We all have earbuds. It comes with our iPhones, Samsungs smartphones, VR headsets, MP3 players, Playstation 4 and much more. However, there is a feature that most earbuds doesn’t really have and it’s called active noise cancellation. Earbuds, which is also called in-ear headphones, that has this feature often tend to be a bit on the expensive side if the Active Noise-Cancellation (ANC) technology is good. So now you may be asking if it is worth paying that extra money for noise cancelling headphones and the only real answer to that is: it depends.
Yes, it’s probably not the answer you were looking for, but hold on for a bit. I’ll now dig deeper into these type of earbuds and describe what they do and how they can change your life.
What does noise cancellation do?
Active noise-cancelling earbuds work by having a microphone that is used by some processor to generate a sound that is opposite of the sound wave coming towards your ears. This is known as an inverse wave and if it is done correctly by a good processing engine and a good mic, the wave will cancel out the sound wave coming towards your ear. If it’s perfect (it never really is), the intruding wave is cancelled perfectly and you can’t hear any ambient noises at all. You’ll only be able to hear the sound coming out of the earbuds, but unfortunately, this is not the case.
For instance, if you are inside an airplane, the noise cancelling earbuds will try to cancel out the engine noise by sending inverse waves to the sound waves. Some earbuds also have an ambient mode so you’re able to hear your surroundings via the inbuilt mic, for example when you are walking outside, where traffic awareness is important.
Are noise-cancelling earbuds worth it?
Now this is million dollar question. If you were to compare some earbuds at an arbitrary price, equivalent earbuds with ANC technology would most likely sound a little bit worse, which is also the conclusion that many other reviewers have come to. Also, when buying the best earbuds with noise cancelling technology, be sure to pick some with good ANC technology, as there is a huge difference between the quality of noise cancelling in different earbuds. Good picks are the Bose QuietComfort 20i and Bose QuietComfort 25.
For some scenarios, noise-cancelling earbuds are just excellent and outshine any earbuds without it. Let’s pick the example with the airplane again, where low-frequency noise is produced. This is where noise-cancelling earbuds really outshine the competition since low-frequency sound is very easy to cancel out, while higher frequency sound isn’t. This means that you’ll still hear nearby voices and other high-frequency sounds. They can literally change your life in a good way.
Whether you’re running outside, flying in airplanes, exercising in the gym or just wearing them casually, noise-cancelling earbuds will in 90% of cases have a positive effect in your life. You can finally enjoy music in your own isolated world without disturbances from the outside.