Best Noise Canceling On-Ear Wireless Headphones in 2020

2020 may have been a pretty rough year, but the wireless headphone market has never been hotter. Looking for a new set of on-ear wireless headphones with noise canceling? Here’s a roundup of four of the top sets available in late 2020, plus pros and cons for each.
Just don’t forget to stay protected with an affordable extended headphone warranty plan.
Now, on to the reviews!

AirPods Max

Apple’s AirPods Max are the newest contender on this list as they were released in Early December 2020. It’s Apple’s first real foray into the upper end of the headphones market. (Beats has some moderately expensive sets, but audiophiles tend to avoid them as overly bassy and more mass-market in nature.)
AirPods Max are a notable entry, for sure, with impressive audio quality, craftsmanship and design. Additionally, they have great tech enhancements including spatial audio and computational audio. The competition doesn’t have additions quite like these, and some buyers will find the price difference worth it.
Many early reviewers love the sound but struggle with the lack of power button and 3.5mm jack. Also, the included case – required for putting the headphones into ultra-low-power mode – is bizarre.

Pros

  • Stellar sound
  • H1 chip adds advanced connectivity for Apple users
  • Exquisite craftsmanship
  • Spatial and computational audio are great enhancements

Cons

  • No physical power button
  • Price
  • Really weird case
  • Heavier than the rest

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose has made a name for itself as a go-to for business travelers and others looking for a quality noise-canceling set of headphones. Their current QuietComfort 35 II on-ear wireless headphones are an impressive entry as well, with some interesting tech built in.
Bose uses a proprietary system for its noise canceling called Acoustic Noise Cancelling. In the QuietComfort 35, Acoustic Noise Cancelling offers three levels of noise canceling. Some Bose users in the past have complained about an uncomfortable pressure from the aggressive noise canceling, so this leveling ability is a welcome addition. There’s also voice assistant integration on board here, plus a volume-optimized EQ. The latter doesn’t achieve the same level of magic as the AirPods Max, but it’s a nice touch nonetheless.
One big advantage here is price. While these retail for $349.95, you can regularly find them for $270 or even cheaper. That’s a big savings over Apple’s offering.

Pros

  • Legacy of superior quality sound and impressive noise cancelation
  • Proprietary features impress
  • Much cheaper than Apple’s option
  • Includes a 3.5mm jack and cable

Cons

  • Somewhat plain design is less attractive
  • Premium materials
  • Some users don’t think the “noise rejecting dual microphones” do much to reduce background noise

Sony WH-1000XM4

To continue, this set from Sony has great tech and good sound. Seriously: they are loaded to the hilt with impressive-sounding features. On the other, it’s just a bit hard to get excited about them. Many of the features touted on Sony’s site don’t seem like the sorts of things most listeners are going to notice or care about.
A couple other negatives: these on-ear wireless headphones aren’t very attractive, and the touch controls can be a bit frustrating.
That said, the price is right. They’re the cheapest set included in this review, and they certainly do produce an impressive soundscape.

Pros

  • Packed to the brim with tech enhancements like a dedicated noise-canceling processor and atmospheric pressure optimization
  • Supports lesser-known high-quality audio codecs
  • Can operate passively (no noise cancelation or Bluetooth)
  • Collapsible design
  • Included carrying case

Cons

  • Downright ugly
  • Some users find touch controls to be awkward and hard to learn
  • Sony’s audio reputation isn’t that remarkable

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless

If you want a truly premium product that looks and sounds the part, and you don’t want to pay Apple prices, Sennheiser’s Momentum Wireless headset is a serious contender.
Sennheiser is a German company that exclusively makes audio products, and they’ve made quite a name for themselves among the audiophile community. Yet their products have always been surprisingly affordable.
These are premium headphones, incorporating genuine leather and matte steel. They have a unique look, one that will turn some heads. And they are equipped with the features and tech you want, without a lot of useless bloat.
Like Apple’s AirPods Max, Sennheiser offers something called Transparent Hearing, allowing you to bypass the noise cancelation and hear some ambient noise. And like Bose’s entry, the active noise cancellation can be toggled between three modes (though Sennheiser refers to them as being “tailored to different environments” rather than simply being low, medium and high).
Momentum Wireless includes Tile tracking technology built in, allowing you to find your headphones using the accompanying app. There’s also one-touch voice assistant access.
For a deeper dive on this set, check out a thorough review from The Verge.

Pros

  • Sennheiser is beloved for its impressive sound quality
  • Unique aesthetic will attract some buyers
  • Physical control buttons
  • 3.5mm jack

Cons

  • Unique arms might frustrate some users
  • Carrying case is softer than others
  • Premium price (though still cheaper than Apple)

Whichever You Choose, Choose Peace of Mind

Ultimately, all of these headphones offer an impressive experience. The choice for many comes down to personal preference and budget. But one thing’s certain: whichever set you choose, choose peace of mind by pairing your purchase with an extended headphone warranty from Upsie. There’s no need to worry about what will happen should your headphones become damaged or defective. Upsie’s coverage is affordable and comprehensive. Get protected today!

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