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Shhh...We’ve put seven noise-cancelling headphones to the test

There’s no doubt Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones are in great demand. We’ve tested the three most popular models and four others. Which one comes out on top?

What a special occasion: We took the chance to test seven products in one go. One afternoon, our video journalist Manuel Wenk and I put seven different headphones to the test. But wait a second, we didn’t test them ourselves, we had four Digitec Galaxus employees do so.

Our testers

  • Dimitri is our product manager for headphones and our go-to guy for any kind of headphones. He knows them all and he decides which models you can buy in our online shop.
  • Alina’s one of our editors. She listens to music with Apple earbuds. I was curious to know what she’d think of the «real» headphones.
  • Phil’s also one of our editors and he’s known for his good taste when it comes to headphones: he likes the same ones as I. Just kidding, Phil’s tried quite a few headphones and he knows exactly what to look out for.
  • Andrea’s our product manager for the Galaxus category «Gourmet + Treats». This makes her the perfect candidate to treat herself to our seven selected headphones.

Our test devices

up to CHF 500.−

BeoPlay H9 (Over-Ear, Black)
CHF 499.–
Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H9 (Over-Ear, Black)
Enjoy total mobility with this premium wireless over-ear headphone. It features Active Noise Cancellation so you can enjoy music in its purest form without any distracting ambient noise.
1

Availability

Mail delivery

  • 5 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: today at 13:10
  • Bern: today at 12:45
  • Dietikon: today at 14:30
  • Geneva: today at 13:30
  • Kriens: today at 11:20
  • Lausanne: today at 15:40
  • St Gallen: today at 15:30
  • Winterthur: today at 13:30
  • Wohlen: today at 11:00
  • Zurich: today at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9. At the upper limit of our «Outch!» price range, these headphones are our most expensive contender. Do they have more to offer than the others do? I can’t wait to hear our testers’ opinions.

  • Battery life: 14 hours
  • Charging time: ~3 hours
  • Noise cancellation can be deactivated: yes
  • Weight: 285 g
  • Codecs: aptX, AAC
  • Foldable: no, but ear cups can be rotated
  • Handling: touch interface that works with gloves, too

between CHF 300-400.−

MDR-1000X (Over-Ear, Black)
Show- room
CHF 349.–
Sony MDR-1000X (Over-Ear, Black)
Noise cancelling at its best: Get rid of annoying background noise or adjust the sound to your environment – any time and any place.
26

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: only 3 piece(s)
  • Bern: 9 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: only 2 piece(s)
  • Geneva: only 1 piece(s)
  • Kriens: only 2 piece(s)
  • Lausanne: only 3 piece(s)
  • St Gallen: only 1 piece(s)
  • Winterthur: only 1 piece(s)
  • Wohlen: only 2 piece(s)
  • Zurich: 9 piece(s)

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Sony MDR-1000X, a new addition. Sony has always had an excellent reputation when it comes to headphones. This model is a bestseller in this upper-scale price range of Bluetooth over-ear headphones. This is the jack-of-all-trades for codecs: Sony’s in-house invention LDAC operates without any down-conversion of the audio content (in combination with Xperia smartphones). Sony’s MDR-1000X has its own calibration function for background noise, which works remarkably well.

  • Battery life: 20 hours
  • Charging time: ~4 hours
  • Noise cancellation can be deactivated: yes
  • Weight: 275 g
  • Codecs: aptX, AAC, LDAC
  • Foldable: yes
  • Handling: touch interface
  • Other: calibration function for background noise, additional voice cancelling mode to filter in voices

QuietComfort 35 (Over-Ear, Black)
Show- room
CHF 339.–
Bose QuietComfort 35 (Over-Ear, Black)
The best from Bose just got wireless!
72

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: only 1 piece(s)
  • Bern: 5 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: only 2 piece(s)
  • Geneva: only 3 piece(s)
  • Kriens: only 2 piece(s)
  • Lausanne: 5 piece(s)
  • St Gallen: only 3 piece(s)
  • Winterthur: only 2 piece(s)
  • Wohlen: only 2 piece(s)
  • Zurich: 6 piece(s)

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Bose QC 35. These headphones are considered best of class when it comes to no noise-cancelling technology. Bose just know how to do it. I was keen to know is any of the other test devices would come close or possibly even beat this model. With astounding sound quality, it’s no surprise this is one of our bestsellers and has loads of great reviews.

  • Battery life: 20 hours
  • Charging time: ~2.5 hours, 15 minutes quick loading for 2.5 hours of battery life
  • Noise cancellation can be deactivated: no
  • Weight: 234 g
  • Codecs: AAC
  • Foldable: yes
  • Handling: buttons

PXC 550 (Over-Ear)
Show- room
CHF 319.–
Sennheiser PXC 550 (Over-Ear)
Wireless noise cancelling headphones with touch control panel.
17

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: only 1 piece(s)
  • Bern: only 2 piece(s)
  • Dietikon: only 1 piece(s)
  • Geneva: only 1 piece(s)
  • Kriens: today at 11:20
  • Lausanne: today at 15:40
  • St Gallen: only 1 piece(s)
  • Winterthur: only 1 piece(s)
  • Wohlen: only 2 piece(s)
  • Zurich: today at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Sennheiser PXC 550. This is the latest addition to the range of Sennheiser Bluetooth headphones. Personally, I have the Momentum Wireless 2, which is a fun gadget. Although these headphones came out three years ago, they have pretty decent noise cancelling. The PXC 550 model should, in theory, have the best of both worlds: excellent sound quality and great noise cancelling. Let’s see what our testers have to say.

  • Battery life: 30 hours
  • Charging time: ~3 hours
  • Noise cancellation can be deactivated: yes
  • Weight: 227 g
  • Codecs: aptX
  • Foldable: yes
  • Handling: touch interface on right ear cap
  • Other: additional voice cancelling mode to filter in voices

up to CHF 250.−

AH-GC20 (Over-Ear)
CHF 319.–
Denon AH-GC20 (Over-Ear)
Geniessen Sie Ihre Musik dank aktivem Noise Cancelling in perfekter Ruhe ohne lästigen Kabelsalat.
4

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: today at 13:10
  • Bern: today at 12:45
  • Dietikon: today at 14:30
  • Geneva: today at 13:30
  • Kriens: today at 11:20
  • Lausanne: today at 15:40
  • St Gallen: today at 15:30
  • Winterthur: today at 13:30
  • Wohlen: today at 11:00
  • Zurich: today at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Denon AH-GC20. Another model of a renowned manufacturer. So far, noise cancelling hasn’t been one of Denon’s strengths, but these headphones are in the least expensive price range, so we’ll see how they perform.

  • Battery life: 10 hours
  • Charging time: ~2 hours
  • Noise cancellation can be deactivated: yes
  • Weight: 305 g
  • Codecs: aptX, AAC
  • Foldable: no, but ear cups can be rotated
  • Handling: buttons

BackBeat PRO 2 (Over-Ear, Black Tan)
CHF 219.–
Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 (Over-Ear, Black Tan)
Das schnurlose BackBeat PRO 2-Headset füllt Ihren Tag mit Sound mit aktiver Rauschunterdrückung, schnurloser Bewegungsfreiheit und authentischer Audiowiedergabe.
6

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: today at 13:10
  • Bern: today at 12:45
  • Dietikon: today at 14:30
  • Geneva: today at 13:30
  • Kriens: today at 11:20
  • Lausanne: today at 15:40
  • St Gallen: today at 15:30
  • Winterthur: only 1 piece(s)
  • Wohlen: only 1 piece(s)
  • Zurich: today at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2. Plantronics are an insider tip, they sneaked in almost unnoticed. And this even though the company has been in the business for decades: Neil Armstong’s «One small step...» from the moon was transmitted with a Plantronics device. Plantronics used to focus on headsets and acquired much respect in the gaming community. The BackBeat PRO 2 model could be great value for money if our testers like it.

  • Battery life: 24 hours
  • Charging time: ~3 hours
  • Noise cancellation can be deactivated: yes
  • Weight: 289 g
  • Codecs: AAC, aptX, aptX Low Latency (!)
  • Foldable: no, but ear cups can be rotated
  • Handling: buttons
  • Other: multipoint technology (allows switching between streaming music on one device and answering calls on another); additional noise cancelling mode to filter in voices; class 1 Bluetooth with range of 100 meters

MUTE BT (Over-Ear)
CHF 219.–
Teufel MUTE BT (Over-Ear)
Bluetooth-Kopfhörer mit aktiver Geräuschunterdrückung
2

Availability

Mail delivery

  • 5 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: today at 13:10
  • Bern: today at 12:45
  • Dietikon: today at 14:30
  • Geneva: today at 13:30
  • Kriens: today at 11:20
  • Lausanne: today at 15:40
  • St Gallen: today at 15:30
  • Winterthur: today at 13:30
  • Wohlen: today at 11:00
  • Zurich: today at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Teufel MUTE BT. With such a name, how could this company not be interesting («Teufel» is the German word for «devil») 😈. Teufel has a good reputation, especially when it comes to bookshelf speakers. They’re fairly new to the headphone business and this is the least expensive device, so let’s see what our testers think of it.

  • Battery life: 28 hours
  • Charging time: ~2 hours
  • Noise cancellation can be deactivated: yes
  • Weight: 240 g
  • Codecs: aptX
  • Foldable: no, but ear cups can be rotated
  • Handling: buttons
  • Other: replaceable battery (but I couldn’t even find replacement batteries on the manufacturer’s webpage…)

Our test

First off: This test was in no way conducted in a scientifically correct manner. I was hoping a trend would emerge from the wide range of opinions. Everyone tested each device twice. The first time around, I asked the testers to judge the sound quality. The second time around, they focused on the noise-cancelling ability. This excellent video came in handy, it plays Boeing 777 cabin sound non-stop for 11.5 hours.

To make sure this was a blind testing, I put the headphones onto our testers’ heads from behind. I didn’t want them to be influenced by the device and brand («it’s Bose, it’s bound to be good!»). Of course, Dimitri knew which ones he was wearing most of the time anyway 😛 Some of the testers had sent me their favourite song. I chose three tracks that are ideally suited to test headphones. We streamed all songs from Spotify with 320 kbps and connected all headphones to an iPhone 6s. Although some of the headphones make use of AAC codec, this aspect was not part of our test. Adjusting the volume to a specific decibel count is rather tricky on Bluetooth headphones, so I had to make do with rather rudimental volume control.

Our results

You can see some opinions and results in the video (it’s in German). Observing the participants’ reactions to the different headphones was very interesting. Contrary to what I was hoping for, no clear trend emerged from the four opinions. At least when it came to comfort, there were some correlations:

    1. Bose QuietComfort 35
    1. Sennheiser PXC 550
    1. Denon AH-GC20
    1. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9
    1. Sony MDR1000X
    1. Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2
    1. Teufel Mute BT

When it came to noise cancelling, the results were also quite clear:

    1. Sony MDR1000X
    1. Bose QuietComfort 35
    1. Sennheiser PXC 550
    1. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9
    1. Denon AH-GC20
    1. Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2
    1. Teufel Mute BT

Interestingly, our testers dethroned the «king of the silence», the QC35. It looks like the other manufacturers have caught up when it comes to noise-cancelling technology. Sony’s calibration function for background noise seems to be especially effective.

When it came to judging the sound quality, our testers didn’t agree at all: The ladies didn’t like the Plantronics while the men couldn’t get enough of it. Aline liked the Sony MDR-1000X , Dimitri loved it, but Andrea and Phil didn’t appreciate it at all. What this shows it that there’s no such thing as «the best headphones», but only «the most suitable headphones for your ears and your taste in music». Of course, there are large differences in price, but manufacturers such as Beyerdynamic and Sennheiser know their trade and at the end of the day, it’s a question of taste rather than quality. Even more so, as transmission via Bluetooth never comes without loss.

As a side note: Alina complained about missing bass with all devices. This doesn’t surprise me, considering the curtain of hair that was between her ears and the headphones. Some advice on the side: A few millimetres between eardrums and headphones can make a huge difference. The video shows how Dimitri shakes his head slightly; a good trick to put the headphones back into their ideal position. I’m hoping our test will help you choose the best Bluetooth headphones for you.

This might also interest you (in German):

User

Aurel Stevens

I’m a full-time writer, a part-time dad and interested in technology, computers and hi-fi. I’m also a rain-or-shine cyclist and generally in a good mood.

28 comments

User Anonymous

Mein Bose QC 35 Kopfhörer ist mein bester Freund auf jedem Flug :) Noise Canceling an und es ist ruhe. Wenn ich nach 2-3 stunden mal die Kopfhörer abziehe, bin ich jedes mal wider überrascht, wie laut es in einem Flugzeig sein kann.

06.07.2017
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User ursdaniel

Ich habe den bose comfort 35 das flugzeugadapter ist bei meinem auch dabei und in einer guten verpackung für unterwegs.besonders in flugzeugen absolute ruhe und nur die musik geniessen.
Würde den immer wieder kaufen

06.07.2017
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User Anonymous

Wäre noch interessant gewesen zu wissen was sie hören.
Ich mag meine QC 35 vorallem wenn es um Rock und Metal geht. Zu viel bass habe ich auch nicht wirklich gern.

06.07.2017
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User Alina Biedermann

Noch nie in meinem Leben habe ich Apple EarPods benutzt! Einfach, dass das klar ist. #Lügenpresse

07.07.2017
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User pqy15404

lass es dabei

11.07.2017
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User uomoo

Ich habe seit einigen Monaten den Sony MDR 1000X, das sind die einzige Kopfhörer wo mein Ohr nicht an den Kopfhörer ankommt und das NC ist fantastisch. Ausserdem kann man einstellen, dass man nur die Stimmen von aussen hört und nicht die Umgebungsgeräusche (es funktioniert) praktisch bei Ansagen etc

10.07.2017
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User Kisso_AG

Wo würdet ihr den Parrot Zik 3.0 einordnen?

06.07.2017
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User Aurel Stevens

Gar nicht. Wäre nicht seriös, den nachträglich einzuordnen. Ich kenne ihn nicht. Vielleicht hilft jemand aus der Community weiter..?

06.07.2017
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User Anonymous

Der Sound beim Parrot Zik ist hervorragend, leider ist dieser aber nicht wirklich bequem. Ich habe einen eher grösseren Kopf und schaffe es nicht einmal die Hörer gut zu platzieren (der Bügel ist zu kurz). Des weiteren drückt der Bügel und die Muscheln drücken auf den Ohren. Sehr schade, da die Soundqualität wirklich genial ist. Der Bose QC35 ist hier um Welten bequemer. Den Zik kannst du (je nach Kopfgrösse) unmöglich auf einem 12h Flug tragen.

07.07.2017
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User jrzaugg

Das kann ich so unterschreiben. Habe zwar nur die zweite Generation, offensichtlich hat sich da in der Zwischenzeit aber wenig getan. Habe auch einen etwas grösseren Kopf und der Bügel ist schlicht zu klein geraten. Mir ist er zudem zu "zerbrechlich", hatte immer irgendwie Angst, etwas zu stark zu biegen oder drehen. Die Soundqualität ist aber echt top und lässt sich mit der dazugehörigen App fast grenzenlos feintunen. Auch das Noise Canceling war meiner Meinung nach 1A.

12.07.2017
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User Goathill

Schon interessant was ihr schreibt. Der Sony lässt sich nicht auf Umgebungsgeräusche einstellen, sondern auf die Form des Ohrs des Trägers.(Ob das funktioniert lasse ich mal offen.) Entsprechend wird es wohl bei eurem Test so gewesen sein, das der Kopfhörer nicht auf die Benutzer konfiguriert wurde.

06.07.2017
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User Goathill

Verstehe die negative Bewertung nicht. Der Kopfhörer kann konfiguriert werden indem man länger auf den Noice Cancelling Knopf drückt. Es werden dann (im innern des Kopfhörers) Geräusche abgespielt, deren Resonanz von Mikrofonen im Kopfhörer drin gemessen wird. Entsprechend wird der Sound auf die Ohren angepasst. Natürlich reagiert der Kopfhörer auch auf die Umgebungsgeräusche, dies lässt sich allerdings nicht konfigurieren!

07.07.2017
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User Anonymous

Samsung Level One fehlt. Preisgünstig, kompakt und gut! :-) Sind On-Ear-Kopfhörer mit Noise Cancelling und Gestensteuerung - tatsächlich ganz praktisch!

07.07.2017
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User dialektdumir

Schade wurden nicht auch die Mikrofone der jeweiligen Kopfhörer verglichen, da vorallem in einem Open Office so ein Kopfhörer nutzvoll wäre.

10.07.2017
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User albert.keel

Ich besitze die bose und die sonys und bei beiden stellt sich das NC automatisch aus, wenn man zu telefonieren beginnt. Dazu kommt auchnoch dass die Microphone keine Unterdrückung eingebaut haben, d.h die Person and dem anderen Ende der Leitung kann alle Umgebungsgeräusche mithören.
Ich hoffe dies hilft

11.07.2017
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User dialektdumir

Danke für die Antwort!
Die Suche geht weiter...

13.07.2017
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User ehummel74

Nach QC15 und 25 bin ich mittlerweile beim 35 angelangt... und würde ihn nicht mehr missen wollen. NC funktioniert tadellos (hat es bereits bei den Vorgängern), Fliegen macht so gleich viel mehr Spass! Auch zu Hause höre ich Musik fast nur noch mit dem Bose. Ich bin rundum zufrieden :-)

18.07.2017
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User musicolo

Bluetooth ist in klanglich beschränkt. AptX macht Bluetooth besser. LDAC macht Bluetooth nochmals besser. Gewisse Xperia und Samsung phones haben LDAC schon. Ab Android 8 und Bluetooth 5.0 soll LDAC allgemein implementierbar sein. Der MDR-1000X ist in dieser Testreihe der einzige mit LDAC. Bingo!

19.07.2017
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User ONeel

Zudem sollte unbedingt erwähnt werden, dass eben das Abspielgerät eine grosse Rolle mitspielt. Mein iPhone 7 kooperiert deutlich besser mit den QC35 als das 6S (bei welchen du einfach die Finger vom EQ lassen musst beim 7ner nicht mehr).

26.07.2017
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User Hannes2000

Wie habt ihr das mit der Soundqualität getestet? Der QC35 klingt an einem iPhone (wegen AAC) besser als an Android.
Mich hat die Soundqualität des QC35 nicht überzeugt. Vorallem die Höhen waren überspitzt und so hat mich der Hörer nach 45 Minuten genervt. Der Tragekomfort ist aber wirklich sehr gut.

31.07.2017
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User Evonics

Macht es beim "Bose QC35" einen unterschied in der Soundqualität ob ich das Volumen am Kopfhörer direkt (Bluetooth) selbst einstelle (lauter/leise) oder am iPhone/Macbook über den Volumenschieberegler?

06.07.2017
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User Anonymous

Nein und ich weiss auch nicht was das Problem mit der Soundqualität sein soll. Klar es sind keine Openback high end Kopfhörer. Bluetooth bleibt Bluetooth, die Qualität ist entsprechend etwas gemindert aber immer noch sehr gut. Sowohl am iPhone wie auch am PC. Klare Höhen und Mitten, kein übertriebener Bass (a la Beats). Für manche ist der Bass vielleicht etwas wenig, ich finde aber bei guter Musik gibt es mehr als nur Bass. ;)

10.07.2017
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