In our fast-paced modern world, we are spending more and more time on the road. Whether it be the daily commute or the ever-increasing number of flights we take, what better way to make the experience a more tolerable one than a good pair of travel headphones.
The best travel headphones come equipped with noise cancelling technology, which actively blocks out the intrusive sounds around you. No longer will you have to suffer that crying baby or loud couple discussing their amazing vacation at full volume. The drone of traveling by air and the clatter of public transport can also become a thing of the past.
There are countless options on the market that can make choosing the right pair rather overwhelming. But, to help you with your purchase, we’ve compiled a list featuring what we consider to be 10 of the best travel headphones currently available.
So, let’s go through them and find the perfect set of travel headphones for you…
But before we go through them, let’s take a look at a quick comparison chart:
Best Travel Headphones Comparison Table
Top 10 Best Travel Headphones To Buy 2020 Reviews
1 Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Headphones
The Bose QuietComfort series II are one of the most comfortable headphones on our best travel headphones list. With a closed back, over the ear design, they feature spacious and very nicely padded ear cups that will accommodate even the largest ears. You’ll be able to use these for hours on end without experiencing any discomfort. Obviously, this makes them a great choice for long haul flights.
Noise cancelling is aided by both active and passive noise control ability. The closed back over the ear design creates a good seal, although we did experience a little leakage at higher volumes, which could be irritating to your fellow travelers.
The active noise cancellation technology performs very well, especially in the bass frequency range, which is important for blocking out the rumble of planes and bus engines. Excess voice noise, which is generally a mid-range frequency, is also handled well with only the loudest speech making its way through.
Battery life is well catered for at a solid 20 hours of continuous use, more than enough for the longest of flights. However, annoyingly, they can’t be used whilst charging. On the plus side, they only take just over two hours to fully recharge so with a little organization; this shouldn’t be a big issue.
For wireless headphones, the sound quality is excellent as it should be for such an expensive item. They pack a decent level of bass without overwhelming the mid and treble ranges which are allowed plenty of space to shine. Audiophiles will be satisfied if not blown away.
Portability is aided by the foldable design, and the ear cups also fold flat to occupy less space. A solid case provides safe storage, which will fit into most travel bags with no trouble. They’re not the smallest headphones in the world, but what over the ear headphones are?
Overall, great headphones for traveling, which come into their own on longer journeys. Whether they are worth Bose’s inflated price tag is another question.
- Excellent noise cancellation.
- Very comfortable.
- Sound great.
- Slightly leaky at high volume.
2 Sony WH1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
Sony’s XM3’s are an outstanding set of traveling headphones scoring highly in every department. Comfort is second to none. The ear cups are very well padded, as is the headband. They sit perfectly over the ears, meaning you can use these headphones, stress-free for a long time.
Active and passive noise cancellation ensures the best noise isolation performance of all the headphones reviewed here. Right across the frequency range, Sony has managed to achieve an average noise reduction of around -30 decibels, which is a very impressive feat. Very little of the outside world is going to intrude on your listening experience.
Leakage is also impressively low even at high volume, great if you want to crank it up without annoying people around you. The level of active noise cancellation can also be controlled through the accompanying app, which is a nice touch.
Battery duration comes in at a whopping 27 hours of continuous use, with only 2 hours required to fully charge. If you somehow manage to use all of that up, they can also be used as wired headphones, so you’re never in danger of running out of power. A short 15-minute charge will also get you around 4-5 hours playback.
As with most Sony headphones, the soundscape is bass-heavy. If this isn’t your thing, then there are a load of customization options available through the app, including a graphic equalizer and several preset options. You should be able to create a sound that’s right for you.
Being over the ear headphones, they aren’t the most portable when compared with in ears, but once folded down and stored in the accompanying case, and they don’t take up much room.
All in all, there isn’t much to fault here, and even at such a high price, they represent good value for money.
- Headphones don’t come more comfortable.
- Industry-leading noise cancellation.
- Marathon battery life.
- Impressive sound with customization options.
- Not affordable for everyone.
3 Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 Wireless Headphones
A mid-priced offering from Plantronics, the BackBeat Pro 2 offers pretty good value for money when looking at the best travel headphones market.
The well-padded cups and headband should make the Plantronics comfortable to wear for extended use. Our only complaint was that the ear cups were a little shallow, so if you have more protruding ears than normal, you may want to look elsewhere. For most listeners, this won’t be an issue.
Portability is an area where Plantronics could make some improvements. They don’t fold down into a more economical size, which can make transport a little awkward. This is exacerbated by the fact that the basic model doesn’t come with a carry case. A soft pouch is provided, but this doesn’t offer much in the way of protection. The case that comes with the upgrade package is also quite bulky.
The noise cancellation capabilities are decent enough without reaching the impressive levels of our more expensive models. High and mid-range frequency noises are blocked out well, with bass heavier noises like engines, more able to creep through.
Sound performance is about what you’d expect at this price, with the highlight being mid-range reproduction. Lead instruments and vocals are clear as day. Our only grumble would be with bass accuracy, which was a little too boomy for our liking. Hip hop or EDM fans may approve, but it wasn’t for us.
At just under half the price of the Bose and Sony headphones on this list, they offer a decent alternative for those on a smaller budget.
- Above average comfort levels.
- Great for vocal listening.
- Noise cancellation needs improvement.
- Overly bass-heavy.
- Not very portable.
4 Jabra Elite 85h Wireless Headphones
Another over the ear offering from Jabra, the 85h, is a very comfortable set of headphones with wide, deep, and well-padded earcups that will fit virtually all ear sizes just fine. Those with extra-large heads may find a better fit elsewhere, as the headband doesn’t stretch that much. But for most listeners, they should cause no discomfort after long periods of use.
Noise isolation capabilities could definitely do with improvement considering these headphones are at the higher end of the price range. They are effective in blocking out mid and treble range noises like voices but fall down when it comes to bass range noise. Not great when you are trying to block out airplane engines or heavy traffic.
Noise leakage, on the other hand, is quite low, which means you can potentially compensate for any outside noise interference by cranking the volume up, whilst not annoying those around you.
As far as over the ear headphones go, once folded down and swiveled flat, the Jabra’s pack very nicely into a case that doesn’t add a lot of extra bulk. The case looks to be extra sturdy and will fit easily into any carry-on bags — thumbs up for smart design.
Pretty darn good actually. Bass, mids, and treble are all faithfully reproduced without bleeding into one another, creating a well-balanced and full-bodied sound.
If it wasn’t for the relatively poor noise cancelling features, these headphones would probably be near the top of our Best Travelling Headphones list.
- Top marks for comfort.
- Most portable over the ear headphones.
- Nicely balanced sound signature.
- Noise cancellation needs improvement.
- Relatively expensive.
5 Mpow Hybrid H12 Pro Wireless Headphones
Hands down the best headphones under $100 for traveling, Mpow has created a pair of wireless headphones that punch way above their weight when considering the low price point.
The over the ear design provides a perfectly comfy fit with no problems encountered after long listening sessions. They seem sturdily built and gave me no reason to expect durability issues. That being said, they don’t come with a carry case so you’ll have to take extra care when transporting them in luggage. The material pouch doesn’t offer a lot of protection.
The H12’s are also the best budget noise cancelling headphones out there. They are reasonably effective in cutting out the rumble of jet engines and the chatter of nearby voices. When compared with the industry-leading ANC abilities of the Sony WH 1000 XM3’s, they do let more noise through, but for this price, they do an exceptional job. A better one, in fact, than the Jabra Elite 85h, which cost four times as much.
Mpow claims a 30-hour battery life, but we found it to be closer to 20 hours in reality, especially with ANC turned on. Not bad still, and more than capable of lasting most long journeys without a charge.
The Mpow H12 also performed above its price point in the sound quality department. They sound more like a pair of headphones in the $100-150 range. A solid, punchy bass and a pleasant mid-range, with clear, undistorted treble, make them suitable for most genres of music. They will do just fine for most listeners.
All in all, the outstanding value for money on offer here, make these a real contender for best traveling headphones
- Unbeatable value.
- Outperforms many headphones twice the price.
- Decent comfort and design.
6 Cowin E7 PRO Wireless Headphones
Again coming in at under $100, these over the ear Cowin E7 Pro’s do everything reasonably well without really blowing your socks off in any individual department.
Comfort-wise they will do the job for most listeners, although there are a couple of minor issues. Although well padded, the ear cups are on the smaller size, so those with bigger ears may have a problem creating a good seal to keep out unwanted noise. The headband also doesn’t extend as far as it needs to fit larger head sizes.
The lack of a folding design and their relative bulk makes them a little cumbersome to carry around when not in use. The accompanying carry-case is sturdy enough to provide good protection, though.
Battery life is an impressive 33 hours of constant use, more than enough for most journeys. Recharge time, however, is painfully slow at 4.5 hours, although they can be used whilst charging, which almost makes up for it.
Noise isolation was adequate throughout the frequency range and would be fine if there wasn’t a problem maintaining a seal around the ears. We found that even small head movements could be enough to break the seal. This could become rather annoying quite quickly.
Sound-wise, at this price point, we have no complaints. The bass was lively enough if lacking a real thump. It’s an acceptable, if not exciting soundscape that will satisfy most.
- Long battery life.
- Reasonably cheap.
- Won’t fit larger head sizes.
- Not very portable
- Difficult to maintain a seal.
7 Edifier H840 Wired Headphones
Edifier are a relatively new name in the Hi-Fi business. The H840 is aimed squarely at the bargain basement end of the market and are by some distance, the cheapest headphones on our list.
Being extremely cheap, the build quality looks to be on the flimsy side, with the obvious weak point being the rotational hinges that fold the headphones. The wire is also very long at 2 meters and cannot be detached. Not very convenient for any kind of travel. Also, no carry case is provided.
Comfort levels aren’t exactly luxurious, but you’d hardly expect them to be. The ear cups will likely be on the small size for anyone with large ears.
The H840 are advertised as noise-isolating headphones, and they do an OK job in this department. In the noisiest environments, they are definitely going to struggle to keep the world at bay.
The major plus here is the sound quality, which for the price is pretty good. They’re predictably bass-heavy, which the purists won’t like, but for your average listener who doesn’t want to spend a fortune, it’s an acceptable sound. The very best travel headphones, though, they are not.
- As cheap as it gets.
- Sound good for the price.
- No carry case.
- Flimsy build.
- Inconveniently long wire.
8 Jabra Elite Active 65t Wireless Earbuds
The first wireless earbuds on our list of best travel headphones, the Jabra Elite Active 65t’s perform well in some areas while falling down a little in others.
In terms of portability, you’d be hard pushed to find an easier set of headphones to carry around. The super-compact case will fit into almost any pocket size, making transport a breeze.
They come without any stability fins, with earbuds designed to fit the curves of your ear. In practice, those with smaller ears may find them a little too large. Whilst OK for a few hours use, they may become uncomfortable for some on longer journeys. Battery life is also rather short at just over five hours, making them OK for the daily commute, but unsuitable for long haul flights.
Noise isolation capabilities are one in the tick column. As long as you can achieve a good seal, then they do a great job of blocking out noise from across the sound range. Keeping a good seal is the key, though, and not always easy to maintain.
Fortunately, they sound rather good. Bass and mid-frequency response blend seamlessly to create a decent sound that compliments all genres well. Bright trebles round things off nicely.
- As portable as it gets.
- Quality soundscape.
- Top-notch noise isolation.
- Not ideal for longer journeys.
- Short battery life.
- Won’t fit everyone.
9 Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless Earbuds
These wireless earbuds are a step up in terms of comfort from the Jabra Elite’s. We barely felt the lightweight design. Stability sleeves and three sets of tips and fins mean most people should be able to find the right combination for a good fit.
Once again, carrying these around couldn’t be easier. The sleek-looking carry case can be tucked away anywhere. It also doubles as a charging station and can hold up to 1 extra charge. Handy when on the move.
Battery life is around 7.5 hours, taking 1.5 hours to fully recharge. With the extra charge available from the case, you can take the overall capacity up to 15 hours. Pretty respectable for earbuds.
Whilst very good at isolating mid and treble frequency noise intrusion, they weren’t so good at keeping out low-frequency rumbles. There was a reduction, but engine noise will penetrate your listening. Fortunately, the leakage performance is great, so you can turn them up a little to counteract this.
In the sound quality department, the Samsungs faithfully reproduce music as it was meant to be heard, which is just how we like it. A well-rounded soundscape, sure to please most listeners, is the result.
In short, if you’re looking for the best earbuds for travel, look no further.
- A-grade comfort and portability.
- Solid battery life with extra charge capacity.
- Satisfying sound quality.
- Reasonably priced.
- Noise isolation could be better.
10 Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless Earbuds
The last set of wireless earbuds on our list, do the Liberty Air 2’s bring anything extra to the table?
The main advantage they have over the Jabra and Samsung models is the battery life. At 6.5 hours, it is slightly less than the Samsung, but it can be recharged a full five times form the accompanying carry case. That gives it a huge capacity of near 40 hours. Very useful for trips where you may not be able to recharge the case easily.
Portability is a piece of cake as with most buds. Comfort levels are decent enough if you’re a fan of the in ear fit. Five sets of different sized silicone tips should cover most ear sizes.
Noise isolation is pretty effective, so long as you can achieve a good seal. Vocal chatter is virtually eliminated. They also do a better job than the Jabra and Samsung models in reducing low-frequency noise, whilst not cutting it out completely.
Annoyingly, they can’t compete when it comes to sound quality. An overly emphasized bass dominates the sound profile, pushing vocals and lead instruments out of the picture a little. If it wasn’t for this, we’d probably recommend these buds above the Samsung Galaxy. As it is, they come a very close second.
- Five full recharges from carry case.
- Best noise isolation for earbuds.
- Relatively comfy.
So, having taken a look at 10 of the best travel headphones, let’s draw some conclusions.
Best Travel Headphones Buyer’s Guide
Let’s now take a quick look at the important factors to consider before selecting your perfect pair of travel headphones.
When on the move, portability is most definitely a big consideration when buying the best travel headphones. If opting for larger over the ear headphones, they should be relatively lightweight with collapsible ear cups that can be folded down for easy storage, something that fits easily into your carry-on bag.
A good quality carrying case that provides ample protection from any knocks is also an essential feature you should look out for.
Noise Cancelling Capabilities
There are two types of noise cancelling technology these days. Firstly, passive noise cancelling headphones that isolate the sound through physical means. In other words, headphones that block out environmental noise by creating a seal around your ear. This can be achieved through over the ear or in ear headphones with the best results generally experienced with the former.
Active noise cancelling headphones employ technology to block out unwanted sound. They use a microphone and an audio processor to create a sound on the opposite end of the frequency to the sound you’re trying to block out.
This can be successful in blocking out the constant drone of airplane engines, but not so good at stopping random noises like a car horn or a loud voice. This is because the technology needs a moment to match the wavelength of any incoming noise.
We would, therefore, say that a good pair of passive noise isolating headphones are a better option if you want to eliminate all outside interference. If you need to allow a certain amount of ambient noise in, then active noise cancelling headphones would be the better choice. Fortunately, we’ve featured headphones on this list that do both.
As when buying any type of headphones, sound quality should always be one of your main considerations. Portability and noise cancelling capabilities are all well and good, but they don’t mean much if the sound quality falls flat. In short, never compromise on good sound quality, especially if you’re planning on using your headphones primarily to listen to music.
For those with long daily commutes or with regular long haul flights, comfort should be given a high priority. Look for soft padding when buying over or on the ear headphones that don’t get overly hot or sweaty. When buying in ear headphones, make sure they are a comfortable fit and come equipped with multiple sized earbuds and flanges to accommodate the unique shape of your ear.
If buying a wireless set, then pay attention to the battery life. Obviously, the longer, the better, especially for those long haul flights.
If you still haven’t seen your perfect set of headphones, no need worry, there are a number of other excellent options available. So please check out our reviews of the Best Waterproof Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Bluetooth Headphones under 100 dollars, the Best Headphones and Earbuds for Sleeping, and the Best Headphones under 100 dollars currently available.
So, What Are The Best Travel Headphones?
If budget isn’t an issue, then we would recommend the…
…every time. They are the most comfortable over the ear headphones out there, with industry-leading noise cancellation technology and an excellent battery length. Oh, and they sound awesome.
For those that can’t afford Sony prices, the best travel headphones under $100 are the…
At five times cheaper than the Sony’s, you have to ask whether this isn’t the better overall option.
Unbelievably good value on offer here as well. If over the ear headphones are too bulky for your travels, then we’d recommend the…
…due to their decent noise isolation and well-rounded sound profile.