Noise cancelling technology has become a common feature in various industries including headphones and hearing aids. Its radically enhanced listening experiences as we navigate daily life and the range of noise we are exposed to. Noise cancellation features protect hearing health by preventing people from increasing the volume on personal electronic devices (smartphone, speaker, laptop etc.). This is particularly useful for people who regularly commute, have noise sensitivities or some degree of hearing loss, work in noisy environments, regularly listen to music and/or podcasts etc. Though this technology is widely accessible today, you may be wondering how exactly it works so let’s explore the mechanics!
Noise cancellation is the reduction of background noise. There are several ways to “cancel” noise and the product that is best for you will depend on your preferences. This technology can be categorized by:
Active noise cancellation technology does more to reduce background noise and is commonly the preferred type.
The main components of ANC headphones are a microphone, chipset, speaker, and batteries. The microphone collects and records sound waves which are then inverted by the chipset. This means that one wave is delayed to match up with another sound wave, this way they cancel out when added together (rather than being amplified). Inverting the soundwave creates anti-noise which reduces background noise before reaching your inner ear; the speaker then adds this to the output of your device.
There are three ways that ANC works:
These types of ANC can block up to 70% of background noise which is ideal for people who regularly navigate environments with increased levels of sound.
Knowing about these three types of ANC can help you make a better-informed decision about which headphones would work best for you. This is important because noise cancellation technology reduces the amount of sound you absorb overall which is helpful for protecting your hearing health! Sound is measured in units referred to as decibels and noise over 85 decibels is potentially harmful to hearing. We can easily absorb these levels of noise: listening to music, driving through traffic, using household appliances etc. ANC technology has the capacity to reduce noise by 20 – 40 decibels which is absolutely beneficial to your overall hearing and wellness!