $30, while others will clock in right around $100, with the number of features varying greatly. You’ll want to consider which features are most important to you and settle on the ideal price range from there.

Portability

Portability will be an important consideration for people who intend to use their noise cancelling headphones primarily for traveling. Depending on how you’ll be using your headphones, you’ll want to decide if you prefer large earcups or compact earbuds. Earbuds are much more portable, but generally don’t have the same sound quality that louder headphones can afford.

Most earbuds use passive noise cancellation, which may also be less effective simply because there is less material covering your ear than with full sized earcups.

Our Top 10 Noise Cancelling Headphones Review

Based on our research we have compiled a list of the top noise cancelling headphone reviews based on customer feedback, over all features and performance.

Model

# Customer Reviews

Rating

Price

Cowin E-7

1,519

TREBLAB XR500

2,608

SENSO Bluetooth Headphones

10,989

BÖHM Bluetooth Wireless

3,569

233621 H501 Active Noise Cancelling

438

Bluephonic Wireless Sport

1,829

CB3 HUSH Wireless

165

Mpow Jaws V4.1 Bluetooth

4,453

Solitude XCS2 Headphones

106

Mpow Over Ear Bluetooth Headphones

556


Cowin E-7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

The Cowin E-7 Active Noise Cancelling headphones are a great wireless option, featuring easy to set up Bluetooth connectivity and advanced noise reduction.

The earcups are large and soft, with each capable of swiveling 90 degrees to maximize comfortability when you’re wearing the headphones.

The battery will keep running for thirty hours in Bluetooth mode, giving you plenty of use on each charge.

Out of the box, the E-7 comes with a micro USB charging cable and audio cable, while the box itself can be kept and used to store the headphones when traveling.

What We Liked:

  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Battery life
  • Comfortable to wear

Things to Consider:

  • ANC can reduce audio quality
  • Higher end of the price spectrum
  • Construction materials area a little wanting

TREBLAB XR500 Bluetooth Headphones

The XR500 headphones from Treblab are a great example of passive noise cancellation for under $100.

These headphones have a sporty earbud design perfect hitting the gym or going for a run, while still offering Bluetooth capabilities to keep them wireless.

The XR500’s include expandable foam tips that offer advanced noise reduction, while the earbuds are connected with a small cable so you won’t have to worry about them becoming separated.

Although these are passive headphones, the Bluetooth connectivity runs on a rechargeable battery which holds a nine hour charge.

What We Liked:

  • Very portable
  • Wireless
  • Good noise reduction

Things to Consider:

  • Shorter battery life than some of the other models in the review
  • Passive not active noise reduction
  • Ear buds don’t provide much noise insulation

SENSO Bluetooth Headphones

SENSO’s Bluetooth headphones are another great example of passive earbuds.

These headphones fit snugly with an outer ring that hooks over the top of your ear, while noise suppression technology provides you with a solid listening experience.

A carrying case and a variety of ear tips are included to get the right fit, while a small cable tethers the two earbuds so they won’t be separated.

While SENSO’s Bluetooth headphones don’t have the longest battery life, they will keep the tunes going for up to eight hours on a charge.

What We Liked:

  • Earbud design
  • Good sound quality
  • Carrying case and extra tips included

Things to Consider:

  • Shorter battery life than some of the other models in the review
  • Earbuds do not provide much noise isolation
  • Sound quality leaves a little to be desired

BÖHM Bluetooth Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

BÖHM’s wireless noise cancelling headphones are another great product that can be found for under $100.

These headphones feature a sleek over the ear design with transport controls on the ear cup and use Bluetooth to keep you wire free.

This product uses active noise cancellation, with a USB rechargeable battery that will run for eighteen hours on a charge.

BÖHM has included Bluetooth 4.0 to improve connectivity with your smartphone, while a thirty three foot range means you can walk a ways from your Bluetooth device without losing sound.

What We Liked:

  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Long battery life
  • Active noise cancellation

Things to Consider:

  • Not the most durable
  • Active noise cancellation can compromise audio quality
  • Sound quality leaves a little to be desired

233621 H501 Active Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones

233621 has designed a top notch set of headphones with the H501.

To get the perfect fit, these headphones feature an adjustable headband and comfortable rotating earcups, while a standard headphone jack will allow you to connect to a variety of music playing devices.

Perhaps the best feature of 233621’s H501 headphones is the luxurious battery life, which will keep pumping the tunes out for fifty hours on a single charge.

These headphones use active noise cancelling in addition to passive insulation, offering one of the best of the both worlds.

What We Liked:

  • 50 hour battery life
  • Active and passive noise cancellation
  • Earcup design

Things to Consider:

  • No Bluetooth support
  • Remote only works with Apple iOS
  • Earcups may be a little bit smaller than other products in the review

Bluephonic Wireless Sport Bluetooth Headphones

Bluephonic’s wireless headphones are another example of noise cancelling earbuds, featuring passive noise cancellation and Bluetooth connectivity.

These headphones have been designed with active people in mind and include a sweat proof protection for when you’re working out.

The battery life with these headphones tops out around eight hours, which is less than other headphones but still plenty to get the job done.

Between the low price and the enviable audio quality, Bluephonic has packed plenty of value into this product.

What We Liked:

  • Good audio quality
  • Sweat proof
  • Great for active people

Things to Consider:

  • Short battery life
  • Only uses passive noise cancellation
  • Ear buds may be uncomfortable for some people if worn for an extended span of time

CB3 HUSH Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

The CB3 HUSH headphones are another top notch option. These headphones have a very sleek, all matte black design with large over the ear speakers with included transport controls for playback.

The HUSH headphones utilize Bluetooth to keep things wireless, as well as high end active noise cancellation to drown out any unwanted sounds.

Additionally, there is a voice microphone that can be used on phone calls, while the battery will provide about fifteen hours of use.

If you are a frequent traveler and someone who flies in airplanes a lot, you will want to take a look at these headphones.

What We Liked:

  • Sturdy build quality
  • Good audio quality
  • Reliable active noise cancellation

Things to Consider:

  • Voice microphone quality is poor
  • ANC can reduce audio quality
  • At the top end of the price spectrum

Mpow Jaws V4.1 Bluetooth Headphones

The Mpow Jaws V4.1 headphones are one of the more distinctive looking products in the category, coming equipped with a nifty neckband that utilizes magnets to automatically store the earbuds when they are not in use.

The Jaws V4.1 headphones use CVC6.0 noise cancelling technology to actively filter out unwanted sounds, with Bluetooth connectivity included as well.

Remote controls are included on the neckband for switching between music and phone mode, while an included microphone lets you carry out conversations via Bluetooth.

What We Liked:

  • Neckband stores earbuds
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Low price tag

Things to Consider:

  • Not as durable as other products in the review
  • Less battery life than others in the review
  • Placement of remote buttons can be a little frustrating and accidentally pressed

Solitude XCS2 Headphones

Next we have Solitude’s XCS2 headphones which is another great offering for fans of cup styles earphones.

Solitude has included soft padded headband and earcups to increase comfortability while in use, while volume controls are included on the earcup itself.

The big draw from these headphones however is that they use the latest advancement in active noise cancellation technology, featuring a patented dual driver system that will silence unwanted sounds.

To top all that off, Solitude has thrown in a zipped carrying case and three various cables.

What We Liked:

  • Good sound quality
  • Active noise cancelling with dual driver system
  • Comparable to higher priced headphones

Things to Consider:

  • Feel a bit heavy
  • On the higher end of the price spectrum
  • ANC can affect audio quality

Mpow Over Ear Bluetooth Headphones

We’ll finish this guide off with Mpow's Over the ear Bluetooth headphones, another closed-back cup style earphones.

One of the really cool things about these headphones is that you can switch between wired and wireless mode just by using the detachable cable.

You also get a scratch resistant UV finish coupled with soft protein ear cups that are both comfortable and durable.

These headphones are built with sound quality in mind. As a result, it uses passive noise reduction instead of active noise reduction. While it won't reduce the ambient noise completely, there is a savings on battery life.

You get intense Hi-Fi sound quality along with a CSR chip and 40mm drivers as part of one unit.

Additional perks are 13 hour battery life, hands free calling, folding design and portable carrying bag.

What We Liked:

  • Excellent sound quality
  • 13 hour battery life
  • Foldable, portable design

Things to Consider:

  • Colors in red and black only
  • For gamers, the mic might not be suitable
  • Not 100% noise cancelling

Conclusion

If anything, this guide should make it clear that there are plenty of great noise cancelling headphones to be found for under $100, but which one works best for you will ultimately be impacted by your listening environment and how you plan to use them.

Earbuds will be sought after by runners and athletes, but without the added bonus of noise insulation from large earcups may be less appealing to frequent fliers trying to drown out those pesky cabin noises.

Active noise cancellation will please the travelers, but may be less desirable to audiophiles due to the possibility of impaired audio quality.