More often than not, if you ever hunt for a good pair of headphones, you’ll come across two very common terms. Noise cancellation and Noise isolation. Fundamentally both sound like the same thing, and to an extent, serve the same purpose. But they are wildly different beasts altogether.
A lot of the time, both terms are thrown around together, so the average consumer might get a bit confused at first. We’ll help you figure out the differences between the two, how they work and which is better. Let’s dive right in.
What’s The Point?
To all the folks out there that use the headphones provided with your phone, you might be a bit dazed and confused. Sound quality and comfort are the most important things when it comes to buying a new pair of headphones. So why do need to worry about excessive outside noise?
Well, the answer is pretty obvious. Ever been on a plane or a noisy bus/train? Even if you crank the volume all the way up, the noise easily creeps in and it’s easy for that to ruin your whole ambiance. Noise-canceling and noise isolating headphones solve this issue with different methods.
How Do Noise Isolating Headphones Work?
Most of the in-ear and on-ear headphones use this type of noise isolation. Often times, it’s called passive noise cancellation by the headphone geeks out there. Unlike noise cancellation headphones (more on that later) they don’t use any clever technology.
Instead, they rely on their physical design and provide a nice seal for the ears. This way any outside noise has to go through that physical barrier to creep in. Some work better than others, it depends on how they are designed.
On-ear headphones like this will most likely be closed backed headphones. Most in-ear headphones already have a snug fit. Keep in mind, most active noise cancellation headphones also obviously have this feature.
How Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?
Often known as active noise cancellation, this is a much more developed and clever technology. Sure, most of these headphones also have some sort of passive noise cancellation. Active noise cancellation headphones are programmed to use a clever microphone setup to cancel outside noise.
Once excessive noise enters the microphones, headphones use clever software to generate a 180 degree or opposite sound spectrum to cancel out the incoming sounds. When both of these sound waves meet, they cancel each other out. For you, it’s like total silence.
But before you just buy any ANC headphones, keep in mind that not all are the same. Some work better than others, and the lower quality ones basically don’t do what they say. Sometimes active noise cancellation can even produce a slight hum. So do your research before buying.
Noise Cancelling Headphone vs Noise Isolating Which is Better For You?
So now that you know how the work? Which are better for you? Well, if you travel quite a lot, active noise cancellation sounds pretty good. But there are a few more factors to consider.
Passive noise cancellation will generally be cheaper (if you remove other factors). They don’t really require a battery to work either unless they are wireless. They also have less of an effect on sound quality.
While active noise cancellation headphones do the job better, poor ANC can often disrupt the audio at times. Some of them are known to produce a slight hiss at times. They also need battery life for noise cancellation. If it’s a wireless pair, the battery will take quite the hit. But they are really good while traveling.
That’s pretty much all there is to it. Once you factor in the above differences, it should be an easy decision. And if you are wondering which ANC headphones you should buy. Read this guide on here.
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