I'm definitely a gadget freak... especially when it comes to headphones. As you know, I love my music. I'm also a bit noise sensitive (landscapers, screaming kids), so noise cancellation is an extremely important feature to me. Over the past few years, I've purchased a number of headphones... both wired and wireless (mainly wireless). In most cases, I used bonus money from work to buy them... so I didn't pay much.
This post is going to tell you which ones to buy (and why).... under $300. If you're paying more than $300, you're an idiot. First, let's get this out of the way. Unless you're a serious audiophile, skip wired headphones/earbuds. Wireless has come a long way... so there's no reason to deal with wires anymore. Also, you probably won't notice the difference. I've tried most of the over-ear headphones (Bose, Sony, Sennheiser, etc.), as well as all of the earbuds that are out there (kind of a little hobby of mine). Wired headphones lead to fatigue. They're also a pain in the ass.
I'm an Apple guy all the way, but I'm sorry... I hate AirPods Pro. Yes, I know... the Spatial Audio thing is interesting (not a fan, though it is an improvement). They're also the best when it comes to call quality (when making phone calls; hands down)... and they're very light. Oh, and... they easily switch between Apple devices. They suck, though, when it comes to listening to music and the noise cancellation? Please.
They also look like tampons. Come on... you know they do.
I used to say Bose was in a league of their own when it comes to noise cancellation, but... that's no longer the case (although, spoiler... I still prefer Bose; more on that in a minute). Sony has upped their game. While I don't like the fit of their over-ear cans, I love the new WF-1000XM4 earbuds (come on, Sony... get more creative with your names). Your music will sound incredible. The noise cancellation is right up there with the Bose QC Earbuds. Great battery life. Smaller case. That said, they're not as easy to get in your ear (whereas the Bose are super silky with their silicone tips).
Which sounds best? The Sony's... hands down. Richer. More bass-heavy.
Which look best? Again... the Sony's. Smaller footprint. The Bose are big.
Which fit best? AirPods, though the Bose are easier to get in than the Sony's.
Which has the best noise cancellation? Bose, but the Sony's are close.
Sony & Bose only sync with one device at a time... which is a pain, but oh well. Just means that if I want to use them on my phone, I have to unsync from my MacBook. Still, all devices immediately find them. The Sony's allow for more customization.
At the end of the day... I prefer the Bose.
So... if Sony sounds (and looks) best and I said the noise cancellation is about the same, why do I recommend the Bose? Don't know. On paper, the Sony's win. I just know that when I want to listen to something, I gravitate to the Bose. They're easier to fit in my ears (and feel better). The audio quality is good. The noise cancellation is, of course, the best in the industry. Yeah, the case is bulky (and they look bigger than the Sony's)... but there are two final things that settled it for me.
First... the Bose allow for volume control (swipe up on the right earbud to turn your music up and swipe down to, well... turn it down). Second... when I want to turn off noise cancellation and listen to someone, it's much quicker with Bose. Not sure why, but the Sony's take a few seconds before it switches from NC to Ambient (meaning you can hear your surroundings). It's only a few seconds, but it can be frustrating.
To be fair, I still use them both (Bose most of the time, but Sony's on the road).
Regardless, you should buy one of these two... not the AirPods Pro. If you don't want to spend this much, go with the Jabra Elite Active 75-t. A much better value.
Just some musings from an old guy...