- Best Noise Canceling Headphones for Flying – Our Top Picks!
- Choosing the Best Noise Canceling Headphones for Flying (Buying Guide)
- How Noise Canceling Headphones Make Flying Better
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Words
For frequent flyers, reducing unwanted noises around you can be the difference between enjoying your flight—and enduring it. The best noise-canceling headphones for flying let your favorite tunes shine through. Choosing the right one makes it easier for you to enjoy your music and make the world around you a bit more peaceful.
I’ve tested and reviewed over 50 headphones with noise-cancellation to highlight the six best you must consider for your next flight. Of course, even if you’re traveling less than usual, you may still put these headphones to good use.
Best Noise Canceling Headphones for Flying – Our Top Picks!
OUR #1 CHOICE
OUR TOP PICK: Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Canceling Headphones
Product Name: Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Canceling Headphones
Product Description: The best noise-canceling headphones for flying are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Canceling Headphones. And for good reasons! The XM4 stays true to Sony's impeccable sense of musicality. But you should be able to notice the vast improvements from the last model. After all, the XM4 sounds more composed and booming! And while the XM4 is as impressive as its predecessors, it packs more features. The most notable ones are multi-connectivity, auto-pause function, and a speak-to-pause capability. You can now listen to your favorite tunes uninterrupted, thanks to these. These headphones use top-notch noise-canceling tech that drowns out most sounds. So, not even the loudest seat neighbors will be able to break your auditory bubble. But best of all, you get to enjoy all these for 30 hours straight, perfect for long-haul flights. Overall, these headphones can make any flight more convenient than the last.
Offer price: $$$
Value for money
The Sony WH-1000XM4 brings everything the XM3 had, plus more valuable features. In short, you get more functions on top of Sony’s signature noise-canceling technology. And this one boasts a considerable hike in audio quality, giving you the most bang for your buck.
No doubt, the sensational Sony XM4 noise-canceling headphones will be tough to beat. But these are pretty expensive. So unless you don’t mind going over budget, choose the XM4.
- Available in three colors
- Comfortable design.
- Superb sound quality.
- Premium noise-canceling technology.
- It is expensive.
- The headphones lack IP and aptX support.
Beats is a brand you can’t miss for quality headphones! And the Beats Studio 3 are noteworthy noise-canceling headphones perfect for flying.
These sleek headphones use active noise cancellation and adaptive technology to block sounds. And while it drowns most ambient noises, it also uses real-time audio calibration. As a result, you get to boost your listening experience every time.
That aside, these headphones are also pretty comfortable and flexible. And thanks to its ergonomic pivoting, it can cater to all head shapes. Its soft and breathable ear cushions with built-in venting add more comfort to the mix.
You can put them back in a protective hardshell case included in the package. With this, you don’t have to worry about storage space—and possible incurring damages! But best of all, you can enjoy these functions for 22 hours straight, thanks to this pair’s extended battery life.
Moreover, if you’re a fan of Apple products, you’ll love the Beats Studio 3 even more. After all, it comes with an Apple W1 chip with Bluetooth connectivity for more convenient use. Here, you can activate Siri, skip songs, and take calls hands-free.
However, this last feature is something that would negatively affect the headphones. Its systems begin to break down when working with other brands beyond Apple. For example, the headphones drain batteries faster when not used with Apple devices.
So, unless you use or own mainly Apple products, I suggest looking at the other listed products. After all, the inconveniences with connections outside of Apple make the pair less worthwhile.
Although it doesn’t have the best sound performance, these headphones have some of the best noise-canceling technology.
The Bose 700 offers 11 levels of active noise cancellation, blocking out as little or as much as needed. Here, you can switch between complete isolation and full transparency. Zero provides a light veil that blocks some noise while helping you hear a few of your surroundings. Meanwhile, 11 represents the highest level of sound blocking, cutting off all noises.
Either way, the isolating effects of these headphones are impeccable and hard to beat. Additionally, these headphones already sounded decent with their strong bass and mid. So, you can fine-tune your experience every time!
Noise-canceling technology aside, these headphones also come with an eight-mic system. And when combined with built-in voice control, you can operate the gadget hands-free. When you take or make calls, the mic ensures the person on the other end hears you.
Moreover, if things get a little tricky, you can ask for help via the built-in voice assistant. You can choose between Alexa and Google assistant to take control of the situation.
However, I noticed that its audio output isn’t as good as other listed products. Don’t get me wrong, the headphones still sound bold and crystal clear, but they fall flat compared to other brands. But this shouldn’t be a dealbreaker! After all, the Bose 700 boasts some of the best noise-canceling tech and flexibility.
If you don’t mind splurging or going beyond budget, treat yourself with SENNHEISER’s Momentum 2.0. These are a shared favorite among people looking to enjoy their favorites tunes in style.
Thanks to its comfortable design, it’s become one of the best noise-canceling headphones for flying. The thick leather ear pads, complete with big ear cups, make it comfortable no matter what. And its collapsible frame makes it easy to carry, store, and adjust.
High-end sheepskin leather ear pads aside, these headphones come with three noise-cancellation settings. Here, you can adjust the level of noise cancellation needed on the go via the brand’s Smart Control app. Or you can switch to some of its pre-selected modes.
For instance, the anti-wind mode blocks off the wind when outdoors. Meanwhile, the anti-pressure mode relieves some physical pressure applied by the headphones. Lastly, it has a transparent hearing mode that lets you listen to just the right amount of ambient noise.
Either way, SENNHEISER made it possible to customize these headphones for a reason. And that’s to help users achieve a comfortable listening experience every time.
Moreover, you can enjoy all these hands-free thanks to its Bluetooth functionality. Plus, each charge gives you up to 22 hours of playtime non-stop.
Overall, these headphones are the best pick for frequent flyers always on the go. They try to be as hands-free as possible, making navigation in-flight easier.
However, this is exceptionally pricy compared to other products with the same features. But if you don’t mind going over budget, this can be a great pick!
The Shure AONIC 50 Noise Canceling Headphones aim to explore two new markets in one go. These come with Bluetooth connectivity and noise-cancellation technology, which is very new to Shure’s over-ear headphones.
They give listeners a broad soundstage, producing textured and detailed sounds. And these headphones managed to make different music titles sound more energetic. Either way, they’re an excellent pick for audiophiles. After all, they focus on producing the best sounds rather than noise-cancellation.
Design-wise, these headphones are some of the most eye-catching I’ve seen. And though they aren’t as compact as the other headphones on this list, they still fit the bill for flying. With AONIC 50, listening to your favorite tunes in-flight has never been this stylish!
But these headphones don’t have the best noise cancellation technology. Its standard is a little too subtle, while the max is too aggressive. And the lack of touch controls can be a hassle, especially when you’re planning to use them when flying.
Overall, even if the Shure AONIC 50 lacks many features, its audio performance is enough to carry it to the top. These headphones are some of the most affordable on the market now.
Are you looking for quality noise-canceling headphones but don’t want to wreck your budget? Consider Bose’s QuietComfort 25. It’s affordable and packs all the features you’d find on a more expensive model.
These are reliable entry-level headphones that get the job done without frills. Launched in 2014, the QuietComfort 25 stull stands firm against the competition. And despite being an older model, it can still block most background noise. No wonder these headphones promote optimal clarity!
Noise cancellation and audio aside, the design of these headphones are also unparalleled. Its lightweight and comfortable design ensure optimal comfort and convenience. So, you can see why it’s one of the best noise-canceling headphones for flying.
You can control the pair’s features like EQ or answering calls via your smartphone. So, stay hands-free, whether it’s adjusting the audio or taking calls.
Impressively, the headphones have whopping 35-hour battery life. That means you can jam out to your favorite music, podcast, or movies at crisp quality with these on.
Choosing the Best Noise Canceling Headphones for Flying (Buying Guide)
Finding the best noise-canceling headphones for flying can be tricky because of the numerous brands and models available. But keep in mind that headphones are subjective. Therefore, the final decision depends on your taste, preference, and flying circumstances.
I’ve listed a few factors to watch out for to help you find the best pair for you.
🎧 Passive vs. Noise Cancellation
Not too long ago, headphones used passive cancellation or noise isolation technology. It doesn’t use energy and blocks off ambient noise via its physical features. In other words, it naturally filters sounds by preventing outside noise from going in.
For instance, around-ear headphones rely on earcups to seal your ear and block off sounds. So, you can see where the term “noise isolation” originates. And though this is still a thing, active noise cancellation has taken over.
Using a Digital Signal Processor (DSP), active noise-cancellation blocks off sounds using energy. Hence, the term “active noise-cancellation,” or ANC. It drives an internal mic within the headphones, producing frequencies opposite current outside sounds. As a result, the sound waves cancel each other out efficiently.
I recommend choosing ANC headphones over those with passive noise cancellation tech. After all, they are better for noise cancellation and audio quality.
Either way, make sure to test how much noise headphones can reduce before buying one. This way, you can see how efficient a pair are, regardless if they run active or passive noise cancellation.
🎧 Sound Quality
Sound quality comes down to your preference. Many brands have improved their audio performance in conjunction with noise-cancellation. So, all you must do is see which one performs best in your preferred music genre or intended purpose.
Also, some newer models have custom features where you can alter your audio output. Customization has never been this easy on headphones, from the bass to the treble—you can adjust anything! However, these tend to be expensive, so skip this part unless you don’t mind splurging.
🎧 Battery Life
As more brands use Li-ion batteries for their headphones, battery life has improved. These extend usage by hours, and best of all, you don’t have to wait long for them to recharge. And when choosing the best noise-canceling headphones for flying, battery life is crucial.
After all, you’ll be using those headphones in-flight, where charging stations are scarce. So, choose a pair with prolonged battery life. But generally, they should be able to go for at least eight to ten hours.
So, given you’ve charged the headphones, there shouldn’t be an issue when using them on a long-haul flight.
Although most noise-canceling headphones sport the same dimension, their portability still hugely differs. Each pair folds in varying fashions, or sometimes, not at all.
Portability is incredibly crucial when choosing noise-canceling headphones for flying. It determines how convenient your flight will be with each pair.
A function I recommend focusing on is how the headphones’ ear cups twist or hinge. It helps you see how easy or difficult it will be to stow them away after use. In a few cases, some ear cups only twist in their place, turning into a pancake-like shape. And this is as portable as a pair of headphones can get.
On the other hand, some models might have ear cups that hinge along with the headband. Hence, these headphones can fold into themselves, making a rounder shape. These are usually bulkier and more challenging to store.
Aside from that, it’s also worth checking out what kind of cases comes with the headphones. Some may come with a compact and lightweight, soft case, while others have a rigid clam-shell case.
I suggest headphones with clam-shell cases as they squeeze well into tight spaces. Plus, they protect your headphones from the other items inside your luggage or bag.
Many newer noise-canceling headphones have ear cups surrounding the user’s entire ears. These are also known as around-ear headphones. And they are on the very end of the size spectrum and tend to be larger than usual. Even so, these are famous for being incredibly comfy.
So, though most noise-canceling headphones today are downsizing, stick with the big leagues. The larger they are, the more cushion your ears can enjoy and the more noises they can block. Also, this can act as an extra physical or passive barrier to your surrounding sounds.
This factor might not be a huge dealbreaker. However, remember, you’ll use the headphones in-flight. And you wouldn’t want to deal with a pair that doesn’t fit your ears and head. Therefore, I suggest looking at their dimensions or trying them before purchasing.
Often overlooked, comfort is a vital factor to consider. After all, you wouldn’t want to use headphones with stiff cushions. Your ears deserve better!
Luckily, most noise-canceling headphones today come with plush and soft ear pads. They mainly cover your entire ears, resembling your favorite pillow in bed. Aside from that, newer models also come with a comfy headband with ample cushions.
The only downside to more cushioning and added comfort is weight. After all, these tend to be on more oversized headphones that weigh more than on-ear models.
Either way, comfort is subjective. And what feels comfortable to another person might feel different for you. So, test out or read a few reviews of the headphones you want. This way, you can see if they match your comfort preference!
I suggest trying out noise-canceling headphones for a few minutes at a time. Here, you can see how comfortable a pair are more accurately. After all, the more often you take them off, the less airflow you get, giving off more heat than usual.
How Noise Canceling Headphones Make Flying Better
Whatever your destination is, you can always count on an airplane to get you there fast. Albeit not very quietly. After all, you’re not traveling alone, so you’re bound to encounter a loud individual on a flight. Luckily, the best noise-canceling headphones for flying may be what you need!
There are numerous headphone models and brands available. And you can also make noise-canceling headphones yourself. These are great for making any flight more comfortable, fun, and peaceful. But, you may be wondering, how do these gadgets make flying better?
Although they don’t cut off 100% of the noise, they help you deal with the following common flight issues and make any travel better:
✈️ Block Off Cabin Noise
Airplanes are among the noisiest places you can be in. From the loud whirring of their engines to the constant chattering from other passengers, planes can be indeed loud. And this can be tough to deal with, especially when going through extended flights.
Thanks to noise-canceling headphones, you no longer have to deal with crying babies or loud engine whirring. They’re as omnipresent as laptops and smartphones for today’s modern travelers.
Whether you’re looking to escape to your favorite tunes or watch a movie during your flight, they’ll all sound crisp and vibrant. What’s more, you don’t need to crank up the volume to appreciate the content.
So, even if you’re aboard the world’s noisiest flight, you get to enjoy your temporary auditory bubble of bliss.
✈️ Ease Excess Stress
If you have a phobia or are a generally nervous flyer, noise-canceling headphones can help.
As I mentioned earlier, these devices give you a temporary auditory bubble. Here, you can enjoy your own quiet space, easing your stress little by little. Not to mention, these make your favorite tunes sound more realistic—and lifelike!
Experts have shown that music can help slow down the heart and breathing rates. And these are useful in easing emotional distress, regardless of the cause. So, all you must do is pick your favorite title for a more comfortable and stress-free flight.
✈️ Deal with Noisy Passengers
Since you’re flying aside many passengers, noise is inevitable. Whether it’s crying babies or chatty adults, dealing with this can be unpleasant. Luckily, noise-canceling headphones are enough to block off ambient noise in any plane.
Slapping in your pair gives other passengers an obvious visual cue that you’d prefer to be left alone. And even if your seat neighbor chooses to talk with other passengers, you’ll be safe from their noise. Instead, your favorite tunes, podcasts, or movies will be all you’ll be hearing.
✈️ Fights Flight Anxiety
It can be tricky in-flight if you’ve gone beyond excess stress and face anxiety. After all, when flying, you’re stuck in a small space, aware of the people around you. From in-flight announcements to the chattering of passengers, noise is inevitable.
But thanks to noise-canceling headphones, you don’t have to deal with those anymore. You can create a personal auditory bubble to mute these triggers—and remain peaceful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do noise-canceling headphones work on airplanes?
A: Noise-canceling headphones are most useful on planes. They block unwanted sounds very well, giving you a moment’s peace in the air. And these gadgets do an excellent job of making you feel like you’re in your world when many things are happening around you. I suggest investing in quality noise-canceling headphones if you’re a frequent flyer.
Q: How do noise-canceling headphones work?
A: Noise-canceling headphones reduce unwanted background noises via active noise control. They capture ambient sounds before producing sound waves, giving you crisp quality. This way, the tunes you’re jamming to shine through all the unnecessary noises in flight. So whether it’s babies crying or people chatting, noise-cancellation blocks most of them out.
Q: Is there a difference between passive and active noise cancellation?
A: Noise-canceling headphones come in passive and active variations, which are different. Generally, passive noise cancellation or noise isolation filters out sounds via soundproofing. It physically blocks unwanted ambient noise using the materials it’s constructed from. Meanwhile, active noise cancellation uses its mic to block out noise, which is more effective.
Q: Do noise-canceling headphones work better on airplanes?
A: Noise-canceling headphones are most useful on planes. They block unwanted sounds very well, giving you a moment’s peace in the air. And these do a fantastic job of making you feel like you’re in your world when many things are happening around you. I suggest investing in quality noise-canceling headphones if you’re a frequent flyer.
Q: Can noise-canceling headphones help with my flight anxiety?
A: Using noise-canceling headphones when flying can help you zone out and bring you peace of mind. And it does help with flight anxiety most of the time. But this doesn’t work for all cases. For instance, this may not work as well if it’s noises that trigger your anxiety in the first place.
The best noise-canceling headphones for flying can make any flight more fun—and quiet! Airplane noises can be challenging to block off, so it’s crucial to find a quality pair. My six picks listed will help you travel in comfort and style, easing your anxiety by playing sick tunes. Trust me, these headphones will make a massive difference in your flights. So, carefully choose one for more comfortable and fun travels!