Best Alternatives to Bose Noise-canceling Headphones

When it comes to noise-canceling headphones, the Bose QC 35s tend to be considered the gold standard. However, plenty of people don't like the sound of Bose audio devices and would much prefer a different option, even after checking out the differences between the Bose QC 35 II and QC 25.

If that sounds like you, look no further; we've got a great selection of noise-canceling headphones that aren't subject to the Bose hype-train!

Sennheiser PXC 550

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Sennheiser PXC 550

Sennheiser PXC 550 (Image credit: Sennheiser)

If you're looking for a pair of noise-canceling headphones that have slightly better sound quality than the Bose QC 35s and can afford to pay a little more, Sennheiser's PXC 550 is an excellent option.

With touch controls on the side of the ear pieces and the ability to turn on the headset with a simple twist of the cans, Sennheiser's PXC 550 is also a little more feature-laden than other headphones in its class.

Mobile Nations' own intrepid video reviewer Mr. Mobile was impressed with the performance and style of Sennheiser's PXC 550.

"The Sennheiser's PXC 550 get so much right in such a classy package that I can't give it anything but a thumbs up."

The PXC 550's are also Bluetooth-enabled with a projected battery life of 30 hours.

Sony MDR-1000x

Sony has been trying to beat Bose at its own game for a while now, and the MDR-1000x may be the closest it's ever come.

On top of noise canceling, these cans are filled with features. Touch controls on the right ear allow you to control playback and volume, while the buttons underneath the can activate three different ambient sound modes that will enable you to hear select frequencies from the world around you.

CNET compared the Sony MDR-1000x directly to Bose and came away impressed.

"The Sony MDR-1000X is an excellent-sounding, comfortable wireless headphone with effective noise-canceling that measures up to Bose's for muffling ambient noise. It has good battery life and some nifty extra features geared toward frequent travelers."

Although these headphones are Bluetooth-enabled, you can also use them through a standard wired connection if the 20-hour battery life ever gives out on you. Plus, if you happen to have a device that uses Sony's proprietary LDAC format, you'll be able to stream higher resolution audio than your normal Bluetooth connection.

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B&O Play H8

For fans of on-ear headphone who don't mind shelling out the big bucks for quality, retail price is about $499, the Bang & Olufsen Play H8 fits the bill.

When it comes to Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones, the B&O Play H8 is as stylish and impressive as they come; CNET agrees.

"The Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H8 has a sleek, sturdy design, with a metal/leather headband and plush earcups, and very good sound for Bluetooth."

The B&O Play H8 also have touch controls on the side of the right can, making it easy to control volume and skip tracks with a swipe of your finger.

Although battery life is slightly disappointing — roughly 14 hours — you can use the included 3.5mm cable to enjoy them through a wired connection.

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Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2

Looking for a noise-canceling headset that won't break the bank? Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 just may be the pair of cans for you.

With touch controls for playback on the side, better than average noise-canceling, and usually sitting around $150 cheaper than Bose's QC 35s, this headset is worth a look!

Mobile Nations' very own Mr. Mobile took these headphones on a trip to China, where he spent about 19 hours up in the air. He was impressed with how they performed for the price.

"The BackBeat PRO 2 has a nice even sound stage, neither drowning in bass nor ever getting shrill."

For people who need to take a pair of noise-canceling headphones on long trips, these cans have a 24-hour battery life, perfect for all the planes, trains, and automobiles you can cram into even your longest commute.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B

If dropping hundreds of dollars on a pair of noise-canceling headphone is out of your capabilities I don't blame you. Lucky for you, the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B is a great budget option.

In a headset that costs $99, you're going to make some sacrifices. The sound quality isn't as impressive as the other headphones listed here, but as the The Wirecutter explains, the noise-canceling capabilities are impressive for the price.

"They offer a lot more noise cancellation than the competition that costs the same and even more. They averaged 15.6 dB reduction in the "Airplane Band," which is more than several $300 and $400 headphones we tested."

The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B's are a wired over-ear headphone, and the padding is nice and thick on the cans, so wearing them on a long flight should be no problem.

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Which noise-canceling headphones do you use?

Let us know in the comments below!

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.