Ambient sound is all around us. I like to call it annoying noise, but its the sound of crying babies and coughing and loud trucks that speed by you on the highway. Most of all, its just plain annoying.
I recently picked up a gig where I had to do a bit of traveling back and forth via a bus and my old earbud headphones weren’t doing a very good job of blocking out the noise on the bus. Road noise, loud people on cell phones and a lot of other stuff that I just didn’t want to hear made me want to buy a pair of noise cancelling headphones. So I headed off to Best Buy to find a pair.
What I quickly learned was that I had no idea which brand or type of headphones I wanted. There are a ton of brands out there and even more features which really made it tough to narrow it down.
I knew that I wanted a pair of noise cancelling headphones but I found it kind of confusing because there are other headphones that are noise reducing not noise cancelling.
So that is going to be my first post on the blog, What are noise cancelling headphones and how you can tell the difference between noise cancelling and noise reducing. I figure, hey, if I can’t tell the difference, then there must be other people having the same problem.
Active Noise Control (ANC) What’s That?
Active noise control or ANC for short is the method used to remove unwanted sounds from a source by introducing another sound to cancel it out. It was explained to me that low frequency noise, like the humming of an airplane, are the easiest sounds to cancel out.
Higher frequency sounds such as talking and crying babies, well, I was disappointed to hear that they won’t be fully cancelled out and that was a bummer.
How does it work? Basically there is a microphone that is used to specifically pick up the ambient noise and a second speaker that is used to generate a sound to block the ambient noise picked up by the speaker.
Over The Ear Headphones Work Best
Over the ear headphones work best because the naturally block out sounds because they have foam material for comfort and they cover the whole ear as opposed to earbuds which just fit in your ear.
They are sometimes called passive noise reduction because they are “soundproofing” the ambient noise rather than actively reducing it like ANC.
So, if you pair the over the ear feature (passive noise reduction) with noise cancelling technology such as ANC, you will have a much better experience and chance of blocking out sounds.
Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Worth The Money?
That is something that you will have to determine for yourself. I opted to go with an over the ear headphone with ANC and it made a HUGE difference. I can’t tell you the difference it has made and the music is amazing.
Now, I will say, they were pretty damn expensive, but I went for the top of the line rather than some cheap Walmart brand made in China.
At any rate, I hope that I have cleared that up for you and now you know the difference between passive and active noise cancelling headphones.