Shure's Aonic 50 noise-cancelling headphones are priced to compete with the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market, starting at $399. They provide a fantastic audio experience that will appeal to those looking for a true sound signature. The headphones, on the other hand, are just good, not excellent, when it comes to active noise cancellation (ANC). While we appreciate the Aonic 50's comfortable fit and good sound, if noise cancellation is your main priority, better alternatives in this price range, such as the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, are available.

Shure AONIC 50 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones


The Shure Aonic 50 are stylish circumaural (over-ear) headphones that come in black or brown. The earpads and bottom of the headband are lined with a leather-like material and are luxuriously padded with soft memory foam. A sequence of detents on the headband adjustment above each earcup allows for exact ear-to-ear fit, while stitching on the headband adds a touch of sophistication. The headphones are big, but if you find the perfect fit, they're rather comfy.

Power/pairing controls, a multifunction button for playing, call management, track navigation, and voice assistants, dedicated volume up and down buttons, and a switch to toggle between ANC/Environment Mode are all included on the right earcup's side panel (the ambient mode for monitoring your surroundings). The supplied charging cable's USB-C connector is also on the right earcup side panel, whereas the included headphone cable's jack is on the left earcup.

While all of the specialised buttons are excellent, it's difficult to tell which one is which, despite the multipurpose one having a textured imprint on it. When trying to change the volume, it's simple to touch the wrong button until your fingers learn where everything is.

With the wire, you may use the headphones passively. Connecting the wire will break the Bluetooth connection but not power down the headphones, so if you're connecting in to preserve battery life, you'll have to go the further step of physically turning down the headphones. But this also means that if you choose, you may utilise the cable while also using ANC or Environmental Mode. Re-pairing the headphones with your mobile device is as simple as disconnecting the audio wire.

A 50mm Neodymium dynamic transducer in each earcup offers a frequency range of 20Hz to 22kHz. The headphones support AptX, AAC, and SBC Bluetooth codecs and are Bluetooth 5.0 compliant. The ShurePlus Play app (for Android and iOS) includes useful supplementary settings and capabilities, such as the option to alter the ANC levels between Normal and Max, as well as the loudness of the outside world when in Environmental Mode. The software is also incredibly sensitive to the mode you're in—turning on ANC, for example, immediately shows it as an option to alter in the app, and the same goes for Environmental Mode. The fact that you can't turn on or off in the app itself is a nuisance, but that would contradict the point of the physical switch and cause confusion, so it's acceptable.

There are a variety of EQ settings available, including flat, as well as the ability to build and store your own. The software also accesses your music library for basic playing controls and provides standard information such as remaining battery life. However, you can only utilise the EQ if you're listening to music through the Shure app—if you listen to music through Spotify, for example, the EQ faders will move but have no impact on the audio. This isn't typical of in-app EQ, and the restriction is perplexing.

The headphones come with a huge, hard-shell, matte black zip-up travel bag in addition to the cords. To fit within, the headphone cups swivel and flatten. Shure claims a battery life of up to 20 hours, however your mileage may vary depending on your volume settings and ANC use mix.


The Shure Aonic's ANC, like many of the others we've tested, produces a high-frequency hiss that's not unpleasant but perceptible (it's comparable to mild white noise). If you're in a quiet environment, you'll readily hear it in Max setting. The hiss is much less perceptible on Normal setting. In any case, the ANC does an excellent job of reducing low frequencies like those heard on flights and trains, though only in Max mode. While normal mode is low on hiss, it is equally low on performance. Max setting reduces the deep rumbling while also doing a good job with ambient noise in the room.

The Shure Aonic 50's sound characteristic changes somewhat depending on whether the ANC is turned on or off, with ANC on adding a bit more loudness and bass than when it isn't. The difference isn't significant enough to be a deal breaker. Environmental Mode is quite beneficial since it allows you to hear your surrounds while adjusting the settings in the app, making it great for hearing others around you without having to take off your headphones.

Of course, the app's EQ allows you to alter the sound signature in a variety of ways, but we tested it in "flat" mode. The headphones give a powerful yet accurate low-frequency response on tracks with a lot of sub-bass material, such The Knife's "Silent Shout." Those searching for a lot of bass depth can use the EQ or opt for more bass-forward headphones. The drivers here are focused on clarity in the lows and mids, and there is no bass distortion even at maximum volume. The lows remain powerful even at lower volumes.


The Shure Aonic 50 headphones from Shure have a sound profile that is focused on accuracy rather than booming bass. The app's EQ can adjust the volume (assuming you're listening to music in the Shure app), but the default sound signature is a very flat response that will appeal to people who want to hear the mix without too much sculpting. The high-mids and highs might appear bright at times, but they usually provide more information in the mix. The ANC is above average, but not exceptional, and the EQ limits of the app are aggravating.

You can do better if noise cancelling is your first goal. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 ($400) are the most powerful ANC we've tested, while the $250 Apple AirPods Pro are our favourite headphones. Consider the $200 Marshall Mid ANC or the $350 Sony WH-1000XM3 if you want superb over-ear ANC for a lower price. Shure's Aonic 50 headphones, which cost $400, deliver precise audio performance first and excellent ANC second.