Are Noise-Canceling Headphones Worth It?

Have you ever had the warning “loud music may damage your hearing” appear on your smartphone? Do you sometimes find yourself distracted from your work or study by ambient noise? If the answer is yes, noise-canceling headphones are worth checking out.

What are noise-canceling headphones?

These are headphones that eliminate ambient noise. Instead of doing so by passive isolation with mufflers such as ear pads or large housings, they do so by generating inverse sound waves to those detected by microphones. 

Are Noise-Canceling Headphones Worth It?

This mechanism allows you to listen to the audio in a noisy environment without increasing the volume. This helps avoid prolonged exposure to loud sounds that can damage your hearing. They are also ideal for those who use headphones to work or play as they offer excellent audio clarity.

In noisy environments such as bus stations or shopping malls, these headphones work perfectly to isolate the sound. They will also be a good ally when studying or in jobs that require a lot of concentration.

How do they work?

For those who do not know waves, noise-canceling headphones may seem magical, but the way it works is simple. If two waves with the same frequency meet or collide while in phase, the resulting wave will have a greater amplitude (in the case of sound waves, the sound will be greater). And if the waves are out of phase the wave is canceled. In the latter case, we say that there is destructive interference.

Graph, constructive vs. destructive noise

Well, what noise-canceling headphones do is very simple to understand. Using microphones, they receive the ambient noise to calculate and transmit the inverse wave and cancel it.

Some haters’ comments about noise cancellation are based on misinformation, comparing this sophisticated technique to classic passive reduction headphones. These try to reduce noise either with headphones that cover the entire ear as tightly as possible, or with ergonomics earbuds that adapt to the ear canal to cover it.

While these may manage to reduce the noise somewhat, they don’t compare to the effectiveness of the noise-canceling headphones we’re describing here, and anyone who has tried them can attest that noise-canceling headphones are worth it.

What should you know when buying noise-canceling headphones?

  • If you are looking to isolate soft sounds such as snoring or insects, buying noise-canceling earplugs will be a better option. Noise-canceling headphones work best with loud and prolonged sounds such as music, loud voices, or machines. In fact, this feature is widely used in people with autism spectrum disorders or attention deficit as they help to cope with auditory overstimulation.
  • It is not recommended to use them while driving. The cancellation effect may cause a lack of concentration in the driver and cause an accident.
  • The cost may be higher than conventional headphones, but noise-canceling headphones’ quality and comfort are superior.