Published on July 28, 2021

7 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones For Productivity Boost

7 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones For Productivity Boost

With more people working from home, many are looking for proper headphones to block out sounds that could break their concentration while working, studying, or attending an online meeting. In fact, using noise-canceling headphones may even help you feel less tired, especially after traveling or commuting.[1]

But despite this feature being a valuable feature for most headphones, not all of them are created equally. As a result, I’ve put together some of the best noise-canceling headphones that you can find on the market.

Best Noise-Canceling Headphones Criteria for Evaluation

Before getting into the list, it’s worth looking at the criteria that I used to evaluate these headphones. The following headphones will have these qualities:

  • High comfort – All of these products are designed for maximum customer comfort and will fit your head perfectly.
  • Over-Ear design – This provides an added barrier that helps cancel unnecessary sounds and ensures that the headphones won’t slip out of your ears like earbuds.
  • Wireless – The recommended headphone designs are all wireless. No one wants to deal with extra cords cluttering their workspace.
  • Strong battery life – On top of these products being wireless, each one also has a good battery life to help minimize downtime.

1. Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Bluetooth: Sony WH-1000XM4


    If you’re looking for a product with great Bluetooth compatibility, the latest Sony headphones have you covered. They offer strong noise isolation in several ways. First is through their overall bulk and over-ear design. The second is through new features that are easily adjustable.

    Whenever you’re using features like Speak-to-Chat or Quick Attention (triggered by covering the right ear cup), the headphones will start playing ambient sounds. This can increase your concentration and help you stay aware and focused.


    You also don’t have to worry much about its battery life as these headphones can stay charged for over 37 hours. It also has an auto-off timer, which ensures that its power isn’t being wasted when not being used.

    Pick up the best noise-canceling headphones from Sony here.

    2. Most Comfortable Alternative: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

      If Bluetooth connectivity isn’t a huge concern and you’re more worried about comfort, a good alternative is Bose’s QuietComfort line of headphones. You’ll be giving up on the sound customization features Sony offers, however, you’ll gain a higher comfort with these headphones. They’re lightweight and specially designed to clamp tightly to your ears. As such, they’re not as bulky as Sony’s.

      In terms of the noise-canceling feature, they’re on par with Sony in that they can cut down a significant amount of outside noise. However, they won’t cancel every unnecessary sound. There will be situations where you would still hear the bass-range noise from bus engines, for example.

      Purchase a pair of Bose’s comfortable headphones here.

      3. Best Budget Option Under $200: Razer Opus


        For those looking for a good budget option, the Razer Opus is a solid one. Out of the various headphones at this level, this is the best noise-canceling headphones when comparing the price to performance.

        These headphones are capable of blocking out ambient noises around you, ranging from low rumbles from bus or plane engines to chatter. On top of that, they have long battery life. They can last up to 32 hours along with an auto-off timer to help conserve battery life, too.

        Buy a pair of Razer Opus’s headphones here.

        4. Best Budget Option Under $100: Anker Soundcore Life Q30

          If you want another budget option that’s even cheaper than the Razer Opus, a great option is Anker’s Soundcore headphones. These wireless headphones are well-built, comfortable, and durable with a reinforced headband.

          Their noise-canceling capabilities are on par with the best as this product can filter low rumbles to high pitched hums of AC units easily. All around, they’re great for the price that you’re paying.

          Pick up a pair of Anker Soundcore Life Q30 headphones here.


          5. Best Noise-Canceling Headphones Under $100 Budget Alternative: PowerLocus

            Another great budget headphones to consider is the PowerLocus. Featuring an excellent 70-hour battery life, these noise-canceling headphones can cancel noises in cafes, buses, trains, cars, among other places, while you work all day.

            These headphones provide great comfort and the sound quality is high due to their hi-fi stereo and deep bass. It also comes with a 2-year warranty so if you experience any problems, you can easily get a new pair.

            Purchase a pair of PowerLocus headphones here.

            6. Best for Mixed Usage: Anker Soundcore Life Q35

              While this is a newer generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q30, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better. There are definitely some shifts between the generations of headphones. In the case of these headphones, they have some features to help enhance your experience.

              Their noise-canceling capabilities are lower than the older generation, though it depends heavily on how the headphones fit on your head. That said, the current version has more customizable sound profiles thanks to the app that comes with the headphones. You also get extra accessories like a built-in mic, a case, and an airplane adapter that the other headphones don’t have.


              They keep the price around the same range as the previous generation, so it’s a matter of preference.

              Pick up Anker Soundcore Life Q35 here.

              7 Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for Commuting and Traveling: Sony WH-1000XM3

                An older generation of the Sony WH-1000XM4, these excellent noise-canceling headphones offer the same level of quality as their latest generation versions. They have an excellent battery life, a high wireless range, and stellar noise-canceling capabilities.

                The difference between the older and more recent generations is that these have a higher level of comfort than the previous generation. They also have a slightly shorter battery life, but it’s still relatively high at 30 hours.

                Purchase Sony’s WH-1000XM3 here.

                Final Thoughts

                If the bulky nature of noise-canceling headphones is something that you don’t mind, then these products can offer you the best quality sound, comfort, and noise-canceling capabilities.


                The important thing is that you look for the one that suits your needs and preferences the best. Paired up with not having to deal with wires cluttering your workspace, you’ll be able to focus more on the things that really matter while unnecessary sounds around you fail to distract you.

                Featured photo credit: Jelle van Leest via


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                Last Updated on September 9, 2021

                The Ultimate List of Deep Focus Music for Productive Work

                The Ultimate List of Deep Focus Music for Productive Work

                Everyone has their favorite habits for boosting productivity. Your desk setup, morning routine, and diet all play a role. But there’s one thing that everyone agrees can make a difference: focus music.

                Soothing beats can keep distractions at bay, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Whether you’re trying to drown out mowers or simply get into a groove, put on a pair of headphones. Music can make all the difference in your focus.

                With that said, not all music is equally conducive to productivity. You need to be careful about what you listen to. Getting work done calls for very different sounds than getting a workout in.

                If you need a little more help to get rid of distractions, check out Lifehack’s free guide End Distraction And Find Your Focus. In this guide you’ll learn the simple techniques to stay focused and boost productivity. Grab your free guide here.

                This article will walk you through selecting the best music for productivity, as well as a list of tunes to help you get started.

                How to Pick the Best Focus Music For Yourself

                With so many genres and artists out there, there’s a lot of music to choose from. Before you press play, keep the following guidelines in mind:

                1. Stick With Instrumental

                Songs without words in them make it easier to focus. Lyrics can distract you from what you’re trying to accomplish because you might get the words mixed up with what you’re trying to read. If you’re writing something, you might find yourself typing the lyrics instead.

                Intelligence and instrumental music are correlated, perhaps because instrumental music is less intrusive.[1] Instrumental music tends to fade into the background, giving you a rhythm without pulling your mind away from the task at hand.

                Stay away from instrumental versions of songs you recognize. It’s easy to fill in the blanks with the lyrics if you’ve already committed them to memory.


                However, some exceptions can be made. Creatives who produce videos or audio might prefer tracks that get their creative juices going, lyrics and all. However, if you find lyrics to be distracting, switch back to instrumental tunes.

                2. Take It Easy

                Not all instrumental music is calm and relaxing. Focus music should be, however. So, beware of instrumental songs that are too loud and stimulating. High volumes and tempos can work you up when you need to stay calm.

                Again, some roles can make exceptions. Physical laborers can use more rambunctious tunes to keep them energized. While calm tunes work best for those in desk-based roles, don’t go too extreme. Something that’s too soothing might make you feel tired, and yawning all day isn’t exactly the path to productivity.

                3. Pick Music You Enjoy

                At the end of the day, the best focus music is what you enjoy. If you hate classical music, don’t put together a classical playlist just because you stumbled on a study about its benefits.[2] Your dislike of the music will take away the productivity you’d otherwise get out of listening to it.

                Don’t be afraid to try something new. If you’ve never worked while listening to jazz before, why not? Save songs you like for later listening. Over time, you’ll build a playlist of tried-and-true focus music.

                4. Update Your Setup

                Before jamming out to your productivity tunes, make sure you have the right equipment. Invest in a music streaming service so you don’t have to listen to ads. Purchase noise-canceling headphones to avoid distracting your co-workers.

                Focus music is all about ambience. Anything that interrupts your flow—whether that’s poor sound quality or glitchy streaming—needs to go.

                Expect to spend at least $100 on headphones or speakers. For the streaming service itself, Spotify Premium is the standard at $9.99 per month. Slacker, Apple Music, and YouTube Music are also popular.

                Building Your Perfect Playlist of Focus Music (With Recommendations)

                Now that you know what to look for in focus music and how to listen, it’s time to build your playlist. Get started with these smooth, instrumental genres, artists, and songs.


                1. Chillhop Music

                This YouTube channel has almost 3 million subscribers. Its music videos run 24/7 and feature driving yet relaxing beats.

                Most songs on this channel fall into a category called “lofi hip hop,” a type of electronic R&B. Unlike traditional hip hop, lofi hip hop songs follow a slow, steady pattern that induces focus and relaxation.

                Chillhop playlists can also be streamed on Spotify, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp. Popular artists include nymano, No Signal, and Sleepy Fish.

                2. Andy McKee

                Andy McKee is an acoustic guitarist who became famous after “Drifting,” one of his early songs, went viral on YouTube. “Drifting” exemplifies the creative, quiet guitar techniques found in the rest of McKee’s music.

                Today, McKee has six albums of primarily acoustic guitar. One of McKee’s most popular pieces, “Rylynn,” is a perfect example of his soothing yet upbeat sound.

                3. John Butler Trio

                The band John Butler Trio became popular after releasing “Ocean,” a 2012 hit with more than 50 million listens on YouTube.[3] Heavy on acoustic guitar, “Ocean” is an intricate ballad that ebbs and flows like the ocean itself.


                Known for flowing changes in key and mood, the John Butler Trio proves that fast songs can stand in as great focus music. The group’s long songs—“Ocean” is 12 minutes long—are less disruptive for long projects. Two other favorites by John Butler Trio are “Betterman” and “Spring to Come.”

                4. Classical Radio on Pandora

                Classical music has long been a staple for music lovers looking to get work done. Pandora’s classical station features a great mix, from Beethoven to modern artists like Maria Callas and Jorge Bolet.

                Pandora has radio stations for every genre imaginable. You can generate playlists based on genre, artist, or even a specific song.

                Other music apps offer similar playlists and radio stations you can turn to for your classical music fix. From piano-heavy tunes to violin concertos, you’ll find plenty to perk up your ears.

                5. Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack

                Movie soundtracks are full of amazing focus music. One of my favorites is the Pirates of the Caribbean series, which is lively and adventurous but not in your face.

                If you like what you hear, Hans Zimmer, the mastermind behind the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, has worked on a huge array of films. Zimmer also put together the soundtracks for The Dark Knight, Interstellar, and Inception.

                One thing to watch out for with cinematic music is associations. As iconic as the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack is, if you’re thinking about Jack Sparrow instead of balancing spreadsheets, you should probably switch to a new song.

                6. Legend of Zelda Soundtrack


                Another hotspot for instrumental music is video games. If you’re not sure where to start, check out selections from The Legend of Zelda.

                Anyone who’s played The Legend of Zelda games will immediately recognize what they hear. The soundtrack is light, airy, and full of awe. Keyboards, harps, and flutes feature prominently.

                Although you could spend hours listening to The Legend of Zelda music, don’t forget about fan-produced songs in this genre. The video-gaming community is robust, and instrumental re-creations of your favorite games’ soundtracks can be found all over the internet.

                7. Nature Sounds and White Noise

                This genre may be too relaxing for some, but others prefer less structured focus music. Sounds like thunder, wind, and rushing water can transport you to a quiet, idyllic place to get work done.

                One type of white noise to avoid is city-related sounds. Even without lyrics, honking horns or chattering crowds can be distracting.

                An advantage of this type of focus music is that it can be set on a loop. If you find a track you like, go ahead and put it on repeat. When it starts over, you won’t even notice.

                Ready, Set, Play

                The best part about focus music is that nothing is off-limits. Some people work better listening to Tom Petty tunes than instrumental music, and that’s okay. What’s important is that it’s motivating without being distracting.

                To unlock your next tier of productivity, spend a couple of hours clicking around on your favorite streaming music site. You’ll get more done, and best of all, you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

                More Tips to Improve Your Focus

                Featured photo credit: Lala Azizli via



                [1] New York Post: Smarter people listen to instrumental music: study
                [2] Forbes: Does Classical Music Help Our Productivity?
                [3] YouTube: Ocean – John Butler – 2012 Studio Version

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