Best noise cancelling headphones in Australia 2024

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This guide was last updated on 26 February 2024. See more.

The first time you put on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones on a plane, your whole view on life changes.

Suddenly, the droning buzz of the engines, the cries of children and the dings of people calling an attendant disappear into blissful silence.

The technology that drives noise-cancelling headphones has improved remarkably over the past 10 years. This makes them perfect not just for flying, but also for the everyday.

But how do you pick the right pair? That’s where we come in.

Remember that everybody’s needs are different, so what we’ve listed in this guide of the best noise-cancelling headphones may not suit your needs. Why not check our list of the best headphones in Australia or our picks for best wireless headphones to help your search?

Many noise cancelling headphones are also pretty awesome wireless earbuds. Some can even be used as an impressive pair of gaming headphones.

These are the best noise cancelling headphones in Australia right now:

Sony WH-1000XM5

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Recommended by 80% or review sites

Somehow, Sony’s engineers managed to take what was already a phenomenal pair of headphones and make them even better.

The XM5 builds on the WH-1000XM4 in almost every way, with clearer audio, more features and even better noise cancellation.

With Bluetooth multipoint so you can connect to your laptop and your phone, plus custom EQ settings through the app, these headphones are tough to beat.

If you want the best, then this is the best.

Apple AirPods Max

Apple Airpods Max

Recommended by 70% or review sites

Despite owning one of the biggest headphone brands in the world in the form of Beats, Apple’s own AirPods lineup comes out on top when it comes to noise cancellation.

The AirPods Max are the brand’s audio flagship. They offer superb audio quality, support for spatial audio and noise cancellation that can drown out the outside world.

They are also one of the most expensive pair of headphones you can buy. If price is a consideration, the Sony WH-1000XM5 are a better option.

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Recommended by 60% or review sites

Sennheiser completely redesigned its Momentum headphones with the 4th generation, and the results speak for themselves.

The Momentum 4 offers versatile Bluetooth playback and impressive active noise cancellation features. It may not live up to the standard set by Sony and Bose, but it’s still remarkably high quality.

There’s excellent battery life and comfort as well, to make the purchase all the more appealing.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones

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Recommended by 60% of review sites

If there’s one thing that Bose understands better than almost any other audio company, it’s noise cancelling.

Bose has been doing noise-cancelling headphones since the first Bose Aviation headset in 1989. The new QUietComfort Ultra headphones have come a long way since then, and offer incredible ANC.

Stylish and comfortable, with impressive passthrough functionality, these headphones are a strong competitor in this space. They are pricey, but if you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.


How we chose the best noise cancelling headphones

Review sites – including this one – are subjective by nature. Everybody has a different opinion of what is best.

So to try and counter the fact that every best guide on the internet has a different opinion of what is best, we approached our list by combining the results of some of the top sites recommending noise cancelling headphones on the market today.

To determine this list, we followed the same journey most consumers would follow: we went to Google.

We searched for “Best noise cancelling headphones” and identified the top 10 results. It’s important to note that Google results can change often.

Referenced sites

We listed out all of the noise cancelling headphones listed on each site, tidying up any slight differences in spelling for consistency.

We calculated the frequency in which each product was mentioned across those 10 guides. The more frequently a product is mentioned, the more agreement there is between experts reviewing these products.

We set a minimum of four mentions across all 10 guides to be eligible for inclusion here. This means that at least 50% of the sites surveyed recommend each product.

Before we created this page we took some time to remove products that are either unavailable, or difficult to find in Australia.

We also leveraged our own experience with products to ensure that we wouldn’t be recommending any product that doesn’t deliver.


What to look for when choosing the best noise cancelling headphones

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Whether you’re after one of the models listed above or something completely different, the decision factors you need to consider when buying noise cancelling headphones is the same.

The noise cancellation

If noise cancellation is important to you, then understanding it is the most important purchase decision.

You need to understand the difference between active noise cancellation (sometimes referred to as ANC) and passive noise cancellation (sometimes called noise isolating).

Passive noise cancellation is when the headphones’ design and materials to block out noise through a tight fit and naturally sound-resistant materials.

Active noise cancellation is where the headphones use a microphone, a special processor and software to actively counter the incoming noise.

When we talk about noise cancelling headphones, we are referring to the active type. But you should always make sure that’s what’s on offer when shopping around.

Comfort

There are three main types of headphone design: in-ear, on-ear or over-ear.

Noise cancellation models are available in all three varieties, so it’s important to understand which type you find most comfortable when deciding which model to buy.

If you are planning a long-haul flight and want to wash away ambient noise for 24 hours, then you need to know your ears aren’t going to start hurting an hour after takeoff.

Sound quality

There’s no point blocking out all outside sound if the quality you are listening to isn’t any good.

Generally speaking, the audio quality from recognised brands is pretty high, so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Unless you’re shopping in the extremely cheap sections of the Internet ,buying brands nobody has really heard of before.

Battery life

Most noise cancelling headphones offer wireless functionality, and that means you need to think about battery life.

ANC can make a big difference to how long you can listen to music for. If you expect to leave it on all the time, make sure you won’t end up with no sound at all when the juice does run out.

Features and functions

Noise cancelling headphones typically have their own set of features to look out for, particular at the premium end of town.

Consider the ability to passthrough outside audio on demand, or even set different levels for different situations (like maximum ANC on the train, but low cancellation while walking so you can hear the cars driving past).

Also consider a fallback to use a cable and headphone jack in case the battery dies – this is crucial on long-haul flights.

Price

As with anything, price is a key component. The best noise cancelling headphones are expensive, so make sure you understand your budget before purchasing anything.


Update history
  • 6 December 2022 – First Published
  • 10 January 2023 – Updated the number of recommendations for products.
  • 8 March 2023 – Updated the number of recommendations for products.
  • 8 May 2023 – Updated the number of recommendations for products.
  • 7 August 2023 – Updated the number of recommendations for products. Added the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2.
  • 24 November 2023 – Updated the number of recommendations for products. Removed Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, Bose 700, Sony WH-1000XM4, Bose QC45, Airpods Pro 2, Sony WF-1000XM4, B&W Px7 S2.
  • 26 February 2024 –  Update number of recommendations. Added Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones.

Author

  • Nick Broughall

    Nick is the founder and editor of BTTR. He is an award winning product reviewer, who has spent the last 20 years writing, editing and publishing technology and consumer content for brands like Finder, Gizmodo and TechRadar.

    View all posts
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