Seeking out the best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds means looking for effective active noise cancellation (ANC) at an attainable price point. This seemed unimaginable a few years back, but the category has evolved and opened the door for many models to offer this premium feature for nearly a third of what Apple charges for the AirPods Pro.
Popular names in the audio space like Jabra, JBL, and even Samsung have seen some of their critically acclaimed models drop below $100, while Amazon darlings like 1More and Anker have high-performance buds available at unbeatable prices. Even mobile newcomers like Nothing and OnePlus are getting in on the action with celebrated releases that put many mid-range noise-cancellers to shame.
The Laptop Mag crew compiled a ranking of the best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds based on performance, price, and purpose. Scroll down to see which ones make for great affordable pickups.
What are the best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds?
Ranked No. 1 on our list of the best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds are the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2. The mobile giant’s latest true wireless release are a steal at $99 with strong ANC, versatile sound, and lots of features into a compact design. Galaxy smartphone owners receive exclusive features like instant pairing and reverse wireless charging.
Coming in second place are the well-received Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro. They remain one of the more reliable performers in the mid-range category. Owners gain access to Anker’s Soundcore app, which boasts a variety of special features that enhance usability. The sound performance and noise cancellation are also impressive for the price.
The Jabra Elite 4 Active aren’t far behind and are one of the best pairs of running earbuds available. Having strong ANC and sound quality are huge benefits, but it’s the versatile feature set that makes these buds stand out. We’re talking Alexa integration, EQ settings, one-touch Spotify, and a Find My Jabra setting for locating misplaced buds. IP57 moisture protection and stable battery life add to their appeal.
Another noteworthy option are the $59 1More PistonBuds Pro. Satisfying ANC and sound in a tiny design, these buds deliver a well-rounded listening experience that can be customized in the companion app. Bluetooth 5.2 might be their unsung feature, maintaining strong connectivity with recognized devices and extending range up to 60 feet for lengthy wireless listening.
We have several more options to break down, so keep reading for more extensive feedback on the best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds.
The best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy today
If you’re looking for something to pair with your fancy Samsung Galaxy S22, it better be the Galaxy Buds 2. Why is that? Let’s start with exclusive features. A low-latency gaming mode, Easy Pairing Mode, and wireless PowerShare to power up the buds by placing the charging case on the back of a compatible Galaxy smartphone — all features that sound great to us. You can even use a Galaxy Watch 4 as a controller to manage playback, calls, and listening modes on the buds. ANC is impressive and blocks out close to 85 percent of ambient noise, while the AKG-tuned drivers pump out lively sound that can be customized in the Galaxy Wearable app.
These buds are limited to 5 hours of ANC playback, which really falls to 4.5 hours when factoring in volume and features, placing them in the same company as the AirPods Pro. Luckily, the super-compact charging case will relieve your low-battery anxiety. Now you know why they sit atop our best cheap noise cancelling earbuds list.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review.
The original Liberty Air 2 were considered a Laptop Mag favorite for their great audio quality, excellent connectivity, and serviceable listening modes. Anker upped the ante with the successor, the Liberty Air 2 Pro, adding new features (e.g., Tip Fit Test, LÜM music service) into the mix, along with adaptive noise cancellation that is not only engineered to block out ambient noise in different environments, but can also be adjusted at the user’s discretion. Battery life on the buds and the redesigned wireless charging case are both rated higher than the AirPods Pro.
Sound is rich and punchy, though audiophiles might take issue with the lacking highs these buds produce. Luckily, there’s the EQ with 22 presets and a custom profile to tweak the sound to your hearing. Besides the high end, the only real issue these buds have are the touch controls, which have limited gesture input and operate on a delay.
Read our full Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro review.
Keeping up with Jabra’s true wireless releases is becoming exhausting, especially at the rate that they’re dropping. A few months after the Jabra Elite 7 Pro and Elite 7 Active hit store shelves, the Elite 4 Active were announced. The lower-priced alternative offers the best value of any model in the series. Audio and noise cancellation are nearly identical across the board, as well as the comfort levels and waterproof protection. Jabra Sound+ app support leaves the door open for newer features to be added via firmware update.
As the mid-range sibling, they lose out on premium features such as MySound for personalized audio and Call Equalizer to add more treble or bass on calls. Luckily, these omissions do little to hinder the Elite 4 Active’s appeal.
Read our full Jabra Elite 4 Active review.
1More has launched numerous wireless earbuds over the past few months, though none have been more impressive than the PistonBuds Pro. At $59, these buds package ANC, Bluetooth 5.2, and powerful audio hardware into a sleek and compact design. The 10mm dynamic driver with an aero titanium membrane pumps out balanced and clear sound with an emphasized low end to appease bass lovers. There’s a two-setting ANC mode that is most effective against low and mid frequencies when set to the highest setting. Battery life is impressive at 7.5 hours per charge.
The mics struggle during phone calls, picking up lots of external sounds and producing muffled audio in most environments. We feel 1More could have also expanded the touch controls, but these are small complaints when factoring in the extremely low MSRP.
Read our full 1More PistonBuds Pro review.
Noise cancellation on wireless sport earbuds generally hasn’t been great, but the JBL Reflect Mini NC are one of the very few exceptions. JBL managed to improve its ANC technology, which minimizes ambient noises better than some of the brand’s previous releases, allowing for some quiet time at the gym or outdoors. You can even adjust the ANC levels in the companion app to your liking. Sound can also be personalized through the EQ, though the buds’ bass-forward signature is already well balanced, dishing out emphatic lows and striking highs. Battery life is another high note, giving you 6 hours with ANC on and 7 hours with ANC off.
While the buds have a damage-proof shell that ensures protection against sweat, water, and hard spills to the concrete, they also don’t provide the best comfort. The touch controls aren’t the most trustworthy either.
Read our full JBL Reflect Mini NC review.
The Ear (1) is Nothing’s debut product, and what a first attempt it is. Outwardly, the most striking thing about this set of buds is the transparent plastic design (a trait shared with the charging case), but what’s really impressive is how technically capable the Ear (1) are for such little money.
$99 gets you water resistance, a comfortable fit, excellent call quality, and sound that’s just as balanced and enjoyable as that of the AirPods Pro. The Ear (1) also offers adjustable active noise cancellation, so if you want a more affordable alternative to Apple’s ANC buds, this is one of the best options.
Read our full Nothing Ear (1) review.
OnePlus has a reputation for offering top-tier performance at a relatively affordable price. The all-new Buds Z2 won’t compete with the category’s most prolific selections, but they are a superb companion piece for OnePlus users who want their own inexpensive AirPods Pro alternative. Each bud houses three mics that filter noise levels almost up to 40dB, blocking out most low- and mid-frequency sounds. The touch controls have been improved. Flash Charge technology is also included to generate 2 hours of playtime on a 10-minute charge.
The well-rounded sound profile is greatly appreciated, though OnePlus users receive a more immersive listening experience, thanks to exclusive features (Dolby Atmos, Pro Gaming Mode) tied to newer OnePlus phones. Muffling is an issue during voice and video calls, but that’s the only other shortcoming we have found.
Read our full OnePlus Buds Z2 review.
The Apollo Air+ might resemble something that you would find in the bargain bin at a Best Buy, but these tiny in-ear monitors pack some mean bass underneath the hood. Tronsmart’s 10mm drivers produce thunderous lows and wonderful treble to give all music a thumpy resonsance. ANC isn’t exactly a common feature found on sub-$50 wireless earbuds, but it is on these bad boys, and it works well for the price. You should be able to block out loud pedestrians and rush hour traffic. Ambient mode is just as useful for hearing external sounds clearly. Getting 6 hours of ANC playtime and Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX Adaptive for hi-res streaming is also amazing.
Compromises were made to accommodate the low price point. In this case, you’re looking at cheap build quality and unreliable controls.
Read our full Tronsmart Apollo Air+ review.
Anker continues to deliver premium quality at a low cost, and the Life PI3 might be its best example to date. For just $80, these long-stem wireless earbuds come with a Gaming mode to lower latency when playing mobile games, lengthy battery life, three-level noise cancellation, and warm, satisfying sound that can be customized in the Soundcore app. ANC leaves the biggest impression by minimizing loud external sounds better than most sub-luxury models; Indoor mode is great for office use and alone time in the house. There is much more functionality available on these buds, including an Ear Fit Tip Test, ambient listening, LÜM music service support, and wireless charging, which is a lot when considering the cheap price point.
Just because these buds are fully loaded with features doesn’t mean they are perfect. Bass isn’t always represented well on contemporary tracks and overwhelms the soundstage. The touch controls aren’t reliable either.
Read our full Anker Sound core Life PI3 review.
How to choose the best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds for you
Active noise cancellation should be at the top of your list. This type of noise neutralization employs microphones and speakers to eliminate background and surrounding noises. It’s unrealistic to find a sub-$100 model that can match the high-end noise cancellation of category staples like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds and Sony WF-1000XM4. However, you can find a pair that reduces noise at an adequate level and offers an ambient sound mode to increase environmental awareness, when necessary.
Audio quality comes after ANC. See what earbuds come with powerful drivers and customization settings to personalize how you hear all media formats. Extras like an equalizer, presets, spatial audio, and third-party software support (e.g., SoundIQ, Mimi) are greatly appreciated, but not essential.
The third box you’ll want to check off is battery life. ANC, high volume, and special features drain power quickly, so look for buds that can provide a reasonable amount of playtime. The industry standard battery life is 5 hours for noise-cancelling earbuds and 24 hours for charging cases, though you can find options that generate double these playtimes.
Make sure your noise-cancelling earbuds support Bluetooth 5.0 or higher. The technology grants you faster connectivity, increased range (est. 120 meters max), longer battery life, and functional perks like one-touch Google Fast Pair to speed up the pairing process on Android devices.
How we test the best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds
Laptop Magazine evaluates several factors (e.g., design, comfort, sound, value) when determining the best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds. All selections are compared to similar products in the category in terms of features, fit, and pricing.
Noise-cancelling earbuds are worn over the course of a week for 2 to 3 hours at a time. We assess comfort, ease of use, and audio quality. Our reviewers also listen to sample tracks across several music genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, and classical, while analyzing clarity, depth, imaging, and volume. Audiobooks, games, podcasts, and videos are accounted for.
Any headphones or earbuds featuring the latest audio codecs (e.g., aptX, LDAC) and spatial audio are tested using compatible hi-res streaming services (e.g., Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal).
To learn more about how these services can enhance the sound quality on your laptops and mobile devices, take a look at this expert audio codec FAQ on everything you should know about FLAC files, MP3s, and all other audio file codecs.
After testing is completed, all selections are rated based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that is truly exemplary is awarded an Editor’s Choice.