Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise is a constant annoyance in the lives of many people. It affects their ability to enjoy music, books, movies, and television. It can even affect their health if it stops them from getting enough sleep. Most have no option but to put up with it and hope it will eventually go away. Noise cancelling headphones are very good at reducing the impact of unwanted noise. Noisy neighbors and loud traffic can be effectively silenced, and the headphones can even help improve productivity at work. They are particularly good at reducing background engine noise, which makes long trips quieter and less stressful.

Noise cancelling headphones use active noise control technology. A good analogy of how it works can be seen in the waves produced when a handful of rocks are thrown into water. As the waves cross over each other, some cancel out and produce flat spots on the water surface, while other combine to produce even bigger waves. When the crest of a wave meets the trough of another wave, both waves will disappear if they have the same size. Active noise control measures the approaching sound waves with microphones and creates new sound waves at just the right time so that they cancel out before reaching the ear.

The benefits of noise cancelling headphones come at a price, however. For a start, they are more expensive than passive headphones. They are also larger and heavier because of the battery, microphones, and circuitry that makes active noise control possible. This extra weight can make them uncomfortable when jogging or working out at the gym. Noise cancelling headphones are generally good at blocking everyday sounds but they block some sounds better than others. Active noise control has trouble blocking high frequency pulses, and it can even make the noise worse in rare cases. A lot of power is required to make the new sound waves, so the batteries need to be recharged fairly often.

There are many respected brands of noise cancelling headphones including Bose, JVC, Logitech, Panasonic, and Sennheiser. While it is possible to try them on in the stores to feel how comfortable they are, it is often not possible to test how well they block noise. Reading reviews in magazines and on the internet is a good way to find out, but the most helpful advice comes from forums dedicated to music listening and audio hardware. Every pair of headphones should have an adjustable headband, along with ample padding around the headband and housings. Some models can even be folded together, which makes them easier to fit in a carry bag.

Noise cancelling headphones must also have good audio qualities. There is little point in having great active noise control if the sound reproduction is terrible to begin with. They should have a good frequency response and drivers that use Neodymium magnets. The cable should preferably be made of oxygen-free copper (OFC) and reinforced with a Kevlar outer coating. Other features to look for include a volume control on the cable, and a button that turns the active noise control off and on. Some models are capable of working as passive headphones when their batteries run flat but others will not work at all.

Isolating headphones also block external noise, but they are not as complex as noise cancelling headphones. Instead of using electronics to cancel out the noise, they physically block it by using ear plugs that completely seal the inner ear. When they are in place, the only sounds that can reach the ear drums are the ones coming from the headphones. They are certainly effective at blocking noise but many people find the ear plugs intrusive and annoying, especially if the headphones need to be removed frequently. But they may be the only option that works in places that are particularly noisy.

This Noise Cancelling Headphones Review is Written/Updated on Dec 6th, 2010 and filed under Consumer Electronics. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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