With the advancement in technology, many sound-related equipment and devices are adopting new ways to enhance sound quality and experience. Noise cancellation is one of the latest, most advanced form of soundproofing that is widely used in sound equipment, such as headphones. However, the term soundproofing and noise cancellation are not interchangeable. Rather, noise cancellation comes under the umbrella of soundproofing, with other terms and methods such as residential soundproofing and automotive soundproofing. 

If you have recently come across a number of high-end, top-notch noise-canceling headphones and earbuds, you must be wondering what they are and how they work. In this article, we will explain how noise cancellation generally works and why noise-canceling headphones are becoming so popular. 

Active and passive noise cancellation

Noise cancellation is done in two ways. You will often come across two terms: Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Passive Noise Cancellation. While the core purpose and function of both are the same – to block out unwanted ambient sounds – they do work differently. Read ahead to learn about the two kinds of noise cancellation and how the technology works in headphones and earbuds, to see some options available go see “The 20 Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds of 2019” by Outeraudio which provides with informative insights.

Active noise cancellation

Active noise reduction (ANR) or ANC works by detecting unwanted noise sources and canceling it out by producing another sound. The second sound produced by the active noise cancellation technology is only specifically made for sound cancellation and therefore has no other function. ANC depends hugely on the sound wave theory. When any sound is detected, it is detected in the form of “waves” that contract and refract continuously. The cancellation sound produced, therefore, has an entirely opposite or reversed pattern of wave transmission. This anti-noise is also referred to as the “anti-phase.” These two waves combine and cancel each other out. 

  1. Passive noise cancellation

Meanwhile, passive noise cancellation does not include any electronically powered functions that block out noise. Instead, this form of noise cancellation includes intelligently, strategically designed headphones that contribute towards noise blockage. This is also referred to as in-ear noise cancellation, as headphones and sound equipment with passive noise cancellation design form an acoustic seal that prevents noise. 

  1. Noise-canceling headphones

Headphones that are equipped with the noise cancellation technology can have either active or passive or even both technologies simultaneously. In some manner, almost all headphones have passive noise cancellation. Their design, which includes some sort of ear cushioning and padding, and capacity to cover the whole ear area, already cancels out a lot of noise. Circumaural headphones are best known for being passively noise-canceling headphones. They feature padding with high-density foam that works as a blockage.

However, active noise-canceling headphones more accurately put use to the noise-canceling technology than passive cancellation. These headphones are equipped with a specific kind of microphone, which is responsible for detecting any high-frequency sounds from the outside. These waves are mimicked by the headphone, leaving a negative or cancellation effect on the original sound wave. The mimicked sound wave is then combined with the actual music or sound being played inside the headphones. 

Why is noise cancellation important in sound equipment?

If you have anything to do with sound equipment either by profession or by hobby, you will find yourself wondering whether or not you should go for noise-canceling headphones. Currently, noise-canceling headphones are a little costlier than the ordinary, regular use headphones. However, with increasing marketing competition and the availability of a  variety of similar products, the prices will be decreasing gradually. So, what makes noise cancellation so important? And should you buy noise-canceling headphones over regular ones? Here are some significant reasons why noise cancellation is becoming hugely popular:

· Better sound quality

All noise-canceling headphones aim to do one thing, and that is to reduce the unwanted noise, sounds, and humming from the surrounding. When you use noise-canceling headphones, all unwanted, interfering sounds such as engine sound, car tires screeching, wind blowing, and even unwanted speech sounds are blocked. This helps you enjoy your music in better quality, and at lower volumes. To listen to your music better and clearer, you often increase the volume of your headset or earbuds. This can be damaging to your health. Therefore, better sound quality, lesser volume, and clearer sound is a significant benefit of using noise cancellation. 

· Multi-purpose

You must be wondering if noise cancellation headphones are only used for music. However, that’s not the case. These are multipurpose devices that also act as noise blockers for people with autism. People on the autism spectrum have trouble in loud-noise areas such as public transport and public spaces. Therefore, they use these devices to block out the noise. Moreover, this technology is also used in headsets that are used by factory workers, mine workers, and construction workers who use heavy-duty, loud noise-producing machinery. Therefore, these headphones are multipurpose and hence add great value to your money. 

· Health benefits 

Exposure to loud noise, either ambient noise or loud music, can significantly damage your hearing. It can be problematic for your ears and their well-being. Loud noise also leads to blood pressure issues, ear infections, and the inability to listen to medium-frequency sounds. With the increasing number of children, young adults, and teenagers using headphones in everyday life, health is a huge issue. Therefore, noise-canceling headphones prevent this problem as you get to hear better quality sound in a clearer manner without having to turn up the volume to the maximum. Plus, these headphones also protect you from loud, disturbing, and damaging ambient sounds such as car horns. 

Wrapping it up

Noise cancellation technology might be the future of all sound equipment. Already, we have earplugs and headphones that are equipped with passive noise cancellation. In only a matter of time, active noise cancellation will become commonly applied and used in multiple forms of audio equipment. Noise cancellation helps improve sound quality and leaves an overall positive impact on the listener’s experience. The technology is also used in various ways, such as for autistic people and people who have exposure to high-frequency sounds.