Articles - 21st June 2019

The best headphones to block the cafe around you

Words by Caroline Kelly

The woman with the long, tappy nails. The guy who sniffs every five minutes and the boss always looking over your shoulder. Yes, you made the right decision when you went freelance. No more unspeakable humans to interact within that closed office environment. You’re free, free to roam and work wherever you feel. Free to head down to the nearest café and make that latte last four and a half hours. You’re winning at life.

But what’s that? The wail of a teething baby? Teenagers talking about things you can only pretend to understand? How will you get Geoff’s web content written up now? How can you concentrate on designing Sanna’s new logo with this racket going on? I mean, you could go home, but the latte.

Or, you could make a little investment in some freelance-friendly earphones. The kind that cancels out noise and let you listen to your favourite Spotify playlist. The one you so brilliantly named: my awesome café playlist.

But where to start? You’ve done the research and now have approximately 2,000 brands and variations to choose from. Look, forget that. We’ll show you what you need to block out the sound of incomprehensible teenage slang and the demands of the barista asking you if you’re planning on buying any more drinks.

We’re not going to even bother with anything involving a wire so here are five of the best Bluetooth enabled noise-cancelling headphones for those with deep pockets and those with real-life freelance jobs:

Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II

Bose is one of those names that inspires confidence and the predicament of pronunciation: is it Bose, like dose or Bose like Hosea? Who knows, who cares. What matters is that these cans have been updated since last year to now include access to Google Assistant.

These headphones are never going to be style icons but they are super comfortable and very effective at cancelling out unwanted noise. They lack some of the more technical features that brands like Sony boast, such as auto pause when you take them off, but the sound quality is every bit as good. Oh, but they’re not cheap, heading in at around the £289 mark from most stores.

Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC

Cheaper, you say? Equally as functional, you demand? Well here you go then with this pair coming in at about £120.  These fellas are tough and light which makes them a great option for travelling but you’re lacking something. That something is comfort. It’s not that they hurt, it’s more that, to misquote a Meghan Trainor song, they could do with some more padding.

What they are very good at is cancelling out noise so don’t think you’ll be compromising on that when you opt for this more affordable pair. They also produce an excellent sound so there’s that too.

Nura Nuraphone

With a name that sounds startlingly close to a painkiller, these headphones are a bit on the odd side. But odd doesn’t have to be wrong, it might be that they’re just a bit misunderstood. What’s odd about these cans is the fact that you’ve got a bit of a hybrid situation going on here.

Not only have you got an in-ear section that resembles an earbud, you’ve also got the surrounding pad that goes over your ear. Confused yet? Effectively, you’ve got two barriers against noise but you might find the feel of it all a bit unsettling. They have a 20-hour battery life, on par with others in their range but with a price tag of around £350, they’re not something you’re going to buy unless you’re a massive fan of the in-ear feature.

Sony WH-1000XM3

We’ve saved the best till second-to-last. If you’re looking for a great all-rounder with a long battery life of 30-hours, then this is the pair to get. They’re just really well-designed, comfortable and work extremely effectively.  They’ve got touchpad controls and charge quickly for almost immediate use.

There really isn’t much else to say except, hold your breath, they’re going to set you back the best part of £280. Not as expensive as some but an investment nevertheless. If you’re going to spend that amount, spend it on these.


Sony WF-1000X

If headphones leave you a bit cold, then you might want to try the in-ear version instead. Far from being all style and no substance, these lightweight alternatives offer complete noise cancellation and great audio playback.

Being so much smaller the battery will last for around three hours but you can extend it by another six hours if you use the charging hub in the case that doubles as a charger. While they’re advertised for around £200, the price appears to have dropped to £150 on many sites, so you won’t be paying a fortune for them either.

Right then, no more excuses for missing deadlines. It’s time to get saving up for those earphones that are going to revolutionise your café working life and make freelancing a dream.

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