Embrace the beautiful sound of silence
Noise-canceling technology is your best bet in blocking off unwanted disruptions of the real world. It’s a fairly old technology that stemmed out of necessity to keep airline pilots focused during flights. Today, noise-canceling technology is present in almost every pair of headphones available in the market. But what makes them special from those good old regular audio peripherals?
What is Noise Cancelling Technology?
As the name suggests, noise-canceling technology’s main purpose is to cancel out unwanted ambient noises. This technology proves useful and necessary, especially for work-from-home warriors, daily commuters, gamers, and everyone else in between who experience all kinds of auditory distractions on a daily basis.
In addition, noise cancellation doubles as protection against further auditory damages caused by extremely loud noises. It seems counter-intuitive to think how a pair of headphones that can blast music straight to your eardrums can shield your auditory system. How it works is that with noise-canceling headphones, you don’t have to turn the volume all the way up since it “condenses” the sound by filtering out sound clutters coming from the outside.
But with almost every pair of headphones having their own spin on these noise blockers, finding the perfect pair can be a daunting task for one unwitting user who just wants to fend off distractions. To help you choose, here are a few tips for buying noise-canceling headphones, plus some recommendations from our tech experts.
Know Your Noise Cancelling Headphones
In general, there are three types of noise-canceling technology: Passive, Active, and Hybrid.
Passive noise cancellation
Refers to headphones that rely on thick, padded earmuffs or rubber tips/plugs to block off outside sound.
Active Noise Cancellation
Active noise cancellation (or ANC) uses built-in microphones to process detected noise and translate it into an opposite muted sound. Some ANCs have more adaptive features wherein the level of noise-cancellation intuitively adjusts according to the sound profile of the surroundings.
Hybrid types feature a combination of aspects from both ends. It utilizes the physical built of the passive type and the smart components of the active type.
Should you go for Over-ear or In-ear?
Weighing your headset options will depend on your current setup and intent of usage. If you’re working from home often translates to more virtual meetings and online interactions. With that, it is safe to assume that your headset is pretty much attached to your ears over time. If this is the case, It’s better to pick a pair of headphones that offers comfort.
Over-ear headphones are equipped with large pair of earmuffs that fits around your entire ears. The thick foam provides better noise isolation while maintaining comfort even during extended hours of usage. This is for those who want a more immersive listening experience. Perhaps the only downside to this is its bulky form, which can sometimes pose minor inconvenience in terms of portability.
Meanwhile, for avid adventurers, jet-setters, and business travelers, portability must take into consideration. Hence, it’s best to go for in-earpieces with soft silicon ear tips and charging casings to address portability concerns during trips. While performance and portability are not an issue, using an in-ear headset for a long period of time can cause discomfort.
Wireless vs Wired
In terms of sound quality, wired headphones are still the king. This is the main reason most sound engineers, musicians, and even gamers still opt for wired ones. Wired headphones tend to cost cheaper and last longer, since the components used on wired headphones are “traditional”, and don’t need sophisticated wireless components. But unless you tend to stay in your workstation, wired headphones can be restrictive when it comes to movement.
In contrast, wireless cans offer more freedom of movement and compatibility with other devices. They also tend to make your workstation clutter-free and offer more portability. Sound-wise, wired headphones are equipped with advanced and intuitive settings that can be set up through an accompanying app to allow sound preferences, digital EQ configurations, and even assistive automations. As a drawback, wireless headphones are prone to obsolescence due to eventual upgrades and continuous advancements.
Here are some of our top headphone picks with noise-canceling technology:
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Headphones that are best for: Pretty much everything
Bose’s latest flagship offering tops the list with its enhanced noise-canceling functionalities, improved battery life, and better high-fidelity audio. The pair of cans boasts four microphones installed inside and outside the earcups to monitor ambient sounds within the area. This is paired with Bose’s unrivaled voice pickup for enhanced call experience, and Conversation Mode which lets users control music and adjust the noise cancellation preferences to engage in quick chats in crowded areas.
Marshall Monitor II ANC
Headphones that are best for: Creative rockstars
Marshall goes to show that they go beyond guitar amplifiers and speakers, and deserves a spot alongside Bose, JBL, and Sony. Their latest entry, the Monitor II ANC, showcases its premium design, excellent audio quality, and powerhouse battery. The headset packs a pair of 40mm dynamic drivers to deliver Marshall’s signature sound. This is complemented by advanced ANC technology to block off audio annoyances within the surroundings. On the side, it features a control knob, a dedicated ANC button, and a multi-function button for convenient sound and music control during all-nighters.
JBL Live 660NC Wireless Over-Ear
Headphones that are best for: Work & leisure
JBL Live 660NC fits best for those who thrive on the proverbial “work and play” duality. The headphones utilize in JBL’s signature sound, delivered by a couple of 40mm drivers. This is enhanced by its adaptive noise canceling and Ambient Aware technology to maintain an energetic, over-the-top audio quality with deep bass and swift treble. The headphones are supported by Alexa and Google Assistant, multi-point connectivity, plus a battery that can squeeze up to 50 hours of power to accommodate all your work and leisure pre-requisites.
Sennheiser PXC 550-II
Headphones that are best for: Vagabond remote workers and Apple users
If anything, Sennheiser promises inclusivity to all smart device and virtual assistant users. While most on the list offer Alexa and Google Assistant support, the PXC 550-II adds up Siri to the mix to ensure everyone gets to use and enjoy the perks of voice command features, regardless of preference. The pair’s unrivaled sound quality is accompanied by an adaptive noise cancellation feature, which automatically adjusts to the user’s surroundings. It also has a handful of awesome features like smart pause autopilot for auto switch on and off, customizable touch controls via the Sennheiser Smart App, and a bespoke triple microphone to maintain speech clarity while on the move or in-transit.
Headphones that are best for Business and travel use
Sony 1000XM4 speaks style and function- a perfect accessory for on-the-go business travelers and frequent flyers. It’s got a superb 30-hour battery life, enhanced sound quality, pressure-relieving earpads, and a lightweight form factor. The pair also highlights its sleek profile to retain a business-centric look. The headphone utilizes its dual noise-sensor technology and HD Noise-Canceling Processor QN1 to sense and filter out noises. What set the WH-1000XM4 apart from the others is its Atmospheric Pressure Optimizing and Personal Noise-Cancelling Optimizer for calibrated audio quality during air travel.
Soundcore by Anker Life Q30
Headphones that are best for: On-the-go commuters
Flagship features at a budget price. Anker offers the best of both worlds with their noise-canceling headphone entry, Life Q30. This no-compromise, no-nonsense headphones straight up flaunts its excellent active noise-canceling prowess with the use of dual noise-detection technology – blocking out ambient noise up to 95%. This goes hand-in-hand with Soundcore’s certified Hi-Res Audio brought by 40mm drivers for a more immersive sonic experience. The pair comes in a sleek black profile, complete with a powerful battery that can handle up to 40 hours of playtime. This makes the headphones ideal for long commutes and road trips.
Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless II
Headphones that are best for: Multitaskers and Alexa/Google Assistant power users
Serious work calls for serious multitasking. That’s where Bose QuietComfort 35 II comes in. These headphones offer a lot of perks beyond rich, balanced sound quality and over-the-top noise cancelling capabilities. It showcases a wide range of audio customizations to your liking, plus adjustable ANC for easy awareness adjustments. It also has a multi-point technology, which allows users to connect the headphones to two devices simultaneously. The pair is optimized for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to efficiently aid your multitasking needs in sheer hands-free convenience.
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