How Active Noise Cancellation Works in Audio

There are many audio products on the market today that feature active noise cancellation technology. On paper, these types of products seem much better than those that do not have this technology, and even those that have passive cancellation (which depend on the material and design of the device) but, is it really as good as it is painted? ? In this article we are going to weigh the pros and cons of this technology.

Next we are going to explore the advantages and disadvantages of this technology, oriented in this case towards headphones, to see if it is something that is really worth it or on the contrary it is something trivial.

How Active Noise Cancellation Works in Audio

Advantages of active noise cancellation

The main advantage is obvious: it is a technology that can completely cancel the external environmental noise that we have around us. This is achieved by implementing two microphones in series, causing the sounds that are captured in the distance to be canceled, generating an equal and inverse signal. Passive cancellation does not have this luxury, since what it does is provide a kind of case for the ears, blocking out most external noise.

Cancelación de ruido

Another advantage of this technology, although normally we will only find it in headphones of the highest range, is the possibility of activating it and deactivating it at our whim just by pressing a button. Since these process microphones are still electrical components, manufacturers really don’t have much trouble implementing a switch to turn the system off and on.

There are also certain disadvantages

The main disadvantage of active noise cancellation is that since the manufacturer has to implement the system and mount two microphones, this increases the price considerably. By contrast, passive cancellation doesn’t require implementing anything beyond the headphone design itself, and is therefore significantly cheaper to manufacture.

Another disadvantage of this technology is that it can distort the sounds we hear. The system is not perfect, and although it is designed to only cancel external sounds, some sounds can be degraded by this same system. Passive canceling headphones do not have this problem as they do not need to alter the sound waves.

Finally, it should be noted that another of the disadvantages is that the active cancellation system requires power, which means that in wireless headphones the battery will see its autonomy reduced to a certain extent, while in analog headphones, you will be surprised to see that in some cases you will need even charge an internal battery (seriously).

Is it worth paying more for this technology?

Bottom line, Active Noise Canceling headphones are great in most cases for canceling out ambient noise, whether at the earpiece itself or at the microphone. However, this technology makes the product more expensive and can distort the sound and lose audio quality, so of course it will depend on the user’s preferences and the environment where they will be used.

If it is expected that they are going to be used in environments with a lot of background noise they will certainly be worth it, because although it may lose a bit of audio quality, avoiding ambient noise will greatly improve the user experience. However, for other users, passive noise cancellation will be a better option since these headphones will be cheaper, and although they are not as effective, they do serve to reduce ambient noise quite a bit.