If you're new to the working from home lifestyle and finding it difficult to focus, it might be because you have a lot of family noise in the background or just a lot of distractions. One of the best things to have is a good pair of earbuds or headphones to tune everything else out, so you can hunker down and work. Our favorite option for the job are AirPods Pro because they're small, sound great, and have active noise cancelation (ANC).
Best Overall: AirPods Pro
You've probably seen us praise the AirPods Pro quite a few times since the product launched back in October 2019. That's because it's one of our favorite audio products from Apple in recent memory and for good reason.
AirPods Pro have a new design from the previous generations, and it also has silicone ear tips, providing a better fit for most people. It's more comfortable in the ears, more secure, and the tips seal out external noise, so they definitely help tune it all out. The stem of the AirPods Pro has a Force Sensor that lets you toggle Noise Control or Siri (customize this in Settings) on the fly.
The AirPods Pro also have significantly better sound quality than its predecessors, which is probably due to the silicone tips. Once you turn the ANC on, then you are fully immersed in your music, podcast, audiobook, movie, or whatever you're listening to. The ANC, combined with the sound quality, makes it hard to hear any external noise, so it's great for just drowning out that distracting family noise while working from home.
However, if you do need to hear the outside world while working, then Transparency is a lifesaver. Turning this on lets some outside noise filter in, so you can hear if someone calls your name, for example. If you're out for a bike ride or walking, then Transparency lets you hear if there are cars around you, which is incredibly important to be aware of.
While you're just going to be at home, the AirPods Pro case is super convenient. It's not much bigger than the regular AirPods case, and it can hold about 24 hours worth of charge, so just pop your AirPods Pro back in when the battery is running low. If you need to charge up the case, it can be plugged in via Lightning or you can throw it on top of any Qi-certified wireless charger.
- Small and compact
- Better fit and sound quality
- ANC and Transparency mode
- 24 hours of charge in case
- Case works with wireless chargers
Small but mighty
AirPods Pro provides fit securely and have great sound quality. ANC and Transparency are superb, and it can charge wirelessly.
Best for Gaming: HyperX Cloud Mix Wired Gaming Headset
Despite being marketed as a gaming headset, the HyperX Cloud Mix can be used for anything, and it's fantastic. I've been using this headset daily for the past six months at my desk for music listening, work meetings, and more.
First off, the Cloud Mix is very lightweight and comfortable to wear. I have it on my head for my entire workday and experience zero discomfort on my head by the time I'm done for the day. The headset is adjustable to your liking, and the leather earcups are soft and plush. The sound quality is great too, and while it doesn't have noise cancellation, it still does a great job of muffling outside noise once you put them on.
While the Cloud Mix is labeled as a wired headset, it actually still has Bluetooth connectivity, so you can pair it with your iPhone or iPad (or other smartphone or tablet) if you want. The detachable boom mic means great audio quality on calls (video or not) too, but there is also a built-in mic that kicks in for Bluetooth.
- Very comfortable and lightweight
- Great audio quality
- Can be used wired or wireless
- Comes with detachable mic
- In-line audio control on braided cable
- Only two colors
- No ANC
Best for Gaming
HyperX Cloud Mix Wired Gaming Headset
Comfort and function
The Cloud Mix is lightweight and super comfortable with good sound quality. It has a detachable mic and Bluetooth compatibility.
Best Value: Tribit XFree Tune Wireless Headphones
If you are looking for a good pair of more budget-friendly headphones, then look no further than the Tribit XFree Tune Wireless Headphones.
The XFree Tune headphones have dual 40mm sound-stage drivers that deliver true-to-life audio with rich bass, so your audio is fully immersive. While they don't have ANC, they do feature advanced passive noise reduction, which still helps tune out the external noise around you.
XFree Tune headphones also have a comfortable design with adjustable headband, metallic slider, and leather earmuffs. They fold down so you can store them safely in the provided carrying case, and have about 40 hours of playtime. You could also just plug them in with the audio cable if you prefer, saving battery life.
According to our friends at Android Central, the XFree Tune headphones sound almost as good as Bose, but for a fraction of the price.
- Comfortable design
- Good sound quality
- Very affordable
- Long-lasting battery
- Comes with audio cable
- No ANC
- Old-fashioned Micro-USB for charging
Tribit XFree Tune Wireless Headphones
Superb quality on a budget
The XFree Tune headphones are comfortable and have great sound quality for the price, even without ANC.
Best Noise Cancelation: Sony WH1000XM3
If you have the money to spare and need the absolute best noise-canceling headphones to drown out all sounds in the house, then go for the Sony WH1000XM3 Wireless Headphones.
These headphones are well-known for incredible sound quality with industry-leading ANC. The ANC is digital, so you get a virtually soundproof experience, and zero outside noise will get through. The digital ANC also has Smart Listening, so it will adjust ambient sound to give you the best noise cancelation possible. You can also cover the right ear cup to turn down the music automatically if you have to engage in conversation, rather than taking them off completely.
The WH1000XM3 also has built-in Amazon Alexa, so you can control the music and other information with just your voice. You also get around 30 hours of playtime, and they're comfortable to wear all day. When you're not using them, just fold them down and store them in the included carrying case.
- Industry-leading ANC
- Comfortable to wear
- Built-in Amazon Alexa
- Easy to store in carrying case
- Comes with audio cable
- No built-in Siri
Best Noise Cancellation
The WH1000XM3 provide the best ANC available on the market. They're comfortable to wear and have Alexa built-in.
Best Bose: Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Another one of my personal favorites that work very well are the Bose QuietComfort 35 IIs. These, as the name implies, are comfortable to wear and they come several different color variations.
With the QuietComfort 35 IIs, you get that high quality that Bose is known for. The sound quality is superb, and the ANC is noticeable the moment you put them over your head. The QC35 IIs have three levels of ANC, so you can pick the one that works best for your WFH situation. They also have a noise-rejecting dual microphone that ensures clear sound and voice pick up for calls. Unfortunately, they don't have a Transparency mode of any kind.
Extra features include built-in Alexa and Bose AR support. The AR element is innovative, audio-only versions of augmented reality that show off the capabilities of Bose products. However, you do need to use the compatible companion apps to test these out.
- Great sound quality
- Comfortable to wear
- Three levels of ANC
- Different color options
- Built-in Alexa
- No Transparency mode
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
QuietComfort 35 II headphones are comfortable to wear and have great sound quality with three levels of ANC.
Best AirPods Pro Alternative: Jabra Elite 65t
For those who want wireless earbuds but don't want AirPods Pro, or think the price for AirPods Pro is a little much, then the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds are a great alternative option.
The Jabra Elite 65t are similar to the AirPods Pro, in that they are truly wireless earbuds, so no annoying wire attached. They use Jabra's "EarGels" tips, and there are multiple sizes that come with the earbuds, so you can find the size that works best for your ears. They'll fit snugly in your ears and block out a lot of external noise, helping you focus.
While the earbuds themselves have about 5 hours of battery life on a single charge, the charging case can store another 15-hours or so, giving you plenty of listening time. Jabra Elite 65t are also IP55 resistant, so you don't need to worry about sweat or dust. They also have Alexa built-in and come in at a more affordable price than the Bose QC35 II or Sony WH1000XM3 headphones.
It is worth noting that while we do like the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds, they are a previous generation product. They still work great, and because they're older, they come in at a reasonable price tag. However, if you want the new-and-improved version, then give the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds a look — just understand that they have a higher price tag.
- Affordable price
- Comfortable and secure fit
- Good battery life
- IP55 water and dust resistant
- Built-in Alexa
- No ANC
- Older generation product
Best AirPods Pro Alternative
Jabra Elite 65t
Alternative to wireless buds
Jabra Elite 65t is an affordable alternative to AirPods Pro. It has IP55 water and dust resistance, a secure fit with EarGels, and an all-day battery.
We still love the AirPods Pro the most out of these options. That's because the AirPods Pro are small and super compact in the wireless charging case. This means that they're incredibly easy to carry around with you everywhere, and it's easy to take them out and pop them into your ear on the fly. Plus, there are a ton of amazing case options out there, so you have plenty of choice when it comes to accessorizing and protecting your AirPods Pro.
As a user of the first-gen AirPods, the fit of the AirPods Pro is so much better. The silicone ear tips are comfortable and come in multiple sizes, and they seal the sound in your ear, resulting in better sound quality. Apple's ANC is like what you'd expect from Sony or Bose, but packed into such small and impressive earbuds. Unlike some other headphones, the Transparency mode is nice to have, especially when you still want to be able to hear for important sounds around you.
We know that times like this can be tough, though, so getting a hold of AirPods Pro may not be feasible right now. If that's the case, then the Tribit XFree Tune Wireless Headphones are a great option if money is tight right now but you still need some good headphones to work with. While AirPods Pro may work wonderfully for me, it may not fit right for you (some people love the fit of the original AirPods). That's why there are the Jabra Elite buds, and if you prefer can-style headphones and have the money to spare right now, there are great options from brands like Bose and Sony.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Christine Romero-Chan is a bit of a headphone addict. She has several different pairs of earbuds and headphones all over the house for different purposes, so she knows a thing or two about headphones to help you focus.