What are noise cancelling headphones?
In very simple terms, noise cancelling headphones basically cancel noise – specifically ambient sounds that are outside of the headphone.
Noise cancelling headphones are useful in many different situations, and it also allows the user to listen to music without increasing the volume a lot, which protects the users hearing in the long run. However, noise cancelling headphones are not just for people who want to listen to music, it can also be used to block out sound so that the user can sleep or focus in peace.
Noise cancelling headphones also play a vital role in the field of aviation where the headphone can block out the ambient sounds so that pilots of officers can focus and pay attention to incoming announcements and audio information easier. Noise cancellation headphones are good for:
- Blocking out ambient sounds or noise
- Enables the user to focus or to rest better
- Does not require the user to increase their volume a lot to listen to audio, which protects against hearing loss in the long term
Active and Passive noise cancelling headphones
There are two types of noise cancelling headphones, Active and Passive. They both do the very same thing, but in different manners – and a person may choose from one or the other based on their differences and their pros and cons.
Active noise cancelling headphones
Active noise cancelling headphones typically have a microphone of sorts that is built into the headphone which measures sound or noise outside of the headphone environment, then uses that data to generate a waveform which is the exact negative of the ambient sound. This cancels out the incoming sound.
Active noise cancelling headphones usually cost more than normal headphones, which are usually passive headphones. A built in battery is also usually required as the active noise cancellation requires power, so a USB port or removable battery pack is usually present – which could make the headphone be rather heavy as well.
Passive noise cancelling headphones
Passive noise cancelling headphones generally have no extra electronic parts or components inside of them that are not the core parts for producing audio. Passive noise cancelling headphones block out ambient sound via soundproofing or sound insulation.
This happens because of the seal the headphones make when it sits on the top of our heads and rests on our ears. It basically makes the headphone as a sort of large earplug to seal our ears from outside ambient sound and noise. Closed back headphones with ear cups that completely cover the ears provide much better passive noise cancellation than those which sit on your ears.
However, for those who want more affordable and simpler noise cancellation can opt for in-ear earphones, which have ear tips that fit into the ear canal to provide a proper and complete seal for noise cancellation. These fitting ear buds firm an almost perfect seal and provide very good noise cancellation.
If you want a suitable audio solution to cancel ambient noise and sound, do consider the pros and cons of choosing either between an active noise cancelling headphone or a passive noise cancelling headphone – active noise cancelling tend to be more expensive, but they do have the advantage of both the passive and active noise cancelling headphones at the same time.