If you spend your days in coffee shops or find yourself on an airplane often, the most reliable piece of gear you can invest in is a good pair of headphones with active noise cancellation.
Whether it’s for long-lasting comfort or the need for the richest possible sound quality, over-ear headphones still have plenty of appeal over wireless earbuds. Similar to wireless earbuds without ANC, 2022 saw a contraction in the number of good ANC over-ear headphones. To be fair: many of the best ones from last year still excel. That being said, there were still some noteworthy new releases.
Here are our four favorite options released this year, presented below in no particular order.
Sony’s successor to the beloved WH-1000XM4 lived up to the hype. The WH-1000XM5 dramatically overhauls the design with a new non-foldable silhouette. Frequent flyers might be irked by the change to a more modern, albeit large profile, but what the over-ear ANC headphones lost in folded portability, they gained with a giant boost in noise-cancelling performance.
The WH-1000XM5 also have some meaningful upgrades to comfort. Mostly, the new audio components and tuning choices from Sony make them sound wildly different from their predecessors. It is worth noting, however, the WH-1000XM5 only supports Sony’s (somewhat unstable) LDAC for higher-quality audio over the AptX Adaptive codec that our other picks support.
Sennhesier Momentum 4
2022 saw Sennheiser release the incredible Momentum 3 True Wireless earbuds and update the aging Momentum wireless headphones with the Momentum 4. The Momentum 4’s primary claim to fame is the frankly astounding battery life on board: up to 60 hours of playtime with ANC enabled. This makes the Momentum 4 the industry champ to date, besting the 24 hours in the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Bose QC45, and trouncing the 20 hours of battery in the AirPods Max. Sennheiser also rounds out the Momentum 4 with incredible audio quality thanks to AptX Adaptive support.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2
British audio company Bowers & Wilkins released two pairs of wireless headphones in 2022. While the $600 PX8 are undoubtedly the company’s flagship, we think the PX7 S2 are B&W’s most notable release this year. The PX7 S2 maintain the understated look of the PX7 while completely updating the innards that bring a massive upgrade to sound quality. Their respectable 30 hours of battery life may not be as jaw-dropping as the Momentum 4, but the audio quality and the PX7 S2’s support for AptX Adaptive make these over-ear ANC cans a great choice for the most critical listeners out there.
Master & Dynamic MW75
Master & Dynamic’s MW75 takes the crown for the best “ultra-premium” wireless headphones around. These headphones have every feature someone shopping in the $500+ price range could ask for. They’re constructed of anodized aluminum instead of heavy stainless steel, making them nearly 50 grams lighter than the AirPods Max. The lambskin leather earcups bring together a refinement of the retro-inspired Master & Dynamic design language, giving them an unmistakable silhouette. 28 hours of ANC listening time and some of the best sound quality around make the MW75 the best option if you see money as no object.