Finding the best headphones for mowing is different from other headphone shopping. Typically, headphone users are concerned primarily with sound quality and comfort. But headphones for mowing need to feature hearing protection and noise-cancelling characteristics.
To accomplish these goals, you can choose between electronic earmuffs or noise-cancelling headphones.
Electronic earmuffs provide heavy-duty hearing protection, and are great for loud environments like a shooting range. However, these products usually focus more on noise reduction than on sound quality. Think of these headphones as a hearing protection device, with an aux port and simple MP3 speaker added in after the fact (although some do also have bluetooth connection). Generally, electronic earmuffs have a noise reduction rating (NRR) listed.
Noise-cancelling headphones are designed with sound quality in mind, and are available from top brands like Sony, Bose, and Sennheiser. These headphones generally cost more, but provide the premium features we are accustomed to in headphones.
Continue reading for an in-depth discussion of the best headphones for mowing the lawn. We will discuss the features that matter, and list some of our top choices.
Points to consider before purchasing
- Noise-cancellation or noise reduction rating
- Sound quality
- Battery life
- Comfort, design, & weight
- Features (bluetooth connection, AM/FM radio, etc.)
No pair of headphones will score high in all of these categories.
Generally, you need to decide whether you want top sound quality or powerful noise reduction. These two features often run in opposition to each other.
If you are diligent about charging your devices between uses, any pair of wireless headphones that lasts for a couple hours should be fine. But many wireless headphones now feature 10+ hour battery life, so of course a longer battery life is better. Some of the electronic earmuff options use AA or AAA batteries, rather than a built-in rechargeable battery. With these earmuffs, you can get hundreds of hours of use from a couple batteries, and never have to worry about recharging your headphones.
Best headphones for mowing – Top picks
These electronic ear muffs come in a bluetooth-compatible and a non-bluetooth version, and have an NRR of 23 dB.
The headphones also have 4 microphones built in to allow you to hear sound from all directions. This is a great safety feature that allows you to keep your awareness high while still blocking the loudest noises.
These ear muffs have a folding design, and the fit and framework is more comfortable than you would expect from heavy ear protection.
Sound quality is lacking, and the microphone is unclear on voice calls. The Bluetooth connection is less reliable than you would hope for, considering these aren’t ultra-cheap headphones.
Walker’s Razor electronic ear muffs aren’t perfect, but they make our list for their comfortable design, adjustable noise reduction, and good value.
Like the Walker’s Razor ear muffs listed above, these electronic ear muffs are designed for noise reduction first and foremost.
There are multiple models of WorkTunes Connect, so you have more buying options than you would expect from an ear muff made by an industrial company. In addition to the base model WorkTunes Connect, there is also a model with an added AM/FM radio, and a model with built-in gel cushions.
These earmuffs have a 23 NRR, and have an aux port in addition to being bluetooth-ready. Bluetooth connection tends to be finicky, but these headphones shine when it comes to noise reduction. This feature outperforms almost every other ear muff on the market.
Battery life on the rechargeable battery is excellent. And the fit is extremely comfortable.
If you value comfort, battery life, and noise reduction, this might be the safest choice of any headphones on the list. The only place where these headphones lose points is the sound quality, which is decent but certainly a few notches below Sony or Bose.
Howard Leight electronic earmuffs are a good value option, with an NRR of 22 and an aux port for MP3 players. These ear muffs are powered by 2 AAA batteries, and have an absurdly long battery life (over 300 hours).
These earmuffs were designed for shooting, and come with stereo microphones capable of amplifying ambient sounds up to 82 dB. Above 82 dB, the headphones block noise in order to protect your hearing.
For a slight increase in price, you can also find a Howard Leight electronic earmuff with an AM/FM radio built in. This model has a noise reduction rating of 25, and gets more than 300 hours of battery life on 2 AA batteries. Like the base model, there is an aux port for MP3 players. Unlike the base model, it comes in a high-visibility yellow color, and includes a display screen with the radio.
If you value a discreet, unobtrusive design, you probably won’t be too excited with the electronic ear muffs listed above. While electronic ear muffs are great for sound dampening, the styling leaves a lot to be desired. And if you are used to earbuds or AirPods, earmuffs will feel bulky.
ISOtunes PRO 2.0 combine the noise reduction rating (27 dB) of hearing protection with the style, comfort, and performance of earbuds. These earbuds are IP67 rated, so they will hold up to sweat, dirt, and just about anything.
The product also comes with clips, a charging cable, and multiple sizes of foam tips included. The rechargeable battery lasts 14+ hours, and sound quality is pretty solid.
There is a limit on maximum device volume, so some users complain about the headphones being too quiet. This is a feature, though, rather than a design flaw. The whole idea behind these earbuds is to protect your hearing and reduce outside noise, so there is no need to crank the volume to the maximum.
Additionally, these earbuds have no built-in microphone. Again, this is not necessarily a design flaw. Most hearing protection headphones with microphones are very low quality, and not sufficient to be used for phone calls. Plus, because they are designed to be used in loud environments, it is unlikely that you will have much use for a mic, anyway.
The ISOtunes PRO 2.0 are a great blend of hearing protection, comfort, and performance. That is why they made the list here.
Before you read too much further, know that these are premium headphones with a premium price tag. So if you are looking for the best headphones for mowing under $100, don’t even bother looking at the Bose 700.
The sound quality on Bose 700 is excellent, as is the battery life. While rechargeable headphone batteries can’t compete with the 200+ hour life of disposable AA or AAA batteries, you can still expect to get 15+ hours of use out of these Bose between charges.
These are very comfortable headphones with all the bells and whistles, including 11 different degrees of noise canceling. So, you can adjust the volume of the background noise in addition to adjusting the volume of your music.
With the electronic earmuffs listed above, you really will only want to use them for mowing and yardwork. With the Bose 700s, you have a pair of headphones that are great for mowing but also great for everyday use.
These headphones have a microphone that is clear enough to be useful, along with a one-touch Spotify button and integration with voice assistants.
The only downsides with this product relate to durability. The 700s were designed in a way that makes them extremely comfortable, but not as durable as some of the other devices on this list. And even though they are IPX4 (splash-resistant), they are not actually waterproof. Between the limited durability and the lack of waterproofing, these are probably better for leisurely sitting on a riding mower than they are for pulling weeds, landscaping, or other more intense outdoor projects.
If the Bose and Sony products on this list are beyond your budget, consider the Anker
The battery life on the Life Q20+ is unbelievable, and you can get 40+ hours between charges. Anker even advertises that it is possible to get 60+ hours at low volume, though it fell short of 60 hours in our testing. The quick charge also boasts 4 hours of battery life from just a 5 minute charge.
These headphones have an ambient noise reduction, with 4 active noise-canceling (ANC) microphones that cancel out background noises like cars, airplanes, and lawn mowers.
Sound quality isn’t award winning, but it is still impressive, especially for the price.
We chose the Life Q20+ for its great value and affordable price, but there are upgraded versions of the same headphones (Life Q30 & Life Q35) that provide better noise canceling, clearer microphones, and easier connectivity for an additional price.
Like the Bose headphones discussed above, these are not especially budget friendly. So if you aren’t interested in spending a few hundred dollars on a pair of headphones for mowing, skip over this option.
If you are looking for mowing headphones that are also premium headphones fit for everyday use, the Sony WH-1000XM4 are a great option. The battery life is nearly 30 hours, and a 10 minute quick-charge provides another 5 hours of juice.
Touch sensors make for easy track and volume controls, and motion sensors automatically pause the music when you take these headphones off. This feature worked pretty well during our testing, and I could see this being very convenient for mowing, rather than having to fumble around looking for your phone to pause a song.
The active noise cancelation feature makes these a great pair of headphones for mowing the lawn. And all the other bells and whistles, along with excellent sound quality, make this a pair of headphones that you won’t ever want to take off.
Features of headphones for mowing
Due to the potential for hearing damage (mowers run at roughly 90 dB), you would think that more noise reduction is always better than less. However, you don’t want to be entirely isolated from your environment while mowing the lawn.
There are safety hazards caused by a lack of auditory feedback. It is important to know if there are cars or people approaching, and to pay attention to irregular noises from the mower.
Headphones may feature active noise-cancellation or passive noise-cancellation.
Active noise-cancellation, as the name implies, refers to the use of technology (microphones, batteries, and speakers) to generate “equal-but-opposite” sound waves to cancel outside noise.
Passive noise-cancellation, on the other hand, really just means that the headphones are isolating outside sound in some fashion. Although “passive noise-cancellation” is a fancy-sounding term, it really just means that the ear pads, earbuds, or headphones are blocking ambient noise. So, you could say that a $0.99 pair of job site earplugs are “passive noise cancellation devices.”
Many hearing protection devices come with a listed noise reduction rating (NRR). This number measures the effectiveness of your hearing protection device, with a higher number being “better” than a lower number. However, even if your electronic earmuffs are rated a 25 NRR, that doesn’t literally mean that you are reducing your noise exposure by 25 dB. The actual math is more complicated, and we won’t bore you with it. But the key point is that, whatever your device’s NRR, your noise exposure will be reduced by less than the number implies.
For the best sound quality, choose active noise canceling headphones from a top brand like Bose or Sennheiser. Electronic earmuffs, which are designed for safety first and foremost, just cannot compete with the audio quality of premium headphones.
There are many top-rated headphones available with a battery life of 15+ hours.
All of the noise-canceling headphones we listed above have a rechargeable battery with a life of 14 hours or greater.
Many electronic earmuffs use disposable AAA (or AA) batteries rather than a built-in rechargeable battery, which seems wasteful to some. However, the convenience of being able to insert a fully-charged battery sure beats having to stop to recharge your headphones with only half your lawn mowed.
When you factor in the incredibly long battery life of electronic earmuffs using disposable batteries, it may actually make more sense to use disposable AA or AAA batteries rather than a rechargeable built-in battery that lasts for less than 20 hours on a charge.
Comfort, design, & weight
A well-fitting headphone is obviously important. But another important design feature is the style of the headphone itself.
To begin, choosing a wireless option is essential. When mowing, or doing any sort of yard work, wired headphones are cumbersome and prone to getting tangled. Additionally, any time you work with rotating blades (lawn mowers, weed eaters, etc.), loose wire, cables, or string poses a significant safety hazard.
Wireless over-ear headphones with noise-cancellation are a safe choice. These will protect you from loud noises and fit comfortably, with no wires to become tangled.
Electronic earmuffs with a speaker are also a great choice. The noise-reduction is excellent, and there should be a snug fit on your head that prevents the earmuffs from falling or coming loose. Many of these are wireless. Often, they will use AAA batteries rather than a built-in rechargeable battery. Some of these devices won’t have a bluetooth connection, and thus you will need a wired connection to your phone or music playing device.
Earbuds are another choice, with its own set of pros and cons. Earbuds are widely available, in every style and price range imaginable. They generally have a less snug fit, so there is a higher chance of them coming loose or falling out while you mow. Another option is to use earbuds with an earmuff over it. This provides the affordable, simple convenience of earbuds, with the noise-isolating qualities of earmuffs. And the muffs will also prevent the earbuds from falling out of your ears.
This is obvious, but worth considering. Be realistic about your budget, and about how hard you will be on your headphones. If you plan to use headphones during intense physical labor, I wouldn’t want to risk breaking or damaging a $350 pair of premium Bose headphones.
Same as above. For a leisurely afternoon on a riding lawnmower, a premium pair of noise-canceling headphones sounds perfect. But for pulling weeds, throwing rocks, or dirty landscaping jobs, it is better to tear up a $40 pair of headphones rather than a $400 pair.
Don’t forget to factor in the likelihood of water and sweat exposure. Because the headphones will likely be exposed to sweat and moisture of some kind, we recommend a water resistance rating of IPX4 or greater. This means that the device is splash-resistant.
If you can find a pair of IP67 headphones (rated as dustproof, and capable of withstanding water submersion), these will be certain to hold up well to the elements.
Features, radio, & bluetooth
Another obvious point here. If you want to listen to sporting events, find a pair of headphones with a radio tuner. If you want to listen to podcasts or downloaded music, find a pair of headphones with a reliable bluetooth connection. Some people may prefer the old-school 3.5 mm aux cable connection, and thankfully many electronic earmuffs and headphones still include this aux port.
Also figure out whether you need added features like voice-activation or physical buttons to skip songs and adjust volume easily.
Finding a good pair of mowing headphones is simple enough. Decide whether you prefer great sound quality or heavy-duty hearing protection. Find a pair of quality wireless noise-cancelling headphones for the best sound quality, or a pair of wireless electronic earmuffs for the best hearing protection.
Determine whether you need an aux port for a wired connection, or Bluetooth for a wireless connection. And remember that what starts as a leisurely day of mowing often turns into physical yard work, so don’t stretch your budget for headphones that may take a beating from sweat, sun, and dirt.
Frequently asked questions
Is it safe to wear headphones while mowing?
If you choose noise-canceling headphones, or electronic earmuffs with a noise-reduction rating (NRR), it is actually safer for your ears to mow with headphones than mow without. Any activity that exposes your ears to noises of 80+ decibels can cause hearing damage, and noise-canceling headphones are thus recommended for mowing, which may approach 100 dB.
The other safety concern, of course, has nothing to do with hearing. Headphones can cause safety issues by preventing you from hearing noises like approaching cars or people, as well as mechanical issues with your lawnmower. For this reason, we recommend headphones that have some degree of noise-cancellation or sound isolation, but not earplugs that make you entirely deaf to the outside world.
A final safety hazard is caused by wearing wired, rather than wireless, headphones. Generally, rotating blades don’t interact nicely with strings, wires, or cables, such as those found on wired headphones. Although the most likely scenario merely involves your headphone cable getting sliced in half, in rare situations a headphone wire caught in a mower blade could cause serious personal injury.
Can a lawn mower cause hearing loss?
Yes, absolutely. Prolonged exposure to noise over 70 dB can cause hearing loss. Lawn mowers commonly emit noises of 80-90 dB or higher. The CDC, OSHA, and ASHA all agree that lawn mowers emit noise in the “danger zone” for hearing damage. For this reason, all of our recommended headphones provide hearing protection via noise reduction of some kind.
What are the best noise canceling headphones for mowing?
For the best noise reduction, we like the Howard Leight by Honeywell electronic earmuffs. For high sound quality with noise reduction, it is hard to beat the value of Anker Soundcore Life Q20+. And if you prefer a noise-canceling earbud, choose the ISOtunes PRO 2.0. While these aren’t the most feature-packed options available, each of the above headphones is the best value in its category.