Studying has changed a lot in 2021, with more options available for remote learning it has never been more important to invest in a quality pair of noise-canceling headphones. If you are looking for a way to block out distractive background noise so you can focus on your work, we have compiled a list of the best noise-canceling headphones to help you study.

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Noise-canceling Headphones to Improve Studying

Some of you may be asking, what are the benefits of wearing noise-canceling headphones, and will they really help when you are studying? 

Many studies have been conducted over the years to investigate the effects of noise on mental activities such as memory, reading, arithmetic, and comprehension. These studies proved that noise, particularly noise that varies, can significantly impact your ability to concentrate. 

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In fact, one 1998 study by Banbury and Benny showed that participants who were exposed to a mixture of speech and office noises had a decline in memory performance by around half. Mental arithmetic performance also dropped by almost 30%. For students, this could be the difference between a pass and a fail.

If you want to be able to control the level of background noise you are exposed to while studying, then noise-canceling headphones are a great solution. Whether you benefit from listening to calming white noise, or just want to block out the external sounds, the best headphones with noise cancelation will give you the freedom to study anytime, anywhere. 

Check out best noise cancellation headphones for airplane.

What To Consider When Choosing The Best Noise-canceling Headphones For Studying

Price 

If you are a student, you may be all too familiar with the financial struggles you can face when juggling your studies, part-time jobs, and a busy social calendar. It can be all too tempting to pick the cheapest pair of noise-canceling headphones and hope for the best. However, we advise being careful, as the price can often reflect build quality and impact the performance and longevity of your chosen headset.

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That being said, a higher price tag does not always equal higher quality sound, the differences instead often reside in the additional features. Budget headphones will still achieve effective noise-cancelation at a basic level but they may be less durable with regular use. 

If you have the means to spend a little more, premium models are typically built with more advanced materials and equipped with a range of impressive features that improve the overall performance of your headphones. But do not be discouraged if you do not have the cash, our list includes a variety of budget and mid-range options that provide excellent noise-cancelation.

Noise Cancellation

When searching for a pair of headphones that will reduce background noise, it is important to understand the difference between Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Passive Noise Isolation.

The architecture of the headphones, such as the seal provided by encompassing closed-back headphones or tight-fitting in-ear earbuds, helps to prevent external soundwaves from reaching the ear canal. This is known as passive noise isolation and it can reduce a reasonable amount of ambient background noises, but if you are studying in particularly loud environments you may want something more advanced.

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Active noise-cancelation technology uses small microphones, typically placed on the outside of the ear cup but sometimes positioned within, to pick up any disruptive sounds around you. The headphones will then reproduce the same exact soundwave with a small delay, as shown in the diagram above, to cancel out the unwanted sounds. 

Some models offer what is known as Adaptive ANC, which uses artificial intelligence to analyze your surroundings and automatically adjust to the optimum level of noise-cancelation. This is particularly helpful when on the go between classes or when studying outside of the home, as an additional safety measure you will still hear any warning signals such as alarms or announcements.

Microphone Quality

With online study rising in popularity, particularly following recent major world events, it is also worth ensuring your headphones come equipped with a good quality microphone. When taking part in video calls it can become incredibly frustrating if your teachers or classmates cannot understand what you are saying.

Thankfully there are many headphones now available that carry specific noise-canceling features to alleviate this problem. Look for headphones that come equipped with CVC software. This stands for Clear Voice Capture, which many brands incorporate into their design to improve the voice pick up of your headset.

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The number of microphones built into your headset will also impact the clarity of your voice calls. More microphones positioned at varying angles along the headphones will also improve voice pick-up, so whether you are sat in a cafe, crossing the street, or studying in your dorm, you will be heard with impressive clarity. 

Battery Life

Active noise-cancelation requires more power in order to function thanks to the additional technology built into the design. Therefore it is essential you select a pair of headphones with a good level of battery life, or you may find yourself unable to enjoy all of the benefits of background noise cancelation when you study.

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Even with an auxiliary connection, the ANC will still need to hold some charge to work. Make a note of headphones that come with fast-charging features that will often give you an additional few hours of playtime for just 5-15 minutes of charging time. If you often forget to charge your headphones then quick charging will help you out if needed, minimizing disruption to your study schedule.

Review of the Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Studying

1. Best Overall Noise-Canceling Headphones For Studying – Bose QuietComfort 35 II

If you are looking for the best, high-class, reliable noise-cancellation then Bose is a brand you can trust. The QuietComfort 35 II headphones using their proprietary technology will analyze the environment around you to continuously assess the outside noise. They will then produce an out-of-phase soundwave to counteract the ambient background noise, allowing you to focus on exactly what you want.

If you plan to study remotely at all, the noise-rejecting dual-microphone system will ensure your calls are clear with great voice pick-up even in a loud environment. On top of that, the audio you receive is well balanced and true, So whether you are listening to a lecture or relaxing to your favorite music, you won’t miss a word.

These wireless Bluetooth headphones also come equipped with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. So you can keep track of your schedule, check the weather, or find a local coffee shop all with your voice! You also get up to 20 hours of battery life, and with the comfortable padded earcups and soft headband, you can easily keep wearing them for extended periods of time. 

Although one of our pricier recommendations, this is reflected in the quality of the headphones themselves. The QC35’s are built with impact-resistant materials such as glass-filled nylon and corrosion-resistant stainless steel, so they will withstand plenty of trips in and out of your backpack and whatever else life may throw at them.

Pros

  • Continuous background noise analysis
  • Noise-rejecting dual-microphones
  • Balanced audio production
  • Equipped with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant 
  • 20 hours battery life
  • Built with impact-resistant materials
  • Trusted brand

Cons

  • More expensive than our other recommendations

2. Best Affordable Noise-Canceling Earbuds For Studying – Earfun Air Pro

If you prefer the more compact design of in-ear headphones, but still want exceptional noise-cancellation, then Earfun Air Pro’s are a great budget option! By simply tapping the earbud twice you can toggle between Noise Reduction modes, normal and ambient, to suit your surroundings. Allowing you to control exactly what you hear for better concentration.

On top of their QuietSmart technology, the Earfuns also feature an impressive 6-microphone Call Technology that boosts voice pick-up by 300% to ensure any remote classes you attend can hear you crystal clear. The 10mm drivers also deliver fantastic audio that boosts vocal clarity when listening to your lectures or deep bass for when you want to tune out to your favorite music. 

Customize your fit with a choice of 3 ear tip sizes to suit your ears. These earbuds have been through thousands of tests to provide an ergonomic and lightweight design that is comfortable enough to wear all day. The snug fit also improves passive noise isolation and despite close contact with your skin remain IPX5 Waterproof to protect against sweat damage.

With active noise-cancellation on the Air Pro’s provide 7 hours of continuous use, to last days worth of college lectures. If you need to boost your battery while on the go the charging case can deliver an extra 3 full charges, so you never have to worry about missing a thing. Overall these are a really great affordable noise-canceling headphones for college students!

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Active noise cancellation and ambient modes
  • 6-microphone call technology 
  • 10mm drivers produce clear vocals and good bass
  • 3 ear tip sizes
  • Lightweight ergonomic fit
  • IPX5 Waterproof
  • 7 hours continuous use with ANC mode

Cons

  • No volume control on the earbuds 

3. Best In-Ear Noise-Canceling Headphones For Studying – SENNHEISER Momentum True Wireless 2

If your budget allows you to spend a little more, Sennheiser is a brand worth investing in. A popular choice among audiophiles, Sennheiser has used their longstanding skill and craftsmanship to design the Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds. Bringing you their signature stereo sound in a more compact in-ear package.

Using Active Noice-cancelation technology, coupled with the passive noise isolation provided by the in-ear seal created by the earbud, you can truly tune out distracting background noise. Recreating their original design the Momentum True Wireless 2’s provide improved ergonomics that create a fit so comfortable you may forget you are wearing them.

Offering 7 hours of battery life and an extra 28 hours in the charging case, you can make the most of the enhanced fit for as long as you require. Whether you are hitting the books or unwinding to some music, you can enjoy the rich bass, natural mids, and clear treble with ease for hours.

You can also customize your sound using the built-in equalizers using the Smart Control App to provide optimum sound for your current activity. You can also make the most of the built-in Google Assistant or Apple Siri to plan your class schedule or social calendar. And with improved IPX4 water resistance, you can even take them with you to the gym without the worry of sweat damage!

Pros

  • A popular brand among audiophiles
  • Signature stereo sound
  • Active noise cancellation and passive noise isolation
  • 7 hours battery life
  • Built-in equalizers 
  • Smart Control App
  • IPX4 water resistance

Cons

  • Quite expensive

4. Most Comfortable Noise-Canceling Headphones for Studying – COWIN E8

Cowin has been working hard as a brand to improve its headphone design, to bring you more superior comfort when wearing the E8’s. If you are cramming in some last-minute study or burning the midnight oil tackling assignments, you will appreciate the new lightweight fit and soft, pillowy protein ear cushions. 

The headband is equally as soft and provides a secure fit for hours of use while the earcups also rotate to give you a customized fit precisely angled for you. These improvements also enhance the passive noise isolation created by the well-padded earcups and the seal made between the headphones and your ears.

The Active noise-cancelation takes this one step further, helping to block out more low-frequency sounds so you can focus completely on your work. Built with 45mm drivers, the sound you choose to hear is incredibly detailed, delivering clear vocals on both your favorite tracks or during an online class.

The wireless, Bluetooth E8’s give you the freedom to take your headphones wherever go, and with a 20-hour battery life, you don’t have to worry about running out of charge during your busy day. The AptX support also ensures there is no delay in your audio when making calls or joining remote classes so you can fully immerse yourself in your learning with no disruptions.

Pros

  • New lightweight comfortable fit
  • Improved padded rotating earcups and headband
  • Great noise isolation and active noise-cancelation
  • 45mm drivers deliver clear vocals
  • Wireless Bluetooth with AptX support
  • 20-hour battery life
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Reviewers have commented microphone quality not as good as higher-end brands

5. Best Budget Noise-Canceling Headphones for Studying – Soundcore by Anker Life Q30

If you are looking for a budget pair of noise-canceling headphones that offer a range of additional features on par with a high-end design then try the Soundcore by Anker Life Q30. With high-resolution certification, the Q30’s produce incredibly crisp, detailed sound using their 40mm drivers and highly flexible silk diaphragms. Letting you experience incredible sound at a more affordable price.

The Q30’s are also equipped with hybrid active noise-cancelation and 3 modes to customize the level of background noise you wish to filter out. With dual-noise detecting microphones, up to 95% of low-frequency ambient sounds can be blocked to make sure nothing distracts you from your work.

One of the most impressive features of these budget headphones is the battery life. Offering up to 40-hours of playback time in noise-canceling mode and with a 5-minute quick charge, you can extend your listening by 4 hours in a pinch. Great for college students with a busy schedule, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to charge your headphones again. 

The Q30’s also provide a great level of comfort for long periods of wear thanks to the memory foam earcups and headband. The lightweight frame weighs in at just 9oz but remains secure with adjustable earcups that can be angled up to 15° for a more optimum fit. When you have finished using them, they can be neatly stored away in a convenient carry case for easy storage and protection when traveling.

Pros

  • High-resolution certified sound
  • 40mm drivers deliver crisp audio
  • Hybrid, 3 modes, active noise-cancelation
  • Blocks up to 95% of low-frequency background noise
  • 40 hours playback time
  • 5-minute quick charge 
  • 9oz lightweight frame and padded earcups

Cons

  • Build slightly lower quality than some higher-end models

6. Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Zoom Classes – Sony WH1000XM3

When taking part in online classes, either using zoom or another platform, you want a pair of headphones that are dependable to ensure you miss nothing. Sony is an industry leader in digital noise cancelation and a trusted brand among headphone enthusiasts. While more costly than our budget recommendations, the Sony WH1000XM3’s are built to a high standard with a fantastic range of features that are worth investing in.

The WH1000XM3’s use Smart Listening by SENSE ENGINE to automatically detect what you are doing and adjust the level of noise-cancelation to the optimum level for your surroundings. The noise-cancelation is also personalized to suit the sonic characteristic caused by head size, glasses, and hair, to bring you a truly tailored experience.

These headphones provide 30 hours of Bluetooth listening for when you want hassle-free wireless freedom. If during your online class you want to ensure a strong and stable connection you can use the detachable cable to switch to an analog connection instead, this will help eliminate any latency issues you may experience video calls. 

Built for all-day comfort, the WH1000XM3’s have large pressure-relieving earpads that also provide a wider soundstage for the audiophiles among you. Both ergonomically designed and lightweight you can go about your day completely hands-free, making the most of the Alexa-enabled voice control to plan your busy college schedule.

Pros

  • Industry leaders in digital noise-cancelation
  • Smart Listening by Sense Engine
  • Personalized to your sonic characteristics 
  • 30 hours of wireless listening
  • Detachable cable for low-latency analog connection
  • Large pressure reliving earcups
  • Alexa enabled

Cons

  • Quite expensive in comparison to budget options

Noise Canceling Ear Muffs for Studying

If you already own a pair of headphones that sadly are not equipped with noise-cancellation and you cannot afford to buy an additional pair, ear muffs could be your solution. 

We aren’t talking about the soft, thermal ear muffs many people use in cold weather to keep their ears warm. Instead, we are referring to Acoustic Earmuffs that are specifically made with sound-deadening materials to block any external noises from passing through to the ear canal. These are designed specifically to protect against harmful levels of sound, making them great for reducing background noise.

Source: London Ear Centre

Often made with layers of foam coated in hard plastic, the thickness of the materials gives them the ability to passively block external noise. Many designs are also lightweight enough that they do not weigh your ears down, however, the fit is often quite tight to give an optimum seal between the earcup and the ear.

If you want to try a pair of noise-canceling earmuffs to help with your studies, we recommend Professional Safety Ear Muffs by Decibel Defense. Offering up to 37dB protection, these foldable ear muffs provide padded comfort and sound defense for activities from shooting to sporting events and studying.

To Wrap Up

If you are looking for a way to improve your concentration while studying, then noise-canceling headphones could be the tool you need to give your grades a boost. They are available at a range of prices and with some impressive additional features. To help here is a quick recap of our recommendations of the best noise-canceling headphones for college students:

Don’t forget if an extra pair of headphones is out of your price range, noise-isolating earmuffs are a great alternative for blocking out distracting noises while you study. Whichever option you choose, help get the grades you want by enhancing your performance and focus, as noise-cancelation lets you take control of your study environment.

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