True wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation (ANC) are a relatively new development in the audio scene, with the Sony WF-SP700N being the first pair to make a considerable splash when they landed in late 2018.
Fast forward to 2021 and the landscape for ANC true wireless earbuds has changed entirely. There are more options than ever before and all the heavy hitters — including Apple, Sony and Bose (finally) — have released their pair of wireless earbuds with active noise-canceling abilities. These are the best offerings that 2021 has to offer.
Apple AirPods Pro
The AirPods Pro deliver almost as powerful noise-canceling skills as the Bose QC Earbuds and sound just as good. The cool thing is Apple packed the AirPods Pro with a ton of new tech. There’s Adaptive EQ, which is a sort-of hearing test to help you find the best fitting silicone ear tip. The transparency mode is pretty phenomenal. They have Apple’s H1 chip for easy iPhone pairing. They have a new "Spatial Audio" feature (with iOS 14 or later) and support for immersive sound technologies like Dolby Atmos. And they also Apple’s first-and-only wireless earbuds that are sweat-resistant (IPX4), so you should have no problem exercising with them.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds might be late on the scene — released in late 2020 — but they're definitely worth the wait. The company's first noise-canceling wireless earbuds pack great sound and top-class noise-canceling abilities into a familiar looking and fitting wireless earbuds; they use the same StayHear eartips that Bose has integrated into all of its in-ear headphones and wireless earbuds. The noise-canceling and transparency modes are also extremely customizable, just like with Bose Headphones 700. The only downside is that they're substantially more expensive than closest rivals, the AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3.
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)
Released in spring 2021, the second-generation Echo Buds improve on the first-gen models, which were already our favorite "budget" wireless earbuds with noise-cancellation, in basically every way. They sound better and deliver better noise-canceling and transparency modes. Amazon made smaller and lighter so that they're significantly more comfortable to wear; plus they come with silicone earbuds and wing tips, in case you want to wear them running. And they also charge via USB-C instead of micro-USB. For the price, you can't really beat them. The only decision you'll have to make, other than if you want them in white or black, is if you want to fork over an extra $20 for a wireless charging case (bringing the total to $120).
Master & Dynamic MW08
Best Transparency Mode
Released in early 2021, the Master & Dynamic MW08 are the true successor to the company's MW Plus. They're about 15 percent smaller than the MW07 Plus, but they also have slightly larger drivers — 11mm Beryllium ones, versus the MW07 Plus's 10mm Beryllium drivers — so they deliver a slightly more vibrant and punchy sound. And they're the company's first (and so far, only) pair of wireless earbuds that work with a companion app (called M&D Connect), which lets you toggle between various noise-cancellation and transparency modes. The new models are made of a combo of ceramic (rather than acetate) and stainless steel. All in all, they're a little more expensive in the company's MW08, but they're more comfortable, better-sounding and more versatile, making them some of our favorite luxury wireless earbuds.
Bowers & Wilkins PI7
Release in early 2021, the PI7 is Bowers & Wilkins's first pair of true wireless earbuds. Yes, they're expensive, but they also deliver better sound quality than the vast majority of other wireless earbuds out there. Each earbud is decked out with dual high-performance drivers, which have been engineered by the same team behind the company's 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers, premium kit that cost $15,000/pair. They're also capable of playing high-resolution audio files up to 24-bit/48 kHz (although you need to stream from a device that supports aptX Adaptive). The PI7 are packed with other premium features, like noise-canceling and support for wireless charging, but the coolest thing about them is that their charging case doubles as a Bluetooth receiver; so you can connect to an in-flight entertainment system or Nintendo Switch and listen to your wireless earbuds.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 are really the “OG” wireless earbuds with active noise-cancellation and they still offer the most effective noise-canceling abilities of any wireless earbuds on the market. Their noise-canceling abilities aren’t quite up to the levels of the Sony WH-1000XM3, the company’s flagship noise-canceling over-ear headphones, but then again we wouldn’t expect it to. Additionally, they’re still one of the best-sounding wireless earbuds on this list. If you’re looking for a downside, the only thing is that the charging case is quite large.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
These are Sennheiser’s second-generation wireless earbuds and they look pretty much identical to original Momentum True Wireless that were released in 2018. Only, they have significantly most battery life, active noise-canceling and transparency modes, and they still pack Sennheiser’s best-in-class sound. If you’re comfortable paying $300 and they fit in your ears (of few of my colleagues can’t wear these), then these are one of the best-sounding noise-canceling wireless earbuds you can buy.
1More True Wireless ANC
1More is a company that specializes in hi-fi headphones and earbuds that are way more affordable than the competition. And the 1More True Wireless ANC, which is the company’s first pair of true wireless with active noise-cancellation, as fit the company’s ethos. They deliver solid sound and impressive noise canceling abilities, and they come at a price that’s slightly more affordable than the AirPods Pro, Sony WF-1000XM3 and Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus.
The Sony WF-SP800N are the company’s mid-range pair of wireless earbuds. They’re a more affordable alternative to Sony’s flagship WF-1000XM3, and they lack same level of noise-cancellation and sound-quality (but the two earbuds utilize the same companion app). The real unique thing about the Sony WF-SP800N, however, is that they have a workout-focused design and an IP55 water-resistance rating. They’re one of the few noise-canceling wireless earbuds that are optimized for runners and people going to the gym.
Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus
The MW07 Plus is Master & Dynamic’s second-generation wireless earbuds (along with the MW07 Go) and its first with active noise-cancellation. They sound excellent and have pretty decent noise-cancellation abilities. They lack of a companion app, however, which makes it a little difficult to know which mode you’re in (there’s an ambient listening mode in addition to an ANC mode). They’re on the expensive side, for sure, but they’re made of acetate and stainless steel, and are definitely some of the most unique and flashiest wireless earbuds you can buy.
Jabra Elite 85t
Released in fall 2020, the Elite 85t are the company's first pair of wireless earbuds with active noise-cancellation. (However, Jabra was able to roll out a software patch to its previous wireless earbuds, the Elite 75t, that gave them active noise-cancellation, too.) They have improved drivers and an improved ergonomic fit, so they should sound better and be slightly more comfortable to wear than the Elite 75t. That said, Jabra has been making some of our favorite wireless earbuds for several years now and the Elite 75t are still excellent and way more affordable.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are the company's newest and innovatively-designed wireless earbuds with active noise-cancellation and transparency modes. They have a unique bean-like shape and fit comfortably in your ears without creating a physical seal, which also prevents you from getting that pressurized feeling of being underwater (and also allows you to better hear ambient sounds). While very good noise-canceling wireless earbuds, they're really designed for Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners because it has exclusive features like quick pairing and wireless charging (via Samsung's Wireless PowerShare).
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
The Galaxy Buds Pro are the best noise-canceling earbuds that Samsung currently offers, and they're different from the company's Galaxy Buds Live in a couple key ways. They have a more traditional in-ear design which helps them deliver better sound and improved active noise-cancellation. They also have a significantly better water-resistance rating (IPX7), so they're more suited for workouts. They also have a cool "voice detect" feature that you can turn on, which automatically lowers the volume of the music when you start talking. Again, these wireless earbuds should really only be considered if you have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone as there's no app support for iPhones.