We all love to listen to our favorite jams. It’s tempting to zone out from the world of stress and obligations and dive deep into that blissful state of just not caring for a few minutes.
However, the past year has made it even more difficult to tune out all the chatter. When everyone’s cooped up in their houses with the whole family for days on end, things tend to get loud.
Enter noise-canceling wireless earbuds. These tiny little blobs of electronic magic let you run around the house with no cables to get caught on things and tangled up, all while blocking any irritating background noise.
I for one like to listen to podcasts, lectures, and just good old informative YouTube videos as I run around finishing up my chores.
Needless to say, these babies really come in handy. And when you have your significant other chatting on the phone and the kids screaming, that noise-canceling feature is a godsend.
Best Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds 2021
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So, let’s look at what the wireless earbuds’ market has to offer for 2021. We’ll cover the five top picks, say a few words about each one, and give you a quick rundown of their pros and cons.
Libratone Track Air+: Check Price On Amazon
The cute little birdie on the logo, the slightly futuristic rounded-edge triangular design, and the silver tone make these earbuds elegant and just gorgeous. If you ask me, they’re hands down the best-looking of the bunch.
I could easily see them fitting equally well with a business suit, a flowy dress, or whatever the Gen Z kids are wearing these days.
Now that I’m done gushing over how slick they look, let’s go over some specs. The pads use a Qi wireless charging pad to give them a boost that lasts for around six hours, which is great for walks, workouts, even long bike rides. It’s enough to get me through the average workday, as well.
With Bluetooth 5.0 capability and a decent 30dB of noise reduction, you’ll have no trouble listening to your favourite tunes outdoors.
It won’t do much in very loud traffic and similar environments, though. They are also waterproof enough for you not to worry about sweating on them, splashing them with water, or having a few drops of rain hit them.
A feature I find really useful is the easy switch between full noise reduction and ambient mode. It lets me tune into my environment when I’m crossing a street or when my wife wants to tell me something.
The noise-canceling also adds lots of white noise when on the highest setting, which can mess up the sound.
You can also program what happens when you double or triple-tap the earbuds, which is a great way to change a song or go into ambient mode without messing around with your phone.
It’s a slick little package overall, with a few useful features I found myself using all the time.
- Beautiful and slick design
- Decent battery life
- Useful tap features
- People report quality control issues on some units
- I think the noise-canceling is not that great
Jabra Elite 65e: Check Price On Amazon
A more streamlined and utilitarian design than the previous entry, the Jabra Elite earbuds are marketed more towards the sporty and athletic crowd. Being a somewhat active person who trains a couple of times a week, I always appreciate the more robust gadgets.
These buds come with what I affectionately call a “horse collar”, which really helps them stay firmly in place as you move around. I only run for up to a mile at a time, but these will stay nice and tight the whole time.
The 8-hour runtime is also more than enough to carry you through a busy day, or a slow and dull one – I don’t judge.
These buds also allow you to take calls, which is useful for all of us with bored family members who require daily updates on our lives.
The star of the show is the three-microphone system that keeps your voice crystal clear while drowning out the background noise.
I’ve seldom been able to talk to my wife when I’m outside walking the dog, as all she usually hears is cars rumbling and kids screaming. That usually means I have to go back out for some groceries I forgot to get.
Well, with Jabra Elite, I only have to make a single trip, and my wife doesn’t have to worry about going deaf from all the street noises.
Now, these are marketed as water and dust proof, but I’ve dropped mine in the dirt a couple of times and they are a pain to clean, but they did hold up. The issue is water resistance. I had no major issues on my short runs, but a lot of people report that the sweat gets into the unit with prolonged exposure.
- Compact and fits well
- Crisp sound on calls
- The water resistance is questionable
- I had some issues connecting to Alexa
Bose Quietcontrol 30 Wireless: Check Price On Amazon
I’ve had some good experience with Bose products in the past, so I might be slightly biased, but they are a reputable brand. The Quietcontrol 30 has a sportier look, just like the Jabra Elite, but I think the collar is much more unobtrusive on the Jabra. I often found it getting in the way when moving around.
Although they fit very well, I couldn’t really use them during workouts – the collar would dig into my neck when doing shoulder exercises, and I couldn’t put a barbell on my back for fear of crushing it.
The 10-hour battery life was more than enough for my needs and coupled with the comfortable fit, I could go the full day with them on if I ever needed to. The little control pad is streamlined and the buttons are easy to push.
However, you can’t quickly adjust the volume or switch to a call if you’re on the move. You’ll need to fumble around a bit to grab the little pad just right and find the right button.
If you were only planning to use them for fun and relaxation, though, you won’t have an issue with comfort. The noise-cancelling is excellent. You can listen to soft meditation music while your upstairs neighbours slam furniture into the walls and stomp around, no problem.
However, the microphones are these earbuds’ weak point. There’s just too much background noise. And yeah, for the detail-oriented among you, it’s when I was testing the Bose earbuds that I had to make those extra trips to the store.
The app that comes with these earbuds is lackluster, leaving you with very few options to fiddle around with.
- Extremely comfortable fit
- Excellent noise-canceling
- Solid battery life
- The mic picked up all the noise
- The app was very basic
- I found that the collar gets in the way
Sony WF-SP800N: Check Price On Amazon
Best Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds 2021
Sony is another company with tons of great products under its belt, and right off the bat, these earbuds look promising. The 9 hours of active run time you get is enough juice for a couple of days worth of workouts.
Now, Sony doesn’t make the same mistake that Libratone does of putting the word “waterproof” on the packaging. These earbuds are “splash proof”, which means that they can handle some sweat and water, but you can’t submerge them in a glass. In my experience, they’re also shower-proof.
I particularly like the extra bass that you get, which means that you can listen to some heavy rap beats without the music feeling flat. They fit isn’t as snug and comfortable as I’d like it to be at this price point, though.
They would often move around a bit, but my ears didn’t hurt after a run, so that’s a plus. The star of the show is the touch sensor that makes changing songs, adjusting volumes, and switching to calls a breeze.
The buttons can be a bit too sensitive to the touch, and you might pause or switch to ambient mode inadvertently, so watch out for that.
The biggest issue I’ve had with these is that they are marketed as the ultimate sport earbuds, but are just too chunky for certain sports. Here’s an example.
In one of their marketing photos, a girl has them on while hitting the heavy bag. Now, the issue I had with this is that she is using MMA gloves and leaving her chin wide open when she strikes.
If you hold your guard properly and use boxing gloves, more often than not, you’ll knock the earbud right out of your ear.
I’ve even done it when using my shoulder and biceps to wipe off some sweat during a workout.
- Good water resistance
- Lots of fat bass
- Clear sound on calls
- I found them a bit too cumbersome
- The buttons can be a tad too sensitive
- It’s easy to knock them out of your ear during certain workouts
Plantronics BackBeat GO 410: Check Price On Amazon
The BackBeat is definitely the slimmest and lightest of all the entries on this list, so you can wear them all day long without noticing.
They’re also one of the cheapest options, so I was a bit worried initially. In my experience, lighter and cheaper usually means easier to break.
That being said, I haven’t been able to kill these little guys after a month of dropping, throwing, yanking, and general neglect. I don’t know about other people, but in my mind, the build quality is solid enough for workouts and outdoor activities.
They offer 8 hours of continuous work, so the batter is as good as in most similar models, and enough even for long hikes.
The sound canceling ability I found to be OK, but not great.
These earbuds can drown out background conversations just enough so that I can focus on work, but not my power-tool-wielding neighbors. High pitched giggles and noises also come through.
As for the bad parts, well, there are a few.
First of all, the in-flight cable that’s mentioned as one of the top 5 features didn’t work all that well. The problem is that if you plug in the cable you can’t use the noise-canceling feature, which kind of defeats the purpose.
I also found the sound quality to be lacking. Sure, when it’s turned down a bit, the mids are passable, the bass is decent, and there’s no high-pitched ring like in very cheap models. However, as soon as I turned it up, the high-frequency sounds became unbearably screechy for me.
I’ve heard people complain about the very basic collar being clunky, but I had a lot fewer problems with it than with the Bose earbuds. It can tug on the buds now and then or move around a bit, but at least it doesn’t feel like it’s choking me or digging into my neck.
- Light and compact
- Decent battery life
- On higher volume, the higher notes felt screechy to me
- You can’t use noise-canceling with cable
- Only drowned out conversations, not high-pitched sounds
Conclusion: Best Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds
Whether you’re a somewhat sporty type, like myself, a quiet business type, or a parent looking for a break from all the screaming – you’ll find something for you on this list.
However, while I enjoyed testing several of these models, there is one clear winner in my mind.
I realize that some of my preferences are highly subjective, but I have to give my vote to the Sony WF-SP800N earbuds.
For all my issues with their chunky size and having difficulty getting them to fit initially, they offered the best sound. The great bass, solid water resistance, even in the shower, and clear sound during calls really sealed the deal for me.