Cheap Noise Canceling Headphones: Worth the Expense?

by Josh Koop | Last Updated:   4 months ago
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A good pair of noise canceling headphones can greatly elevate your music listening experience. As alluring as they are, not everyone can afford the flagship expensive ones. So, naturally, you might be attracted to the more budget options. This begs the question, are cheap noise canceling headphones worth it really? 

Cheaper noise canceling headphones are for the most part, not worth your money. While some of the budget friendly options can be fairly decent, most of the cheap headphones lack the audio quality or longevity to make them a good go-to option.

That is just the tip of the iceberg, there is a fair bit to keep in consideration here. In this article, I will try to provide all sorts of information on choosing cheap noise cancelling headphones and what sort of price you should expect for the actually good ones. So, without further ado, let’s get right to it. 

How Much Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Cost?

When someone says “noise canceling headphones”, what they actually refer to are headphones that have active noise cancelation or ANC.

These headphones remove noise electronically by producing waves that are the reverse of the noise. On the flip side, passive noise cancelation is when the headphones physically seal out the noise.

Active noise canceling headphones from reputed well-known brands usually cost upwards of a hundred dollars. A good pair of noise canceling headphones will usually cost you around two to three hundred dollars. Some can be even more expensive with newer and smarter features.

Suffice it to say, noise canceling headphones cost substantially more than regular headphones. You can get a decent pair of regular headphones for around 50 to 70 dollars and they will have a decent sound quality and will also last quite a while. Not the same case when it comes to headphones with active noise cancelation.

Even the most basic ones with a barebones set of features can cost you around 100 to 200 dollars. Some examples of good noise cancelling headphones would be:

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And these are still considered entry level headphones by real audiophiles. Some of the best noise cancelling headphones start from $400 to thousands of dollars.

If you start looking for options that are cheaper than that you will most definitely end up on the marketplace of knock-off and off-brand mass produced headphones.

These super cheap headphones might allure you with their low-price tag and sizable feature list. But once you buy a pair you will see how poor both their build quality and audio quality are

The noise cancelation would be questionable at best, non-existent at worst.

Should You Get Cheap Noise Canceling Headphones?

As I have already mentioned, if you start looking for noise canceling headphones for very cheap prices, you will find options from the most questionable vendors. Buying knock off or off-brand super cheap products is never a good idea. More so when it comes to headphones.

These places will offer you active noise canceling headphones for prices cheaper than what you would pay for a regular pair of headphones. That is their biggest advertisement. That is what sells these highly questionable products, their super low-price tag.

At best you will find a product from a brand that very few people will recognize, and at worst you will end up with a pair of headphones that have virtually no branding on them. These headphones almost never go under any kind of quality control and have very poor build quality.

The audio quality is often even worse than the build. Most of these off-brand headphones sound crass and mushy and are not pleasant to listen to at all. The active noise cancelation you might buy these for will probably not work properly at all.

Yes, maybe your luck will be better and you might land on some hidden gem of a product that is both cheap and high quality.

But, for most people buying these super cheap headphones that are not the case and chances are that you might get ripped off too.

If you want to use a pair of headphones regularly, they need to be both comfortable and have pleasant audio. Good audio quality is needed to keep yourself healthy and safe from the noises of the city. 

There is a certain threshold of price for any product that you need to reach to get a decent amount of quality. That threshold is more important when it comes to headphones as they sit directly on your ears and have an effect on your health.

If you cannot get the best quality active noise canceling headphones you should most definitely look for budget friendly options. But, do not go for the super cheap ones.

And at a certain point, you are better off looking for regular headphones without noise canceling as they will provide good value at a lower price.

How Long Do Budget Headphones Last?

As I have already mentioned, super cheap off brand headphones are a very bad idea. Whether it comes to headphones with noise cancelation or without. Now you might be wondering, how long do cheap headphones last?

For most cheap headphones you should expect them to last around 6 months to 3 years. This is going to vary based on materials used and how you treat them as they are frequently made from cheaper materials. On the other hand investing in a more expensive set of headphones could last up to 10 years.

For average earbuds you can look for them to last 3-6 months depending on how frequently they are used. The first typical symptom experienced will be the loss of sound on one side even without visible indicators of damage.

Sometimes they don’t work at all right out of the box while sometimes they last a few weeks before they fail. At best these will last you anywhere under 3-4 months if you use them regularly.

Next, come the ones that are not super cheap but budget friendly. A good pair of budget friendly headphones will give you at least one or two years of good use when taken good care of.

This is the quality and longevity that should be your baseline while looking for a good pair of headphones.

What Your Ideal Price Range Should Be for NC Headphones

There is a certain threshold of the price that you need to reach before you start to see sustainable and decent quality. That range is higher for the noise canceling headphones when compared to regular headphones without noise cancelation.

A good pair of noise canceling headphones will cost you around 150 to 200 dollars. That is the budget you should try to stick to on the lower end.

But if you are not able to reach that budget range. Do not fear as you still have a lot of good options available to you. Albeit, they will not have active noise cancelation.

Regular headphones cost a fair bit less than ones with active noise cancelation. You can get really good ones that will last you years for around 50 to 60 dollars.

As these do not need the high-tech mechanisms for ANC, they can have great sounding audio at a fairly low price.

Even with regular headphones, you should not cheap out too much. Anything below 40 to 50 dollars can have questionable quality and can hamper your listening experience quite a bit.

So, stick to the idea price ranges if you want to get the most value out of your limited budget.

Final Thoughts on Cheap Noise Cancelling and How Long They Last

Choosing to “cheap out” while choosing a noise cancelling headphone would be a bad idea. When you go for NC headphones you are expecting quality. And the cheap ones simply won’t produce the results you’d expect.

A minimum budget of 50 dollars is necessary if you are looking for a budget best bang for your buck approach. But heading over to the $150 – $200 would be the best option. 

Thank you for reading till the end. I hope this article answered your question of “are cheap noise canceling headphones worth it?” and any other questions that may have come along with it.

Hopefully, you will have a much better idea when shopping for your next pair of headphones. Thanks for stopping by!

Best Over Ear Noise Cancelling Options on Amazon

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