The market for truly wireless earphones has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. There are tens and hundreds of wireless earphones out there, right from the super affordable ones to the premium ones like the Apple AirPods Pro or the Jabra Elite Active 75t. One of the categories that has been explored less is the one for noise-canceling earphones, especially in the budget segment. They are far lesser in numbers than their conventional counterparts, which makes them a tad difficult to spot.
But worry not, we have taken it upon ourselves to curate a small list of the top wireless noise-canceling earbuds under $200.
Noise-canceling earphones come in various forms. While the passive noise-canceling earbuds are more widely available, we are interested in the buds that bundle Active Noise Cancellation or ANC. As you may already know, these buds are designed to cancel outside noise through the exterior microphones. The mics in question measure the ambient noise and negate it before the sound hits your eardrums. Of course, these pairs usually come at a price that could leave a serious in your pockets.
The difference between the premium segment earphones and the sub-premium earphones is how the makers pack the feature. In a few of the earphones, the ANC's hiss can be overpowering, thus spoiling the overall song experience.
Now, that we have settled, let's get started. But before that,
The Mpow X3 is easily one of the cheapest wireless earphones with ANC that effectively cancels out ambient noise and other distractions. They look a lot like the new Apple AirPods Pro with their signature golf tee-like design. Like its Apple counterpart, you won't find any extra decorations like LED indicators or dual-tone design. It sports an all-black look with just a small logo at the front. The overall sound quality is quite good for the price. It has the right amount of bass, something which has been praised by many. At the same time, they are IPX7 rated, meaning you do not have to worry about sweat or water damage.
Like most modern earphones, these buds also pack touch-sensitive pads on the exterior. You can use them for various scenarios, including changing the song, answering calls, or summoning your phone's voice assistant.
The battery life is decent for the price. When charged fully, the buds will last around 7 hours with the case providing an additional 20 hours of playback time.
Last but not least, the silicone tips' snug fit further aids the ANC of the earphones. The trick here is to find the right fit for the correct seal.
Another pair of earphones with noise cancellation is the Amazon Echo Buds. They have superb specs, including a small and compact build. However, being first-generation earphones, they are riddled with issues with many users complaining about the buds failing after a few months.
The 1More True Wireless goes out of its way to make effective wireless earbuds for the price. These buds bundle ANC and also bring high-res Bluetooth codec like aptX as well as AAC to the table. Plus, you get the advantage of USB-C charging. The buds aren't too big and fit well into the ear cavity, although they do manage to stick out a little.
When it comes to sound quality, the 1More True Wireless does not disappoint. Though the bass is on the higher side, it doesn't sacrifice the clarity of the music tracks. The ANC is capable and blocks out noise successfully. It falls short when compared to the likes of premium earphones like the Sony WF-1000XM3.
The combination of the Bluetooth codecs and the Qualcomm True Wireless Stereo Plus, ensures you get a quality audio output followed by minimal latency.
One of the drawbacks of these buds is the short battery life. They are a lot less when compared to its peers. With ANC on, you only get around 3-4 hours on moderate volumes. The charging case provides around 2.6 charges, which gives you a cumulative playback time of 11 hours.
On the upside, they have the fast-charge advantage and a mere 15 minutes of charge buys you around 2 hours of run time.
Another pair of wireless earbuds that boasts of ANC is the Sony WF-SP800N. These are one of the newest buds and sports IP55 rating, a feature-rich app, and also promises a comfortable fit. The noise cancellation does quite a great job in eliminating ambient noise. So even if you are next to a noisy machine or an old fan, you'll be able to work at peace without issues. At the same time, the pair bundles touch-sensitive buttons which you are free to customize as per your preferences.
As noted earlier, the companion app is feature-rich. From letting you tweak the equalizer to enable location-based noise cancellation, it lets you do a lot. The best part is that it also bundles Ambient Noise feature, which comes in to play when you want to stay aware of your surroundings, especially when running, cycling or commuting to your workplace.
At 9 hours (with ANC), the battery life can be considered decent. The downside is that the charging case only packs an extra cycle, giving you a total playback time of 18 hours.
The only downside to these Sony earphones is that they are huge and sticks out of the ear. At the same time, the charging case is big, which makes it inconvenient to carry it on your hands or pockets. Bummer, I know.
On the bright side, the fit is excellent, and no amount of running or jumping will loosen these buds from your ears. And this holds true even if your ears sweat a lot. Oddly, these Sony earphones do not support Bluetooth multipoint or any high-res Bluetooth codec like aptX HD or LDAC.
If you want to go all-in into wireless earphones, you can't go wrong with the Sony WF-1000XM3. These buds bring one of the best ANC experience amongst its peers and are considered one of the best in the market. Unlike its counterpart above, they look stylish and trendy. Released last year, the crux of these buds is the touch-sensitive buttons, which let you do a variety of tasks like playback, activating the Google Assistant, changing the ambient noise levels, and so on.
Similar to the SP800N, the 1000XM3 (Sony should really do something the product names), bundle an elongated look, and sticks out a little from your ears. On the positive side, the bigger footprint and the high-friction rubber surface makes it easy to hold the buds.
Being premium buds, the 1000XM3 delivers a clear sound signature with thumping bass, and the stellar noise cancellation further boosts that. The folks at The Guardian believe that the buds "allows you to hear new things in longtime favorite tracks." Now, that's something.
The standalone battery life is a little less than its peers. When charged, you will get a playback time of 5-6 hours with the case supply and three additional three cycles of battery life.
Since these are not sports earphones, they do not have water-resistant ratings. At the same time, the carry case is on the bigger side. Hopefully, Sony does something about it with the new 1000XM4.
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If you can spend a few bucks more (and if you already own an iPhone), you can check out the Apple AirPods Pro. These buds bundle an industry-leading noise cancellation, and they have worked a lot on the fit of the buds. Alternatively, if you are looking for a pair of wireless earphones to wear to the gym, you can't go wrong with the Beats Powerbeats Pro.
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