Aside from the iPad, iPhone, and MacBook (as well as their Google and Microsoft counterparts), the next most costly purchase in the workplace package is often a high-quality set of noise-cancelling headphones.

There are hundreds of noise-cancelling headphones available and thousands of other types of headphones. And there is no question that when it comes to getting a new pair of ear cans, it is pretty simple to become overwhelmed.

So, how do you go about selecting the finest noise-cancelling headphones for you? Here are seven things to think about. Continue reading!

1. Noise "Isolation" vs Noise "Cancellation."

There are two primary types of noise-cancelling headphones: active noise cancelling (ANC) and passive noise cancelling (PNC).

Active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones are powered by a battery and actively generate a sound wave that counteracts the ambient noise. They are usually a tad more expensive than passive noise cancelling headphones.

Passive noise-cancelling headphones are usually less expensive than active noise-cancelling headphones and physically block out the sound waves.

2. Size

The majority of noise-cancelling headphones on the market feature ear cups that completely cover your ear, often known as "around-ear headphones." These headphones are on the bigger side of the size range and are noticeably more significant than their on-ear or earbud counterparts.

Although the noise cancellation technology is trickling down to smaller-sized headphones, most of your options fall in the largest category.

The benefit to having noise-cancelling headphones along with an around-ear setup is that the near physical seal of the cushion around your ear allows an additional physical and passive barrier to the sounds around you. This benefits the ability of the noise cancellation feature to work tremendously.

3. Battery Life

The majority of noise-cancelling headphones feature a rechargeable battery. This means you can listen anywhere with your headphones.

Most noise-cancelling headphones feature roughly a 24-hour battery lifespan, which is plenty of time to get you through a day.

When the headphones are powered off, they can still be used as a conventional pair of headphones without the noise-cancellation feature.

4. Comfort

This is a very subjective feature based on the type and size of headphones you prefer. When choosing the best noise-cancelling headphones for you, remember these factors:

  • Does the headset have an adjustable headband?
  • Do the ear cups rotate for proper placement and comfort?
  • Does the headset have a padded headband?
  • Do the ear cups cushion your ears?
  • Can you wear your headphones for a longer period without pain?

The answer to these questions will give you a better indication of your comfort with the headphones.

5. Portability

If you're thinking about purchasing a set of noise cancelling headphones for travel, then you want to make sure your headphones are as compact (and as light) as possible.

Ideally, you want noise-cancelling headphones with a folding design that allows you to easily pack them up and take them with you wherever you go.

6. Sound

This is a very subjective feature and generally comes down to whether you prefer a warm, full sound or a more neutral, balanced sound. If you're a music lover, you'll want to consider the sound quality when choosing the best noise-cancelling headphones.

In addition to the bass and treble, consider the soundstage and imaging when making this evaluation. The best noise-cancelling headphones should provide a balanced, neutral sound that allows you to hear the intricacies of the music.

7. Voice Assistance

Some noise-cancelling headphones include voice assistance capabilities that allow you to make hands-free calls in an isolated environment.

Other models allow you to use your headphones as a conventional pair with the noise cancellation feature turned off.


The noise-cancelling headphones market is booming and quickly becoming a standard in a professional workspace. Noise-cancelling headphones can be an excellent solution for those who work in loud and open spaces, allowing them to focus on the task at hand and tune out the rest.

The next time you are faced with purchasing a new pair of headphones, consider the factors above before making a final decision.

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