Focus on the Sound that Matters with Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Everyone has been there: you are trying to listen to your favorite song, but kids screaming, appliances turning on, or car horns blaring drown out the music. This is where a set of noise-cancelling headphones can help you listen to your favorite tunes in peace. eBay offers a wide variety of noise-cancelling headphones from a variety of brand and price points to meet your needs.

What types of noise-cancelling headphones are there?

Noise-cancelling headphones use either active or passive noise reduction technology. Headphones that are specially designed to provide maximum passive noise reduction will be packed with layers of high-density foam or similar materials to absorb sound. This added weight can make these types of headphones heavier than regular headphones. While these headphones will produce a noise reduction of around 20 decibels, that will not help much if you are on a plane.

Headphones with active noise reduction technology work by adding the ability to erase lower-frequency sound waves to the existing passive noise features they already possess. This active noise reduction works by creating sound waves that simulate the surrounding sound waves in all aspects except for their synchronization. The headphones' sound waves are timed to be exactly opposed to the incoming waves in relation to the "troughs" and "crests" during the waves. This causes both waves to cancel each other out.

How does active noise reduction achieved?

In order to produce opposing sound waves to cancel the surrounding sound waves, several components come into play:

  • Microphone - The ear cup has a microphone inside that monitors external sounds that are not blocked passively.
  • Circuits - The circuits receive input from the microphone and produce a map of the noise that includes the frequency and amplitude of the sound wave. These circuits then make a new wave that is out of sync with the incoming wave.
  • Speaker - The opposing sound wave is transmitted into the headphone's speakers in combination with the normal audio broadcast. This cancels the incoming unwanted sound wave without affecting the normal audio.
What styles of noise-cancelling headphones are there?

You can have any style of headphones available with either passive or active noise cancellation qualities. Headphones can be earbuds, ear pads, or full-sized headphones, and all of these styles can utilize both active and passive noise-cancellation techniques. Many people that are looking for headphones that use active noise cancellation will consider getting full-sized sets that efficiently combine passive and active noise cancellation, but the type you ultimately choose will depend on your needs.