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2024's Ultimate Guide to the Best ANC In-Ear Headphones

Best In Ear Headphones USA 2023
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Are you looking for wireless headphones to listen to your music while cut off from the rest of the world? nextpit has tested and compared the best Sony, Bose, Apple, and Jabra headphones featuring active noise cancelling (ANC). Find out which pair of true wireless earphones is right for you in this comparison.

The best wireless headphones with active noise canceling in 2024

Buying advice: What are the criteria for true wireless earphones with ANC?

The format of wireless earphones

Intra, semi-intra, open fit and open ear?

  • Intra: The earphones have a tip, usually made of silicone, which fits into your ear canal and seals it (e.g. Sony WF-1000XM5, Sennheiser Momentum TW 4).
  • Semi in: Same principle as above, but the earmold penetrates less deeply into your ear canal (example: Apple AirPods Pro 2, Nothing Ear)
  • Open fit: No penetration into the ear canal. The earphones rest in the concha of the ear, obstructing the entrance to the ear canal (example: Apple Airpods 3).
  • Open ear: Extreme opposite of in-ear format. Headphones

The audio quality of wireless headphones

Hi-Res certified?

There are file formats with varying degrees of resolution. Hi-Res formats (FLAC, ALAC) have better resolution, and therefore better quality, than non-Hi-Res formats (mp3, AAC). 3 elements to consider.

  Bit depth Sample rate Max bitrate
mp3 16-bit 44.1 kHz 320 kbps
CD quality 16-bit 44.1 kHz 1411 kbps
Hi-Res 24-bit 48 / 96 / 192 kHz 9216 kbps

Hi-Res refers to anything with higher values than "CD quality". The higher these values, the less compressed the sound and the better its resolution or quality. But the heavier the file, too. So you need a good codec to avoid loss of detail when broadcasting via Bluetooth.

The Bluetooth codec

Bluetooth sound broadcasting is by nature "lossy". The signal is compressed, resulting in a loss of detail and therefore quality. The better the codec, the less compression. The ideal is to have a "lossless" codec that generates very little loss. But there is always some loss.

  Bit depth Sampling rate Max. bit rate Lossy/lossless?
SBC 16-bit 44.1 kHz 345 kbps lossy
AAC 16-bit 44.1 kHz 256 kbps lossy
aptX 24-bit 48 kHz 384 kbps lossy
aptX HD 24-bit 48 kHz 576 kbps lossy
aptX Adaptive 24-bit 96 kHz 420 kbps lossy
aptX lossless 16-bit 44.1 kHz 1200 kbps lossless (CD quality), lossy (Hi-Res)
LDAC 24-bit 96 kHz 990 kbps lossless (CD quality), lossy (Hi-Res)
LHDC 24-bit 96 kHz 900 kbps lossless (CD quality), lossy (Hi-Res)

Frequency response

The range of frequencies that headphones are able to reproduce. 20 to 20,000 Hz on average, which corresponds to what the human ear can perceive. The wider the frequency response, the more leeway you have to correct the sound via the equalizer and perceive some of the more subtle sounds in your tracks.

The sound signature of wireless headphones

A song can be broken down into three main types of frequency: bass, midrange and treble. Depending on which of these frequencies is emphasized by the headphones, a curve will emerge. This curve corresponds to the sound signature of true wireless headphones.

Ideally, you should have headphones with the most neutral signature (flat curve), as this will reproduce the most faithful sound. But you can't totally "erase" a character trait with an equalizer. The essence of the musical message lies in the midrange (instruments, vocals).

Active Noise Reduction (ANC) on wireless headphones

Headphones pick up ambient noise via microphones and transmit it to the ears by inverting it (known as phase inversion). The ANC compensates for the noise, and you no longer hear it.

The more microphones the headphones have, the more effective ANC is likely to be. Manually adjustable noise reduction is also preferable to purely automatic ANC.

There's also a transparency mode. This amplifies ambient noise to keep you aware of your surroundings. The important thing here is the naturalness of the amplified noises. Often, there's a hissing effect and distortion that can be unpleasant.

Wireless headphone features

This list is totally arbitrary and subjective:

  • Bluetooth multipoint: the ability to pair your earphones with at least two devices at the same time
  • Wear detection: the headphones detect when you put them on and take them off your head, so they can pause the music or go to sleep automatically, thus conserving battery life.
  • IP rating: it's best to choose water- and dust-resistant headphones with at least an IP54 rating
  • Equalizer: a five-band equalizer is a far too rare ideal. Yet it allows you to personalize your audio experience
  • Microphone quality: you're likely to use your headphones to make calls. And the mic quality of the vast majority of earphones is very poor.

The best wireless headphones with noise reduction

The best wireless earphones with ANC: Jabra Elite 10

The Jabra Elite 10 is one of my favorites this year.
The Jabra Elite 10 are my favorite headphones of the year. / © nextpit

Jabra Elite 10 full review by nextpit

The Jabra Elite 10 are definitely my favorite headphones of the year. Jabra has finally closed the only loophole that prevented it from holding its own against the big boys like Sony and Bose. The progress made in active noise reduction is undeniable, and there's nothing to separate Jabra from its high-end rivals. What's more, these headphones offer a sleek design, excellent audio quality, and decent battery life.

The Scandinavian design, with its minimalist feel and sober colors, still works as well as ever. The Jabra Elite 10 are among the most comfortable earphones I've ever tested. They offer a very good fit in the ear and are among the lightest in this selection.

Functionality-wise, they've got it all, with multipoint, port detection, and mono use. Audio quality is also top-notch. However, the headphones omit the HD audio codecs and limit themselves to SBC/AAC.

Battery life is also quite decent, in the upper mid-range of the market.

Jabra Elite 10


  • Sleek design and elegant colors
  • Very comfortable to wear and discreet
  • Huge progress on active noise cancellation
  • Very decent battery life
  • IP57 certified
  • Wireless charging


  • No HD codec
  • Default audio signature is too high-pitched
  • Jabra Sound+ application is not very comprehensive
Jabra Elite 10
Go to review
Jabra Elite 10

The alternative to the best wireless headphones: Sony WF-1000XM5

You won't go wrong with the Sony WF-1000XM5.
The Sony WF-1000XM5 are an excellent high-end alternative to ANC wireless headphones. / © nextpit

Sony WF-1000XM5 full review by nextpit

The Sony WF-1000XM5 are Sony's latest wireless earphones with active noise reduction. With a minimalist, compact design, they offer a good fit and comfortable wear.

New drivers and processors ensure balanced audio quality, with generous bass and excellent spatialization. The HD LDAC codec is, of course, still on board. Active noise reduction is also highly effective, thanks to three microphones in each earpiece.

Autonomy is also a strong point, with 8 hours of listening with ANC and up to 36 hours with the charging box. With all these features, the Sony WF-1000XM5 are an excellent option for those looking for high-end wireless earphones with ANC.

Sony WF-1000XM5


  • Beautiful design, compact and comfortable
  • Excellent audio quality
  • Hi-Res certified, LDAC codec supported
  • Extremely comprehensive application
  • Solid battery life


  • Active Noise Cancellation is not as good as Bose's or Apple's
  • Bass lacks impact by default
Sony WF-1000XM5
Go to review
Sony WF-1000XM5

Wireless headphones with the best audio quality: Sennheiser Momentum TW 4

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 earbuds
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 are the champions of audio quality. / © nextpit

The complete Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 test by nextpit

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 are top-of-the-range wireless headphones worthy of their rank, with their remarkable sound quality. This is made possible by support for HD codecs such as aptX lossless. They also offer good battery life of over seven hours, and are compatible with Bluetooth LE Audio.

With the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4, you'll enjoy a neutral sound signature that reinforces the excellent sound quality. Just bear in mind that aptX lossless is not yet widely supported by smartphones, and that active noise reduction is not at the level of Bose, Apple or Sony.

The headphones also stand out for their imposing design and comprehensive companion app with five-band equalizer and customizable touch controls.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4


  • Excellent audio quality
  • Bluetooth HD codecs (aptX HD/adaptive/lossless)
  • Auracast and LE Audio ready
  • Excellent battery life and fast recharging
  • IP54 certified


  • Noise reduction of any kind
  • aptX lossless not yet widespread enough to be relevant
  • Form factor can be uncomfortable
  • High price
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4
Go to review
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4

The best wireless earphones with ANC for Apple: AirPods Pro 2

You will find touch-sensitive and capacitive surfaces on the AirPods Pro 2.
The stems of the AirPods Pro 2 have touch-sensitive and capacitive surfaces for ANC and volume controls. / © nextpit

Apple AirPods Pro 2 full review by nextpit

The AirPods Pro 2 are the best Apple earphones for listening to music on your iPhone via Apple Music with your Apple account. In short, if you're carefree about Apple's ecosystem, this test won't change a thing for you. Buy the AirPods Pro 2, it's the simplest and most logical solution.

Noise reduction is simply excellent. It's at least as good as that of the Sony WF-1000XM4, if not better. Apple has really pulled off a tour de force, although ANC is unfortunately not adjustable.

And that's the real flaw in the AirPods Pro 2. Everything is on autopilot, and you can barely customize anything. Audio quality is very good, but also very basic, with the simple AAC codec. Lossless audio is not supported, which makes no sense to me.

Spatial audio, on the other hand, is a real success. When you have an iPhone, the user experience is very "seemless". Pairing is automatic, equalization is automatic, active noise reduction is automatic. Everything is done for you. It's easy. It's plug-and-play.

Apple AirPods Pro 2


  • Ergonomic and comfortable design
  • Excellent active noise reduction (ANC)
  • Faithful audio signature
  • Good battery life
  • Very nice spatial audio
  • IPX4-rated wearable sensor
  • Wireless charging supported


  • Lossless audio is not supported
  • No HD codec, only AAC
  • Customization is too limited
  • Almost unusable on Android
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Go to review
Apple AirPods Pro 2

Wireless headphones with the best ANC: Bose QC Ultra Earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds
The design of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds may be massive, but it's also beautiful. / © nextpit

The complete Bose QC Ultra Earbuds test by nextpit

The Bose QC Ultra Earbuds have the makings of a test winner, which in principle is to be expected at a suggested retail price of 349.95. But Bose has made a few mistakes by not supporting multipoint and not offering a wireless charging box.

Leaving aside this faux pas, you get some very good in-ear headphones that do exceptionally well, especially when it comes to active noise reduction, and leave the competition, from Jabra to Sony to Apple, behind. The Bose QC Ultra Earbuds are IPX4 certified and boast an excellent finish, but are also rather massive and bulky.

Another plus point is that the earbuds support Qualcomm's aptX adaptive audio codec. Apart from that, there aren't many technical improvements over the Bose QC Earbuds II. In his review, my colleague Antoine also praises the 360° immersive sound, which is particularly convincing in stationary use.

With ANC, the batteries last up to six hours, and thanks to the charging box, you can still fully recharge the earbuds three more times. If you want to use the best pair of headphones when it comes to ANC, you can't go past the Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones. Generally speaking, we think the price is too high, even though you can get them for around 295 euros.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds


  • Excellent active noise cancellation
  • Interesting 360° immersive sound
  • Solid battery life and fast charging speed
  • Adaptive aptX codec
  • IPX4
  • Useful application


  • Large design
  • Overpriced
  • No multi-touch capability
  • No wireless charging support
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds
Go to review
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds

The best wireless headphones with ANC for sports: Jabra Elite 8 Active

Jabra Elite 8 Active
The form factor of the Jabra Elite 8 Active, inspired by a guitar mediator, is very discreet and compact. / © nextpit

nextpit's test of the Jabra Elite 8 Active

The Jabra Elite 8 Active are the best wireless headphones for sports. The headphones are IP68-certified, which means you can use them without worry even when you're sweating profusely. They can withstand all weather conditions, and you can even submerge them to a depth of 1m50.

But even apart from sports use, the Jabra Elite 8 Active are excellent wireless headphones. Audio quality is top-notch. Their battery life of over seven hours with ANC activated is among the most solid on the market. The physical controls are intuitive. What's more, their compact, discreet design ensures an excellent fit in the ear, even without silicone fins, and they remain very comfortable during long sessions.

The only drawback is that their noise reduction isn't as good as that of the best models on the market. However, headphones from Apple, Bose or Sony, which offer better noise reduction, are also much more expensive than the Jabra Elite 8 Active.

The Jabra Elite 8 Active supports SBC and AAC codecs, Dolby Atmos for 360° audio, as well as multipoint. The battery lasts eight hours with ANC and 14 hours without ANC. The IP54-certified recharging box allows you to listen for up to 56 hours in total.

Jabra Elite 8 Active


  • Rugged, waterproof IP68-certified design
  • Multipoint port detection
  • Solid battery life
  • Intuitive physical controls
  • Comprehensive Jabra Sound+ application
  • Excellent value for money


  • Not the best active noise reduction on the market
  • No HD codec
Jabra Elite 8 Active
Go to review
Jabra Elite 8 Active

The best wireless earphones with ANC for under $150: Nothing Ear

You get a more balanced audio signature thanks to Nothing's work behind the scenes.
Nothing has reworked its audio signature, making it more balanced. / © nextpit

Nothing Ear full review by nextpit

The Nothing Ear replaces the very good Nothing Ear (2). I know, it's an odd nomenclature. But the Nothing Ear are clearly the best value for money in this selection.

They are Hi-Res certified and support LDAC and LHDC 5.0 codecs, so you can listen to HD music in the best possible conditions. In terms of audio quality, Nothing has significantly upgraded its audio signature. The rendering is much more balanced and the overall quality is much better.

Active noise reduction is also very good. Still a notch below Apple, Sony, and Bose. But for the price, it's ultra-correct. The 5.2-hour battery life is sufficient, without breaking the bank, and there's fast recharging.

Finally, I still like the transparent design. The earphones are compact, light, and comfortable. They are IP54-rated, so can be used for sports. The casing is also water-resistant and IP55-certified. Finally, the Nothing X application is perhaps the best on the market, and its advanced equalizer gives you unprecedented, extremely advanced control over your sound.

Nothing Ear


  • Hi-Res certified
  • LDAC and LHDC 5.0 codecs supported
  • Far more balanced audio signature
  • Good Active Noise Cancellation
  • Solid battery life


  • Design is identical to its predecessor
  • Not the best passive noise insulation
Nothing Ear
Go to review
Nothing Ear

The best true wireless earphones with ANC for under $100: Nothing Ear (a)

The Ear (a)'s charging case is not that easy to open and is quite unlike what you're used to.
The Ear (a) recharging case is unconventional and therefore a little less practical. / © nextpit

Nothing Ear (a) full review by nextpit

The Nothing Ear (a) is the successor to the Nothing Ear (1) launched two years ago. For less than 99 euros, they too are Hi-Res certified and support the LDAC codec, but not LHDC.

There's also effective active noise reduction and virtually all the features of the more expensive Nothing Ear. Specifically, you lose the advanced equalizer and fast charging.

As for the design, it's rather unique and gives the impression that the earphones have been vacuum-packed. Like an old-fashioned toy box. The bright yellow color is particularly successful, although it remains a limited edition (for now).

Nothing Ear (a)


  • High quality sound thanks to LDAC and Hi-Res certification
  • Powerful, adaptive ANC
  • Dual pairing and low-latency mode
  • Quick charging and wireless charging


  • Charging case is a little fiddly
  • Average battery life
  • Tend to be bass-heavy
  • Yellow color variant is limited for now
Nothing Ear (a)
Go to review
Nothing Ear (a)

What do you think of this selection of the best true wireless headphones with active noise reduction? Is ANC an important purchasing criterion for you, as it is for me? Which brand or model do you think deserves a place in this selection? Do you think we should be testing and comparing even more expensive models, at over 300 euros?

To find out more, take a look at our selection of the best wireless headphones to choose in 2024. And check out our complete guide to audio codecs.

This article was updated on May 2024 with new suggestions under $150.

  Editor's choice Alternative choice Apple choice ANC champion Best option for sports Best choice under $150 Best choice under $120
Image Jabra Elite 10 Product Image Sony WF-1000XM5 Product Image Apple AirPods Pro 2 Product Image Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Product Image Jabra Elite 8 Active Product Image Nothing ear (2) Product Image Jabra Elite 4 Product Image
Price (MSRP)
  • $249.99
  • $299
  • $249
  • $299
  • $199
  • $149
  • $119.99
nextpit receives a commission for purchases made via the marked links. This has no influence on the editorial content and there are no costs for you. You can find out more about how we make money on our transparency page.
Go to comment (8)
Antoine Engels

Antoine Engels
Senior Editor

Black belt in specs sheet analysis. OnePlus fanboy in (slow) remission. Average estimated reading time of my articles: 48 minutes. Tech deals fact-checker in my spare time. Hates talking about himself in the 3rd person. Dreams he was a gaming journalist in another life. Doesn't get the concept of irony. Head of editorial for NextPit France.

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  • 5
    waqas Apr 13, 2021 Link to comment

    Sony airpods are better then apple i have used both !!!

    • 5
      waqas Apr 13, 2021 Link to comment

      Thanks for the info will buy Sony Airpods !

  • 7
    RowanRosh Jan 8, 2021 Link to comment

    Superb, will try this..!!

  • 3
    AlexanderOgden Aug 15, 2020 Link to comment

    Wow, great!

  • 4
    cheelen Feb 23, 2020 Link to comment

    Apple AirPods are the way to expensive but look dope.


  • 1
    Bill Lee Feb 5, 2020 Link to comment

    How is the ANC of the Libratone Track Air+?

    I have both the Sony WH-1000XM3s and the Sony WF-1000XM3s. The ANC on the WFs is not as good, but is adequate for my use. The bigger difference in sound quality, I'm sure, is due to the drivers, but suspect a good amount is the use of AAC. That codec is really not optimal from an Android phone and the LPAC codec in the WH is measurably better. I've had good results from other headphones I use that have the APX HD codec so I'm wondering if I wouldn't be happier with the Libratone Track Air+....

    • David McCourt 16
      David McCourt Feb 7, 2020 Link to comment

      It's good, but don't expect anything on the level of the Sony WH-100XM3. The ANC microphones in the Track Air+ can also be used to bypass passive noise reduction, though, and can fade your music in and out as they do so - pretty cool.


      • 5
        waqas Apr 13, 2021 Link to comment

        Thanks for the info!!

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