General Headphones

How do Noise-Cancelling Headphones Work?


Are you a true music lover? If the answer is a resounding YES then you must invest in noise-cancelling headphones. When we are on a plane or on a road trip, the noises in the background can cause hindrance in your blissful musical experience. The loud roar of the engine or the never-ending talks of chatty people could bother those, who wish to listen to good music without any interruptions.  

If you take music seriously and you want to disconnect from the world for a while then you must invest in noise-cancelling headphones. The question is – How do these special headphones work? How do they cancel the noise around you? Most of you may wonder about the mechanism of such an invention!

Here is a post for you to understand the mechanism behind the noise-cancelling headphones. Before understanding the technicalities, you must take a look at the benefits of owning this extra-ordinary invention.

Why should you buy a noise-cancellation headphone?

Are they really worth it? You ask yourself this question before buying the best product. Since you will be investing in one, so you must know whether they are worth it or not. The headphones are slightly expensive as compared to the normal ones.

If there is low frequency noise then it works like a charm. In case you are in a plane, you would be able to have an enjoyable musical experience with the noise-cancelling headphones.

There are times when you just want to relax study, sleep peacefully or wish to dance. At such times, you require a headphone which cancels the noise which bothers you. We have to agree that when you wish to listen to good music and all you can hear is the noise outside, it can get irksome for an individual. People, who are thinking of buying noise cancelling headphones, want to know whether the headphones will actually help in putting the world outside on mute mode!

More: Best Noise Cancelling Headphones under $100

Take a look at the benefits of investing in this gadget –

They will block most of the sounds

You would be pleased to know that the noise-cancelling headphones block most of the irksome sounds. You may find yourself in a noisy situation and you just want to spend time reflecting or sleeping. Put on your noise-cancelling headphones and catch a good nap or spend time thinking about life, love and death. They do block most of the noises which is an advantage.

You do not have to turn the volume on HIGH

When you turn the volume on high, it could be harmful for your ears. Even your mobile device asks you to keep the volume low. The good news is that you do not have to turn the volume high to block the noise outside. You can turn the volume down at a comfortable level. This way you will not hurt your precious ear drums!

They are great for backpackers and travellers

When you are out for a tour, you need to pack your headphones because it is going to be a long journey. If you are travelling alone, you must carry noise-cancelling headphones. You can listen to music while you are in the plane or in the car. The good thing is that you do not get to know the distance or time while listening to good music. Just prepare a good playlist and buy the best noise-cancelling headphones. The environment around you is filled with lots of people. They make too many unpleasant sounds which can be irksome.

Whether you are travelling in a bus, plane or car, do not forget to carry noise-cancelling headphones.

It is a great companion for late-night studies

Unpleasant sounds can distract you! When it is exam time, you must listen to soft music. The trouble with soft music is that you will not be able to hear it at peace because there are too many people around you. You may be living in an area where there is too much disturbance.

Don’t you want excellent grades? If the answer is a YES then you must invest in excellent-quality noise-cancelling headphones. Did you know that practicing maths while listening to music can be helpful? It is a much more enjoyable experience!

Low Music Volume = Richer Listening Experience

Low volume is good for your ears and it provides a better listening experience. Yes, there are some songs which sound better when there is higher volume. However, it is not great for your ear drums. The noise-cancelling headphones allow you to turn the volume down and have a better listening experience.

What about the disadvantages?

Noise-cancelling headphones are expensive and most people would consider that as a disadvantage. However, we would think of it as justified. There is a difference between the normal headphones and noise-cancelling headphones. It takes a lot of research and hard-work to create the technology and design of the noise-cancelling headphones.

They have been especially designed to mute the outside world. They need to be expensive because a special technology is being used.

It brings us to the main query – How do the noise-cancelling headphones work?

Let us cut to the chase and answer this question!

Mechanism of Noise-Cancelling Headphones

In order to understand the mechanism of the headphones, you need to understand the types. There are two types of noise-cancelling headphones –

How do noise-cancelling headphones work


These headphones block out the external sounds by the materials that they are made out of. They are very popular and most of the people opt for this headphone. They do a great job at muting the external sounds. There is extra padding in this which covers your ears completely. This way the external sounds get blocked. The only downside of this headphone is that they are bulky because of the extra padding.

These headphones work extremely well but if you do not want something bulky then you must opt for the second type which is active noise-cancelling headphones.


These headphones create their own sound waves to cancel the noise outside. They mimic the noise outside and create sound waves. This creates a mirror image and both cancel each other out. This is the newest type of technology which is being used in headsets, headphones and ear buds. There is an extra padding which cancels the noise outside. The benefit of this technology is that it blocks the noise and you get to enjoy your favourite music without turning up the volume!

Most of these headphones have a special button which you need to press to activate the noise-cancelling feature. It produces counteracting sound waves which cancel the external noise. These are much more portable and you can carry them with you for road trips and work.

Which is the best one for YOU?

The battle is between active and passive noise-cancelling headphones. If you look at it closely, active and passive headphones are much the same. They both can do the job efficiently.

The active headphones basically create their very own sound waves which cancels the noise around you. When two waves cancel each other out, it is known as destructive interference. This way the listener can enjoy his/her favourite music without any interruptions or disturbances.

Active headphones are slightly complex and the passive ones are just bulky. The passive headphones are created with special insulating materials. The passive headphones can block out the sounds via the soft insulating padding on it. It covers your ears completely.

There are certain components in the active noise-cancelling headphones that you will not find in the usual/ordinary ones. What are they? Let us find out!

  1. Noise-cancelling circuitry – The irksome sounds around you can be cancelled via the noise-cancelling circuitry in the headphones. It creates a wave which is 180 degrees out of phase with the external noise. This helps in the erasing the external noise. In a nutshell, you would be able to have an enjoyable listening experience once you start using a noise-cancelling headphone. You can enjoy the movies of your choice and listen to your favourite Adele songs. From personal experiences, we can tell you that listening to Skyfall by Adele would be hard because it is too slow and the ordinary headphones cannot do justice! If you are an ardent fan of music then you must invest in special headphones which cancel out the external noise.
  2. Microphone – There is a special miniature microphone in the headphone which picks up the external noise (noise of machines, people, traffic, etc). The microphone helps to detect the irksome and unwanted noise.
  3. Battery – These are battery-powered electronics.

The Physics behind Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Did you ever take your Physics lessons seriously? If you ever tried to understand the law of Physics, you would know that sound waves with 180 degrees out of phase frequencies will cancel out each other. This will translate to silence. It is the digital signal processor which produces the sound waves and through destructive interference, the external noise gets cancelled.

Do note that the noise-cancelled headphones are not flawless! They will work extremely well in situations where there is low frequency. However, if you are travelling in a plane, you will have a better listening experience by using the noise-cancelling headphones. It works extremely well in such situations!

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The Bottom line

The choice is strictly yours! We would opt for active noise cancelling headphones because its mechanism is such that it is meant for cancelling the ambient noises. These work by emitting a pitch or sound wave which cancels out the incoming noise. If you are troubled with the ambient noises while studying, working or travelling, you must opt for an active headphone.

There are many active and passive headphones that you would find at the Amazon store. The key is to buy the best headphone. Save up some extra bucks and buy the best! It is a one-time investment and you must buy the best.

Whether it is for studying, travelling or just sleeping, you will find many trusted brands, who manufacture superior active and passive headphones. You will have a better musical experience! For students, who wish to study and concentrate, these headphones will work like a charm!

Do note that passive headphones are also known as noise isolating headphones. They create the perfect seal for your ears to block out the ambient noises. The external noises get muffled due to the material used for padding/cushioning.

If you are looking for a superior quality noise-cancelling headphone, it will come at a premium price. You should be ready for shelling out extra cash for this! Before buying the product, you can try them out and see if it works for you.

Never expect miracles to happen! The headphones will do their job efficiently but they will not block out all types of noises. High pitch sounds and sharp noises cannot be blocked! They can help you to forget the world but do know that the world is still around you. If you are in a plane, travel situation or you want headphones for studying then opt for noise-cancelling headphones.

Are noise-cancelling headphones safe for the ears?

Most people fear that by using noise-cancelling earphones, they will get tinnitus. It is basically a condition where one can hear ringing, buzzing or clicking sounds in the ear. People who have tinnitus are over-sensitive towards loud noises.

Do noise-cancelling headphones cause tinnitus? The answer is NO! When you use noise-cancelling headphones, the external noises get blocked out. Most children hear songs at a high volume which is dangerous for their ears. Loud music ruins your hearing power.

In fact there have been cases when people lost their hearing power after being exposed to loud noises. In a busy and loud environment, wearing your headphone could be a great escape from the world. Most teenagers listen to music at a high volume and it is dangerous for their ears. When people have a good hearing power, it is because they have tiny hair cells in the inner ear. This acts as a liner. When you listen to loud music, the tiny hair cells flatten and they could snap. Snapping of these hairs means losing your hearing power.

Do note that any damage to these hair cells means permanent damage. There is no fix for it. Teenagers are unaware of the consequences of listening to loud music. It can damage their ear cells forever. It could cause tinnitus.

The basic MP3 earphones that you use do not seal your ears properly. This is why people turn up the volume to hear the sounds clearly. It is best to invest in a good-quality noise-cancellation earphone because you would not need to turn up the volume.

High volume causes damage to the ears. The noise-cancelling headphones are helping you to have a pleasant listening experience without turning up the volume. By investing in a high-quality noise-cancelling earphone, you would be able to enjoy music without causing damage to your ears. Losing your hearing power can be a great loss! Nobody wants that to happen to anybody!

Just follow a simple rule – keep the volume lower than the sound of a vacuum cleaner. This is 70 decibels. If you are constantly exposing your ears to loud sounds for several hours in a day, you are closer to losing your hearing power. The sound should be below 85 decibels. This is for safe hearing. It does not cause any damage to the ears.

Did you know that loud sounds can also increase your blood pressure level? It is true! It could give you a headache as well. Why would you want to take the pain? It is just about saving extra dollars from your salary and pocket money and investing in a high-quality headphone. The noise-cancelling headphones have health benefits which you would notice once you get them!

If your kids are using normal headphones or earphones, you must buy them a noise-cancelling headphone to avoid such conditions. Most kids do not understand the consequences of using noise-cancelling headphones. Plus they are too shy to ask for an expensive gadget from you. If you care for your children, buy them this headphone and they will be safe from possible health risks.

Words from the Wise

If you ask us, then we would recommend you to buy noise-cancelling headphones because they protect your hearing. They have in-built microphones and a special circuitry which cancels the unwanted noise. We live in a world where noise pollution is a common phenomenon and we are not benefitting from it.

The loud sounds at your workplace, the airplane engine noise, the loud people around you and even the traffic makes it difficult for us to enjoy our favourite music. There is a health benefit and you also get to have a much more pleasurable experience while hearing your favourite tunes.

Should you invest in noise-cancelling headphones? Absolutely! There is no shade of doubt that these headphones do their job efficiently!

We hope that you understood the physics behind the active noise-cancelling headphones. If you liked the post, show us some love and like it. Share it with people, who love listening to music and they are troubled with the ambient noises! In fact you must share it with the ones you love! After all the noise-cancelling headphones have health benefits as well!