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The best part about headphones is they block external noise and let you be at ease. Or maybe not, considering the fact that many headphones aren’t that good at eliminating ambient noise. This is where noise-canceling headphones come in.
Headphones with noise cancellation, particularly active noise cancellation, work wonders in automatically blocking off ambient noise and improving the immersive music listening experience. But active noise cancellation headphones do more than just improve the music listening experience, learn more below:
What is active noise cancellation? How do ANC headphones work?
The concept of active noise cancellation is simple, and that is to reduce the volume of external/environmental noise to a significant extent to make your music listening experience enjoyable. However, there are several precisely synchronized processes that seamlessly blend software and hardware to intelligently and effectively get the job done.
Below, we have explained how active noise cancellation technology works in three simple steps:
Step 1: A couple of microphones integrated on each ear cup of headphones (specifically dedicated for active noise cancellation) identify external noise, such as construction noise, traffic noise.
Step 2: The microphones transmit the external noise information to the active noise cancellation processor that is integrated into the earcups.
Step 3: After analyzing the waveform of the external noise, the active noise cancellation processor generates a 180° waveform that is identical to the external noise. This ANC processor-generated waveform then cancels out the external noise.
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Reasons why you’d want to buy/switch to noise cancellation headphones
Many standard in-ear earphones and over-the-ear headphones do a pretty good job of lowering ambient noise. So, why buy or make the switch to active noise cancellation headphones? Here are some important reasons for you to go for a pair of new-generation ANC headphones:
You take public transport every day
If you prefer public transport for your everyday commutes, the best travel headphones for you are the ones that have active noise cancellation technology. Wireless active noise cancellation headphones help you switch off the crowd noise and enjoy your favorite audio content, whether that be listening to your favorite records, getting insights from podcasts, or listening to your favorite audiobook.
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You frequently take flight journeys
Taking flight journeys frequently can be exhausting not just with jet lags but also due to the cabin noise you constantly get exposed to. Your journeys can be more tiring if you are taking long flights. To make things easier for yourself, it’s best to wear a pair of active noise cancellation headphones and ensure that the cabin noise doesn’t bother you or stress you out.
Also, if you are someone who prefers to make the most out of your flight journeys by working, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, or simply enjoying your favorite songs, a pair of active noise cancellation headphones will work better for you than standard headphones.
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There’s construction work on progress near your home/apartment
Construction work noise can be really bothersome, especially if you are trying to make the most out of your weekends at home. As a post from Verywellmind puts it, environmental noise, including construction work noise, can induce stress in many people.
If closing the windows and doors doesn’t help, you can simply use a pair of active noise cancellation headphones, put on your favorite content, and keep the construction noise at bay.
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You take walks/jog in a crowded park
Taking walks or jogging in a crowded and noisy park can defeat the sole purpose of unwinding and rejuvenating yourself. Also, if you listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or music when taking morning or evening walks/jogs, crowd and vehicle noises can ruin the experience.
To make sure that the noises do not get in the way of you enjoying your favorite audio content, upgrade to a pair of wireless active noise cancellation headphones.
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Active noise cancellation and passive noise cancellation are totally different
Many improperly-informed customers view active noise cancelation and passive noise cancelation as the same. In reality, they are not. While active noise cancelation is a dedicated technology, passive noise cancellation isn’t.
Think of passive noise cancellation as similar to wearing a pair of earplugs. When you wear earplugs, you experience significantly lowered ambient noise. This is because the earplugs form a seal on your outer ear and block external noise.
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If earplugs do the job of blocking out external noise, then why not just simply choose them over active noise cancellation headphones? From a practical perspective, you can. However, not all earplugs are as intelligent as ANC headphones when it comes to detecting different types of external noise and blocking them.
While earplugs do block external noise, they do not function as headphones or earphones. ANC headphones, on the other hand, let you turn down external noise as well as listen to your favorite content at the same time.
Also, many ANC headphones include a Monitor Mode which amplifies ambient noise to help you stay aware of your surroundings. This feature comes helpful when you are ordering at a crowded and noisy restaurant or when listening to important announcements on a busy subway.
How to know if an active noise cancellation headphone is good?
You do not go short on options for wired as well as wireless active noise cancellation headphones. However, the tricky bit is, not all headphone models are highly effective at actively canceling ambient noise.
Or it may be so that you may have a specific type of noise isolation requirement and that you may end up choosing the wrong model that doesn’t work well for you. Whatever it is, it’s important to know whether or not the active noise cancellation headphone you plan to buy is good. Take a look at the important factors to consider:
No noise cancelation latency
Noise cancellation latency defeats the whole purpose of active noise cancellation technology, that is to actively seek out external/environmental noise and then diminish them in real-time. Latency leads to improper functioning of the active noise cancellation technology. As a result, the overall active noise cancellation may not be highly effective.
Latency can especially take a toll on active noise cancellation if there are different types of ambient noises that occur at irregular intervals. It’s always best to choose active noise cancellation headphones from popular brands as they use cutting-edge ANC processors.
No influence on sound drivers’ audio performance/quality
The best noise-canceling headphones are the ones that deliver superior audio performance even if you have enabled the active noise cancellation feature. One simple test to perform in order to determine whether or not the ANC headphone you choose has good active noise cancellation is to use a source for producing ambient noise such as an alarm beeper.
First, play a song on the headphone and then turn on the active noise cancellation feature. Carefully notice if there is any volume drop. If no, it’s a green signal for you to go for the headphone.
Monitor mode or Awareness mode
If you are someone who prefers to stay aware of the surroundings when wearing a headphone, look for an active noise cancellation headphone that includes a monitor/awareness mode. This mode does not cancel out ambient noises to help you keep track of everything that’s going on near you.
Many high-end active noise cancellation headphones also recognize and amplify important sounds, such as human cries, ambulance sirens, and alarms.
Different types of ambient noise recognition
Active noise cancellation headphones that can recognize ambient sounds across a wide frequency range are the best. The sound registration in different frequencies means that the headphones can recognize different types of ambient sounds that occur at different frequency ranges. And when the headphone can recognize and cancel different types of ambient noises, you can use it almost anywhere, be it on the subway, flight, restaurants, and crowd gatherings.
8 best noise-canceling headphones under $200
Active noise cancellation headphones are growing as one of the biggest trends. What is interesting to know is that now you don’t have to shell out a high budget in order to get your hands on a great pair.
Check out this list of some of the best noise-canceling headphones under $200 below:
1. Philips TAPH805BK – check it out here
If you have a limited budget and want to get your hands on one of the best noise-canceling headphones under $200, you cannot go wrong with Philips TAPH805BK. The active noise cancellation feature of this headphone works great for noise isolation as well as echo cancellation for audio calls.
A simple tap on the headphone’s earcups will enable or disable active noise cancellation. Similar to premium ANC headphones, this model also comes included with an awareness mode which helps you stay aware of the surrounding noises.
2. Sony WH-CH710N – check it out here
Sony WH-CH710N is undoubtedly the brand’s best wireless noise-canceling headphone under $200. This headphone uses what Sony calls Automatic Artificial Intelligence Noise Cancelling function (AINC) and helps you block almost all types of ambient noises.
Although a low-priced model, this headphone uses dual noise sensor technology to deliver highly precise active noise cancellation. Sony has made no compromises on the audio performance side of things as well.
3. Sennheiser HD 450BT – check it out here
Sennheiser HD 450BT packs everything you’d want out of a budget active noise cancellation headphone. The active noise cancellation feature of this headphone benefits from a sealed closed-back design and delivers precise noise cancellation.
This headphone also exceeds expectations in terms of high-performance wireless connectivity and bass-rich audio performance. Dedicated Smart Control app customizations, voice assistant access, and folding design are other important features of this model.
4. JBL Live 650BTNC – check it out here
JBL Live 650BTNC is another best wireless noise-canceling headphone under $200 that you cannot go wrong with. The active noise cancellation feature of this headphone lets you enjoy an immersive audio experience and distortion-free audio calls.
This headphone delivers bass-rich audio performance by default, however, you can tweak the audio performance using the dedicated and compatible My JBL Headphones App. With high-performance wireless connectivity and up to 30 hours of battery life, this headphone will not let you down.
5. Skullcandy Hesh ANC – check it out here
Skullcandy Hesh ANC is one of the most affordable active noise cancellation headphones on this list. However, you do not make any compromises with the lower price tag that this model comes with. The active noise cancellation feature of this headphone uses four dedicated mics to recognize a wide range of ambient sounds and cancel them in order to deliver an immersive audio experience.
This headphone gives a tough competition to several mid-range models in terms of charging with its Rapid Charge feature that offers 3 hours of playtime with 10 minutes of quick charge. With a full charge, you get up to 22 hours of audio playtime.
6. Audiotechnica ATH-ANC700BT – check it out here
If you are planning to buy an active noise cancellation headphone and make it your go-to choice for listening to your favorite audio content, Audiotechnica ATH-ANC700BT offers one of the best values. This headphone uses Audiotechnica’s proprietary QuietPoint active noise cancellation technology to precisely block ambient noises and offer an HD audio calling experience.
Audiotechnica ATH-ANC700BT includes touch and swipe controls that make it easy for you to change active noise cancellation modes and conveniently access audio controls. Similar to several premium headphones, this model also includes the option of switching to wired connectivity.
7. Pioneer SE-S6BN – check it out here
Pioneer SE-S6BN is undoubtedly one of the best noise-canceling headphones in the budget category from Pioneer. The headphone’s active noise cancellation feature is reliable enough to enjoy an immersive music listening experience even in crowded and noisy places. Even with active noise cancellation, this headphone delivers a whopping 20 hours of playtime.
Pioneer SE-S6BN also delivers a great audio performance despite its affordability. It carries the signature Pioneer sound that is characteristic of high-end, premium Pioneer consumer and studio headphones.
8. Razer Opus ANC – check it out here
If you want an active noise cancellation headphone that can perform double duty as a gaming headphone, Razer Opus ANC comes as an unmistakable choice for you. Apart from including the standard active noise cancellation function, this headphone also includes a temporary awareness mode which you can enable by pressing and holding the dedicated ANC button.
Similar to several premium headphones by Razer, this model offers dynamic audio performance that can seamlessly adapt to different types of media. This headphone also works well for gaming requirements both via wireless and wired connectivity.