When you think of back-to-school tech gear for students, the first items that typically come to mind are laptops and smartphones. But more and more, headphones are topping the wish lists. And there’s good reason. Especially when you consider features like noise cancellation.

Why Noise Cancelling?

Studying with music can be great. I used to work away with a ghetto blaster at my side playing tunes from the radio (or cassette tape or CD!) quietly in the background.

But headphones aren’t just for music. With technologies like noise cancellation, they can also come in handy for ensuring a quiet environment in which to work.

Think of the college student who’s stuck with a roommate that just can’t keep quiet. Or the high schooler who wants to get homework done in the local coffee shop, but finds the background chatter distracting.

What’s more, schools are increasingly making online study materials available. So it isn’t uncommon for a student to watch an online lecture or listen to an ebook as part of his studies. Having headphones to do this quietly is a bonus. And having a good pair of noise cancelling headphones can make it even better.

What is Noise Cancellation?

There are two main types of noise cancelling headphones: active and passive. Passive noise cancelling headphones simply employ a design that’s meant to block out noise, whether it’s large ear cups that fully cover the ears, special materials, or in-ear buds. Active Noise Cancelling headphones, on the other hand, employ special technology that’s meant to block out ambient noise. In many cases with the latter, you activate switch to turn ANC on, and can flick it off if you want to be more audibly aware of your surroundings.

Some Great Picks

There are plenty of great options in noise-cancelling headphones available to suit every need, style preference, and price point. Here are just three great picks:

Sennheiser PXC250II 

With an on-ear design so they sit overtop your ears rather than encompass them, these headphones boast Sennheiser’s NoiseGard ANC technology to help block out sounds. They’re on the pricier side, but the investment will be appreciated when you’re commuting to school on the loud bus or subway, or annoyed by the constant noise coming from that rowdy group of kids in the school library. They fold and flip for easy transport, and the headband is steel-reinforced, so it can withstand some jostling in your backpack. It’s powered by an AAA battery that provides up to 50 hours of continuous use, enough to get through a semester’s worth of evening study sessions.

Bose QuietComfort 15 

I’ve always been a fan of Bose headphones. They’re fairly reliable, especially when it comes to noise cancellation, though not always the most affordable. These over-ear headphones can help tune out the world around you, whether it’s a noisy cafeteria, your roommate’s music, or the incessant hum of the air conditioner in your dorm room. The design allows for a comfortable fit for long periods of time, and can fold flat into a neat carrying case that you can throw into your backpack. There’s an inline remote and mic, too, so you can control a connected Apple device if you’re listening to soothing background tunes, or on a team project conference call. Like the Sennheiser model, they are powered by a single AAA battery, so you can keep an extra pair in your bag versus having to recharge it via a wall outlet.

Jabra Sport-Corded In-Ears

There are a number of features that make these in-ear headphones great for students. They are rain, dust, and shock-resistant so you can use them while working out or getting in your daily run. They fit comfortably behind the ears to keep out of your way, and are ultra-light so you can wear them for long periods of time. They can connect to your mobile phone for listening to music, and there’s a button for answering incoming calls, and skipping tracks right on the cord. The microphone has wind-noise protection, too, in case you’re enjoying some outdoor study time on campus on a nice day. These are great if you’re on a budget as well.

Bottom Line

There is no shortage of options when it comes to headphones that will appeal to the student crowd. But investing in a pair with some form of noise cancellation can make a huge difference, whether you want to focus on your studies while enjoying some personal music, or wish to block out the annoying sounds around you entirely.

Check out the full selection of noise-canceling headphones at Best Buy