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Noise Cancellation Vs Noise Reduction Headphones

Noise Cancellation vs. Noise Reduction Headphones

Noise cancellation headphones are different than noise reduction headphones. The former aim to remove as much external noise as possible using various techniques, while the latter simply use passive noise cancellation to physically block out external noise. Noise cancellation is entirely different from noise reduction, so it’s essential to learn how both types of headphones work before you shop for new headphones or earphones.

What Is Noise Cancellation?

Noise cancellation is a process that reduces unwanted sound from the environment by active means. It achieves this by using an opposite signal to create a noise-canceling effect. The most common implementation is to use a microphone on the canceling headphone that picks up the outside sound and generates an anti-noise through either mechanical or electronic means.

How Does It Work?

Noise-canceling headphones are a great solution to help block out a noisy environment. They do this by using a microphone to detect outside noise, and then they create an opposite noise to counteract it. This can be very effective in the right conditions, but it should not be confused with noise reduction headphones. Noise reduction is designed to recreate the sound quality of your music so that your ears cannot detect the surrounding noise. By creating a quiet space inside your ears, it helps you enjoy your music without having to strain too much to hear over the background din.

how noise cancellation works diagram

Types of Noise Cancellation

Different types of noise cancellation can offer differing effectiveness levels depending on your specific needs. Active noise-canceling headphones are great for traveling. Still, if you’re looking for a more portable option, some smaller wireless earbuds are available now. Headphones use these types of noise cancellation tech: passive noise cancellation

Active Noise Cancellation

Active noise cancellation is a very compelling technology found in many different types of headphones and headsets. It works by creating an opposite sound wave to eliminate ambient noise, sometimes called “noise pollution.” The best way to understand how active noise canceling works is by thinking about two waves hitting each other and canceling each other out.

Adaptive Noise Cancellation

Adaptive noise cancellation is the most advanced type of noise cancellation, which monitors and responds to sounds around you. This allows for more precise audio quality processing and provides a cleaner music listening experience.

Passive Noise Cancellation

With this method, also known as passive noise isolation, specially designed ear cups are used to seal out unwanted noise. This applies to both over-ear headphones and in-ear earphones. With the latter, the earbud itself keeps ambient noise out.

Advantages of Using Noise-Canceling Headphones

Noise-canceling headphones help you control the constant noise of daily life by producing a sound that is 180 degrees out of phase with the ambient noise. Noise-canceling headphones eliminate distracting background noise. Here are some advantages of using noise-canceling headphones.

Improves Concentration

By blocking out all the unwanted sounds around you, you will be able to focus better on what you are supposed to. This is especially true if you want to listen to something while working out or studying at the library. Instead of hearing what’s happening around you, simply put on a set of noise-canceling headphones, and start enjoying whatever would generally distract you from concentrating.

Improves the Listening Experience

Noise-canceling headphones are a great way to tune out the world. They sound better than regular headphones because the noise-canceling feature blocks out ambient sounds, resulting in a better listening experience.

Keeps You Safe

The advantage of using noise-canceling headphones is that they keep you safer in many situations. First, they cancel out the noise that triggers road rage or fights, leading to injury or death. Second, they help you hear others at home, in a restaurant, or anywhere else to avoid accidents due to misunderstandings caused by background noise.

Reduces Stress

These types of headphones help reduce stress and improve concentration by blocking out the surrounding noise so that you can focus on what is happening in your immediate environment instead of having to deal with being distracted by background noises.

Improves Your Sleep

You can sleep better with the use of noise-canceling headphones. The soft, padded over-ear headphones cushions create a comfortable listening experience, allowing you to drift off to sleep while listening to a favorite tune.

Enhances Conversations

These headphones tune out noise while amplifying the conversation with advanced active noise-canceling technology. You get to hear every word as if you were in an isolated bubble of quiet, with all the people around you oblivious to what you’re listening to.

What Is Noise Reduction?

Noise reduction is the process of removing noise from an audio sample, which can be helpful in situations such as eliminating click and pop artifacts from vinyl recordings, reducing out-of-band interference from transmitted signals, or improving speech intelligibility by reducing background noise. It is the process of making noise less loud.

How Does It Work?

Noise reduction is the technology used to reduce unwanted noise when listening to music and video files. The noise reduction technology removes gaps and pauses between tracks and declining music that is too loud or soft. Suppose you often listen to music with electronically edited tracks (such as those found on some movie DVDs). In that case, you can use noise reduction technology to treat the entire song as one track and make it easier to listen to.

Types of Noise Reduction

There are various types of noise reduction. It’s good to know about them when choosing a noise reduction system for your tank or spa. A high-quality unit will be able to eliminate all types of noise, including gurgling, hissing, popping, and bubbling. The types are:

Passive Noise Reduction (PNR)

This is a technique used in earplugs and other hearing protection devices to reduce the amount of noise reaching your ears as much as possible. PNR does not block all sound, so you can still hear essential things like alarms and messages, but it reduces the loudness without blocking out conversations or music. Since passive noise cancellation occurs before sounds reach your ear canal, it reduces the actual loudness instead of just blocking specific sounds.

Active Noise Reduction (ANR)

These headphones dramatically reduce noise with active electronic circuitry that senses and neutralizes sounds above a certain decibel level. They harness the power source of microphones and tiny speakers to create a constant anti-noise signal that is equal and opposite to that of unwanted ambient sounds. The result is increased clarity and volume control, allowing you to listen longer at lower volumes while hearing everything you want to.

Advantages of Noise Reduction

Noise reduction is a great feature to have implemented in your home. Here are some ways noise reduction can benefit you and the people you live with.

Comfortable Living Environment

Noise reduction can bring the benefits of a quiet environment to any home or office, allowing occupants to enjoy a more comfortable environment. By reducing the noise level of the outside world, it dramatically increases comfort.

Reduces Stress-Related Illness

Noise reduction headphones are an effective way to reduce stress-related illness and improve productivity. Studies show that excessive noise can damage hearing and result in significant stress, while wearing appropriate hearing protection, such as earmuffs, earplugs, or other hearing protective devices, can help relieve it.

Improved Communication

Noise reduction improves communication and productivity. With the ability to eliminate unwanted noise, you can better communicate with coworkers and customers. This can also encourage a more productive work environment because employees are not distracted by the ambient noise that might surround them during their workday.

Reducing External Costs for Medical Expenses

Your health and the health of your employees are critical to the survival of your business. Noise reduction can reduce health issues for workers, clients, and visitors. People who have to work in a high-noise environment can suffer from hearing loss, stress, and other health issues. By reducing noise, there is a noticeable reduction in medical expenses, reducing your insurance costs.

Reduce the Cost of Lost Productivity in the Workplace

Noise-reduction earplugs are a cost-effective way to reduce the cost of lost productivity in the workplace. They can also help improve overall employee morale by providing workers with better communication capabilities and reducing distractions.

graph showing efficiency quality speed cost

Preventing Hearing Loss

Noise reduction earplugs help prevent hearing loss and reduce noise in the workplace. Levels of noise at work are a severe health hazard for many people. Excessive noise exposure can lead to hearing loss and cardiovascular disease. Noise-reduction earplugs have been proven to significantly reduce decibels without seriously compromising fidelity, comfort, or hygiene.


Click here to read about Noise Reduction Ratings (NRR). 


Noise cancellation actively cancels out the noise. Most headphones that work with ANC (active noise canceling) do it by using a microphone to monitor the outside noise, creating an opposite signal that is used to play into your ear. The external noise is effectively canceled out, leaving you with a more pleasant and peaceful listening experience.

Noise reduction only reduces the volume of sounds going into your ear without actively trying to cancel them out. These headphones have the physical attributes of headphones that block ambient noise.

Which One Is Better?

Noise-cancellation technology works best when you’re listening to music on a train or bus. It can also drown out the sounds of a busy office or other background noise, but that isn’t always a good thing. If you want to simply lower the level of noise so that you can hear what’s happening in your environment, turning up the volume may be necessary instead. You could do this in settings such as:

When You Need to Study or Focus

When you need to study or focus, there’s no better way than to turn on your noise-canceling headphones. They ensure that all other sounds are blocked, and you can enjoy peace of mind.

When You’re Traveling

These special headphones will help you get the most out of your trip by blocking out ambient noise. They can be used on airplanes and trains or at home when you want to sleep better. Now you can focus on getting to your destination without worrying about all the chaos around you.

At the Gym

When listening to your music at the gym, you want noise isolation headphones that block out the noise and get you pumped up. But you also want them to be comfortable so that you can focus on your workout, not your headphones. Bluetooth headphones have a comfortable in-ear design and the freedom of wireless headphones, so you can focus on what matters in your workout.


The best noise-canceling headphones are generally a better option than noise-isolating headphones. Many noise cancellation headphones are available with ear cups to block external sounds. The price range of these headphones is high, though. They use audio technology like microphones inside the headphones followed by an electric circuit and internal microphones that helps in amplifying high-frequency quiet sounds and blocking ambient noise with low-frequency sounds. You will never hear any external sound while wearing these headphones.

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