If you’re looking for the best noise cancelling headphones under $50, you’re in the right place. While there’s a lot of inexpensive headphones that label themselves noise-cancelling, not all of them really are. And that’s especially true in the under $50 price segment. In this article we will go through the most important stuff related to noise-cancelling headphones, what are the best products on the market and how to choose one in this price range. If that sounds like what you’re looking for, read on!
- Best Noise Cancelling Headphones under $50
- How to Choose The Best Noise Cancelling Headphones for You?
- What’s the difference between noise cancellation and noise reduction?
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones under $50
Before looking at the products below, I want to make sure you understand a few things. First off, the under $50 price range doesn’t offer really great noise-cancelling headphones. All of those listed below, while not great overall, are really good for the price you pay. That’s pretty much the definition of buying on a budget. If you will go through reviews of any of the headphones below, you will notice many people really happy about the product and quite a few disappointed ones. So the reviews you’re going to read will be quite confusing. Someone might say that this particular set of headphones is the best thing ever, but it turns out these were his or her first noise-cancelling headphones. Another time it might be a frustrated customer who says the headphones don’t cancel out noise at all. But it turns out he have bought it as a replacement for his $250 Bose headphones and expects $50 headphones to work as good as ones that cost 5x the price. That’s why besides reading reviews it’s always a good thing to take a look at the average score of the product. That being said, let’s go to the list.
Sony MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling Headphones
- foldable and portable
- good sound quality
- noise cancellation works well in many settings
- cord goes to each driver – two cords hanging
- cheap feeling plastic
Sony MDRZX110NC is a must see if you’re on a tight budget but really need active noise cancelling headphones. Maybe you work in a loud office or need to focus on work or studying while your family enjoys watching TV. Or maybe you’re just curious about this whole ANC technology. In such cases spending big bucks on ANC headphones might not be the best idea and it’s smarter to start with cheaper ones. That’s where Sony MDRZX110NC shines.
In the package you can find just the on-ear headphones and one AAA battery needed to power the ANC circuitry. This minimalistic approach allows for a really low price for actual ANC headphones. These fold nicely, but if you’re looking forward to travel with them, make sure you find a safe space to store them.
When it comes to sound and active noise cancelling quality, both are really good for the price. Please remember they won’t sound as good as sets that cost 5 or 10 times this price. People find these quite comfortable, even for long time use and when wearing glasses.
All in all, if you’re looking for ANC headphones for a really low price, check out Sony MDRZX110NC.
There are only so many good ANC headphones in this price range, so your choices are pretty limited. If you’re looking for wireless ANC headphones, your choices are limited even further. Fortunately enough, there are still a few ones worth checking out. Bluedio T4 is one of them. These over-ear seem-bulky-yet-comfortable headphones come in 3 colors and its sleek design looks a bit futuristic.
Like many Bluetooth headphones, Bluedio T4 has all the control buttons you need on the earcups, so changing tracks, adjusting the volume or even taking calls doesn’t require reaching for your phone. Speaking of earcups, they rotate 90 degrees and can be folded flat to save some space while travelling. They don’t come with a dedicated carring case, so you might consider buying one if you plan traveling with those.
When it comes to powering these, Bluedio T4 uses a built-in battery that lasts around 10 hours in Bluetooth and ANC mode. If the cord doesn’t bother you, you can plug them in (cable in the package) to save some battery time.
Bluedio T4 offers good sound quality (maybe not Sennheiser-level, but quite good nonetheless) and the active noise cancelling does its job. As usual it’s worth repeating that $50 headphones will never be as good as $300 ones. The electronics inside, unfortunately for us, costs money and the more sophisticated it gets, the more it costs.
Last but not least, please note that quite a few users have complained about audio lag in Bluetooth mode, so buying these for watching movies might not be the best idea.
TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
- 3 pairs of earbud cups and ear-hook for comfortable fit
- great noise cancelling in this price range
- flimsy plastic parts
- lacking bass
If you’re looking for inexpensive ANC earbuds, those TaoTronics are definitely worth checking out. The noise cancelling feature works quite well and the built-in battery lasts for about 15 hours before you need to recharge it using its micro USB port. The headphones come with 3 pairs of earbud cups and 3 pairs of ear hooks so you can get a perfect, comfortable fit. Besides the charging cable, there’s also an airplane audio adapter, so if plan on using the while flying, you’re good to go. The music these produce is really good for the price, although you might find the bass lacking. You can switch off the ANC feature and these sounds just as good as with ANC on, unlike some headphones that rely heavily on the ANC circuitry and the sound quality drops significantly when one turns it off.
Overall, TaoTronics ANC headphones are one of the best choices on the market when it comes to the $50 price range. Take a closer look at them if you’re looking for ANC earbuds.
ATH-ANC23 headphones come from the Audio-Technica brand known for manufacturing quality audio equipment for a fair price. These headphones are no different. They come with additional silicone earbud cups, an airline adapter and a carrying pouch. These are AAA battery-powered (included in the package), which some people might find less convenient than a built-in battery charged via micro USB. The battery is needed only for the noise cancellation feature, so if it runs out, you can still listen to the music with the same quality. When it comes to sound quality, just read the reviews. In short, it’s really good, especially considering these are under $50 earbuds.
ATH-ANC23 earbuds do a really good job of cancelling lower pitched noises like airplane engines or trains. Obviously, don’t expect these to cancel out noises as good as $200 headphones, but they do the job really well for the price you pay. And if you don’t feel like listening to music, but would like to cancel out the noise of the A/C to work in silence, that works too.
All in all, if you’re looking for a pair of ANC earbuds and are fine with battery-powered ones, these and definitely worth checking out.
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How to Choose The Best Noise Cancelling Headphones for You?
As I’ve already mentioned, there aren’t that many good options when it comes to noise cancelling headphones in the $50 price range. If you’re not sure which ones you should choose, here are a few things worth considering.
How are you going to use these headphones?
As anyone looking for headphones with active noise cancellation, you have your reasons. Now it’s time to think about your whys.
If you’re in need of a pair of headphones for one or two flights you have every year, choosing headphones in the $50 price range is a good idea. You might lose them or forget them when leaving the hotel. Or even damage them when they are in your hand luggage. Those things happen quite often if you’re not used to travelling by airplane that often. If on the other hand, you’re a frequent flyer, buying a bit more expensive ANC headphones seems to be the best solution. The more often you travel, the more you get out of your investment and as we all know, cheap equipment usually doesn’t last long. Plus, as a frequent traveller, you usually have a routine in place when it comes to packing and unpacking so losing your headphones in the process is quite unlikely. If that’s the case, check out our $100 list.
If you’re working in a busy office where half of you colleagues are on the phone and the other half chatting with one another, it can be really difficult to focus on your job. Will $50 noise cancelling headphones cut it? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s best to save a bit more and choose ANC headphones in the $100 price range. You will likely use those headphones 5 times a week for quite some time, so choosing cheap ones might not be the best idea. But if you work in a busy place (like a coffee shop or office space) every once in a while, inexpensive ANC headphones should do the trick.
Generally speaking, if you need the noise cancelling feature badly and will use it often, consider investing a bit more and choosing ANC headphones in the $100 or even $200 price range. As usual, you get what you pay for, so if you plan to use those headphones on a daily basis, choosing a better model is definitely worth it. If noise cancelling is something you only need from time to time, the $50 price range is a good place to get started. You can always buy a pair of better quality later on when need be.
Over-the-ear headphones or earbuds?
If you’re going to use these headphones at home, choosing between over-ear and in-ear design is a matter of personal preference. But if you’re going to use those headphones while commuting or travelling, portability is key. And in terms of portability, the in-ear design definitely wins with the over-ear design. Obviously, you might not be a fan of in-ear headphones and if that’s the case, stick with over-ear headphones. Just make sure they don’t take that much space in your luggage and have a decent case.
What’s the difference between noise cancellation and noise reduction?
As mentioned earlier, not all headphones described as noise cancelling are actually noise cancelling. Some of them are simply good at noise reduction (and therefore called noise cancelling). As you can see, we have two terms here and while some use those interchangeably, they don’t mean the same thing.
Noise reduction is something that happens every time you put something over your ears. So, technically speaking, your winter hat reduces noise too. It’s not particularly good at it, but that’s beside the point. All headphones reduce outside noise that gets to your ears, some better than other. Some headphones are designed to make a tight seal with your ears or ear canals and do a really good job at noise reduction. Noise reduction comes with its cost though. The better the noise reduction, the tighter the seal. And headphones that form a tight seal will be at the very least uncomfortable. Noise reduction is a passive thing – it happens whether you like it or not.
Active noise cancellation
Noise cancellation (or active noise cancellation, or ANC) is an active process. That means that an item has to do something all the time to make it happen. This process is quite simple – headphones have a tiny microphone that picks up the sounds around and allows the hardware to create a pitch that’s supposed to negate SOME of those sounds. The technique used to achieve that is called destructive interference. As mentioned, the created pitch zeros out some of those surrounding sound, based on their frequency. So while noise reduction reduces pretty much every noise, noise cancellation cancels out only some of it. Thanks to this you can speak with a passenger that sits next to you without any issues while barely hearing any background noises. And because of this, noise cancelling headphones work much better in settings (busy office, airplane, coffee shop) where background noise is pretty much the same all the time.