Active and passive noise canceling headphones, which one to choose?

Active and passive noise canceling headphones, which one to choose?

Why is noise canceling needed for headphones?

While you enjoy music, in addition to the quality of the drivers, one of the most influential factors in sound quality is the external noise that enters your ears. Many types of ambient noise can interfere or even block music coming from our headphones. When wearing earbud headphones, such as an Apple Airpod to listen to music on the road, on the train … Surely the user will not be able to focus on the music because the car horn, the voice will reach his ears. worn, overwhelming the sound emitted from the headset. To temporarily overcome this problem, we often tend to increase the volume to suppress the noise, which seems to be effective but forces the human ear to endure two loud sound sources at the same time. This is an unscientific way of listening to music, and can greatly affect our hearing later.

To be able to listen to music in a noisy environment, manufacturers have released many types of noise-canceling headphones. This line of headphones is divided into two categories, including active noise cancellation Active Noise Canceling (ANC) and passive noise canceling Passive Noise Canceling (PNC). In which ANC is undoubtedly a modern and more effective noise canceling technology than PNC.

Should choose active or passive noise canceling headphones?

  • Why is noise canceling needed for headphones?
  • When do you need active noise canceling?
  • What is active noise canceling headphones?

    • What are the active noise canceling headphones? How does it work?
    • Demand for active noise canceling headphones
  • What is passive noise cancellation?
  • What is active noise cancelation different from passive noise cancellation?
  • Proactive and passive: Advantages and disadvantages

    • The advantages and disadvantages of active noise cancellation
    • The advantages and disadvantages of passive noise cancellation
  • Conclude

When do you need active noise canceling?

Technically, any headset or headphone is capable of reducing passive noise. That’s because the headphone materials themselves block some sound waves. Noise reduction about 15 to 20 decibels (dB). But for example a jet engine generates 75 to 80 dB of noise inside the cabin, passive noise canceling headphones models can only reduce about 20dB of noise, the remaining 55-60dB is still too much. and will ruin your listening space, so regular headphones always have some serious drawbacks in certain situations, and this is where active noise canceling headphones can create great difference.

What is active noise canceling headphones?

Active Noise Canceling (ANC) is a modern technology developed by Bose audio company in the late 20th century. The operating principle of ANC is not too complicated. Headphones with this technology will be equipped with a mic to recognize audio streams from the external environment, then a part of the headset will actively create opposite sound waves with mic sounds. get. These two sound waves meet, and because they oscillate in opposite directions, they will cancel each other out. As a result, users will no longer hear noises from the outside lips. Thus, the wearer can comfortably enjoy his favorite music when walking on the street or in a crowded place without hearing any significant noise from outside the headset.

However, this is still not a perfect technology. When active noise canceling is activated, the headset puts a slight pressure on the wearer’s eardrum, feeling the same as when you were on an airplane that had just taken off. You do not need to be too worried about the above problem, because the pressure is not too strong so it does not cause ear pain as the phenomenon occurs on an airplane. With that, when the ANC system is working, you may hear a whistling sound on the background of music, for the average user this is not a big problem, but for fastidious audiophiles, that is a small minus point. Lastly, active noise will not completely block 100% of environmental noise, so listeners can still be aware of what is going on around them. While noise-canceling headphones do a pretty good job of distinguishing between the sound the user wants to hear and the background noise that he wants to eliminate, some argue that they agree to sacrifice a bit of sound quality. bar to counteract this artificial tranquility.

What are the active noise canceling headphones? How does it work?

How does active noise canceling headphones work?

  • Batteries – Electronic devices responsible for noise cancellation will be powered by batteries.
  • Mic – Noise canceling headset with a mic to pick up ambient noises (such as car horns, crowds, machines …).
  • Noise canceling circuit: The electronics inside the earphone will create a noise-canceling wave that completely contrasts with the background noise recorded by the mic. This wave acts as a noise removal tool, eliminating unwanted sounds around you without reducing the main sound emitted by the driver of the headset.

Demand for active noise canceling headphones

Ignoring the price factor, some say they will never go back to using regular headphones. That’s because active noise canceling headphones are really useful in today’s bustling modern life. For example, you can even use noise canceling headphones to relax, create a quiet space to read books or work in public places rather than just listening to music.

What is passive noise cancellation?

Passive noise-canceling headphones contain no noise-canceling electronics. Instead, they help passively reduce sound by covering the ears to prevent outside noise.

Most passive noise-canceling headphones mostly use designs that conform to the internal structure of the ear that form an acoustic shield, to help block out ambient noise and thus, allow for increased midrange of the desired sound at the lower volume level. Basically passive noise (passive noise isolating) is actually a very familiar concept. Most headphones are more or less capable of isolating external noise, except for open-back headphones such as Grado, Stax … The headsets designed to cover the driver (the driver), the more closed it is. The higher the sound insulation capacity. Besides, materials such as sponge, leather … in the ear cushions also support sound insulation. Passive soundproof headphones can cause a sense of noise when used, and also affect the sound quality more or less

What is active noise cancelation different from passive noise cancellation?

What is active noise cancelation different from passive noise cancellation?

Passive noise cancellation simply uses the in-ear earphone tip or earpad on the headphone to partially block out external noise. The idea here is to create a physical barrier between your ears and external sounds. The principle of operation is the same as when you cover your ears to prevent noise.

In the case of over-ear headphones, noise isolation is usually not much, just enough to prevent ambient sound to a certain extent.

With in-ear headphones, the amount of external sound they limit is mainly based on how tight and fit the tip of the headset is to your ears. Everyone’s ear structure is not the same, and as such, in-ear headphones certainly can’t fit all people. Finding an in-ear that fits your ear structure is key, especially if you’re looking for headphones that block out ambient sounds well.

Active noise cancellation is an electronic system capable of identifying and eliminating sound sources. Of course, ANC is a more advanced and more complex technology, so headsets with this feature are more expensive than regular headphones.

Active noise canceling headphones require battery. They also have good sound quality. There are almost no significant drawbacks.

Proactive and passive: Advantages and disadvantages

The advantages and disadvantages of active noise cancellation


– Can reduce background noise effectively.

– Lets you listen to music at a lower volume.

– It may be good for your hearing by reducing loud noise coming into your ears.

– Use relatively comfortable.


– Requires battery to operate. This is sometimes quite inconvenient, though most active noise canceling headphones have rechargeable batteries and good battery life.

– Costly quite expensive.

– Great quality difference between expensive and cheap headphones. Expensive active noise canceling headphones are usually very good, but inexpensive models have quite a “noise” noise reduction capability.

– For sound quality not as good as traditional headphones with the price.

The advantages and disadvantages of passive noise cancellation


– Can reduce ambient noise to some extent.

– Cheaper than active noise canceling headphones.

– Does not require any batteries.


– Does not reduce much noise compared to active noise canceling headphones.

– May be uncomfortable while in use. When these headphones block noise by pressing or placing on your ear, they can cause uncomfortable wearing for extended periods of time.


When considering which headset to use, you need to consider factors such as hobbies, work goals and financial conditions.

If you work in a studio or in quite quiet environments, you probably won’t need active noise cancellation. However, if the job requires you to travel frequently, or you reside or work next to a noisy environment, active noise canceling headphones will be a valuable companion.

In short, Active Noise Canceling headphones can create a private quiet music space, helping listeners not be disturbed by noise from the outside environment. Although the sound quality is not as good as the passive noise-canceling headphones of the same price range, ANC earphones scored thanks to the comfortable experience that gives users.

See more:

  • What is the headphone driver and how does it affect sound quality?
  • How to use both headphones and external speakers on the computer
  • Guide to switch headsets and speakers on Windows 10
  • Use headphones properly so as not to damage your hearing


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