8 Best noise cancelling headphones to block out the rest of the world

Truly enjoy what you're listening to with these noise cancelling headphones

Travel a lot with work? Got a long commute? Have a annoyingly chatty desk mate? You need noise cancelling headphones and you need them now. They'll stop you having your music, podcasts and audiobooks ruined by the outside world and let you concentrate on you.

Many of these headphones, like the Denon AH-GC20, come with specialised travel cases too, so you can take them with you wherever you go, and keep them in good condition while you do it; perfect for frequent flyers. Some, like the Sony MDR-ZX770BN, are even affordable, so you don't have to break the bank.

But best of all, every single one of them is Bluetooth capable. So bye bye tangled wires, bye bye annoying baby crying three rows behind you. It's time to zone out, and tune in.

1. Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 wireless

Born to travel

Impressive wireless performance
22hr battery life

These Sennheisers are everything a premium priced pair of wireless headphones should be. They're elegantly engineered, beautifully made - in this case from stainless steel, faux-suede and leather - packed with tech, and sound stupendous.

Sennheiser's NoiseGard noise cancelling is second to none, sucking out real-world cacophony while leaving acres of head space for you to enjoy one of the most impressive wireless performances we've heard, and with a 22hr Bluetooth battery life and folding frame they were born to travel.

2. Bose QuietComfort QC35

Total immersion

Perfect noise cancelling
Less than perfect sound playback
Slightly unattractive design

The QC35 is essentially the old, award winning Bose QC25, but wireless.

It's micro-USB rechargeable, with a battery life of 20 hours. Yep, 20 hours. That's pretty strong, and actually a real-world figure too.

Bose has very much played for the noise cancelling, rather than audiophile market, and that shows in almost every aspect of these cans.

They're not beautiful, more aluminium functional, and the music playback itself isn't jaw dropping for the price. It's fine: balanced, relatively refined, but not majorly exciting.

What is exciting is the 'total' immersion these cans bring. Flip the switch, and London's roar disappears almost utterly. Airports, planes, tubes, trains are uncannily silenced - the QC35's are your audio invisibility cloak made into chunky, silvery flesh.

The right-ear-based volume/play/pause,etc controls work, the zip-up carry case is functional, if sizeable, the charger and standby manual cables are grey and listless, but that headline noise cancelling is awesome.

3. AKG N60 NC

Thoroughly enjoyable

Ultralight
30hr battery life

Don't let the cable put you off, because what these ultralight (150g), super-portable headphones lack in Bluetooth they make up for with awesome noise cancelling performance, a long-haul loving 30-hour battery life and thoroughly enjoyable, surprisingly immersive listen, whatever your musical tastes.

Classy looks, smart, folding design and tough neoprene case make these the perfect travelling companion, and a worthy rival to the Bose and Sennheiser cans.

4. Sony MDR-ZX770BN

Exceptional value

Very affordable
Good quality sound
Only 13hrs of battery
No good on calls

With Bluetooth AptX, NFC, 98% ambient noise cancelling and a 13-hour battery life all for an rrp of £130 (shop around and you'll get it for less), buyers on a budget can't hope for a better spec. While admittedly, the plastic used in its construction hints at how Sony hits this bargain price point, the headphones are still light, comfortable and far from ugly.

The noise cancelling mode cuts out the hum-drum of public transport brilliantly without feeling like your head is in a vacuum, while the 40mm drivers provide plenty of poke with a clean dependable sound free from any harsh edges. Exceptional value.

5. Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H8

Style to lust after

Very stylish
Exceedingly well made
A little too much bass

They're prohibitively expensive and the 'gesture control' ear pad epitomises style over substance, but we still love, no, lust after, the H8.

The flawless aluminium build quality and marshmallowy memory foam ear cups make them a pleasure to wear all day, while the noise cancelling swaddles you from the real world as impressively as the vast majority of larger, over-ear designs.

Combine this with a 14-hour battery life, Bluetooth 4.0 aptX and a rich, exciting, bass-boosted sound quality and you'll do well not to be wooed.

6. Denon AH-GC20

Business class headphones

Perfect for travel
Two types of noise cancelling

About as business class as headphones get, with executive matt styling, full travel case, airline adapter and sumptuous long haul comfort. Even without the two types of active noise cancelling switched on, the over ear design muffles all but the shrillest of toddlers, and once you flick the switch the silence is deafening.

The 40mm drivers tuned to combat ambient noise and Bluetooth aptX make for a great listen, especially if you're looking for a bit more bass.

7. Philips SHB8850NC

Briliant bargain

Extremely affordable
Build feels cheap
No carry case

The Philips brings impressive tech and above par performance to the bargain basement.

Multi-pairing Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, ActiveShield noise cancelling, one button Siri and Google Now access, 16-hour playback (and 28 hours if you eschew noise-cancelling and just use Bluetooth) are all jammed into these comfy on-ear cans.

The silver and black, folding design is suitably modern. Some may find the look a little icey, but we love it, and the bright, level-headed sound is anything but cold.

8. Parrot Zik 2

Impressive audio quality
Motion sensor controls
Bit of an unusual design
Disappointing battery life

High-end and high-tech, these cans are co-designed by Philipe Starck.

Owners of his lemon squeezer will not be surprised to learn that these are highly over-engineered, and look rather odd.

However, even if you never use all the digital EQ functions built into the Zik 2, you will be impressed by the comfort, audio quality and noise cancelling on offer.

The Zik 2 is extremely punchy, and while the motion sensing controls take some getting used to, they are effective once mastered.

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