The best noise-canceling headphones for developers in 2021

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You know that feeling when you’re in the zone, and suddenly the construction outside or coworker conversation breaks your focus? If you’re working from home, you might hear your dog barking or family going about their day in the background. With increasingly open office spaces and the rise of remote work, distractions are everywhere.

To stay productive, many software developers are now investing in noise-canceling headphones to get that laser focus they need to deal with all of their technical tasks at hand. So whether you’re in a lot of meetings or just love listening to your favorite music while you work, we’ve rounded up a list of headphones for every purpose.

And read until the end to find out my current headphones and what will probably be my next Christmas gift :).


Things to consider

Before you invest in a pair of headphones, a few areas are worth thinking about first. The most significant factor when considering any purchase is, of course, your budget. Now luckily, many tech companies offer hefty equipment allowances. We’ve broken down our recommendation list by price range if this is an essential factor for you.

Another thing to consider is comfort. As a developer, you’re probably planning on wearing your headphones for hours. So look for what materials the headphones are made of as well as their weight.

Other areas we’ve covered are noise reduction level, battery life, compatibility with voice assistants, and more.


Soundcore By Anker Life Q20 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Soundcore By Anker Life Q20

Soundcore By Anker Life Q20

We’ll start this list with the cheapest headphones of the bunch. Normally, we’d recommend investing a little more in your day-to-day tech, but these will do the trick if you need something you won’t lose sleep over if left at the office.

We like them because they’re made by Anker, an electronics company founded by an ex-Google engineer known for their product affordability and excellent quality. You’ll see this brand come up a couple of times throughout this list.

The hybrid ANC (active noise cancellation) works with four microphones and an algorithm that can detect and filter out up to 90% of low- and mid-frequency sounds. For the price, you probably shouldn’t expect total “tune out the world” level ANC. Nevertheless, they’re probably the best option for this price.

They have a built-in microphone so you can make calls, and the battery lasts up to 40 hours in ANC or 60 in standard listening mode. The headphones also include an AUX cable that you can use to listen when the battery is dead.

Get them on Amazon

Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Soundcore by Anker Life Q30

Soundcore by Anker Life Q30

These headphones are another pretty affordable option from Anker. They claim to filter out up to 95% of low-frequency ambient sounds (5% more than the Q20).

They have three modes: transport (for reducing vehicle noises like an airplane engine), outdoor (for reducing sounds like wind and traffic), and indoor (for environments like the office or coffee shop with people talking). You can connect the headphones to two devices.

The headphones have a battery life of up to 40 hours of music in noise-canceling mode and have quick charging of 5 minutes for 4 hours of listening.

As for ergonomics, the earcups are made with memory foam and faux leather and have padding on the headband, too.

Get them on Amazon

Wyze Noise Cancelling Headphones

Wyze Noise Cancelling Headphones

Wyze Noise Cancelling Headphones

Wyze is another great tech company that primarily makes smart home products but entered the headphone world with this excellent pair.

They have voice-isolating microphones, built-in Alexa (or you can use your device’s voice assistant), and hybrid ANC that you can turn on or off to use transparency mode.

Reviewers commented on how good the range is on these headphones, which is ideal if you like walking around the office without carrying your devices with you.

The battery life isn’t as long as some of the other options on this list, at only 20 hours of listening time. However, they do have quick-charge capabilities so you can get 4 hours on a 10-minute charge.

Get them on Amazon

Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Like the Soundcare Q30 headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II has three noise-canceling levels, categorized by loudness, not type. They’re optimized for Alexa and Google voice assistant, but you can also control your noise-cancellation level with the manual button.

You can alternatively adjust the noise level through the app, where you can also connect another pair of Bose headphones so you and a friend or coworker can listen to the same thing simultaneously.

Some reviewers say they’re roomier and lighter than the Sony headphones (#7 on the list), so that’s something to consider. Bose also says that the headband is wrapped in Alcantara, a material used in yachts and luxury vehicles for ultimate comfort. The ear cuffs are synthetic leather.

Like the Wyze headphones, the battery life on these isn’t as impressive at only 20 hours, and the quick-charging only gives you 2.5 hours per 15 minutes. You can use them with the cord if the battery is dead, though.

Get them on Amazon

Soundcore by Anker Life Q35 Multi-Mode Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Soundcore by Anker Life Q35

Soundcore by Anker Life Q35

These are Anker’s more premium wireless headphones that are basically the upgraded version of the Q30. It has many of the same features, like the three noise-canceling modes and 40-hour battery life, but the main difference with the Q35 is improved sound quality. This is due to the new support for LDAC technology, which transfers three times more data than other Bluetooth codecs, giving you a crisper sound.

Other upgrades featured with the Q35 are ear detection, beamforming microphones with AI noise reduction, wired usability when the battery is dead, and a more compact hardshell case.

The AI noise reduction is particularly interesting (especially for programmers) because it can reduce the sound of non-stationary noises like keyboard clicking.

Get them on Amazon

SAMSUNG Galaxy Buds Live True Wireless Earbuds

SAMSUNG Galaxy Buds

SAMSUNG Galaxy Buds

We understand that not everyone likes the bulkiness of over-ear headphones, no matter how comfortable they claim to be. This is why we included these wireless noise-canceling earbuds from Samsung that are sleek and almost futuristic looking. Most of all, they’re unobtrusive.

You can keep them in transparency mode with a tap if you need to keep an ear on what’s happening around you or turn on active noise cancellation to block out background noise. One reviewer said that they didn’t even notice their robot vacuum start up while listening to music with these.

Because of their small size, their battery life isn’t as long as you’d find with some over-ear headphones. However, with a listening time of 29 hours, it’s an impressive battery life for how compact they are. You can also charge them directly with the case when you’re on the go.

Get them on Amazon

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Overhead Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH-1000XM4

These wireless headphones are truly premium (and come with a premium price tag as well). However, if you have the budget for them, then they are worth checking out.

The battery lasts up to 30 hours, and they have quick charging of five hours of playback with 10 minutes of charging.

You can pair multiple devices and reviewers say they switch between them seamlessly. This will come in handy if you like to listen to music on your phone but need to switch to meetings on your computer throughout the day.

The headphones are the most beautiful looking, and there are touch sensor controls to activate your voice assistant, skip songs, up the volume, answer calls or play and pause. Your music will automatically pause when you take them off and pick up where you left off when you put them back on.

They use dual noise sensor technology, which means there’s one sensor picking up outside noise and one picking up your voice, so they know which one to cancel out. In addition, your music will play smoothly with the Edge-AI technology, which Sony developed with their music studio in Tokyo.

Get them on Amazon

Jabra Elite 85h Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones

Jabra Elite 85h

Jabra Elite 85h

Jabra is a Danish brand that specializes in sound solutions, and these headphones are part of their extensive roster. We think these are the best headphones for being on the go.

The headphones have eight built-in microphones, six of which enhance call quality and block out external sounds. They feature smart ANC, and it’ll switch on automatically when background noise is detected.

The battery life is 36 hours when the ANC is on and can fast charge 5 hours in 15 minutes. It works with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.

Two nice features about these headphones are that they are water-resistant and can withstand temperatures between 23 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. While this might not be super relevant in a work setting, it’s good to note if you’ll also be using them for exercise or during your commute.

Get them on Amazon

SENNHEISER Momentum 3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

SENNHEISER Momentum 3

SENNHEISER Momentum 3

Sennheiser is a German audio company that makes headphones meant to last. They’re the most durable headphones on this list and are so worth the price tag if you can afford them.

While the arms don’t look as sleek as the Sony headphones, they’re made of steel, so they’re extra sturdy (in case you sit on them by accident — it’s happened to us before too).

Speaking of things we’ve done before, if you’re constantly misplacing your items, you can track your headphones down with the app. The tracking technology is by Tile, the mega-popular Bluetooth tracker device company.

You can choose from three different noise-canceling modes or the transparency mode. They can automatically detect background noise and adjust the noise-cancellation accordingly. They have three buttons on one side to control volume and pick up a call quickly, but you can also pair it with your voice assistant of choice.

In true luxurious fashion, the padding on these headphones is made of real leather. Cue the red carpet. All jokes aside, genuine leather is much more comfortable and breathable than pleather.

The one major downside with these headphones is that the battery life is only 17 hours, the lowest on the list.

Get them on Amazon

Summary

These are some of the best headphones for coding available right now, for each budget and taste. I personally own some Jabra elite 75, which are quite good, and had them for several years now, looking to replace them made me build this list.

To make it easier for you to compare, we also put this table together, I know tables are not great, but you can download it as an image here.

Product Weight ANC Sound/Mic Battery Life Colors Connectivity
Soundcore By Anker Life Q20 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones 0.58 lbs Hybrid active noise cancellation Hi-Res sound via 40mm dynamic drivers, BassUp technology, dual EQ modes Single microphone with uplink noise reduction 60 hours (ANC off) 40 hours (ANC on) 5 minutes charge for 4 hours Black, blue, and silver Bluetooth 5, AUX
Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones 0.56 lbs Hybrid active noise cancellation with Indoor, Outdoor, Travel, and Transparency modes Hi-Res sound via 40mm dynamic drivers, customized EQ 2 microphones with uplink noise reduction 60 hours (ANC off) 40 Hours (ANC on) 5 minutes charge for 4 hours Black, blue, pink Bluetooth 5, AUX, NFC
Wyze Noise Cancelling Headphones 0.62 lbs 40dB Quick On/Off Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), transparency mode 40 mm dome type driver (copper wire voice coil) 6 microphones (4 for noise cancellation) 20 hours (ANC on) 10 minutes charge for 4 hours Black Bluetooth 5
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones 0.53 lbs Three level ANC Dual microphone 20 hours (ANC on) Black, silver Bluetooth 5, NFC,
Soundcore by Anker Life Q35 Multi-Mode Active Noise Cancelling Headphones 0.60 lbs Hybrid active noise cancellation with Indoor, Outdoor, Travel, and Transparency modes Hi-Res Audio Wireless sound via 40mm dynamic drivers, customized EQ, LDAC technology 2 microphones with AI-enhanced uplink noise reduction 60 hours (ANC off) 40 hours (ANC on) 5 minutes charge for 4 hours Blue, pink Bluetooth 5, AUX with built-in microphone, NFC Bluetooth 5, AUX
SAMSUNG Galaxy Buds Live True Wireless Earbuds 0.09 lbs ANC, transparency mode 6 microphones 29 hours (ANC on) 5 minutes charge for 1 hour Black, bronze, red, white Bluetooth 5
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Overhead Headphones 0.56 lbs HD Noise-Cancelling Processor QN1 40 mm, dome type (CCAW Voice coil), LDAC technology 5 microphones 30 hours (ANC on) 38 hours (ANC off) Black, silver Bluetooth 5, NFC, AUX
Jabra Elite 85h Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones 0.65 lbs Smart ANC 40mm speakers 8-mic call technology 36 hours (ANC on) 15 minutes charge for 5 hours Black, titanium black, copper black Bluetooth 5
SENNHEISER Momentum 3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones 0.67 lbs 3 Active Noise Cancelling Modes 6Hz - 22kHz frequency range 17 hours Black, white Bluetooth 5, NFC

Thanks for reading!