Noise Cancelling Headphones: Do They Really Work?

In today’s fast-paced world, noise pollution is all around us. From the cacophony of traffic to the chatter of coworkers, unwanted noise can be a source of significant stress and frustration. This is where noise-cancelling headphones come in, promising to block out unwanted noise and provide a peaceful listening experience. But do they really work?

How does Noise Cancelling Work?

The function of noise-cancelling headphones is to prevent external noise from reaching your ears. To achieve this, these headphones use miniature microphones in the earcups or earbuds to monitor the sound around you. They then emit an opposite signal that cancels out both sets of sounds when their soundwaves collide, effectively blocking unwanted noise.

Noise Cancelling Headphones do they Really Work?

First, let’s look at how noise-cancelling headphones function. These headphones use a combination of advanced technology and acoustic design to reduce external noise. They achieve this by using microphones to pick up and analyze the sound in the surrounding environment. The headphones then generate a sound wave that is precisely out of phase with the external noise, effectively canceling it out.

So, in theory, noise-cancelling headphones should work well. But, in practice, several factors can impact their effectiveness. One such factor is the type of noise. Noise-canceling headphones work best with steady, low-frequency sounds, such as the hum of an airplane engine or the drone of a fan. They are less effective against sudden, high-pitched sounds, such as someone shouting or a car horn.

Another factor is the fit of the headphones. Noise-canceling headphones work by creating an acoustic seal around the ear, so it is essential to choose headphones that fit well and are comfortable to wear for extended periods. If the headphones don’t fit correctly, external noise can seep in, reducing their effectiveness.

Battery life is also an important consideration. Active noise-cancelling headphones require power to operate, so it’s essential to choose a pair with a long battery life, especially if you plan to use them for extended periods.

Despite these limitations, noise-cancelling headphones can be incredibly effective in reducing unwanted noise. They are particularly useful in noisy environments, such as airplanes, trains, or offices with open floor plans. They can also help you concentrate on work or study in a loud environment, or even get a good night’s sleep in a noisy neighborhood.

Why can I still hear with noise-cancelling headphones?

Most headphones use a combination of active and passive noise reduction technologies to block out external sounds. However, it is important to note that they may not block out all sounds. While they can effectively block out most noise, you may still be able to hear higher-pitched sounds such as sirens or human voices, although these sounds should be significantly reduced in volume.

What is the disadvantage of noise canceling?

There are some drawbacks associated with noise-cancelling headphones. One of these is that they are typically more expensive than regular headphones. This is because they use active noise control, which requires power to function. This power is usually supplied by a USB port or a battery, which must be occasionally replaced or recharged. Without power, some models may not even function as regular headphones.

What are the side effects of active noise cancellation?

In general, using noise cancellation in headphones does not hurt your hearing. While there may be a slight hissing sound when the ANC is turned on, this is typically the only noticeable effect. However, for some individuals, this hissing sound can be bothersome and even lead to feelings of dizziness.

Does noise cancelling cause tinnitus?

Headphones are not known to cause tinnitus unless they are played at excessively high volumes. The same applies to active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones; the technology itself does not cause tinnitus.


In conclusion, noise-cancelling headphones do work, but their effectiveness can be impacted by several factors. When choosing a pair of noise-canceling headphones, it’s essential to consider the type of noise you want to block out, the fit and comfort of the headphones, and the battery life. With the right pair of headphones, you can enjoy a peaceful listening experience, free from unwanted noise.

Related articles:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *