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How Do Noise-Cancelling Headphones Work?

Before getting into the inner workings of noise-canceling headphones, it’s essential to understand how sound works. In essence, any sound you hear is the vibration of air particles that trigger your hearing.

These vibrations are often measured on a graph as a waveform, with frequency denoting the pitch of the sound and amplitude denoting how loud this sound is. This waveform above is a stylized version of a sound, but it will help you to understand how noise-canceling works in a later section.

One of the most critical distinctions when choosing your pair of headphones is determining whether those headphones offer what’s called active noise cancellation or passive noise isolation. The passive version means the headphones provide a solid seal around or in your ears, and therefore physically block out a degree of outside sound. It can be an effective way to create a pleasant sound stage for your music, but it is not a very efficient method of reducing noise, especially in louder environments like airplanes and train stations,

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