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The best alternatives to Sony’s popular WH-1000XM4 headphones

Sony’s WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones are incredibly popular for travelers, and with good reason. They offer a near-perfect blend of great sound quality, battery life, and of course, active noise-canceling. Unfortunately, they’re expensive, but they’re far from your only option in this increasingly popular field. Whether you’re after better comfort or just don’t like the capacitive controls, some of these alternatives may be a better fit for you.

Best overall

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

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Staff pick

Bose’s 700-series headphones go a step above the QC35s, with better sound quality and a much sleeker design that feels incredibly comfortable on your head. Of course, you still get excellent noise cancellation, USB-C, and even Alexa built in. Consider the Bose 700 your all-over upgrade pick.

$379 at Amazon $379 at Best Buy $379 at Walmart

Superior audio

B&O Beoplay HX

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Bang & Olufsen delivers some of the best audio around, even with its Bluetooth headphones. The HX have adjustable noise canceling, dual device pairing, and the ability to selectively filter in background sounds with a quick swipe gesture. There’s also a proximity sensor that pauses music when you’re not wearing the headphones.

$471 at Amazon $500 at Best Buy $500 at B&H

Better passthrough audio

Sennheiser Momentum 3

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Sennheiser’s latest Momentum headphones have outstanding audio quality, giving off a much more neutral sound than the XM4s. The Momentum 3 also has more natural-sounding passthrough audio, along with competitive noise canceling and even the ability to play music while charging over USB-C — something the XM4s can’t do.

$330 at Amazon $330 at Best Buy $330 at B&H

Better comfort

Bose QC35 II

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Bose’s QC35 headphones are possibly the only ANC cans more recognizable than Sony’s. The QC35 IIs are compact, comfortable enough to wear all day, and use physical buttons for playback controls. They can also connect to two devices at once — fair warning, though: they charge over Micro-USB.

$249 at Amazon $249 at Best Buy $249 at Walmart

Budget pick

Soundcore Life Q30

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The Soundcore Life Q30 headphones are a gem when it comes to both how they sound and how well they fit. They last for up to 60 hours on a single charge with ANC turned off, and you can get four hours of use with just a five-minute charge via USB-C. Throw in the excellent Soundcore app support for tweaking sound and you can’t ask for much more.

$80 at Amazon

True wireless excellence

Jabra Elite 75t

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True wireless earbuds typically don’t sound as good as over-ear cans, but they’re far more convenient for everyday use. The Jabra Elite 75t fit right in your pocket, last for 7.5 hours (with an extra 20.5 hours in the charging case), sound fantastic, and they even have good passive isolation that makes up for the lack of ANC.

$150 at Amazon $150 at Best Buy $150 at Walmart

You have plenty of great-sounding options

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There are plenty of great noise-canceling headphones to choose from, and these days you can find something good within virtually any budget. The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are an incredibly high-end, luxurious alternative to the 1000XM4s, but other headphones like the Sennheiser Momentum 3 are equally great options.

I still use my WH-1000XM4s almost daily, and they’re an absolutely essential part of my bag whenever I’m traveling or even just working out of a loud coffee shop, but I’m surprised by how much I’ve also been using true wireless earbuds lately. The Jabra Elite 75t earbuds are more convenient and portable than any pair of over-ear headphones, and they sound shockingly good. If you already have a good set of noise-canceling headphones, you might want to consider these instead of upgraded cans!

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