Best noise canceling headphones: Undisturbed listening

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Today’s headphones are often wireless and offer active noise canceling (ANC), also known as active noise cancellation. If you are interested in that, then it is still important to find the best noise-canceling headphones. Indeed, there are quite a few.

Apple AirPods Max

With AirPods you tend to think of in-ears. The fact that the name is also used for Apple’s first headphones quickly puts you on the wrong track. All the more so because these headphones are the heaviest of all due to the use of metal parts. That makes this item very sturdy and chic. And that is also allowed, because the suggested retail price borders on insane (although the headphones are now available for under 450 euros).

Despite that high price, there are no audio and USB connections, but you have to make do with Apple’s own (obsolete) Lightning connection. In addition, you can only use the function that pauses audio as soon as you take off the headphones if you connect the AirPods Max to an Apple device.

Still, Apple has its affairs in order with the AirPods Max. The sound quality (especially on Apple devices), the noise cancellation and most importantly the ambient mode – it’s all very impressively good. Despite the weight, this also applies to wearing comfort. Also notable is that the ear cushions are magnetically attached and can be detached for cleaning.

The battery life is about seventeen hours when a playback mode is on. You can get up to twenty hours without ANC or ambient noise. There is no separate app available to set or update the headphones as desired; for this you need to connect the AirPods Max to an Apple device.

If you have an Apple device, the AirPods Max is one of the frontrunners. Still, it’s the shortcomings on non-Apple devices (such as not being able to use the best sound quality) and of course the price that prevent the AirPods Max from coming out as a test winner as the all-round best headphones.

Bose Quiet Comfort 45

If you really want to shut yourself off from the outside world with the best noise reduction, you will find Bose. The name QuietComfort has made a name for itself in that area, and with this QuietComfort 45 it is absolutely impressive.

The ANC does not press on the ears, so you do not notice that it is on. Until you take off the headphones and you are shocked by your surroundings. The only strange thing is that the noise reduction hardly differs from that of the other Bose headphones from this test. So don’t be blind to the name QuietComfort.

Yet there are differences, which you can also draw in a broader perspective. The Bose QuietComfort feels very light and vulnerable: not really worthy of a 350 euro headset. Fortunately, these fairly new headphones have already dropped in price quite a bit, we can already find them for 100 euros less than the original purchase amount.

What really counts is the wearing comfort. This is optimal thanks to the low weight and the soft ear cushions. The control buttons are also cleverly placed.

The sound quality is slightly different: where the Bose NC 700 Headphones lacked some power and intensity, it is a lot better here. Especially the bass sound is a lot fuller and more intense. Still, this Bose has to recognize its superiority in the Sony WH1000XM4, which is all-round a lot better and we discuss it further.

The battery lasts for almost a full day, which is fine since you can’t turn off the noise reduction. You can only choose between ANC and transparent mode, which amplifies the ambient noise. By the way, this transparent mode did not leave the same indelible impression on us as the noise reduction mode.