How Does Noise Canceling Work?
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How Does Noise Canceling Work?

Noise canceling headphones and earbuds can make it much easier to handle loud environments such as on a noisy airplane. They provide a break from the chaos around you, making it easier to focus or fall asleep. When you need to get something done, they're an easy solution.

How Exactly Does Noise Canceling Work? 

Active noise canceling (ANC) earbuds generally have three different microphones:

  • Feedback ANC System - This is the active noise-canceling chipset. It is placed on your device's internal boards.
  • Feed Forward ANC System - This chipset is placed on your device's external boards.
  • Hybrid ANC System - This combines the Feed Forward and Feedback systems.

The Hybrid ANC System typically belongs to Bluetooth devices with a higher resolution, along with big headphones. By using the Hybrid ANC System, it's possible to achieve noise-canceling technology of up to 90 percent. If you go jogging while wearing earbuds with a Hybrid ANC System, it's possible to have a car drive past you and not even notice it!

Now, let's move on to the actual noise-canceling part. Phase inversion is the name of the game, which cancels most of the noise around you. ANC earbuds use phase inversion to delay one of the two different sound wavelengths that come your way. This delay lasts about half a second, and it's responsible for muting background noises and improving the audio sounds in your ears. This is known as "out of phase," as opposed to "in-phase," which is the technology that's used in non-noise-canceling headphones.

The ANC relies upon its small set of microphones to find and cancel background noises. While this technology isn't perfect, and some background noises will still slip in, it provides a much nicer listening environment. Therefore, if you're looking for the best way to hear music through your earbuds, ANC technology is a good choice.

However, there is something you need to be aware of. ANC generally refers to an active component, which typically won't work unless you have music on. So, if you're looking for noise-canceling headphones to block out the world itself but don't want to listen to music, ANC won't be the right choice.

Some earbuds even can switch between ANC mode and non-ANC mode. This provides a good way to hear what's around you when necessary while shutting it out whenever you'd like.

Noise Canceling vs. Noise Blocking Technology 

Noise-blocking technology is a very low-tech solution to the problem of noise pollution. It does provide a good first line of defense, though. Noise blocking relies upon finding a very snug fit, which will naturally filter out some of the background noise. There are no electronic components for noise blocking, which makes it a passive system.

On the other hand, noise-canceling technology requires an electronic component. There are miniature microphones listening to the background noise, and the ANC system prevents this noise from reaching your ears. An audio barrier is created, and this gives you better-quality music.

Is Noise Canceling Safe? 

Noise-canceling technology has become extremely popular, but this doesn't mean that it's perfectly safe. First off, it's important to keep your music to 85dB (decibels) or less. Ideally, you'll keep it set to no more than 70dB, which equals approximately 60-70 percent of your phone's volume. It's also smart to take a break every 30 minutes or so. This will help you avoid hearing damage, along with the undo pressure that earbuds can exert on your ear canals. Like everything else in life, noise-canceling technology is something you need to use in moderation.


Alternatives to Noise Canceling Headphones  

Your eardrums take in almost everything that you hear. What happens when someone's eardrums don't work properly, though? The good news is that bone conduction technology acts as your eardrums instead, which means that the audio is sent directly to the cochlea. This has given people with conductive hearing loss the opportunity to listen to music again! It also works great for busy athletes.

For example, Shokz offers this technology in three different pairs of headphones:

  • OpenRun Pro - Premium headphones that work well for athletes. Includes two added bass enhancers and 9th-generation bone conduction t