- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds - BEST in-ear
- Bose Noise Cancelling 700 - BEST over-ear
- Apple Airpods PRO - good enough in-ear, and more comfy for person with narrow ear canals
- Sony WH-1000XM4 - good enough over-ear, but very bad microphone
Disclaimer: I was not paid to advertise any products in this article. I'm just sharing my personal experiences and opinions.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (often referred as: Bose QC Earbuds).
I'm using them for over 2 years and I'm super happy with them.
In my experience, they have the best noise cancelling in the market, a long battery life and lots of handy touch gestures: start/stop, volume up/down, trigger personal assistant (e.g. Siri or Google Assistant), switch noise cancelling on/off. You can also configure one additional gesture to be either "next track" OR "previous track" (e.g. when listening to music). I configured this gesture to be "previous track" and use it to rewind 15 seconds back my podcasts of audiobooks when got distracted and didn't pay attention for a while.
The microphone in those headphones proved to be great performing even in loud environments, so it's useful in the phone calls.
Bose Noise Cancelling 700 (often referred as: Bose NC 700).
I tested them first for 90 days and I loved them for many reasons. However, I returned them only because of a headache caused by wearing glasses 🤓 pushed into my head by the over-ear headphones. (By the way others also have problem with over-ear heaphones and glasses causing a headache.)
The material it's made of is extraordinarily comfortable to touch. And the touch gestures are rich: pause/play, next/previous track, volume up/down, trigger personal assistant, noise cancelling on/off.
The microphone in those headphones also works well, even in loud environments.
Apple Airpods PRO (the link points to official Apple site, but I recommend purchasing on any reseller's page - it should be much cheaper there)
Airpods PRO have narrower ear plugs than Bose QC Earbuds, and it proved to be more comfortable for a person with narrow ear canals. It has a little worse noise cancelling than Bose QC Earbuds, but still good enough. Moreover, it has less gestures: start/stop, next/previous track, noise cancelling on/off and trigger personal assistant (which officially supports only Siri, however I've heard Google Assitant can be supported via some custom app, however I didn't try it. It doesn't have the gesture for volume up/down - which is a bummer for me. The microphone works well in loud environments.
Note: In case you want to buy them, mmke sure you buy the Airpods PRO, but not the normal Airpods (without PRO).
A few friends of mine use and appreciate their Sony XM4. However I tested them and they are worse than Bose NC 700 in my opinion. They have worse noise cancelling. They don't have so many handy gestures. To be honest, their mic sucks on calls - in a loud environment the person sounds like in a tunnel.
Buying best noise cancelling headphones is an considerable investment. With Bose you can make a safe choice, because of the 90-day risk-free trial, when you buy on the official Bose website. If you buy on the reseller's page, the price likely can be lower, but then you won't have the 90-day trial period. I bought Bose NC 700 on the official website and then returned them after 2 months without problems. Then I tried Bose QC Earbuds and worked like a charm, so I kept them.
You should also cancel the noise that comes into your microphone from your loud environment, when having a call. For example you don't want your dog barking or children screaming to be heard during a work call. Although Bose headphones do a good job on having clear voice sound, on top of it I also use the great desktop software Krisp AI. It's a program that cuts off ALL irrelevant sounds (based on its smart, offline artificial intelligence). I'm using it since 4 years and can't imagine a work call without it! See a demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKW3UP1U32s
A friend of mine was successfully working for a few years in the living room, with small children playing around. Besides wearing noise cancelling headphones, he fenced off himself with a small standing screen, which was a physical conventional barrier for his children, so they didn't interrupt him at work (to some extent).