External noise can intrude when using ordinary headphones. But this is where noise-cancelling headphones come in: they typically use special technology to analyse external sounds and effectively block them out. (Cheaper models will simply try to do this by using snug-fitting, padded ear coverings.)
So what are the best noise cancelling headphones available and how much will they set you back?
1. Audio-Technica ATH -ANC1 QuietPoint
QuietPoint headphones are a great mid-priced option that promise to eliminate 85% of ambient noise, leaving you to concentrate on the music.
These headphones fold flat when not in use, making them easy to pack away in a bag when you’re on the move.
2. Sennheiser HD 202
These headphones from Sennheiser are a great budget choice. The sealed over-ear design helps to block out ambient sound and the audio quality is very good.
They may not be as sturdily built as more expensive rivals, but at this price it is difficult to quibble.
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3. Plantronics BackBeat Pro
If you’re fed up getting in a tangle with your headphones’ cable, why not consider a wireless pair?
This rechargeable option from Plantronics uses Bluetooth technology to connect to your music player or smartphone and boasts 24 hours’ battery life.
The range is up to 100m so you could happily wear them while doing chores around the house or out in the garden.
4. Bose QuietComfort 25
If you are looking for a pair of headphones that can block out practically any external noise – and if money is no object – these could be the ones for you.
Bose is one of the most respected audio technology brands. The QuietComfort 25 are perfect for regular air travellers, say, as well as anyone who wants to give total focus to their music.
And as the name suggests, they won’t start to irritate your ears after prolonged use.
5. Panasonic RP-HC56E-K
Noise cancelling headphones don’t have to cover your ears to shut out external sounds: these in-ear phones from Panasonic do exactly the same job.
Like other “active” noise cancellers – that is, those models that use technology to block out sounds – these run on their own batteries. But they are effective, not too expensive, and more portable than their larger rivals.