Article ID : 00236412 / Last Modified : 10/05/2023Print

What is Noise-Cancellation and what can I expect?

    Noise-canceling can be the very reason you choose to buy headphones or earphones. You can cancel out noise during your daily commute or a flight or block out noisy neighbors.

    Did you know?

    Sound can only travel if there is a medium to transport it, e.g., air, water, glass, or metal. You will hear the music if you stand in an empty room with a speaker playing music. Now remove the air from the room, and you will notice that the speaker still functions, but you hear no sound. Without air acting as a medium, sound can't travel. Similarly, space is a vacuum — so it generally doesn't carry sound waves like air does here on Earth (though some sounds do exist in outer space, we can't hear them)

    Why do I hear external sound when noise canceling is on?

    Air trapped between your audio device and eardrum

    Noise-canceling technology can't completely isolate sound due to the air trapped between your audio device and the eardrum. However, the air is essential for you to hear music. Suppose you removed the trapped air; the net effect is silence, no matter your music's volume. Why? There would be no medium for the sound to travel from the audio device to your eardrum.

    Noise cancellation at different pitch levels

    Have you ever noticed how effectively noise-canceling cuts out the sound from an airplane engine? But when someone next to you speaks, you hear their voice. Why is that?

    Sound waves from an airplane (Low pitch) Sound waves when someone speaks (High-medium-low pitch)

    How does noise cancellation work?

    Noise-canceling audio devices use a built-in microphone to analyze the ambient sound waves around you and generate the opposite waves to reduce surrounding sound. Noise-canceling devices have a built-in microphone that produces the opposite reversed sound waves to neutralize surrounding noise. Noise cancellation works best when the ambient sound around you is constant and around the low to medium pitch range.
    Balanced soundwaves when ambient sound and noise cancelling waves match

    Now consider the fluctuating pitch levels when you speak. The sudden pitch changes occur too frequently, making it difficult for any noise-canceling audio device to analyze and process these differences. Therefore, you hear some noises while others are canceled out.

    What can I expect from Noise-cancellation technology?

    Noise-cancellation offers an enhanced listening experience by canceling out interfering external sounds.
    However, remember the following:

    • The noise canceling effect may not be pronounced in a tranquil environment, or some sounds may be heard. If there is little ambient noise, it is advisable not to switch on the NC function, as it needs ambient input to function optimally.
    • Noise cancellation doesn't transfer during telephone calls. Although it protects the headphones user from the surrounding noise, it doesn't apply to the receiver of the call: they will potentially hear background noise.
    • The noise-canceling effect may vary depending on how you wear the headset, or a beeping sound (howling) may occur. In these cases, please take off the headset and put it on again.
    • The noise canceling function primarily works for noise in the low-frequency band (train, airplane, engine noise). Although noise is reduced, it is not canceled altogether.
    • When you use the headset in a train or a car, noise may occur depending on environmental conditions. Therefore, it is recommended not to use noise-cancellation headphones while driving, as taking notice of traffic sounds is essential for your safety.
    • Mobile phones may cause interference and noise. Should this occur, locate the headset further away from the mobile phone.
    • Do not cover the microphones. The noise canceling function or the Ambient Sound Mode may not work optimally, or a beeping sound (howling) may occur. In these cases, take your hands off the headset microphones.