All of us when hooked to a personal audio player, in a public place, like a market, mall, bus, train or airplane have experienced the noise from the ambiance (outside environment) drowning out the sound of our device. The natural impulse in these situations is to crank up the volume to the maximum on our iPod or MP3 player, to hear the music and drowning out the racket going on around us. This leads to draining out of the battery of the device (which is not really a cause of concern), and it can also damage our ears.
The solution to this problem when listening with our headphones or our ear buds is to invest in a noise cancelling headset. This set might be larger than normal headphones, but will save the battery and far more importantly the ears. Noise cancelling headphones reduce significantly the noise from the immediate outside environment, through what is called active noise control (ANC). This technology uses the placement of one or more microphones near the ear to produce signals which cancel out the low frequency noise emanating from outside. For canceling high frequency noises, the headphones typically use soundproofing which explains the bigger size of the set.
Features of a Noise Cancelling Head Set
The noise cancelling headset must have the following to be worth the investment:
Excellent Noise Canceling Technology (ANC)
Made of soft cushioning material to fit comfortably
Awesome sound quality
Top 5 headsets in the market in 2013
PSB M4U 2-$399.99
These headphones combine the best of both the worlds. Good noise cancellation with awesome sound quality. The price at $399 is well worth the investment from serious audio users.
BOSE QUIET COMFORT 15-$299.99
Bose’s QC 15 headphones are quite popular. These headphones offer great sound and noise silencing capabilities in this category.
HARMAN KARDON MC-$299.95
These may not be as comfortable as Bose’s popular QC 15 headphones; Harman Kardon NCs come with in-built rechargeable battery to power the noise cancellation circuits placed in the headphones to cancel noise.
BOSE QUIET COMFORT 3-$329.99-$349.95
These headphones are remarkable for their noise cancelling technology while providing very impressive sound output. It’s an engineering feat certainly but it does not come cheap.
SONY MDR-NC200D (Black) $119-$241.24
If the Bose’s QC series seems costly then Sony’s elegantly designed headphones MDR-NC200Ds with good noise canceling features are an alternative for audiophiles at a significantly lower price tag.
WEAKNESSES OF NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
Some inherent weaknesses are:
These headphones consume power (for power the ANC technology) unlike traditional headphones. This power is supplied by USB or an in-built battery which must be recharged or replaced. Without power they are as good as ordinary earphones.
The circuitry used for noise cancellation may reduce the sound quality
They may introduce an additional noise like a hiss
Weight is more than traditional headphones
More expensive in comparison
For the real music aficionados, noise cancelling headphones has come as manna from heaven and definitely offers the best solution for listening to music in public places or outside environment. Even though they are priced higher, the new advances are making these headphones sleeker and lighter than their older counterparts. It’s time to invest in a pair to experience the difference.