You used to have to pay more to find good true wireless earbuds that also supported active noise cancelation (ANC), but that’s no longer the case. ANC is fast becoming a staple feature on more affordable pairs of wireless earbuds, putting it within reach of more and more pairs of ears. It’s not enough to just throw it on a spec sheet and market it as some cool addition. It has to work well, and the industry has finally reached a tipping point where it does so more often than not. Things like fit, comfort, and audio engineering still make a huge difference in performance, but when those things are ideal, blocking outside noise feels all the more satisfying. They’re not all created equal, of course, but there are five key reasons why there’s never been a better time to give them a try. VPN Deals: Lifetime license for $16, monthly plans at $1 & more I already alluded to this in the intro, but it bears repeating because of the facts involved. There is a sliding scale involved, and it’s evident when you have the luxury of listening to ANC performance in a wide variety of earbuds, as I have. Vendors first experimented with noise cancelation in over-ear headphones. I remember trying my first circa 2006, but it took much longer to apply the technology to wireless earbuds because of the limited real estate available. Ironically, Bluetooth headsets laid the groundwork, given they had to pick up a wearer’s voice from a further distance than a typical cell phone would. Microphones play the central role in canceling out ambient noise while amplifying voices to make conversations clearer in wireless earbuds. Generally speaking — with few exceptions — good ANC performance usually means good call quality. The good news is there are great options at various price ranges. If you want the best of the best, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds and Sony WF-1000XM3 lead the pack. However, you can still get solid blockage for less money from the likes of the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. It’s not even uncommon to find a pair offering ANC for under $100. They may not do as well drowning out higher frequency sounds but should be just fine at muffling low-frequency noises. That could be a major help working from home with loud kids or enjoying music or an audiobook without caring about what’s happening away from your ears.