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How Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work: How They Work and Top Picks

In a world filled with distractions, noise-cancelling headphones have become a sanctuary for those seeking a peaceful audio experience. But how do noise cancelling headphones work?

From the principles of active noise cancellation to the various types of noise-cancelling headphones available, we'll explore the mechanisms that make these headphones a must-have for commuters, travelers, and music enthusiasts alike.

So, whether you're curious about the inner workings or considering a purchase, join us as we uncover the secrets of noise-cancelling headphones.


What Are Noise Cancelling Headphones?

Noise cancelling headphones are a modern marvel in the realm of audio technology, crafted to elevate your listening experience by significantly reducing unwanted ambient noise. These headphones achieve this through a blend of passive and active noise canceling techniques. Passive noise canceling utilizes the headphones' physical structure and materials to block out external noise, similar to how earmuffs keep out the cold and din. Active noise canceling, on the other hand, steps up the game with built-in microphones that detect external sounds. These headphones then produce opposite sound waves to neutralize the noise. In a friendly essence, noise cancelling headphones are your ultimate accessory for diving into an audio sanctuary, free from the clamor of the outside world.

How Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?

Having gained a basic idea of what are noise canceling headphones, let's now explore how sound cancelling headphones work. There are two main types: active noise cancelling (ANC) and passive noise cancelling (PNC) headphones. Both aim to reduce unwanted ambient sounds, but they do so using different methods.

Active Noise Canceling Headphones

Active Noise cancelling (ANC) headphones are like your personal soundproofing team, working tirelessly to protect your ears from unwanted noise. The magic behind ANC headphones lies in their ability to produce sound waves that are the exact opposite (also known as "anti-noise") of the surrounding noise. It's like having a superhero whose power is to cancel out the villain's noise, leaving you in peaceful silence.

Here's how it works: tiny microphones on the headphones pick up external sounds before they reach your ear. The headphones then analyze these sounds in real-time and generate new sound waves that are the exact inverse of the incoming noise. When these opposing sound waves meet, they cancel each other out through a phenomenon called "destructive interference." This process effectively reduces the volume of the noise, making it seem like the world around you has suddenly quieted down.

Passive Noise cancelling Headphones

Passive noise cancelling headphones might not have the high-tech sound wizardry of their active counterparts, but they're still incredibly effective at muffling the world. Think of them as your personal sound barriers. Instead of using technology to cancel out sound, they physically block sound from reaching your ears. This is achieved through the design and materials used in the headphones.

Passive noise cancellation is all about the fit and the build. Over-ear headphones with thick, padded ear cups can form a tight seal around your ears, acting as a physical barrier that sound waves crash against. Similarly, in-ear headphones that fit snugly in your ear canal can also block out a significant amount of external noise. The materials matter too—denser materials can block sound more effectively.

Benefits of Noise cancelling Headphones

Now, let's look at the benefits that noise cancelling headphones offer us.

Improved Focus and Productivity

Noise-cancelling headphones are a game-changer for anyone working in noisy environments. By reducing background noise, they help you concentrate better on your tasks. This improved focus can lead to increased productivity, as you're less likely to be distracted by external sounds.

Enhanced Listening Experience

With noise-cancelling headphones, you can enjoy your music, podcasts, or audiobooks without cranking up the volume to drown out background noise. This not only provides a clearer and more immersive listening experience but also protects your hearing in the long run.

Stress Reduction

Constant exposure to noise can be stressful and lead to increased anxiety. Noise-cancelling headphones can create a peaceful environment, allowing you to relax and unwind, whether you're at home, in the office, or traveling.

Better Sleep

For those who live in noisy areas or have trouble sleeping, wireless noise cancelling headphones can be a lifesaver. They can block out disruptive sounds, such as traffic or noisy neighbors, helping you fall asleep faster and enjoy a more restful night.

Travel Comfort

Air travel can be exhausting, especially with the constant hum of the aircraft and chatter of fellow passengers. Noise-cancelling headphones can significantly reduce these noises, making your flight more enjoyable and allowing you to arrive at your destination feeling more refreshed.

Enhanced Call Clarity

Many noise-cancelling headphones come with built-in microphones that also apply noise cancellation to your calls. This means that not only can you hear the person on the other end more clearly, but they can also hear you better, leading to more effective communication.

Recommended soundcore Noise Cancelling Headphones

soundcore offers a range of noise canceling headphones that combine cutting-edge technology with superior sound quality.

Whether you're looking for headphones that cancel noise for travel or need a pair with a mic for conference calls, we have you covered.

soundcore Space One

The soundcore Space One headphones boast a 2X stronger voice reduction, making them a top choice for those seeking peace in noisy settings. With adaptive noise cancelling that can reduce noise by up to 98%, these headphones offer a crisp, Hi-Res sound experience through 40mm dynamic drivers. The worry-free battery provides 40 hours of playtime with ANC on and 55 hours with ANC off. The 8° rotating ear cups and soft integrated headband ensure all-day comfort, while the 5 levels of adjustable transparency let you tune your world as needed. These Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones are also TCO certified for better sustainability.

soundcore space one

soundcore Q20i

The soundcore Q20i features hybrid active noise cancelling with four microphones that work together to reduce up to 90% of external noise, such as plane engines and car traffic. The oversized 40mm dynamic drivers deliver detailed audio with BassUp technology for an immersive listening experience. With a long battery life of 40 hours with ANC on and 60 hours in normal mode, you can enjoy your music without worrying about recharging. Fast charging gives you an extra 4 hours of playtime with just a 5-minute charge. The headphones support dual connections, allowing you to switch seamlessly between devices. The soundcore app lets you customize the EQ and switch between ANC, Normal, and Transparency modes, while the Transparency mode ensures you remain aware of your surroundings.

soundcore q21i

soundcore Life Q35

The soundcore Life Q35 headphones are the gold standard of sound, with custom silk-diaphragm drivers that deliver Hi-Res Audio and Hi-Res Audio Wireless certified sound. LDAC technology ensures lossless data transmission for detailed music reproduction. The multi-mode noise cancelling feature allows you to switch between Transport, Outdoor, and Indoor modes for a tailored noise cancelling experience. The lightweight build and memory foam padded earcups and headband provide all-day comfort. The AI-enhanced calls feature uses beamforming microphones and an AI algorithm to ensure clear, noise-free calls.

soundcore life q35


Let's delve into some frequently asked questions about noise cancelling headphones to clarify common queries and misconceptions.

Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Actually Cancel Noise?

Yes, noise cancelling headphones do cancel noise. They utilize a technology called active noise cancellation (ANC) to reduce unwanted ambient sounds. This is achieved through the use of microphones that detect external noise and speakers that produce sound waves that are the exact opposite (anti-noise) to cancel out the noise. While they are highly effective at reducing low-frequency sounds like the hum of an airplane engine or air conditioning, they may not completely eliminate all noises, especially higher-frequency sounds like human voices.

Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work Without Music?

Absolutely, noise cancelling headphones can work without music. The ANC technology operates independently of any audio playback, meaning it can reduce ambient noise even when you're not listening to music. This feature is particularly useful in scenarios where you want to minimize distractions or create a quieter environment without necessarily playing audio, such as while studying, meditating, or trying to sleep in a noisy setting.

Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Safe?

Noise cancelling headphones are generally considered safe for most users. The ANC technology does not emit harmful radiation or sound waves that could pose health risks. In fact, by reducing the need to crank up the volume to drown out background noise, these headphones can actually help protect your hearing. However, it's essential to use them responsibly. Prolonged exposure to loud music, even with noise cancelling headphones, can lead to hearing damage. It's also crucial to remain aware of your surroundings, especially in situations where being able to hear external sounds is important for safety.


Noise cancelling headphones have become an essential tool for those seeking to escape the clamor of everyday life. Understanding how do noise cancelling headphones work reveals the sophisticated technology behind these devices, which can significantly enhance our listening experience. Whether it's the adaptive noise cancelling of the soundcore Space One, the hybrid active noise cancelling of the soundcore Q20i, or the Hi-Res Audio certified soundcore Life Q35, these headphones offer a range of features to suit different needs. Whether you're a traveler, a music enthusiast, or someone looking for peace in a noisy world, noise cancelling headphones can provide a welcome respite.

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Liberty 4 NC | True-Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds
All-New True-Wireless Earbuds Reduce Noise By Up to 98.5%
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  • Note: Please refer to our FAQ and How-To-Video for additional tips on pairing your Liberty 4 NC earbuds with a Samsung Galaxy S23 series mobile phone.
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