Noise Cancelling Headphones: The myths and facts explained? – PHIATON


There’s no denying that active noise cancellation (ANC) is great, especially if you’re trying to enjoy your tunes, games, podcasts, or movies on a long flight, noisy commute, or right next to a droning air conditioner. But as we explained in a recent blog post on what makes headphones noise cancelling, NC technology is complicated. As such, it’s no surprise that there are a number of misconceptions related to how noise cancelling technology works and how it affects sound quality.

In this post, we’ll address three of these misconceptions, starting with the biggest of the bunch…

      • Noise-cancelling headphones sound bad:

        It’s easy to understand why this perception exists. After all, active noise cancellation was originally engineered to protect the hearing of pilots, not necessarily to win sound quality contests. If you still think all NC headphones deliver lackluster performance, though, look no further than Phiaton’s sleek wireless earphones, which has drawn accolades from professional reviewers and users alike for its rich, detailed, full-bodied sound.

      • Okay, okay, maybe the headphones themselves don’t sound bad, but turning on NC makes them sound bad:

        Another understandable misconception, since noise-cancellation can change the sound of your favorite headphones when employed. If you’re asking yourself, how does noise cancellation work? Remember from our previous post that it works by sampling environmental noise and introducing an out-of-phase signal that disrupts or cancels out the drone of an airplane turbine or the roar of a big V8 engine or even the background bustle of a crowded city street. All of this is handled by digital signal processing that can somewhat tweak the sound quality and effects of your audio entertainment. But it’s important to remember that NC is designed to be used in noisy environments. True, if you compare the sound of your headphones with NC turned on and off in the quiet confines of your home or apartment, you’ll likely find that you prefer their sound with NC off. But when you’re traveling or commuting, trying to listen to your favorite personal entertainment without the benefit of NC means that all that background noise is going to have an impact on the sound of your headphones. Simply put, if you’re at 30,000 feet or riding the subway, the sound coming from your smartphone or tablet isn’t going to reach your ears unaltered, one way or the other. But when you consider that noise-cancelation can remove as much as 95 percent of the most egregious droning din below 1,000 Hz, it’s likely that the net effect of the sonic changes made by noise-cancellation is actually a positive one. In other words, in the right environments, NC can make your headphones sound better, while also allowing you to listen at lower volumes.

      • Right, but once noise cancellation drains my headphones’ battery to zero, I’m left without sound at all, right? Not necessarily. It’s true that active noise cancellation requires power, and it’s also true that some powered headphones become lifeless hunks of plastic and metal once their batteries are drained. And it’s hard to imagine much worse sound quality than “no sound quality at all.”

        But with Phiaton’s 900 Legacy , BT 460, and BT 100 NC, once you’ve used up all your juice, you’re not necessarily done listening. Thanks to Everplay-X technology, Phiaton’s wireless NC headphones can be connected to your smartphone via an included cable, so you can keep on listening. And while you won’t be able to use NC until you charge your headphones’ battery up again, at least you can keep yourself entertained. You can learn more about Everplay-X on our blog post.

        By Dennis Burger

        January 24, 2019


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