How Do Noise-Canceling Headphones Work

How Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?

Noise-canceling headphones bring peace and silence to your ear whether you’re on an airplane or train but how do they work.

Noise-canceling headphones became more and more popular. These headphones were first used by only airplane pilots.

According to Wikipedia the concept/idea of noise-canceling was introduced in 1936 by Paul Lueg. Later in 1950, Lawrence J. Fogel provides a method to cancel noise in airplanes and helicopters.

Long story short after several years and investing lots of money the first headset build by Bose company for travels to wear in flight.

When the price goes down Noise-canceling headphones became popular and used for various situations.

For Example, You lived in a place/city where surrounding produce unbearable noises. It can be traffic sound, workshop sound, etc. Now it is used in different works monitoring, mixing, and producing songs.

Also, Noise-canceling headphones are viable choices to protect your hears.

How do Noise Cancelling Headphones work?

When sound waves create you’ll see multiple valleys and peaks. Below you can see a sound wave with valleys and peaks.

peaks and valleys - how noise canceling headphone works

Noice canceling have their build-in microphones that detect the sound waves including their peaks and valleys.

After detecting headphones build-in microphones creates the same amount and same valleys and peaks of sound waves but in the opposite direction.

For every valley, microphones generate the same amount of peak and for peak, they generate the same amount of valley that cancels each other and the only flat line remains.

Types of Noise-Canceling

There are three types of noise-canceling headphones are available. Here, I will only discuss two of them.

  1. Active voice canceling
  2. Passive voice canceling
  3. Adaptive voice canceling

1. Active Voice Canceling

Active Noise Canceling headphones work on ANC (Active Noise Control). ANC works on special technology that allows us to control and cancel unwanted noise based on the Interference waves theory. We know that noise transmitted in the form of sound waves.

Technically these headphones have three different electronic components

  1. A series of input sensors
  2. A signal processor
  3. A specific speaker to reduce noise.

When the sensor detects external noises, they calculate the number of frequencies and build-in microphone and a chip instructs to produce opposite wave. When Both waves meet each other and in the result of that sound cancel occurs.

Active noise-canceling headphones are more effective at lower frequencies. These are more expansive because there is more technology and a specific type of hardware utilized.

2. Passive Voice Canceling

And on the other hand, passive noise-canceling headphones use insulation and absorbing tiles. These headphones directly linked to the headphone’s design and material.

These headphones are more effective at about 2000 Hz frequencies. They are cheaper than active canceling headphones, and they do not need a power source.

Noise-canceling headphones better deals with continuous sounds like airplane jets, trains instead of sudden sounds or abrupt sound; for example, they don’t do very well in a gunfight. Because when you turn on your voice canceling headphones, they take a very short delay to take effect.

The Sound Quality Of Noise Canceling Headphones

The sound quality of noise-canceling headphones is pretty good. You can listen to music clearly without any problem. The overall quality of sound is pretty good but not good compared to other headphones, which specially designed for music. But you can listen to any music in good quality.

Advantages of Noise Canceling Headphones

These headphones are useful in many ways, such as:

  • Their first and significant advantage of having these headphones is they cancel noise.
  • These are Good for hearing health
  • It creates a silence environment and helps you to relax.
  • Prevent extra anxiety
  • The excellent sound quality of music without any external interference.
  • Less tiredness and fatigue
  • Great for traveling

Some Drawback of Noise Canceling Headphones:

These headphones have lots of advantages, but everything comes with some of the disadvantages.

  • So the first drawback is their price. These headphones are expansive than usual.
  • Another disadvantage is if you have an active voice canceling headphones, then you need a power source because they did not work without power, so if you do not manage power sources, then you will not take advantage of them. And if you’re using batteries, then make sure they fully charged.
  • The third disadvantage is their weight when you’re using batteries, their weights increase.


After reading how do noise cancelling headphones work below you can read some frequently asked questions.

Do noise cancelling headphones block voices?

Yes, noise cancelling headphones block external voices very well and in the above section you can read how they do.

Can You Sleep With Noise Cancelling Headphones?

Yes, You can sleep wearing noise-canceling headphones. They are pretty useful. If you lived in a noisy place or you travel, and you try to get sleep, but the problem is external ambient noise that makes you uncomfortable. In that situation, these headphones help you. You can wear them and listen to your favorite song and enjoy it. You will get a good sleep.

Will Noise Cancelling Headphones Block Out Snoring?

The answer is yes, and no. Snoring noise appears in both low and high frequencies, and headphones only block low or high frequencies as well. For example, if you’re wearing active canceling headphones, it will work good for low frequencies, and if you wear passive canceling headphones, it works well on above 2000 Hz frequencies. But after wearing headphones, you will get enough rid of snoring.

What do noise Cancelling headphones actually do?

Noise-canceling headphones block external ambient noises using Active noise control (ANC) and allow the wearer to listen to music without increasing volume. 

Do noise Cancelling headphones hurt your ears?

If you listen to music at louder volume continuously it will hurt your ears and it may lead you depression, headache, and other health problems. But noise-canceling headphones have the ability to block external noises so even on the low volume you can enjoy music. It will also not hurt your ears.

How can I use headphones without damaging my ears?

The best practice to use headphones without damaging ears is to listen to music at a lower volume. and buy noise-canceling headphones so even on the lower volume you’ll enjoy music.

Can you still hear with noise Cancelling headphones?

It’s up to you that you want to hear external sounds or not because some good pair of noise-canceling headphones come with multiple modes that allow the wearer to hear or not outer sounds.

What is the difference between noise Cancelling and noise isolating?

The major difference between noise Cancelling and noise isolating headphones is noise-canceling headset block actual sound waves using noise-cancellation control (ANC) and noise isolating headphones block external noises through ear cups seals against your ears.

Our Recommendation!

It’s is better to invest a product like this for health and life safety. It is good to care about yourself. But you have to take care of that when you’re on the street. You may get hit by a vehicle or even get robbed.

If you are driving or doing some work that needs external voices and attention, better not to wear these headphones.


Noise-canceling headphones prevent ambient noises and provide you a relaxing environment. These headphones are handy on different occasions such as if you’re on an airplane or train the engine sound is so loud, so using these headphones, you will not listen to any noise.

These headphones produce waves in the same frequencies but in a different phase. So when both waves meet, they cancel each other, and noise-canceling occurs.

Active canceling headphones are expansive than passive canceling headphones. Active canceling headphone works on lower frequencies, and the other hand, passive canceling headphones works above 2000 Hz.

I hope that you understand how do noise-canceling headphones work. If you have any queries regarding this, you can ask us in the comment section.

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