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So, What’s the Catch with Anker’s $99 Noise-Canceling Headphones?

The fine print is in our testing notes, but the Soundcore Space Ones prove you can get excellent noise-canceling headphones for less than $100.

anker soundcore space one
Tucker Bowe

If you haven't noticed, top-of-the-line noise-canceling headphones have gotten more expensive in recent years. The latest flagship models by Bose, Sony and Bowers & Wilkins all cost in the region of $400, for example. Apple's AirPods Max are priced at $549 (although they are frequently on sale these days). And you even spend a lot more — like, over $1,000 — on a so-called "luxury" pair.

Yes, it's pretty crazy out there.

The good news is that for more frugal-minded individuals, there are mid-range and budget-friendly options that are quite good. They sacrifice things like premium materials and some high-end features to keep the price down, and while they're active noise-cancellation capabilities and overall sound quality aren't as good, either, they're not that much worse.

Prime example: Anker's newest noise-canceling headphones, the Soundcore Space Ones, which cost less than $100.

Anker Soundcore Space One: What We Think

anker soundcore space one
The Anker Soundcore Space One in black. They’re also available in gold or blue finishes.
Tucker Bowe

For the price, these headphones overdeliver. They may not offer the elite sound quality and noise-canceling abilities of top models by Bose, Sony or Apple, but they still do a decent job of both. Throw in the fact that they're quite comfortable and travel-friendly, are loaded with premium features (like customizable EQ, Bluetooth multi-point and LDAC support) and have exceptionally long battery life, and the Soundcore Space Ones are just excellent value.

Quite simply, they're the best noise-canceling headphones I've tested that cost less than $100.

To learn more about our testing methodology and how we evaluate products, head here.


Anker Soundcore Space One


  • You really can't beat the sub-$100 price
  • Lightweight and comfortable design
  • Loads of flagship-grade features
  • Superb battery life

  • Sound quality and ANC aren't at same level as more expensive options
  • Mostly plastic design is a tradeoff

The sound is decent, albeit a little bass heavy

anker soundcore space one
The audio is bass heavy by default, but you can tweak the EQ or have the headphones adjust it for you based on your hearing abilities.
Tucker Bowe

I'm not going to tell you that the Soundcore Space One sound as good as my Sony WH-1000XM5 or AirPods Max — they definitely don't. The headphones have 40mm dynamic drivers that, by default, deliver vibrant (albeit bass-heavy) sound with a pretty wide soundstage. I've been listening to a lot of upbeat tracks with a good amount of bass by Blink-182 (such as "Blink Wave") and Lorde (such as "Team") recently, and I think that's where these headphones sound best.

If that kind of music isn't really your jam, the neat thing about the Soundcore Space Ones is that they give you a lot of options to customize the sound. Through the Soundcore app, you can move eight different EQ sliders depending on your preference. You can even take an in-app hearing test — called HearID — where the headphones will create a custom sound profile for yourself based on your hearing and sound preferences. It's pretty neat.

The headphones also support LDAC for higher-resolution audio listening ... if you have an Android smartphone. It's a nice premium feature, but I wasn't able to try it out as I did most of my testing on an iPhone. (Also, if you're really concerned about taking advantage of LDAC files, I can't imagine you'd be thinking about buying these budget-friendly headphones.)

The noise-cancellation is very effective, but not elite

anker soundcore space one
You can toggle between five different strengths of ANC and Transparency settings.
Tucker Bowe

With active noise-cancellation turned on, the Soundcore Space Ones do an effective job at blocking out most sounds — particularly voices (aka the midrange) — that I heard while running errands and going grocery shopping. They did a good job at dampening my brother's Fortnite tantrums, too. It's not absolutely quiet when ANC is turned on as some sounds (mostly higher-end frequencies) slipped in, but even the best ANC headphones have trouble with that.

When it comes to the transparency mode, I was less impressed. It filters outside sounds in so that you can better hear your surroundings or have quick convos without pausing your music, but it doesn't sound great. It sounds a bit synthetic and processed, where the best ANC headphones (like the AirPods Max) have transparency modes that make it sound as if you're not wearing headphones at all. The Soundcore Space One are definitely not that.

It's worth mentioning that you can adjust the levels of active noise-cancellation and transparency modes via the app. The strength of each is on a scale from one to five and by default each is set to the max strength (five). Naturally, I kept both at five (the max) for the majority of my testing because I'm an all-in kind of guy.

They're lightweight, comfortable and travel-friendly

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The Anker Soundcore Space One can fold flat or in a more traditional compact design.
Tucker Bowe

The Soundcore Space Ones are made of mostly plastic, but that doesn't mean that they feel super cheap — after all, a lot of flagship noise-canceling headphones, like the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the Beats Studio Pro, are also made of mostly plastic. This helps the headphones stay fairly lightweight and comfortable, which are two boxes that the Soundcore Space Ones definitely check.

The earcups are quite big, which I also like as they fit well over my ears instead of resting a little bit on them which can be annoying. The headphones can fold flat, so you can place them down on your desk, or they can fold compact in a more traditional travel-friendly design. It's actually quite rare for wireless headphones to do both.

They don't skimp out on battery life

anker soundcore space one
You can see the wear detection sensor that’s located in the left earcup.
Tucker Bowe

The battery life is one thing that is definitely on par with more expensive noise-canceling headphones. They're rated to have up to 40 hours of battery life with ANC turned on; turn it off and you get an extra 15 hours (that's a total of 55 hours) of listening time. I've been listening to these headphones for the past month and I can count on one hand how many times I've had to charge them — it's awesome.

When you charge them, they also charge fast. A quick five-minute charge (via USB-C) gives you roughly four hours of juice. It's nice.

There are a lot of little things to like about these headphones

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I’m a big fan of the physical buttons on the Space One.
Tucker Bowe

The Soundcore Space Ones have a number of other details and features that make them feel like more premium noise-canceling headphones. They support Bluetooth multi-point so you can have them connected to your laptop and smartphone at the same time. I love their physical buttons — instead of swipe controls — for adjusting volume, toggling between ANC and transparency modes and, yes, there's an actual power button for turning the headphones on/off (take note, Apple).

There's a wear detection sensor in the left earcup so that your music automatically plays/pauses when you put the headphones on and take them off — just like AirPods. This means if somebody talks to you, you can quickly lift up the left earcup to pause your music without having to take off the headphones completely. (Note: wear detection is turned off by default, but it can be turned on in the app.)

There's also an "Easy Chat" feature you can enable where, when you cover the left earcup with your hand, your music pauses and headphones go into transparency mode so you can better have a conversation. Sony has a similar feature with its wireless headphones, but I prefer to have it turned off so I can touch my headphones more freely.

Anker Soundcore Space One: Alternatives

anker soundcore space one
The Anker Soundcore Space Ones and the Sony WH-1000XM5s are made of similar materials and feel alike, but the Sonys are roughly four times the price.
Tucker Bowe

If you're looking in the $100 price range, there actually aren't that many good options for noise-canceling headphones made by trustworthy brands. Anker has made a few models in recent years and the Soundcore Space Ones are basically new-and-improved versions of its Soundcore Life Q30s ($80), which you can still buy. The Edifier W820NBs ($80) are good affordable options that we've tested in the past as well.

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