Noise cancelling has shot up in popularity recently, and for good reason. The other day, my friend and I were discussing the new hype surrounding them, and it struck us: are noise-cancelling earbuds safe? This got us a little anxious.
So, I decided to do some research on the topic, so you don’t face the same dilemma. And here’s the verdict.
What is noise cancellation?
Before answering your question, it is important to understand what exactly this technology entails. Noise-cancelling headphones or earphones, as the name suggests, basically cancel the background noise around you in order to make it easier for you to hear the sounds on your device.
However, it may come as a surprise to you that noise-cancelling headphones do not actually mute the noise around you. Instead, it cancels out the sound in the background, so the disturbance is significantly reduced.
There are two methods of doing so- Active Noise Cancellation and Passive Noise Cancellation. What’s the difference? You may ask.
Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
Active noise-cancelling devices are quite smart. The technology picks up the sound around you, analyses it, and produces certain sound waves of its own. These sound waves are like an antithesis of the sounds around you, so they are essentially negated. This negation of background sounds makes it quieter for you to focus on the music you are listening to.
Active noise cancellation is best for low-frequency sounds, ones that are heavy on the bass. Unfortunately, high pitch sounds like that of a baby crying on an aeroplane in the seat next to you will not be drowned out by this technology.
Passive Noise Cancellation (PNC)
On the other hand, passive noise cancellation is focused on using the design and material of the device to drown out the noise around you. Basically, it refers to utilising the device’s physical features to make the environment quieter for you.
You know how when you wear earmuffs in chilly weather, and the sounds around you are considerably muffled because the earmuffs encapsulate your entire ear? That’s passive noise cancellation. These are usually used for high-frequency sounds, such as the sound of people talking.
Today, we will be specifically answering the question with respect to active noise cancellation. But there is no way for passive noise cancellation to be harmful to your ears since it is effectively a result of the design itself.
To know more about the difference between ANC and PNC, click here.
Are noise-cancelling earbuds safe?
To answer your question in short- YES, noise-cancelling earbuds are safe for you. The technology, as mentioned before, essentially listens to the sound waves around you, and plays the opposite sound wave, in order to drown out the first one. Sounds crazy, right?
But these sound waves are definitely not unsafe for your ears. Also, these headphones do not use the same technology as your mobile phone either, so you do not have to worry about any radiation or damage related to that.
However, noise-cancelling earbuds can lead to a few dangerous situations that you need to know about, but these are easily avoidable.
Firstly, do not use noise-cancelling earbuds in a busy street. If there are a lot of people around you, and you desperately need some quietness, you should bear with it rather than using noise-cancelling earbuds in a busy street.
Here’s why: you may not be able to hear cars honking at you, or other important sounds such as the bell of a bicycle or a cry for help. You may put yourself, along with someone else, in a very dangerous position by not being able to hear the sound around you. Make sure that the environment you are in is safe enough for you to be able to wear noise-cancelling earbuds.
Further, many people have noticed that the sound quality of noise-cancelling earbuds is not very good. For a quieter environment, you will have to sacrifice the great bass of your favourite song.
Lastly, noise-cancelling earbuds have been known to be more prone to breakage and require additional care. If you can take good care of them, however, they can actually last a long time.
What’s so good about noise-cancelling earbuds?
Multiple things! Noise-cancelling earbuds can actually be a great investment, and even so far as being better for your health than regular earbuds. Here’s why:
Listening to music at a high volume can be very damaging to your ears. With noise-cancelling earbuds, this risk is significantly reduced. This is because when your environment becomes automatically quieter, you do not need to crank up the volume too high to be able to hear the sound perfectly.
So basically, noise-cancelling headphones save you the trouble and problems associated with having to increase the volume just to hear what’s going on.
With noise cancellation devices, even though you will continue to be in a noisy environment, you will be able to focus on the music easily. A noisy environment is also unhealthy for you, upon exposure over a long period of time. So, noise-cancelling earphones can help quieten your environment and save your ears from the noise.
Best noise-cancelling earbuds in 2023
Here are our top picks for the best noise-cancelling earbuds in the market right now.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
The noise cancellation technology that these earbuds use is stellar, and unbeatable by anything else on the market. The sound quality in general makes for a good enough reason to buy these earbuds, in addition to the great call sound quality.
The battery life could have been better, and the price is definitely quite high, but we would say that these earbuds are worth it!
The headphones version of these earbuds is great at noise cancelling, and the earbuds give them very tough competition. Unlike the Bose earbuds, these ones have an excellent battery life, coupled with stellar sound quality. These stylish headphones are easily worth the high price point.
The bass that these earbuds will make you experience is just simply off the charts! They are everything you want; they combine comfort with durability for the perfect experience. Moreover, these earbuds are moisture and waterproof to prevent any sweat from accumulating and damaging your earbuds.
Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless
The most impressive feature of these earbuds is their battery life, which can last up to 28 hours with a full charge. The noise cancelling technology is extremely good on these earbuds, and this in no way leads you to have to sacrifice the sound quality as well.
These are very comfortable to wear and come with a good selection of tips so you can choose the one best for you. They are averagely priced, and pretty durable as well. These earbuds are a great option for you if you want noise-cancelling earbuds.
Can I sleep with noise-cancelling earbuds on?
Yes, you can definitely go to sleep with noise-cancelling earbuds on. Suppose you are on a plane, these earbuds can drown out annoying noises around you and result in a much sounder sleep than you would get without them. Rest assured, noises such as the snowing of your partner, or the air conditioner will be decreased considerably, and you will sleep like a baby.
Do noise-cancelling earbuds protect your ears?
In the true sense, no. if you are in a very noisy environment, where the sound is above safe levels, then your noise-cancelling earbuds will not be able to protect you. However, noise-cancelling earbuds indirectly protect your ears by decreasing the need for you to listen to music or podcasts at high volume by drowning out the noise around you.
What are the disadvantages of noise-cancelling earbuds?
Noise-cancelling earbuds are usually more expensive than normal earbuds, so you want to make sure you want to buy them before actually buying them. Further, the sound quality of noise-cancelling earbuds is not as good as regular ones. They are not as durable either, and you will have to take a little bit of extra care of them.
Yes, noise-cancelling earbuds are safe for your ears. While using them, you do not need to worry about any kind of extra damage being done to your ears. Just use them responsibly, with the sound at 60% of the maximum volume, or less. Make sure that you are in a safe environment while using noise-cancelling earbuds, and you will be perfectly fine!
Now that you know noise-cancelling earbuds are good for you, you should definitely consider buying them. But if you are struggling to choose between noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds, do not worry, we have the perfect guide for you. Are earbuds or headphones better for noise cancelling? (Answered)