CNet rates the Bose Quiet Comfort headphones and earphones as the best noise-cancelling systems as of 2015. The Wire Cutter and Life Hacker suggest the Monoprice 10799 in-ear phones and the Able Planet Sound Clairty headphones as lower-cost alternatives.
Bose has been researching noise-cancelling technology for over 20 years, and its headphones frequently appear at the top of lists for quality and comfort. They also come with a hefty price tag of over $200, as of 2015. The QuietComfort 25 model fits over the ears with a padded foam seal while the in-ear QuietComfort20 model earbuds are more compact and ideal for traveling.
Earphones employing noise-cancelling technology often have external microphones that record the outside ambiance and create a sound wave to cancel those frequencies. Noise-reducing headphones, however, only create seals around the ears to block external sound.