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Noise-Cancelling Headphones Buyer's Guide

By Edited Mar 17, 2014 1 0

If you regularly listen to music or audio through headphones, you’ve probably experienced the irritation of external conversation and noise interfering with your listening enjoyment. Sometimes the outside sounds of a noisy or public environment are actually distracting enough that they can make it almost impossible to decipher what’s coming through your own headphones.

Noise-cancelling headphones have reduced these problems drastically. This special type of headphone reduces the unwanted external sounds that get in the way of what you’re trying to hear—in many cases cutting down outside noises so much that you almost feel like you’re alone in a quiet room.

How Noise-Cancelling Headphones Work:

Noise-cancelling technology has improved drastically over the last decade. Putting on a newer, high-quality pair of these headphones will actually shock many people: the noise reduction can be powerful enough that only a hint of the outside world will permeate into your private listening experience.

Noise-cancelling headphones use a technology called Active Noise Control (ANC) to block out many of the noises external to the headphones themselves. These headphones do far more than just physically dampen out the unwanted sounds. Most of them use an ingenious technique that takes in and processes the ambient noise through microphones in the headphone itself. It then uses electronic mechanisms to generate an opposing acoustic signal to those sound waves, which in turn effectively cancels out much of the outside noise before it reaches your ear.

Benefits and Considerations of Noise-Cancelling Technology:

If you haven’t tried out a pair of these headphones for a while, it’s definitely worth checking out the updated electronics and giving them another look. While people used to complain that the volume had to be turned up quite high for the noise-cancellation to be effective, this technology has recently advanced enough that, in newer models, volume levels can usually be kept low and comfortable, yet still perform brilliantly. They are generally slightly bulkier than standard headphones, and require batteries or charging, but these minor details are often outweighed by the remarkable difference in overall sound quality. Pay attention, however, to reviews of specific headphones that mention lower sound performance or a high-pitched hiss, as this is sometimes a side-effect of this technology in some models.

One of the primary advantages of these headphones is that they specifically target the frequencies which cause the most disturbance to the listener. Frequent airline travelers will be strongly aware how loud the engine and air-conditioning sounds can become during a flight. Noise-cancelling headphones were originally designed specifically for pilots, and focused on reducing those exact noises. They now do a more impressive job than ever—many newer models are now also highly proficient at cutting down ambient noise from trains, automobiles and other typical background noises, such as traffic, crowded areas and outside music.

Headphone Information and Reviews

If you browse through no

Bose Headphones
ise-cancelling headphone reviews, you’ll quickly realize that there is a very wide variety of styles and quality. Some headphones perform at a fairly basic level, creating a noticeable reduction in incoming noise, while other higher-quality (and more expensive) models provide such a stunning minimization of most forms of ambient noise that the listener will notice a dramatic difference with how quiet everything becomes.

Different types of headphone will lead to many different experiences. Because the technology differs so greatly from one set of headphones to another, it’s worth investing the time to see what you’ll be getting. Some headphones cover the entire ear with comfortable leather cushioning, while others sit directly on the ear, or even slot themselves right into the ear itself with in-ear bud-style design. In recent years, manufacturers have even begun to develop wireless noise-cancelling headphones that rival some of the better models. But don’t confuse these any of these headphones with the simpler noise-isolating headphones. These headphones do far more than just physically block out the noise like barriers or earplugs.

As you wade through the increasingly large selection of headphones available, you’ll stumble across many different factors to consider. In addition to choosing what size and style of headphone you want, it’s also important to look into the quality of the headphone’s acoustic output itself. There are also other important options to take note of, such as the effectiveness of the specific technology they use, and considerations like battery configurations and volume requirements.

These are not minor details to be overlooked when considering your purchase. Many of these headphones will only pass through an audio signal when they are switched on with battery power—others, in contrast, will still allow you keep on using them (without the noise-cancellation) like regular headphones, even when the battery has died. This also brings up an important element to consider: while some of the headphones use standard AA or AAA batteries, many of the headphones use proprietary rechargeable batteries. In some models, the consequence could be that, once the rechargeable battery dies, you could actually end up stuck in the middle of a trip both with no way to recharge or replace the battery. It could mean you’d be stuck with headphones that wouldn’t even function on a basic level at all.

While you need to pay attention to the full specifications of any model you intend to buy, remember that you’ll be able to determine which are the best noise-cancelling headphones by reading a selection of reviews. This will be the ideal way to balance out what kind of product you’ll be getting versus the amount you’ll have to pay.

Noise-Canceling Headphones Prices and Features

It’s no secret that better quality noise cancellation and sound performance may take some headphones well above the $300 price range. If you’re looking for an optimal experience, the extra investment may be worthwhile for high long-term satisfaction. Bose headphones, for example, are highly recognized for both their sound quality and noise-cancelling ability: models in the Bose Quiet Comfort range have garnered some of the most impressive reviews. Their sound output, operation and comfort leave little to be desired. However, they also sit in one of the highest price ranges. Sony, Audio Technica and Sennheiser each offer very different models with a wide range of features. They are generally considered to be in medium and high quality categories, and have price ranges of around $150 to $350. Sound performance and comfort for these brands are generally very good, but individual preferences will come into play. Again, it’s best to scour the reviews to ensure you know what you’re getting into.

Finally, some headphones are priced in the $80 to $100 range. Although they are substantially cheaper, and may not have the exceptional features of the higher-end selections, some varieties at these prices, such as a few JVC and Maxell models, still perform very well, reducing ambient noise by up to around 75%. If you’re looking to save some money, you can still get a hold of some respectable headphones with strong noise-cancelling features.

It’s by no means an easy game when trying to select noise-cancelling headphones, but there is also an appreciable array of solid information in magazines and on the internet. If you spend a little extra time filtering through reliable reviews and people’s personal experiences with the products, you’ll be best equipped to find out precisely what’s available at the most suitable prices.



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