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Best Noise Cancelling Headphones: Tech Awards 2023 Editor's Choice series

By Liu Hongzuo - 2 Mar 2023

Best Wireless ANC headphones: Tech Awards 2023 Editor's Choice series


Best Wireless ANC Headphones

Headphones are increasingly indispensable, especially since the resumption of both remote and on-site working life exacerbates the cruciality of good quality audio and noise cancellation, whether it's for productivity or leisure.

With travel, hybrid work, and technological advancements come new expectations for a top-end listening experience accessible to the masses. Wanting a good pair of wireless, noise-cancelling headphones is now part of a standard high-tech gear loadout, be it for the lucky few that fly for work, or just for a touch of peace during your homeward commute. Wherever you are, it's good to have something enjoyable to listen to, since we're now spoiled for choice with streaming audio and video entertainment options.

To make the cut for this year’s award, the headphone must be the brand's flagship, have an over-ear design, offer wireless listening, be equipped with active noise-cancellation (ANC) technology, and have been released in the last 12 months (more specifically, between February 2022 and January 2023 which is our qualification period). Like many other categories, the uneven product release cycles mean not every brand gets to participate every year. That said, here are our contenders this year:-


  • Bower & Wilkins PX8
  • Focal Bathys
  • Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless
  • Sony WH-1000XM5

Some of the usual big players launched competitive models a year prior, and as such, they contested within our Tech Awards 2022 segment and had no updates for this year's competition. Despite the thinner spread of new high-end wireless ANC headphones that made the cut, this year's competition was a close call. All were excellent headphones that could've easily satisfied their owners. But we only wanted the best that's also accessible to the masses, so we had to make a choice.


And the winner is...

Sony WH-1000XM5.

To understand why the Sony WH-1000XM5 won is to understand the importance of an excellent package within its buyers' reach.

The rivals Sony were up against all delivered high-quality listening experiences with suitable Active Noise Cancellation perks, and it's mostly expected for the prices they command.

But the Sony headphones still managed to offer perks like its additional ANC processors; an app interface that's intuitive, accurate, and tactile; having sufficient microphones to truly cancel out even the most insignificant noises; and keeping everything in a lightweight, comfortable design.

Yes, its pricier rivals can offer a similar experience, perhaps with better audio quality or a more upmarket construction design. However, the Sony WH-1000XM5 already exceeds the masses' listening needs at its S$569 asking price. The WH-1000XM5's audio chops are more than just sufficient; it is the most refined-sounding Sony wireless ANC headphones we've heard yet. It seems Sony has learned the value of restraint, so the overall sound of the WH-1000XM5 is more balanced than any of its predecessors. The staging is wide and the separation and imaging are both excellent. Overall, its sound is more in line with what one would expect from a flagship-class audio product.

Against its rivals, it outshone Sennheiser's contender by having more accurate controls and a lower learning curve to accessing powerful features that genuinely exude the wireless-ness and ANC convenience. And while the B&W PX8 and Focal Bathys are both respectable in their own ways, they are much pricier.

Taking everything into consideration, Sony bags the award in our books because it offers a true flagship-class experience without that insane price tag. It's by no means perfect, and there's certainly room for improvement, but taken as a whole, the WH-1000XM5 is a gadget worthy of your everyday needs.

Scoring Breakdown
Model Design Performance Features Value Overall Price
Bower & Wilkins PX8 8.5 9.5 8.5 7.0 8.5 S$899
Focal Bathys 7.5 9.0 8.0 6.0 7.5 S$1,199
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless 8.0 8.5 8.0 8.0 8.0 S$499
Sony WH-1000XM5 7.0 9.5 8.5 8.0 8.5 S$569

For more details on how we rated our nominees and to find out our usage experience of each device, check out the full reviews and articles listed in the References section below.

Meanwhile, check out our other Tech Awards 2023 Editor's Choice winners from the team behind HardwareZone and HWM.



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