How Do Noise Canceling Headphones Work?

Curious about how your headphones are blocking out all that external noise? Read on to find out how noise canceling headphones work!

How Do Noise Canceling Headphones Work

Headphones have come a long way since they were invented. In the past, they were mostly used by pilots and workers at communication stations. However, it has evolved to the point that people found some daily usage for them. If you are a first-time buyer of headphones, you may be curious about How Do Noise Canceling Headphones Work?

Before Beats by Dre came out, we used regular headphones without special features. Beats by Dre challenged other manufacturers to step up. Since then, headphones come with a lot of features that we couldn’t have imagined before.

Noise-canceling is probably one of the most important functions for some users. So, that’s why it’s a good idea to explain how noise-canceling headphones work.

Let’s get into it.

What Does Noise Canceling Mean?

You have seen many models of headphones that promote noise-canceling but you aren’t sure what that exactly means. Well, it’s self-explanatory, noise-canceling blocks outside sound. So, when you wear your headphones, most of the outside noise will be blocked out.

What do you need this feature for? Now, I’m sure you have heard that listening to loud music on your headphones will damage your inner ear. Sometimes you must increase the volume to the maximum in order to hear the music, for instance, on airplanes.

Well, in order to prevent this issue, manufacturers came up with noise-canceling. You don’t have to raise the volume if no outside noise is bothering you. Of course, some users like loud music, but noise-canceling headphones make music loud even at low volume.

So, how exactly does noise-canceling work?

How Do Noise Canceling Headphones Block Outside Sounds?

Now, noise-canceling doesn’t mean two big cushions on the headphones. After all, many earbuds have noise-canceling. Have you seen earbuds with cushions? Of course, cushions certainly help with noise-canceling, but it plays an insignificant part.

Noise-canceling headphones have a microphone built-in. This microphone picks up sound waves from outside and blocks them before they reach you. Besides picking up sound waves, the headphones also send a sound wave. This sound wave travels in the opposite direction of the sound wave from outside. So, when they meet each other, they cancel out, hence, noise-canceling.

This technology was invented for pilots, however, as you can see, years later, we use it too. It’s nothing complicated, the only thing the headphones need is a source of power. 

Now you know how noise-canceling headphones work. Let’s see if this technology actually improves headphones.

Related article – Do Headphones Help With Motion Sickness?

Should I Buy Headphones With Noise Canceling Function?

Now, as you may know, anything higher than 90 decibels can damage your inner ear. So, listening to loud music isn’t much of an option. Some complain that noise-canceling may reduce sound quality but this complaint is unwarranted.

You will notice a reduction in sound quality only when you raise the sound volume to maximum. Raising volume is not needed with noise-canceling headphones. After all, even headphones without noise-canceling sound distorted at a high volume.

However, manufacturers came up with an idea. What if you don’t have to raise the volume? The music won’t have to be that loud if there is no noise to interfere with it.

This is where noise-canceling comes in. Seeing that users like loud music but may cause permanent damage to their ears, manufacturers introduced noise-canceling features. With this feature, you won’t have to crank up the volume when you’re on an airplane or when taking public transport.

So to give you a short answer, yes! Believe me, noise-canceling is always better than increasing sound volume to a dangerous level.

Interesting read – Can You Use Bluetooth Headphones On An Airplane?

How To Choose The Loudest Headphones

I know most of you use headphones to block outside noise and focus on what you’re doing. However, some people use headphones because they like to listen to loud music. These users are not small in number, that’s why there’s a demand for loud headphones.

Now, the problem with playing loud music on your headphones isn’t only damaging your ear drum. Music on high volume will seriously distort the sound on many headphones. So, what is the purpose of having loud music if you can’t hear the instruments properly?

However, this is not the case with every headphones model. Some headphones are designed specifically for listening to loud music. This kind of headphones will provide good sound quality at any volume. 

Balanced Audio

So, this is something that you may want to consider when buying your “loud headphones”.  What you should look for in the features is “balanced audio”. Many expensive headphones have this feature. Just look for that, it would be complicated if I explained the technical stuff.

In Ear Monitor (IEM)

Also, you may want to consider headphones with an In-ear monitor, also known as, IEM headphones. DJs use these headphones. They are specifically designed for hearing a mix of audio sources. However, you can find a use for them too, you can listen to any volume on these headphones. 

Related Article – 6 Reasons Why Do DJs Wear Headphones


Based on our own experiment and feedback from other users, cheap noise-canceling headphones are just not that good in terms of safety, sound quality, and durability

Good Quality noise-canceling headphones are expensive. And I really mean expensive. However, can you really put a price on health? Because that’s what you are investing on, preventing any potential future ear damage. 

You may also be keen on How Do I Pair My iHip Headphones or How To Keep Wireless Earbuds From Falling Out.