Working in a noisy office can make it difficult to focus on the task at hand. It’s easy to be distracted by other people’s conversations, which can negatively impact your productivity.
The best earbuds for noisy offices block out the majority of external sounds, or significantly lower their volume through noise cancellation. This allows you to give your fullest attention to your work so that you can be more productive and effective without any distractions.
Noise cancellation has come a long way since it was first introduced as a feature of high-end headphones and earbuds.
Today, it is a staple feature included by most manufacturers.
Using earbuds or headphones with noise cancellation is a great way to limit the distractions of a loud environment, such as an office, coffee shop, or shared workspace.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about earbuds and headphones that are suitable for noisy offices.
Which Earbuds are Best for a Noisy Office?
The best earbuds for noisy office spaces are those which have Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). This feature is a new, improved form of noise cancellation, which uses a sophisticated electronic system to significantly reduce the volume of external sounds.
ANC is featured on many high-end earbuds and headphones, including the popular AirPods Pro by Apple, the Beats Studio Buds, and the Sennheiser CX Plus earbuds. These earbuds use active noise cancellation to minimize the prominence of outside noise, allowing you to focus on your work.
We’ll get into the specifics of how ANC works in a later section, but there are other qualities that the best earbuds for noisy office spaces must-have. One of the most important is comfort.
- Regardless of how good the sound quality and noise cancellation is, if the earbuds don’t feel comfortable to wear, they will be rendered useless after a short period.
If you work long hours in an office, you’ll need to wear the earbuds constantly, so they mustn’t cause ear pain due to a poor design.
It’s worth investing a little extra on earbuds that have comfortable tips.
Many earbuds have removable tips so that you can find the perfect fit for your ears. The PowerBeats Pro is a perfect example of this, offering four different ear tip sizes to suit all requirements.
In addition to comfort and noise cancellation, battery life, robustness, and sound quality are three other key attributes to look out for when choosing the best earbuds to wear in a noisy office environment.
The earbud market has become increasingly saturated in recent years, as people have made the switch from wired earbuds and over-ear headphones to the more convenient design of wireless earbuds.
It’s therefore essential to research the manufacturer of the earbuds to see if they have a good reputation, or whether they’re simply trying to cash in on the popularity of these popular devices.
Best In-Ear Noise Cancellation Headphones
The best form of in-ear noise cancellation is ANC.
In contrast to normal noise cancellation which simply blocks sound waves from the outside from entering the ear, ANC is a more complicated, effective technology.
Check out this YouTube video to learn more about how noise-canceling headphones work.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) works by using a series of microphones, which essentially scan for any sounds coming from the outside or inside the earbuds. The soundwaves are then inverted before the inner speaker of the earbuds cancels any noise that has been detected.
Passive noise cancellation is another popular variety, and while these earbuds may be less costly, they don’t offer the reactive qualities that ANC earbuds possess.
The earbuds are designed to block out some of the unwanted noise, but they don’t do anything to combat the noise that gets into the ear.
Some earbuds, like the AirPods Pro, also have Transparency Mode. This innovative feature allows you to blend noise cancellation with some outside noise, and is a good option for safety when crossing a road, for example.
Finally, Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation is the most sophisticated variety. This works by using a combination of speakers and microphones to monitor and respond to the environment, keeping the noise cancellation at an optimal level without manually needing to adjust any settings.
|Noise Cancellation Type||Main Qualities|
|Passive||Blocks external sound through tight-fitting ear tips|
|Active||Uses speakers and mics to minimize background noise|
|Adjustable Active||Uses speakers and mics to detect and automatically reduce background noise|
|Transparency Mode||Blends noise cancellation with some background noise|
If you are likely to wear earbuds for long periods, while working, commuting, or partaking in calls, you must choose a comfortable pair. Some affordable earbuds may look the part, but if the ear tip is hard and unforgiving, they can cause discomfort after a short while of wearing them.
Everyone has slightly differently shaped and sized ears. While manufacturers use ergonomic designs to ensure general compatibility with the majority of people, you might find that you need a certain shape or size of ear tip to make them feel comfortable.
The best earbuds in terms of comfort allow you to remove the ear tips, and install the best-suited size for your ears. If you’ve experienced pain when wearing earphones or earbuds in the past, it’s probably a good idea to choose a set that allows you to remove the ear tips.
The material that is used for the ear tip also impacts their comfort, especially when wearing them for long periods. Some manufacturers use rubber material, while others opt for memory foam, which is softer and more forgiving.
Sony’s WF-1000XM4 earbuds are incredibly comfortable. Their soft ear tip molds to the size of your ear, without causing pressure to build up. In my opinion, it’s worth spending extra to ensure comfort in the long term.
Earbuds With Great Battery Life
Battery life is another essential aspect of earbuds. It may not be possible to charge them while you’re at work, or in transit. Therefore, you need to choose a set that has an extensive battery life so that you can use them throughout the day.
There’s a lot of variation in the battery life of earbuds. High-end options, like the aforementioned Sony WF-1000XM4s, provide up to 8 hours of continuous use, which is enough to last most people’s entire shift in the office.
AirPods 2nd and 3rd generation models offer upwards of 6 hours of continuous use, and the Pro versions are even better at holding their charge.
The key is to figure out how long you need the earbuds to last before you can charge them. Generally, earbuds charge quickly, so even plugging them in for half an hour will get you a significant amount of power.
Earbuds that come with a charging case often last longer, because the case itself can be changed so that when they run out you get an additional supply of power.
Earbuds vs. Over-Ear Headphones for Noise Cancellation
Earbuds and over-ear headphones both have their selling points.
The former is more conveniently sized, easy to store away, and better for moving around. The latter generally produces a better sound quality due to the larger speakers.
- When it comes to noise cancellation, there are pros and cons to both options. Over-ear headphones cover more of the ear and therefore are more effective at preventing external noise from being heard.
Earbuds have the advantage of being slotted into the ear, which means they can fill the space. However, noise can still get into the ear unless the ear tips are molded to the exact shape of the listener’s ear.
Over-ear headphones are available in two designs – open back and closed back.
Open-back headphones aren’t as effective at noise cancellation, as they allow background noises to enter the ear more freely.
Closed-back headphones are by far the best when it comes to noise cancellation.
They are used for mixing audio by professionals because they form a barrier between the ear and the outside world, so that maximum focus can be given to the audio coming through the headphones.
There are many exceptional over-ear closed-back headphones available. One option that is great value for money is the Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X headphones, which offer impressive noise cancellation, and a detailed, accurate sound.
Does noise cancellation use more battery power?
If your earbuds or headphones have Active Noise Cancellation, using this feature will cause the battery to drain more quickly. This is because the microphones and speakers require power to carry out the ANC.
What is the maximum range of Bluetooth earbuds?
The majority of Bluetooth earbuds have a maximum operating range of around 10ft to 30 meters. However, Bluetooth 5.0 can reach a massive 240 meters and is expected to be used more in the coming years.
Why do earbuds hurt my ears?
When choosing a set of earbuds, you must pick the right-sized ear tips. If you choose ear tips that are too big for your ears, this will likely cause you pain and discomfort after wearing them for a while.