5 Best Noise Cancelling Headphones for Autistic Adults

by Jennifer Porterfield | Last Updated: May 5, 2022
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For those with autism, noise is generally perceived differently. This makes it very difficult to concentrate and act normally when there is a loud noise in the background. To help an autistic adult have proper control even in places of loud noise, the use of headphones comes into play.

And so in this article will present a buying guide for noise reduction headphones for autism, along with reviews of some of the best noise-canceling headphones for autism available on the market.

Table of Contents

Noise Canceling Headphones for Autism Buying Guide

If you’re looking for noise-canceling headphones for sensory overload adults, of course, your main concern will be the noise reduction capabilities. But, there are other factors you should consider before purchasing noise-canceling headphones for autistic adults.

Here’s a list of those important factors:

  • Noise reduction rating vs active noise canceling
  • Battery life
  • Design
  • Wired vs wireless
  • Clamping force

Noise Reduction Rating vs Active Noise Canceling

When looking for noise-canceling headphones for sensory overload, you will generally have the choice of noise reduction and noise canceling. Your preference for one over another depends on its use.

Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)

The traditional noise-canceling headphones muffle out noise by having a seal that pads your ear canal from outside noise. They usually have a noise reduction rating (NRR) that shows how much noise can be reduced. 

The noise reduction rating tells us how good your headphones are at blocking out external noise. A good rating for headphones is within the range of 20 to 26. So when making a purchase, look out for this rating.

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)

Another mode of muffling outside noise is the far more sophisticated active noise cancellation. This technology cancels out noise by introducing another ambient noise. The ANC headphone produces opposite sound waves to the noise so that the trough in the outside noise is met by a crest in the ambient sound and vice versa.

This way, the two sound waves when superimposed together are able to cancel out each other, allowing you to hear near silence. ANC headphones have a microphone that traps the outside noise and then produces a phase-reversed sound that is fed into tiny speakers in your set of headphones.

Battery Life

The battery life is an important factor to consider. In most cases, you will find that the headphone doesn’t live up to the manufacturer’s claims that a certain headphone can play music for up to x amount of hours without the need for a recharge.

The thing is, most manufacturers will test their headphones on a low volume. When you play music at full blast or have features like NRR and ANC using up the battery, then your headphones will unfortunately not last as long as the specified length.

However, it’s still worth comparing battery lives and reading user reviews, so that you ensure you can get a pair of headphones that last as long as possible.

Design

The design is an important consideration to ensure you get the comfiest and best noise-canceling headphones for autism. Especially if the headphones were to be for kids as well, the design has to be a soft one.

Soft autism noise-canceling headphones make them safe to use with no risk of injuries. So when examining the product, you should check that the edges and corners are soft. They must show no risk of bruising the skin or inflicting any form of injury to you or your child.

Most people nowadays prefer to use headphones with earmuffs that go over the ears as opposed to those that go into the ears (autism earbuds) due to the difference in comfort. Since the headphones for sensory overload will likely be worn for long periods of time, it is important to select a design that you will be comfortable with.

A padded headband makes wearing the noise-canceling headphones for sensory overload adults more comfortable even with prolonged use. Choose a product that has a padded headband for extra comfort.

Wired vs Wireless

Years ago, wired headphones were very common because wireless headphones were a new technology. Today, however, most people are using wireless headphones that they can connect to their devices by Bluetooth.

For an adult or child with autism, you will want a headphone that causes the least disturbances or distractions. A wired headphone with all those loosely hanging wires could easily get tangled and irritate you.

At the same time, they will be bogged down by the weight of their smartphone or iPod which they have to carry along to listen to their music. Wireless headphones solve this issue.

Clamping Force

While the clamping force of headphones is very important to ensure that it stays in place when worn, they should of course be within safe limits. Too much clamping force will likely be very uncomfortable, especially after prolonged usage.

The 5 Best Noise Cancelling Headphones for Autism Reviews

Now, let’s review 5 of the best noise-canceling headphones for autistic adults, as can be summarized in the table below:

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Bose 700 Noise Canceling Headphones

The Bose 700 Noise Canceling Headphones give you more control over noise cancellation with its 11 levels of active noise cancellations, allowing you to enjoy more with less noise, providing great focus and comfort.

The headphones provide crystal clear and deep bass making your music experience a more enjoyable one. Even when in a noisy environment, the microphone system ensures that you still sound clear throughout phone calls.

The Bose 700 Noise Canceling Headphones are compatible with assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing you to stay in control of your headphones without having to reach your phone.

The lightweight stainless steel used for these headphones makes them comfortable to wear for hours on end without getting tired or uncomfortable. The only drawback is their battery life of up to 20 hours of battery life.

ProsCons
LightweightDoesn’t fold
ANC with 11 levelsNot the greatest battery life
Bose 700 Noise Canceling Headphones Pros and Cons Table

Master & Dynamic MW65 ANC Wireless Headphones

The Master & Dynamic MW65 ANC Headphones provide you with a dual-mode active noise cancellation technology that, depending on your environment, allows you to choose between high and low modes on these autistic noise-canceling headphones.

The high mode is designed to deal with very noisy areas such as airports, city streets, and other noise environments. While the low mode is designed for windy days, or when you want to cancel conversational noise around you.

The Master & Dynamic MW65 ANC Headphones have 24 hours battery life allowing you to do a lot without having to worry about charging too soon. As they’re so lightweight, you won’t get fatigued with long use along with the fine leathers used being comfortable.

ProsCons
Lightweight Not the best microphone performance
Dual-mode active noise cancellation
Up to 24 hours of battery life
Master & Dynamic MW65 ANC Wireless Headphones Pros and Cons Table

Anker Life Q30 Hybrid ANC Headphones

The Anker Life Q30 Hybrid ANC Headphones offer advanced noise cancellation technology with their dual noise-detecting microphones pick up and filter out up to 95% of low-frequency ambient sound to ensure nothing distracts you from your music.

The headphone’s noise cancellation has 3 different modes; Transport minimizes airplane engine noise, Outdoor reduces traffic and wind, and Indoor dampens the sound of busy offices with people talking in the background.

Anker claims the Life Q30 active noise-canceling headphones play up to 40 hours of music in noise-canceling mode. Standard mode extends the playtime to 60 hours, while a short 5-minute charge gives you 4 hours of listening.

ProsCons
Reduces noise by up to 95%Can’t use the headphone in wired mode
Headphones for sensory overload
Affordable
Up to 40 hours of playtime
Anker Life Q30 Hybrid ANC Headphones Pros and Cons Table

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones offer industry-leading noise canceling with dual noise sensor technology.  These headphones feature additional microphones that assist in isolating sound while talking on the phone, resulting in improved phone call quality and the reduction of even more high and mid-frequency sounds.

The Sony headphones provide up to 30-hour battery life with quick charging (10 min charge for 5 hours of playback).

ProsCons
Industry-leading noise cancelingExpensive
Very comfortable
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones Pros and Cons Table

Skullcandy Venue Wireless ANC Headphones

The Skullcandy Venue Wireless ANC Headphones offer an ambient mode for active noise cancellation. The headphones come with a microphone, call, track, volume control, and activate assistant. With their 23 hours of battery life and rapid charge, they’re a great cheap alternative to the others listed in this article.

ProsCons
AffordableNot the best noise-canceling
ANC
Skullcandy Venue Wireless ANC Headphones Pros and Cons Table

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are noise-canceling headphones good for autism?

Auditory sensitivity is more common among autistics than it is within the general population, which makes a great pair of noise-canceling headphones pretty necessary for anyone with autism.

Why do people with autism use noise-canceling headphones?

For those people with autism, noise is generally perceived differently than those without. This makes it very difficult for autistic people to concentrate and act normally when there is a loud noise in the background. This is why an autistic person uses noise-canceling headphones to have proper control even in places of loud noise.

Is noise-canceling good for sensory issues?

Yes, anyone with sensory processing disorders and other sensory issues will benefit from using noise-canceling headphones. They will permit people with sensory issues to concentrate and be less irritated/distracted by surrounding noises.

Are noise-canceling headphones good for kids with autism?

Yes, noise-canceling headphones are great for kids with autism to allow them to focus on whatever they’re doing without the disruption of surround noises. Aside from simply canceling invasive noises, some headphones are able to provide therapeutic sounds to mask the noises headphones fail to block. For example, if your child struggles with feelings of anxiety, you may want a pair of headphones that provide calming sounds.

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