Best Travel Headphones

In today’s article, we hand-select a pair of headphones floating around in today’s market for a number of rugged, long life, comfortable candidates that will make for big contenders for the best travel headphones of 2020. When it comes to audio on the go, you need to consider a few additional factors with portability and comfort at the forefront. We often choose in-ear models for travel because their naturally compact nature lends them portability, but they’re not always best for blocking out unwanted noise.

Although many earbuds brag about active noise cancellation, they don’t do much about passive noise cancellation, so despite their best efforts, they don’t make the best travel headphones. They tend to be less loud and lack some sound compared to their overhead counterpart which is generally much more capable thanks to the extra space they have available to accommodate larger drivers.

Best Travel Headphones

Fortunately, the noise-canceling headphones are now maturing, with some great quality products to choose from across the price range. These are the best travel headphones that are worth buying.

1. Sony WH-1000XM4

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The Sony WH-1000XM4 delivers excellent noise cancellation and surprising sound quality in a lightweight, comfortable design. Although they do not look significantly different from their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM3, a number of new features such as multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, conversation awareness, and auto-play/pause using a built-in sensor, help the WH-1000XM4 claim the title of best headphone in 2020. The Sony WH-1000XM4 is in every way a beautiful wireless noise-canceling headphone.

They deliver exactly what they promise, and then some thanks to their exceptional noise cancellation and advanced codec support. On top of the above adjustments, the Sony WH-1000XM4 supports Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format, which enables spatial audio on stereo headphones, plus the LDAC codec, which can transmit a bit rate of up to 990 kbps. The unfortunate thing is that it no longer supports aptX or aptX HD, so the mileage of your Hi-Res Audio can vary.

2. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

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They don’t quite beat the Sony WH-1000XM4s in terms of lifespan and price, but the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 is still a brilliant pair of over-ear cans – and the best Bose headphones we’ve reviewed. Traditionally, noise-canceling headphones are designed to block out the ambient noise around you, so you can hear your music more clearly (or pick it up a little during a noisy flight). This can be really effective when listening to music. However, when you make a phone call, the person you’re talking to can still hear everything that’s going on around you.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 try to address this by applying noise cancellation to phone calls and music, which is a great feature – which is why these are the best noise-canceling headphones for making calls. The sound quality is unmistakably good, with a lively, vibrant character and a well-balanced sound image. If you’re trying to choose between the Sony WH-1000XM4s and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, we recommend you go for first because of that lower price and better battery life. Overall, this is one of the best travel headphones to buy.

3. Sony WH-1000XM3

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The Sony WH-1000XM3 was the best noise-canceling headphones in the world for two years in a row – and although they have been surpassed by the new Sony WH-2000XM4, there is still a lot to love about these over-ear looks. For music lovers, the Sony WH-1000XM3 features aptX HD and Sony LDAC, two of the best ways to listen to Hi-Res music from your phone without a cable. Moreover, all of Sony’s flagship headphones offer both Google Assistant and Alexa support. If you can get hold of the older, second-generation Sony WH-1000XM2, they are still very much worthwhile as a more affordable (if slightly lower-specific) model. Overall, this is one of the best travel headphones to buy.

4. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

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Number four is the Bose QuietComfort 35 II – an almost identical product to the already outstanding Bose QuietComfort 35 but updated with Google Assistant. This means you’ll still get the industry-leading noise cancellation for which Bose is renowned, good sound quality and incredible comfort, plus a handy assistant to answer any questions you might have while traveling. Taken as a whole, the Bose QC35 II NC is an excellent pair of headphones for travelers and commuters. Bose has found a good balance of features that will satisfy most mainstream listeners.

Despite the popularity of the QC35s, Bose has shaken things up by releasing a completely new model of wireless noise-canceling headphones, with an emphasis on sleek design and “breakthrough” audio technology: the Bose Noise-cancelling Headphones 700. They may not have grabbed Sony to the top spot of the best noise-canceling headphones, but they’re still a fantastic pair of over-ear headphones, coming in at number two. Overall, this is one of the best travel headphones to buy.

5. Shure AONIC 50

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The Shure AONIC 50 has a wireless, active noise-canceling over-ear design, and sells at a premium price to compete with Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose NC 700 headphones. In the end, while you won’t find every feature here under the sun, the Shure AONIC 50 is focused on delivering the best sound quality from almost any noise-canceling headphone – making them the best noise-canceling headphones for audiophiles. Overall, this is one of the best travel headphones to buy.

6. Jabra Elite 85H

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The Elite 85h offers class-leading battery life, great style, and plenty of personalization when it comes to sound profiles, and is easily recommended. That said, purists will complain about the lack of high-end codec support and there are punchier headphones on the market at this price point. Considering that Jabra’s Elite 85h headphones are the company’s first attempt to create the best ANC wireless headphones, the result is highly commendable. We can’t wait to see what the company’s next premium ANC headphones will achieve. Overall, this is one of the best travel headphones to buy.

7. Marshall Monitor II ANC

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The Marshall Monitor II ANC is undoubtedly the brand’s best headphones yet; the audio quality offered here far surpasses all previous models, with a balanced presentation, smooth midrange tones, and a generally powerful, rock-solid sound. They feel comfortable, come with tons of cool rock heritage, and look stylish. This makes the Marshall Monitor II ANCs, next to their good noise cancellation, easy operation, and accompanying app, a convincing alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM4. They do not completely win in terms of sound quality or noise cancellation, but these over-ear headphones are still very good. Overall, this is one of the best travel headphones to buy.

8. Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless

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In terms of pure sound quality, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones sound brilliant, with high levels of detail, warm bass, and natural-sounding treble. The adjustable noise cancellation offered here is also good but does not quite reach the leading standards set by the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless headphones. They are far from the battery life of Sony’s headphones, and are more expensive – which begs the question, why buy the Sennheisers if you could have the WH-1000XM4?

Well, if the built-in Tile tracking appeals to you, and you like the industrial design and high-quality materials of the Momentum 3 Wireless, then that could be reason enough – and if you choose these headphones instead of the Sony model, you won’t miss out on any sound quality. In that respect, they are truly attuned to each other. Overall, this is one of the best travel headphones that you can buy.

9. JBL Tune 750BTNC

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JBL is a popular name in the world of headphones and Bluetooth speakers, and rightly so. The consumer is trustworthy and knows what to expect from the brand: a decent sound quality at a decent price. That’s what we found with the JBL Live 650BTNC last year – and now, ready to take their place, are the JBL Tune 750BTNC, a superior successor to the 650BTNCs as a high-specification and well-priced set of over-ear headphones. The JBL Tune 750BTNC sounds great, looks great, and fits well. Reliable and easy to use, you may miss the waterproofness and a few small features – but at this price, it feels silly to complain too easily. Overall, this is one of the best travel headphones that you can buy.

10. Microsoft Surface Headphones 2

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The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 is the tech giant’s second pair of noise-canceling headphones, and they offer a lot of great improvements over the original Surface Headphones while retaining some of their best qualities. Despite these improvements – including longer battery life and more comfortable design – Surface Headphones 2 are significantly cheaper than their predecessors, making them the obvious choice when trying to choose between the two.

That lower price also makes them a great alternative to the best 2020 headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM4, especially as they have retained the winning design features of the original Surface Headphones, with built-in dials on each ear cup to control your music and active noise cancellation. Overall, this is one of the best travel headphones that you can buy.

11. Bowers & Wilkins PX

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The PX is Bowers & Wilkins’ first Bluetooth ANC headset, and boy, they’re impressive. For starters, you can control the level and type of ANC using an app on your smartphone. The headphones sound great, with the usual thrilling, yet well-balanced, the distinctive sound of black and white. We’d even say they sound a little better than the other noise-canceling headphones for big tickets. The PX also features motion-sensing, which means that if you take a cup out of your ear, the sound is paused, and if you take them off completely, they go into standby mode. This is very useful when you are traveling because you will often have to remove them to be able to talk to people.

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