Every year, noise-cancelling headphones become more valuable. The background noises in life are getting louder, or at least more annoying. Chalk it up to the mainstream adoption of shared workspaces, remote work, and—christ—open floor plans. Blame it on to the growing amount of people who deem it acceptable to host conference calls in cafes or bachelor parties on planes. Curse the companies that made battery-powered wireless speakers ubiquitous.
For years, Bose headphones have cancelled outside noise so effectively that the only real reason to look elsewhere was if the ~$350 price tag was too high. But over the last few years, everyone has put out headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC), giving you more options for reducing the world around you to a quiet hum.
The best noise-cancelling headphones block out external noise so that they can feed well-balanced and clear audio—ideally, at lower volumes. Less distractions are nice, but reducing the decibels hitting your ear drums is critical. They’re not going to look back in 50 years and say we should have have been listening to headphones louder.
Most people who own noise-cancelling headphones wear them for hours every day, so comfort, battery level, and design are important factors to consider, too. Remember: if you wear clunky neon yellow headphones every day to work, our colleagues will forever picture you wearing neon yellow headphones. They won’t remember a single other thing about you. Neon headphone guy. Proceed with caution.
Below, our favorite noise-cancelling headphones.
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Originally Appeared on GQ