The best cheap Active Noise Cancelling alternatives to the Sony MH-1000XM4 and Bose 700
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a great pair of noice reducing headphones. There are the best cheap ANC Active Noise Cancelling headphones — way under $100.
Updated March 24, 2021: CHECK OUT MY NEW VERSION OF THIS GUIDE.
Are cheap ANC headphones as good as Sony and Bose?
Let me get something out of the way first. The wireless Bluetooth ANC headphones you can get for under 100 dollars, aren’t as refined or powerful as the Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Bose 700, both costing around $380. These two still offer the best noise-canceling quality, meaning the remove the most sound from your surroundings, to let you work or relax in complete silence even when you’re not playing music on them.
The headphones in this test don’t reach the same amount of noise cancellation as these class leaders; however, they do reduce an impressive amount of background noise, dampen brighter sounds and soften volume peaks. The active noise cancelling on these can absolutely bring some rest and peace to your head.
To give you some perspective: the OneAudio A9 rules out noise better than the JBL 650BTNC and Sony WH900N; both around $180. The best models in this test deliver great noise canceling and impressive sound quality at one fifth or even sixth of the price of the Sony and Bose!
How do I test headphones?
So, how do I test these headphones? Well, that doesn’t really differ from my previous comparisons on in-ear earphones, Bluetooth headphones without ANC and truly wireless earphones. In the past weeks, I’ve selected and bought different active noise-canceling headphones with the highest user ratings on Amazon and AliExpress, especially the highest subscores on noise-canceling quality and sound quality — scores where many fail.
I’ve tested these models for hours and hours — indoor and outdoor, in crowded office spaces, next to a big traffic intersection, and while walking or riding on a bicycle. I tested their noise-canceling intensively, took in their music quality with ANC on and off, called with them, watched videos with them (good to know: all sync perfectly with YouTube and Netflix), folded them up in my backpack to test the build strength and wore them in long sessions to test their comfort.
One thing that’s good to know before reading on: some models I’ve tested are on the market under different brand names in the US and the EU — even though they are the same products. It’s a jungle out there, so I try to be as complete as possible with the names and the links.
Here are the best cheap noise-canceling headphones under $100, on Amazon and AliExpress — updated October 2020…
1. Best all-round cheap ANC headphone in 2020: Tranya H10
Great sound, solid ANC and suitable for calls too: Tranya H10
As of October 2020, there’s a new top recommendation for affordable wireless noise cancelling headphones. The Tranya H10 delivers great sound, solid ANC noise cancellation and throws in great call quality and multipoint connection on top!
Unlike so many other affordable wireless headphones, the Tranya H10 is excellent at handling phone calls and video conferences like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. The microphone quality of this headset overshadows the other models in this test. You’ll sound clear and loud — a bit tinny with that typical telephone-like clarity, and your voice and the people on your screen come without delay in the sound.
What’s more, is that this headphone has multipoint connection — meaning you can connect it to the Bluetooth of your phone and your Mac/ Windows pc at the same time. When you’re watching a video on your pc and your phone rings, the Tranya will switch to the sound of your phone so that you can pick the call up right away. It works fantastic — although the headphone will give a ‘Connected’ voice prompt every so often after a while.
Still, these two nifty features come on top of an already impressive offering for the money. The H10 comes with a strong case, can be used wireless (around 22 hours on a single charge), and wired via 2,5 mm audio jack — unfortunately not the 3,5mm plug that comes in every computer. The headphone has a nice, formal design and sturdy build, with comfortable earbuds even if you’re wearing glasses.
The ANC strength is in line with the best of this test; the Tranya doesn’t block all sound from your surroundings, but it successfully reduces darker (background) sounds, traffic sounds and electronic humming. Brighter sounds lose much of their loudness as well. It’s already quite effective when you’re not listening to music; play music on low volume and your surroundings will quickly become inaudible. There’s an Ambient Mode as well, which lets through brighter sounds the moment you want it — so you can hear traffic or eavesdrop on a conversation.
Finally, the sound quality on the Tranya is impressive. The H10 has a balanced sound with a warm undertone, thanks to a well-controlled bass, and slightly boosted lower frequencies. Upper-mid frequencies also enjoy some emphasis, making vocals sound clear and prominent — but never harsh or too sharp. In higher-quality recordings, it’s possible to position instruments around you as well. The Tranya is great for both background and active listening.
The Tranya H10 has solid Active Noise Cancelling, delivers a lovely balanced sound, great call quality for phone and video, and even multipoint connection. It’s the best option for music lovers and all-around everyday use.
- Buy Tranya H10 on Amazon US
- Buy Tranya H10 from other Amazon stores
- Buy Tranya H10 from Tranya’s own site
2. Best cheap headphone with strongest noise cancelling: OneAudio A9
The best sounding and noise-canceling headphone under 100 dollars in 2020: OneAudio A9
Can’t afford the top models from Bose or Sony? There’s a great alternative for one-third of the price. The OneAudio A9 offers vivid music quality and outstanding active noise cancellation.
The noise cancelling quality of the OneAudio A9 (sometimes also written as OneOdio A9) is sublime. You can activate it either while listening to music or without, and in both scenarios it works terrific. The noise just disappears around you. You will still hear someone standing straight in front of you, but televisions, trains, cars, humming, background conversations: they just fade away. It’s replaced only by a slight, subtle white noise.
If you want better noise cancellation than this, you’ll have to add around 200 to 300 dollars in order to get a Sony MH1000XM3 or Bose QuietComfort. But really — you don’t have to.
Because apart from the noise canceling, the sound quality on the OneAudio A9 is excellent as well. It delivers a vivid, all rounded, warm sound, with a soothing bass that’s not too overpowered. Vocals are presented up-front and with good clarity, with instruments sounding a bit more far away from you, and around you. This is a balanced, lively sound signature.
The OneAudio A9/ OneOdio A9 delivers decent call quality as well, putting your voice through clear in semi-crowded office areas. The connection is stable up to 10 meters; audio synchronizes with video and the battery lasts around 15 hours with ANC and music turned on — longer even if only one is turned on. If it’s depleted, you can continue listening with the delivered audio cable. It also comes with a hard case by the way, in which you can store the headphone folded.
The OneAudio A9 is a headphone you can and will want to wear entire days. It’s comfortable, delivers great sound quality and offers amazing active noise cancellation. It’s the best cheap active noise-canceling headphone in 2020.
3. Best ANC headphone under $50: Boltune 5.0 ANC/ TaoTronics TT-BH060
The TT-BH060 or Boltune 5.0 has the strongest active noise-canceling under 100 dollar/ euros
If the OneAudio A9 price is a bit too high for you, it’s good to know that you can get excellent ANC even cheaper. The noise cancelling on the TaoTronics TT-BH060/ Boltune 5.0 is very powerful — but you’ll give in to music quality a bit.
Flip the ANC switch on the TaoTronics TT-BH060 or Boltune 5.0 ANC and you’ll notice your surroundings become more silent and calm instantly. Voices further than 2 meters are heavily toned down, basses disappear, humming and mid-tones are attacked aggressively. It’s not as effective as the OneAudio A9, but a good second.
The headphone is on the heavier side, but it is comfortable, with a soft headband and cushions. The Bluetooth connection and the buttons are also plain good, and so is the 25 hours-lasting battery.
The sound quality of the TaoTronics BH060/ Boltune 5.0 ANC falls a bit short in comparison with the best under $100. Either with ANC turned on or off, the BH060 can sound a bit like an echo chamber at times. Basses are emphasised yet sound somewhat distant, creating a sense of hollowness. Vocals and instruments lack a bit of presence compared to the bass. It’s not the best for active listening then, but it still does its job perfectly fine for playing background music while you work: on lower volume, the music sounds dark and smooth.
With its excellent build quality and battery life and strong active noise cancelling, the BH-060 is the best ANC headphone on a budget.
4. Best cheap ANC headphone for kids/ best compact ANC headphone: Mpow H17
The Mpow H17 fits smaller heads and kids heads greatly
The best-selling brand Mpow has loads of different active noise cancelling headphones on Amazon — it’s hard to see where to start. Most of them don’t get the highest user scores for the noise reducing functionalities, but the Mpow H17 is still worth noting.
Why? Well, it is a solid compact noise cancelling headphone. The cushions are pleasantly thick and the headband is still comfortable, but the overall form is a bit smaller than its direct competitors. It fits fantastic on smaller heads, including kids’ heads.
The noise-canceling strength isn’t as stellar as the OneAudio A9 or TaoTronics BH-060, but the H17 still takes away basses and hummings from your surroundings. Sounds of tv’s or radios nearby are still audible, but also somewhat reduced. Start playing a little music on them, and you’ll likely don’t hear your surroundings anymore.
In the sound quality department, the Mpow H17 is an upbeat, warm-sounding performer, ideal for pop and dance tracks. The bass is slightly boosted, but doesn’t overpower the other frequencies in the music. Music even fills a bit airy, with effects and instruments coming from all around you.
The Mpow H17 may not offer the strongest Active Noise Cancelling, but it is a great noise-reducing headphone for adults with smaller heads and kids.
5. Runner-up for best cheap ANC headphone under $100: OneAudio A10
The OneAudio A10 is another good option from the same, test-winning, brand
The OneAudio A10 (also written as OneOdio A10) is another recommended option from the same brand as the winner of this test. The A10 is a newer model, with silver accents around the earcups. Its headband is really round, possibly creating space between your head and the headband. This may look a little weird when carrying it. The A10 presses onto your ears a bit more than its predecessor; it’s less comfortable to wear these with glasses.
The ANC Active Noise Cancelation on the OneAudio A10 is solid. It introduces itself naturally when you flip the switch, without any noises or suction-effect. Basses and hummings within your surroundings are instantly, heavily reduced. Voices and things like slaps and claps are still audible, however. The OneAudio A9 cancels noise just a bit better still.
Another point worth your attention on the A10, is the few connection drops that can occur when you’re listening to music. These drops hardly last a second — but they’re still there. On the upside, the battery is much stronger than the OneAudio A10 — lasting up to 25 hours with ANC and music turned on — 10 hours longer than the A9. Something to consider.
Soundwise, the OneAudio A10 with ANC on has a smooth, warm sound, caused by an emphasis on the lower tones. The bass, however, treats gently and doesn’t kick heavily in your ears. Especially female and higher-pitched male vocals take a prominent place in the music. There’s a decent amount of detail in the sound, although it’s hard to place instruments precisely. Compared to the OneAudio A9, the A10 sounds a bit darker.
It is nitpicking between the two OneAudio’s. The ANC and comfort of the OneAudio A9 are a tad better, but the A10 has better battery life. If you prefer the design of the OneAudio A10 or in need of a bigger battery, it’s an excellent alternative.
- Buy the OneAudio A10 on Amazon (US)
- Buy the OneAudio A10 on Amazon (Europe)
- Buy the OneOdio A10 on AliExpress
Reviews: other sub $100 ANC headphones I’ve tested:
A small review on each of the other active noise cancelling headphones I bought and tested:
From left to right: Hiearcool L2, OneAudio A3 and Axceed NC-35 (which are the same), Mpow H5 and the Bluedio T7
Hiearcool L2 or Fitfort L2 (around $70)
The Hiearcool L2 or Fitfort L2 has a premium feel, with a sturdy look and nice, big round earcups. The noise cancelling doesn’t filter noise out as effective as the TaoTronics models, but still sush your office in a pleasant way. Bass tones are deleted and voices become more distant. They are repressed with a subtle white noise effect. On top of that, the sound quality is nicely balanced between laidback and engaging. The L2 has a lesser pronounced bass than most models, giving more space to vocals and mid and higher notes. Therefore it’s versatile for most music genres. It does sound a bit closed in though — and male vocals can even sound tinny at times. Calls come trough with great clarity however; and the battery easily lasts two working days.
The Hiearcool L2 (also available as Fitfort L2) is less of a recommendation because it’s less suited for outdoor use. When walking or otherwise moving, the Bluetooth signal appears weak. If you’re just looking for a sturdy built office headphone though, the Hiearcool L2 can be taken into account. (Amazon US) (Amazon EU)
OneAudio A3 (around $60)
Unlike the OneAudio/ OneOdio A9, the noise cancelling A3 headphone isn’t really on par with the best of this test. It definitely is comfortable thanks to its lightweight and non pressuring fit, but that’s basically all that there’s to it. Noise cancelling doesn’t really filter much noise, but mostly adds a big amount of white noise to attack noise from your surroundings. Music doesn’t sound bad on the A3, it even fares quite well on modern dance and hiphop music, but it does come across a little less vivid, more bland than its competitors. (Amazon US) (Amazon EU) (AliExpress)
Boltune TT-BH11 (around $60)
If you love your sound with tons of bass, the Boltune BH11 may be in order. It’s heavy, powering up dance and pop songs strongly. The Boltune TT-BH11 looks and feels like the biggest headphone of them all. It has thick ear cushions and even a thick-padded headband. Combined with the grey plastic earcups, it’s not much of a looker, however. There’s quite some force on your sides as well — so beware if you’re wearing glasses. The noise cancelling on the Boltune TT-BH11 is adequate, reducing basses, hummings and traffic noises around you. It’s not as effective as the test winners, but it does calm your surroundings. (Amazon US) (Amazon EU)
Mpow H5 (around $50)
The Mpow H5 offers the most engaging sound of all the headphones in this test. They have a deliberate V-shape in their equalizer, meaning the bass and highs such as vocals are brought upfront. The bass is definitely uplifting and fun here. Unfortunately, the headband and cups press your ears quite a bit, and even though the earcups appear big, they feel real tight. Noise cancellation too, is sub-par. It blocks out less noise than it’s best competitors, introduces an audible white noise and manages to rumble a bit when you move your head. They do music great — but that’s not what you solely buy an ANC headphone for, is it? (Amazon US) (Amazon EU) (AliExpress)
Bluedio T7 (around $45)
While the Bluedio T7 has an impeccable build quality, an app with some basic functions and even a fairly detailed sound, this headphone is totally let down by its noise cancelling functionality. The T7 promises two settings of noise cancellation; but in reality they are nearly identical, and not that impressive. Besides that, the headphone makes a disturbing humming and ticks with the ANC turned on, and can even make a very intrusive noise when flipping the ANC button while listening to them. Annoying and not a great indication for their long term quality. It’s probably safest to avoid this option. (Amazon US)(Amazon EU)(AliExpress)
Bluedio T6 (around $40)
The prequel of the Bluedio T7 doesn’t have a switch for different noise cancelling options, nor does it have volume buttons on the earcups. It does have a warm sounding balanced sound. The noise cancelling feature is not very effective however. Badly, it comes with an intrusive thumping when positioning your head in some ways, rendering the Bluedio T6 unusable.
This hunt will continue!
I will continue doing research on the best cheap active noise canceling wireless Bluetooth earphones under 100 dollars by following, buying and testing new offerings in this brand new market. If you have suggestions or questions, please leave a comment. Or get in touch with me: bart @ tekstmeister.nl.
I’d love to hear from you what headphone you’ve chosen!
Disclaimer: affiliate links
Planning to buy one of the headphones or earphones listed? Please consider doing it via my buying links. These are affiliate links from AliExpress or Amazon, from which I’ll gain a little percentage of the price. I only put links on products that I think are worth your consideration. Buying a product via such a link won’t cost you extra, yet it will support me a bit in my research on affordable audio. ❤
Also read my other tests and articles:
- Best TWS truly wireless earphones under 50 dollar
- Best wireless Bluetooth headphones under 50 dollar
- The best cheap earphones on AliExpress
- MY SITE ON THE BEST CHEAP WIRELESS EARBUDS
Please follow me to keep updated with new tests and articles. See you next time!