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Explain How Active Noise Cancellation Works

TechnologyExplain How Active Noise Cancellation Works

Today’s environment is full-on noise that comes from industries, motor vehicles, motorbikes, people, and other things. This will create an unsuitable environment for us to operate, listen to audio, and even make a phone call. When in a noisy environment, the first this we think about is to block the incoming noise.

Technology has it because today’s headphones and earphones are fitted with noise-canceling technology. This will block all noise from outside giving you ample time. With noise-canceling headphones, you will be able to make a clear and audible phone call in the noisiest street.

Active noise-canceling technology has been around in any form for over eighty years ago although more people have known its existence recently. The technology has been improved every time with new features incorporated.

Types of noise cancellation

There are two types of noise cancellation. This includes;

1. Active noise cancellation

Active noise cancellation involves the use of electronics to minimize noise from outside that causes distraction. Sound is energetically created to cancel out any problematic noise.

2. Passive noise isolation

Passive noise reduction involves insulating your ears or your room against sound. This is the typical way employed for more soundproofing projects. A headphone is said to isolate noise when it fits in your ears completely leaving no space for any sound to penetrate.

Active noise cancellation definition

Active noise-canceling technology is a technology used in high ends earbuds and headphones. Active noise-canceling will create a substitute sound wave to offset different noise which comes in your headphones or earbuds. The process involves the use of electronic components hence power will be needed for this to work out.

Three components that active noise cancellation requires;

1. Power source

Active noise canceling (ANC) will always need a power source that will detect & analyze noise & then create a negative wave.

2. Microphone

For Active noise-canceling to take place, the headphones should have a miniature microphone at the earpiece which will be used to pick up ambient noise which comes from the street, moving vehicles, planes, manufacturing industries, and other places.

3. Active noise-canceling circuitry

Electronics in your earpiece will form a noise-canceling wave which will be 180-degrees out-of-phase with the ambient noise. The created wave will act like a noise-eraser. It will be capable of canceling out every annoying sound in the surrounding without altering the sound one needs to hear. This will give you clear audio.

How active noise cancellation works

Headphones that have active noise canceling features operate with the use of a small microphone which is placed on the outer side of your headphone. It is capable of listening to any ambient noise in the background.

The microphone will pick up the sound which comes from the street, cars, and other places and send them to your headphones. The headphone has a distinct noise canceling circuit that can produce the reverse sound waves to any sounds which are picked up by the microphone. This will mean that the active sound will cancel out all the background noise hence you will just hear what is needed of you.

In other words, noise from the surrounding environment contains alternating waves of compression & rarefaction. Therefore, active noise cancellation will operate by mirroring the precise compression & rarefactions of a sound wave that has exactly a similar amplitude. The difference between the original and active noise cancellation sound is that the active noise cancellation sound waves are inverted.

This procedure makes the sound waves mix in a method called destructive interference which creates a new joined neutral sound wave.

Pros of Active noise cancellation

  • Noise from the surrounding environment will be blocked hence you will be having a clear and audible sound
  • You will be using low volume which is suitable for your ears. Your eardrum will be safe from damages
  • Wireless noise-canceling headphones will allow you to have a hands free operation.

Disadvantages of active noise cancellation

  • The audio quality may be compromised in the process of canceling noise
  • The process requires power hence the headphone or earbuds will require a rechargeable battery for the process to be successful.
  • It is costly. Due to the technology used in making this electronic, you will be required to have more money so that you can afford the headphones or earbuds with active noise canceling technology.
  • Headphones with active noise canceling technology feature have inbuilt batteries which make them bulky and heavy.


Active noise canceling helps us in more different ways. You will be able to make clear and audible calls from both sides. As a student in noisy surroundings, you will be comfortable with active noise-canceling headphones around your ears. Some of the devices that are fitted with active noise canceling technology include Bose 35 and Sony WH-1000XM3. Also, you can check here the best noise-canceling earbuds post, which I published last month. These headphones can currently reduce ambient noise to up to 80 to 95percent. Apple Air-Pods Pro is capable of blocking ambient noise up to 50 to 80 percent.

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