These Headphones Offer Solid Active Noise Cancellation for Those on a Budget

Illustration for article titled These Headphones Offer Solid Active Noise Cancellation for Those on a Budget

Photo: John Biggs/Gizmodo

Urbanista isn’t a household name. Founded in Sweden, the company makes low-cost, high-design headphones for folks who don’t want to spend a few hundred dollars on options from Apple, Bose, or Beats. Their latest product, the Miami, is a pair of active noise-canceling headphones with 50-hour battery life and a tempting price tag.

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These are not premium headphones. They are nicely designed and the monochrome hues—on the review unit I tested, a glossy glowing green/blue that really pops—are quite fashionable. The audio quality is fine and they fit great even on bigger heads. I used them exercising for a few weeks and then on a six-hour flight and I was impressed in both cases. They stayed on my head while I was shadowboxing and running, and on the flight, they destroyed enough plane noise to make things very pleasant.

The headphones also have on-ear sensors so they’ll stop playing when you take them off. Couple that with a 50-hour battery and you’ve got an interesting set of noise-canceling cans.

You can connect the Urbanista Miami wirelessly via Bluetooth or to a regular audio jack with the included cable. The box also includes an international adaptor for plane seats with dual audio inputs. All of that works well, and you can turn off the ANC with a button on the side. You can even listen to the headphones when the battery is dead, although the sound quality is very muddy.

If you need audiophile quality, however, a pair of $149 headphones is decidedly not it. The attractive design notwithstanding, you definitely don’t get much range with these guys. They’re bass-heavy, a fairly common problem with cheaper, mass-market headphones like these. That’s great for kids and teens or maybe if you’re looking for something that you’ll wear for a few years at the gym or on the road, these will work fine. I can’t attest to the long-term build quality, but the entire set is made of plastic and I saw a bit of wear and tear even in the few weeks I’ve used them. As you can see, the rubber ear pads are already wrinkling with a bit of use and could easily crack and split with extreme use.

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Photo: John Biggs/Gizmodo

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But the active noise cancellation works, and that’s the real draw of the Miami’s real draw. Finding quality ANC in a $149 set of headphones is rare, and these definitely work. They’re an acceptable alternative to lower-cost powered headphones like Sony WH-CH510 or the slightly more expensive $179 AKG N60NC noise-cancelling headphones.

That said, if you’re looking for a pair of headphones for a picky teenager or a traveler on a budget, you could do worse than these—a pair of fashion-focused headphones with a little bit of high tech thrown in. Folks who have used headphones like the Bose Noise Canceling Headphone 700, Sony WH-1000XM3, or the AirPods Pro Max will definitely be disappointed with the Urbanista Miami, but if you’re looking for a quick and affordable fix for your noise-canceling needs, they’re priced right and work well.

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Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro ANC Headphones Drop to $100

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Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro ANC Headphones | $100 | Amazon

Hello, hello. If you’re reading this it means that you may be somewhat interested in audio, or at the very least, are in the market for a new, affordable pair of headphones. Well, look no further than these Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro ANC Headphones, down to $100 from the original list price of $130. Available in four colors, The Souncore Liberty 2 Pros are the latest in a steady brand compatible with both Apple and Andriod. The headphones themselves have targeted ANC (active noise cancellation) and boasts HearID, a personalized EQ that looks inside your ears and analyzes the shape for a customized listening experience.

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The Liberty Air 2 Pros also have up to 26 hours of playtime and seven hours of playback with just one charge, and if you use the charging case (you should!), you’ll get three re-charges. Of course, they come with noise-canceling microphones so you can take Zoom calls in peace, especially if you have too thin walls and too loud neighbors. And honestly, these are great competition to the original AirPods and the AirPods Pro which are about $150 and $250, respectfully.


Save $72 on a Pair of Sony’s Excellent WH-1000XM4 Noise-Cancelling Headphones

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Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones | $278 | Best Buy

For many, working from home this year has been a tricky adjustment. Among the many frustrations and inconveniences are the many noises your housemates will make as you try to focus on your work. Asking to keep the noise down might work, but it can also cause some tension, and it’s never any fun.

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Spare yourself the trouble with the Sony WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling headphones. Typically they’d cost you $348, but they’re down to $278 today at Best Buy. I’ve been testing them for the past couple weeks, and the noise-cancellation is a joy when your neighbors have a symphony of dogs on standby.

In his review, Gizmodo’s Andrew Liszewski says they provide the best noise-canceling experience, and you can easily switch between two paired devices, so you can toggle from a laptop to a phone before getting started on a home workout or heading out for a walk.

This deal was originally published by Jordan McMahon on 12/09/2020 and updated with new information on 03/24/2021. 


Drown Out the Noise With $80 off Bose’s 700 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

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Bose 700 Wireless Headphones (Soapstone)| $300 | Best Buy

A good pair of headphones are more than a vessel for your favorite tunes. They can help your favorite hosts keep you company during a lonely shift, help keep you energized during your morning run, or just block out noisy neighbors so you can stay focused and do the dang thing. Headphones come in all shapes and sizes, packed with a range of features from noise cancellation to voice-assistant integration, all of which can help mold your experience to best suit your needs.

Bose’s 700 wireless headphones, which are down from $380 to $300 right now, packs noise-cancellation and 20 hours of battery life into a sleek body you won’t feel ashamed of plopping on your dome before getting to work. They also have voice and touch controls for easier on-the-go tune switching. Heads up, though: this discount is only for the Soapstone color option, though the silver and black headphones are discounted at a slightly lower rate if those are more your style.

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Get Noise Cancelled With Anker’s Soundcore Q30 Headphones for $68

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Anker Soundcore Q30 | $68 | Amazon

Everything is loud all the time. Don’t you just wish you could cancel it? It is time to deplatform noise and you can do that with Anker’s Soundcore Q30 headphones, which are down to $68. These bad boys feature robust noise cancellation options, including three different modes. You can choose to dampen outdoor, indoor, or airplane noises, so these are optimized for a variety of use cases. These are also wireless and feature 40-hours of battery life in noise cancelling mode, and 60 in standard. Toss in some soft leather earcups and a lightweight design and you’ve got a comfortable headset that suits your needs. Everyone come to my noise is over party.


These Cheap Noise-Canceling Earbuds Give AirPods Pro a Run for Their Money

Illustration for article titled These Cheap Noise-Canceling Earbuds Give AirPods Pro a Run for Their Money

Photo: John Biggs/Gizmodo

In a world in which Apple is now selling $549 headphones, and the major players like Bose are sure to follow suit with equally pricey devices, it’s refreshing to find a pair of earbuds that offer solid noise cancellation, excellent design, and a great price.

The Liberty Air 2 Pros from Anker sub-brand Soundcore cost $130 and come with a cute little charging case that slides up and exposes a pair of white, black, pink, or blue earbuds. The buds last for about six hours on one charge and have simple touch controls. You can double-tap to start and stop the music or go to the next track and hold a finger near the top of the metal part to turn noise cancellation on and off.

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The sound quality is good. You will not mistake these for high-end earbuds. The AirPods Pro, for example, have a cleaner presence, while these ‘buds feature a flat, almost monochromatic sound, with an acceptable amount of bass and treble with little tuning on either end. The noise cancellation was good in both a (simulated) airplane environment and outdoors. I wouldn’t recommend these for, say, a long flight—you want over-ear headphones for that—but they knocked out a lot of the low- to mid-range hum of most environments. One odd thing I noticed was that these earbuds let me hear the noise bed, or the slight hissing sound in some songs that are artifacts of the recording process. In fact, it was surprisingly noticeable, especially on older songs.

The earbuds come with nine different rubber tips ranging from extra small to super large. I swapped out the normal-sized ones for slightly larger ones and got a better fit. You’ll probably find yourself doing the same. Without a tight fit, these earbuds aren’t quite as effective in loud environments, but once you’ve dialed things in, they are light and comfortable.

Battery life was great. I got six hours of use out of these without a charge and the battery case holds another few fill-ups before you need to connect these to a USB-C charger. You could safely put these in your pocket on a daily basis and rarely have to worry about a recharge if you use them sporadically for calls and listening.

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I listened to a bit of everything using the Liberty Air 2 Pros and found them more than capable of playing anything from a little Taylor Swift to some Foo Fighters. I wanted a bit more separation in the sound and a deeper soundstage—as I mentioned before, the music is front and center without much difference between lows and highs. Add in the active noise cancellation and you’ve got a pair of earbuds suitable for subway commutes and walks in the neighborhood.

Illustration for article titled These Cheap Noise-Canceling Earbuds Give AirPods Pro a Run for Their Money

Photo: John Biggs/Gizmodo

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I also tried the Soundcore app to “tune” the earbuds to my hearing. This included what amounted to a hearing test that had me listen to various frequencies at various volume levels. The resulting profile sounded slightly better than the default setting but not by much.

One comical little app feature is a noise-canceling level dial which, I believe, is supposed to reduce certain frequencies. Spinning the dial did nothing.

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And, at $130, I wouldn’t expect much more. These little guys work well, fit well, and offer solid noise cancellation. If you’re in the market for something that works, sounds good, and won’t break the bank, the Liberty Air 2 Pros are worth a look.

README

  • A low-cost alternative to Samsung and Apple’s “Pro” wireless earbuds.
  • Comfortable and good fit.
  • Good audio quality, excellent noise cancellation.

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