The Best Headphones For Remote & Hybrid Workers

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The 6 Best Headphones For Remote Work And Hybrid Work

Remote worker holding best headphones for remote work in hand
Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash


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Juggling Zooms, collaborating with colleagues on the cloud and managing multiple projects at once – the life of a remote or hybrid worker can be demanding.

And if you’re a remote or hybrid worker without a solid pair of noise-canceling headphones - you’re going to become friends with construction noises, crying babies in cafes and, if you find yourself abroad, perhaps the roar of a tuk-tuk that seemingly hasn’t been serviced since the inception of the internal combustion engine.

That’s why the right remote work gear is so crucial. And at the top of the gear list for remote and hybrid workers is a killer pair of noise-canceling earbuds.

And we’re talking earbuds, not headphones (we explain why earbuds are better than headphones for hybrid/remote workers below). So if you work online and aren’t lulled into intense concentration by the thrashing sound of an espresso grinder - here are the 6 best noise-canceling earbuds for remote workers.


The 6 Best Headphones For Remote & Hybrid Workers


Sony WF-1000XM5 Earbuds (Best Overall)

Sony WF-1000XM5 headphones for remote and hybrid workers


The latest iteration of Sony's flagship earbuds, the WF-1000XM5, boasts industry-leading noise cancellation that incorporates both ANC (active noise cancellation) and PNC (passive noise cancellation), exceptional sound quality, and a snug, secure fit (much like their WF-10000XM4 predecessors).  These earbuds actually utilize a combination of technologies to cancel out environmental noise, making them ideal for remote and hybrid workers who need to block out distractions in any environment.

Their sleek design, solid noise-cancellation, long battery life, good mic quality, durability and incredible audio quality make these our overall best headphones for remote and hybrid workers.

Sony WF-1000XM5 Pros & Cons:


  • Industry-leading ANC & PNC noise cancellation
  • Audiophile sound quality
  • Secure fit
  • Unbelievable battery life (9+ hours on a single charge)
  • Companion app that allows for full earbuds customization
  • Great microphone quality


  • Cost, among the highest of all flagship earbuds
  • Touch controls aren’t the most intuitive
  • Some users report discomfort with the foam ear tips (although you can get more comfortable replacements)

Are Sony WF-1000XM5 Earbuds Worth It?

If you prioritize top-notch active and passive noise cancellation, excellent sound quality, good microphone quality and one of the longest battery lives on the market, the Sony WF-1000XM5 are worth the investment.

But, if you’re balking at the price of the XM5s, a highly suitable alternative is Sony’s previous iteration, the WF-1000XM4 earbuds.


Apple Airpods Pro 2 (Best For Apple Ecosystem)

Apple Airpods Pro 2 earbuds for remote workers


Apple’s Airpods Pro 2 were released in 2022 and are their newest flagship earbuds (although they’re slated to drop their Pro 3s in September/October 2024). As all Apple users know and love, the Airpods Pro 2 will seamlessly integrate with all Apple devices, offering a smooth and familiar experience. They deliver solid noise cancellation, clear audio, and a comfortable, customizable fit.

Apple Airpods Pro 2 Pros & Cons:


  • Seamless integration with Apple devices
  • Good ANC
  • Great microphone
  • Highly comfortable and customizable fit
  • Feature Apple’s H2 chip for fast and reliable connection
  • Charging case gives it a very long battery life (~30 hours)


  • Pricey for a 2022 product
  • Single-charge battery life is lower than competitors (~4 hours)
  • ANC is not quite as good as other flagship models, little passive noise cancellation
  • Not as simple to use for non-Apple devices
  • No companion app for Android

Are Apple Airpods Pro 2 Earbuds Worth It?

If you're in love with the Apple ecosystem and value a reliable connection with a lot of on-the-go battery, the Airpods Pro 2 are a great pick. However, if you’re a remote or hybrid worker who prioritizes top-tier noise cancellation, there are better noise-canceling earbuds out there.

With that said, here’s something to keep in mind if you’re looking at buying the Airpods Pro 2. Because Apple is slated to release their Airpods Pro 3 earbuds in September/October 2024, we actually think it’s better to wait for the Pro 3s - they will be stuffed with industry-leading tech and will likely have more longevity.


Bose QuietComfort Ultra (Best Noise-Canceling)

Bose QuietComfort Ultra earbuds for hybrid and remote work


The latest in Bose’s line of flagship earbuds, Bose's QuietComfort Ultra earbuds offer fantastic noise quality and solid noise cancellation capabilities.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Pros & Cons:


  • Great active noise cancellation
  • Comfortable and secure fit
  • Best audio quality earbuds on the market
  • Good battery life (~6 hours)
  • Supports Snapdragon Sound tech
  • Bose Music companion app
  • Good microphone quality


  • High cost
  • Bulkier design compared to some competitors
  • Touch controls can be overly sensitive

Are Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Worth It?

If sound quality is your number one priority, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra are unbeatable. However, their slightly bulkier design and higher price tag might deter some users. Bose’s predecessor to the QuietComfort Ultras, the QuietComfort II earbuds, may deliver most of what you’re looking for with a slight break in price.


Samsung Galaxy 2 Buds Pro (Best For Money)

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro noise-cancelling headphones for remote work


Samsung's Galaxy 2 Buds Pro offer the best value for price in the flagship earbuds market. They deliver good noise cancellation, clear audio, and a comfortable fit. Plus, if you’re not into Apple’s ecosystem, they integrate seamlessly with Samsung devices.

Samsung Galaxy 2 Buds Pros & Cons:


  • Good noise cancellation
  • Clear audio
  • Comfortable fit
  • Seamless integration with Samsung devices
  • Good battery life (~5 hours on a single charge)
  • Galaxy Wearable companion app


  • Noise cancellation is not top-tier
  • Battery life is decent, but not the best
  • Average microphone quality

Are Samsung Galaxy 2 Buds Pro Earbuds Worth It?

If you're looking for a good balance of premium features and affordability, the Samsung Galaxy 2 Buds Pro earbuds are a great option. With that said, if you need premium noise cancellation and premium microphone quality, these won’t quite fit the bill.


Master & Dynamic MW09 (Most Durable)

Master & Dynamic MW09 earbuds for hybrid workers


The Master & Dynamic MW09 earbuds boast the best battery life of any premium earbuds, lasting just over 10 hours on a single charge with an additional 24 hours with the charging case. These are built with aluminum and kevlar - which makes them the most durable earbuds remote and hybrid workers can get their hands on.

Master & Dynamic MW09 Pros & Cons:


  • Best battery life of any premium earbuds
  • Durable charging case built out of kevlar and aluminum
  • Great sound quality
  • Luxurious design
  • Good active noise cancellation
  • Good companion app


  • Priciest flagship premium earbuds on the market
  • Microphone quality is less than deal in noisy environments
  • Weightier than most other earbuds

Are Master & Dynamic MW09 Earbuds Worth It?

If product and battery longevity are your highest priorities, along with a (literally) bulletproof design that is built to last, the Master & Dynamic MW09 are your best choice. However, be aware of the higher price point and potential microphone limitations in less-than-ideal environments.


Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC (Best On A Budget)

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC


Anker’s Soundcore Liberty 4 NC earbuds are a great combination of affordability and features for remote and hybrid workers looking to dip their toe into the world of noise-canceling earbuds. They hit everything you’re looking for in a pair of value noise-canceling earbuds; decent noise cancellation, good audio quality, and a comfortable fit.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC Pros & Cons:


  • Affordable
  • Decent noise cancellation
  • Good audio quality
  • Comfortable fit
  • Solid microphone
  • Incredible battery life (slightly less than 10 hours)


  • Noise cancellation is not as strong as some premium competitors
  • Users may experience “vacuum” sensation when ANC is on full power
  • Case is a bit bulky
  • Some users find they fall out easily during workouts

Are Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC Earbuds Worth It?

If you want a solid pair of noise-canceling earbuds without breaking the bank, Anker’s Soundcore Liberty 4 NC are a solid choice. Other than battery life (which is outstanding), you won’t get quite the level of quality you get with other flagship earbuds, but then again you won’t need to shell out for these ones either. 


5 Keys To Picking The Perfect Headphones For Remote And Hybrid Work


Noise Cancellation

Remote worker using noise-cancelling headphones

Photo by Kawê Rodrigues on Unsplash

 Noise cancellation is the single most important thing to consider as a remote/hybrid worker looking for earbuds. Blocking out ambient noise like chatty coworkers, traffic, or noisy neighbors is crucial for staying focused and in the zone.

Types Of Cancellation In Earbuds:

Not all noise-cancellation is created equal, and usually a combination of both ANC and PNC, or Active ANC and PNC are best.

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC):

What is ANC?

ANC consists of a tiny microphone embedded in your earbuds, listening to your surroundings. When this mic detects the sound of traffic, construction, or any other environmental noises - it produces soundwaves to cancel out those unwanted noises, all in real-time. That's the magic of ANC!

How ANC works:

  • Microphones: Embedded in the earbuds, they pick up external sounds.
  • Noise-canceling chip: Analyzes the sound waves and creates an "inverted" sound wave.
  • Earbuds speaker: Produces the inverted sound wave, which essentially cancels out the original sound wave when they meet in your ear canal.

Noises that ANC cancels out:

ANC is most effective at reducing low-frequency noises such as:

  • Engine hum from airplanes or trains
  • Air conditioner noise
  • Steady traffic rumble
  • Office chatter at a constant volume
Passive Noise Cancellation (PNC):

What is PNC?

Also called “noise isolation”, you can think of PNC as “analog”, physical noise cancellation. PNC relies on the physical design of the earbuds, particularly those with foam tips, to create a barrier that blocks out external sounds from entering your ear.

How PNC works:

  • Ear tips: They create a snug seal around your ear canal, physically blocking sound waves from entering.
  • Earbud materials: Dense materials like foam or silicone further dampen incoming sound.

What PNC cancels out:

PNC is most effective at blocking out higher-frequency noises such as:

  • Voices at a distance
  • Sudden noises like slamming doors
  • High-pitched sounds like keyboards clicking
Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation (Adaptive ANC):

What is Adaptive ANC?

Adaptive ANC is the latest iteration in noise cancellation. It constantly adjusts the level of ANC based on your environment, which means it’s better at canceling out higher and lower frequency sounds.

How Adaptive ANC works:

  • Microphones: Continuously monitor ambient noise.
  • Noise-canceling chip: Analyzes the sound and automatically adjusts the ANC filter to target the dominant noises.
  • Earbuds speaker: Just like with traditional ANC earbuds, Active ANC earbuds then produces soundwaves that are inverse to the incoming waves, effectively blocking them.

What Adaptive ANC cancels out:

Adaptive ANC means ANC that adapts to changing environments. Adaptive ANC effectively cancels out both low-frequency and higher-frequency sounds, depending on the situation.


Portability component as key to best noise-cancelling headphones for remote and hybrid work

 Remote and hybrid workers are constantly on the move, whether you’re moving between your home and office, cafes or coworking spaces. Bulky over-ear headphones can be cumbersome to carry and take up valuable bag space, while earbuds easily slip into your bag or pocket.

Battery Life

Especially with noise-cancellation activated, noise-canceling earbuds with an extended battery life are crucial for remote and hybrid workers. Look for earbuds that offer at least 5-6 hours of playback, with a charging case that extends that total listening time by 2x-3x.

Microphone Quality

If you have frequent calls or Zooms, you need earbuds with a crystal-clear audio quality that accurately capture your voice and minimize background noise, even in less-than-ideal environments.


Drops happen, especially when you're on the go. And if your earbuds break while you’re on the road, a suitable replacement won’t be easy to come by. Opt for earbuds built with quality materials and a sturdy design to withstand everyday wear and tear.


Noise-Canceling Earbuds For Remote/Hybrid Workers FAQs

Hybrid worker working from home and using headphones for remote work

Photo by Designtoasty on Unsplash

 Q: Do noise-canceling earbuds block all sounds?

A: No - noise-canceling earbuds and headphones don't block out all sounds entirely. They primarily target low-frequency noises like traffic hum, air conditioning, and chatter, but might not completely eliminate higher-pitched sounds like human voices or sudden noises.

Q: How do noise-canceling earbuds block noise?
A: There are three main types of noise cancellation:

  • Active Noise Cancellation (ANC): Uses microphones to detect environmental sounds and generates inverse sound waves to cancel them out.
  • Passive Noise Cancellation (PNC): Relies on foam or sound-dampening earbuds to block out noise by creating a seal around the ear canal.
  • Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation (Adaptive ANC): Adjusts the level of ANC automatically based on your environment.

Q: Do noise-canceling earbuds hurt your ears?
A: Some users report a feeling of ear pressure when using noise-canceling earbuds for extended periods - although this discomfort is usually reported with less expensive models. Sometimes the ear tips on noise-canceling earbuds are made of high-density foam to help block sound from entering the ear - and this can be uncomfortable after prolonged use.

Q: How do sizes work for noise-canceling earbuds?
A: Most noise-canceling earbuds come with 3 - 4 different sized ear tips to ensure a custom fit. As many higher-quality noise-canceling earbuds utilize both ANC and PNC through ear tip design, it’s important to find the ear tips that fit your ear best.