Best cheap Active Noise Cancelling headphones under $100
Great cheaper alternatives to the Bose QuietComfort 35 and Sony MH1000XM3
In the previous years, it wasn’t a very good choice to search for great Active Noise Cancelling headphones on a limited budget. They often sounded terrible or had weak noise reduction. Halfway 2019, times have changed. I’ve selected and tested a big handful… these are the best wireless ANC headphones under 100 dollar!
Last updated on June 26th 2019: added the OneAudio A9 — thanks so much for the suggestion, reader Arihant!
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 dollar, aren’t as refined as the Sony MH1000XM3 or the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. As you’ve probably seen or read in other tests, these two still offer the best noise cancelling quality. Both combine it with pleasant audio quality and an app that gives them extra functionality too. The headphones in this test don’t reach the same amount of noise reduction as the class leaders.
However: some still have great noise cancelling qualities. In fact, my top recommendations are among the best options to get under 300 dollar, with the OneAudio A9 scoring even better than the JBL 650BTNC and Sony WH900N; both around $180. The best models in this test deliver great noise cancelling 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 cancelling headphones with the highest user ratings on Amazon and AliExpress, especially the highest subscores on noise cancelling 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 cancelling 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.
So with all things considered, and without further ado: here are the best cheap noise cancelling headphones under $100, on Amazon and AliExpress:
Best cheap ANC headphone under $100: OneAudio A9
It's only been a month since I published this article, and there's a new winner in town. The OneAudio A9 delivers Bose-like noise cancelling, lots of comfort and outstanding sound quality.
Let's get to it: 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'll hear someone standing straight in front of you, sure, however televisions, trains, cars, humming, background conversations: they just fade away into nothingness. 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 dollar in order to get a Sony MH1000XM3 or Bose QuietComfort. But really — you don't have to.
Because apart from the noise cancelling, the sound quality on the OneAudio A9 is excellent as well. It delivers a friendly, all rounded, warm sound, with a soothing bass that's not too overpowered. Vocals are presented forward and with good clarity, with instruments sounding a bit more far away from you, and around you. This is a balanced sound signature, much like that of the QuietComfort, suited for many genres.
The OneAudio A9/ OneOdio A9 uses Bluetooth 4.1, which seems outdated, but don't let it fool you. The connection is stable up to 10 meters, audio synchronises 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 continu listening with the delivered audio cable. It also comes with a hard case by the way, in which you can store the headphone folded.
Did I already mention the call quality is excellent? And so is comfort, with the softened headband and the big enough, thick padded cushions?
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. The best cheap active noise cancelling headphone under 100 dollar.
Runner-up for best cheap ANC headphone under $100: TaoTronics TT-BH047
Going for a flashier look than the OneAudio A9? The TaoTronics BH047 delivers a combination of good active noise cancelling and great music quality under 100 dollar.
The noise cancellation of the BH047 reduces bass tones and a fair amount of mid tones too. You’ll still hear colleagues within three meters of you talking, but everything else becomes more distant, to the point of being inaudible. Noises such as trains, traffic and hummings are also blocked steadily. The BH047 doesn’t close you out from the world, like the top tier Sony and Bose can, but it does do an impressive job of putting the world around you to the background.
The sound quality of the TaoTronics TT-BH047 with ANC on or off is also great. It’s warm and smooth. Bass and lower tones are emphasized, but never overbearing. Male and female vocals are brought upfront and sound sweet and clear; instruments are separated well from each other, and sound either close or more distant. It’s an entertaining sound signature to enjoy for hours on end, no matter the volume. Much like the A9, these are a great travel or working companion.
The strengths of the TaoTronics BH047 don’t stop there. While the earcups aren’t the biggest, they still hug around your ears nicely and their soft cushions are comfortable. The headset feels sturdy and fits great, and it can be folded and unfolded easily. Its buttons are tactile and logical, controlling is a breeze and a battery charge lasts around 20 hours.
The TaoTronics is great at musical playback and good at noise cancelling. A more 'urban looking', fashionable alternative to the OneAudio A9.
Alternative for strong noise cancelling under $100: TaoTronics TT-BH060/ Boltune 5.0 ANC
There's another runner-up for excellent noise cancelling under 100 dollar. The TaoTronics TT-BH060 or Boltune 5.0 ANC doesn't offer the same level of sound quality, unfortunately.
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 meter are heavily toned down, basses disappear, humming and mid tones are attacked aggressively. Just putting it on will increase your concentration, will ease your mind.
It definitely helps that the headphone is comfortable, with a soft headband and cushions, even though it is a bit heavy and can press a little if you’re wearing glasses. The Bluetooth connection, battery life and the buttons are just plain good, happily.
The sound quality of the TaoTronics BH060/ Boltune 5.0 ANC falls a bit short however. Either with ANC turned on or off, the BH060 sounds a bit like an echo chamber from time to time. Basses are emphasised yet sound somewhat distant, creating a sense of hollowness. Vocals and instruments lack a bit of presence compared to the bass, preventing less bass heavy music to come alive.
Does that make this headphone a bad deal? No! If you spend 65 dollar on a headphone of a renown brand, you’ll likely get average sound quality too, but then you’ll miss out on great build quality and excellent noise cancellation.
Best sub 100 dollar ANC headphone for bigger ears: Domax M1/ Teeline M1
I want to make a special recommendation for the comfort that the Domax M1 (also known as the Teeline M1) offers. It’s not that the TaoTronics model are uncomfortable — far from it, but the Domax is just better suited for big ears.
The headphone is lightweight, has a soft comfortable headband and big earcups with fat cushions: even for bigger ears, the Domax M1 is downright comfortable.
It’s a solid offering on other aspects too. It’s noise cancelling takes away quite a bit of the bassy and mid tones around you, although certainly not as good as the TaoTronics models and the below mentioned Hiearcool. Music with ANC on is engaging and sounds especially warm on these, with emphasis on the lower mids and the bass in one hand, and vocals and upper mid tones on the other hand. The Domax provides an enjoyable combination of an entertaining listen, comfort and a decent noise cancelling. A runner-up for the best ANC headphone under 100 dollar.
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:
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)
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 cancelling wireless Bluetooth earphones under 100 dollar 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
Please follow me to keep updated with new tests and articles. See you next time!