Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Safe for Ears?

man wearing noise-canceling headphones

We are blessed to have noise-canceling technology in our headphones as we can get immersed in our favorite music and truly feel its magic.

BUT have you ever wondered whether this technology that practically brought revolutionized the music world is truly safe for us or not? Are Noise Cancelling Headphones safe for our ears?

We’ll find that out but before we dig into that, why do we need noise-canceling headphones anyway?

Why to use Noise Cancelling Headphones?

A good noise-cancelling headphone is a blessing for us. You can have an evening walk with great music without those disturbing traffic or any other unwanted noise, this technology reduces those unwanted noises to a minimum so you can have your perfect listening experience.

It’s a lethal weapon for all the unwanted unnecessary disruptions of daily life. This makes it the perfect choice to wear them all the time. But no matter how tempting it sounds but every pro comes with a con and the same goes for this too.

And this arises the question- Are noise cancelling headphones safe?

Let us first discuss the mechanism of noise-canceling headphones.

How do noise-cancelling headphones work?

systematic view of headphones

Noise cancelling headphones reduce the background sounds ( traffic noises, dogs barking, the engine’s roar) to a minimum, and help give you the best listening experience.

They produce a sound wave called “anti-noise” that cancels out the background noise called active noise cancellation (ANC) which is combined with dampers that block unwanted noise called passive noise cancellation (PNC). 

ANC– They have a tiny in-built microphone that captures the external noise and then generates opposite “signals” or “waves” to kind of neutralize the noise signal.

PNC– The material and the design (open-back, closed-back, over-ear, on-ear, in-ear) of the earpads are such that it blocks out the external noise.

Now that you understand the mechanism, we can answer your question “Are noise cancelling headphones safe?”

Are noise cancelling headphones safe for ears?

women listening to music from headphones

Well, the good news is that YES noise cancelling headphones are completely SAFE.

In fact, noise-cancelling technology is rather beneficial for people in terms that it prevents hearing loss and alleviates noise-related stress. Originally, it was created for hearing protection for pilots against the loud sound of the plane engine. 

With reduced or blocked-out background voices, one does not need to increase the volume of the audio, thus, preventing ear damage.

This is especially beneficial for people with sensitive hearing, or who are more prone to hearing damage when continuously exposed to noise. There are specially-designed noise cancelling headphones for kids too with additional hearing protection like volume limiters

Noise cancelling headphones also prevent noise-related stress (stress that can not only disrupt our concentration but can also cause high blood pressure, ulcers, and migraines).

Overall, having a good pair of noise cancelling headphones reduces the background disturbing noises to minimal and gives you the best experience, and helps you to keep your stress level in check. 

Despite all the benefits of noise-cancelling headphones, many people have safety-related complaints regarding the technology.

Safety issues with noise-cancelling headphones 

1. Excessive pressure on ears 

visual representation of ear pressure

Many people complained about having headaches, jaw pain, or feeling deep pressure in the ears which leads to dizziness and pain. But there’s a logical reason behind this.

It generally happens when people don’t buy headphones according to their size and comfort. It’s very important to get the pair that fits your perfectly otherwise it will cause you discomfort and the noise-cancelling feature is not to be blamed.

This also be might be related to the pressure that one feels on an ascending airplane (barometric pressure). However, there are noise-cancelling headphones primarily made for travel with pressure relief technology, which evenly spreads pressure in the ears.

2. Tinnitus 

visual representation of tinnitus

Tinnitus is a continuous ringing or humming sound in the ears. It’s a common disorder people face in all ages and can be triggered by anything that can damage your ears’ sensitive structure. 

Many people claim they experience tinnitus due to noise-cancelling headphones, however, there’s no scientific explanation for this.

Also, these headphones are often recommended for the prevention of tinnitus as they cancel out the ambient noise which prevents further episodes of Tinnitus.

3. Using headphones outdoor 

man walking outdoor with headphones on

We love to work out or go outdoors with our favorite music on but people often forget to be careful while doing so and risk their lives.

For example, people who drive with noise-cancelling headphones on risk not only their lives but others as well. If you’re outside and you completely block out external noise, it can be really dangerous and even fatal for you.

However, to prevent or reduce such accidents and mishappenings, tech companies like Audio Analytic created ai3™, a sound recognition software designed to be embedded into audio devices like headphones which allow the users to remain alert for certain sounds like car horns even with noise-cancelling headphones on.


Do noise-canceling headphones protect hearing?

For the most part, noise-canceling headphones protect your ears. PNC headphones, specifically, protect your hearing because they’re designed to seal your ears from loud external sounds

How do low-end noise-cancelling headphones work?

For one, most low-end noise-cancelling headphones use passive noise isolation. That basically means that they either surround the ear with padding or that they plug the ear entirely.

Are low frequency headphones bad for your hearing?

Yes. Your ears get affected and it can be dangerous for your hearing abilities. Not only low frequency but also long term usage of headphones can harm your hearing.

Are earbuds more dangerous than headphones?

Granted, doctors seem to agree that earbuds are more dangerous than headphones. However, both kinds of devices can be dangerous if you turn the volume up too high or don’t use it the right way.


Noise Cancelling headphones makes life easier and give us the best listening experience. There’s no harm in using noise-cancelling headphones IF you use them the right way.

Ever worried if headphones can make you DEAF? Read this article to know more: Can headphones make you deaf?