What Do the Best Noise-canceling Headphones Do? What Are Their Pros and Cons?
Noise-canceling technology in headphones is not just a fancy additional feature these days. It is just a requirement that has proven to be immensely beneficial in the present day scenario. With so many noise nuances around, people have almost forgotten what nature sounds like. These ambient noises are not only uncomfortable to your ears at times. But also interrupt when you are trying to have a phone conversation, listen to music, or watch your favorite TV show. One such brand that has a wonderful application of noise cancellation is audio technical and they have some of the Best Audio Technica Noise-Canceling Headphones.
The noise-canceling headphones come as a great relief in these situations. This revolutionary technology is designed for the sole purpose of eliminating or canceling the surrounding noise, or at the least, reducing their impact. So that you can get the best listening experience without any external interference. Several modern-day headphones come with the noise-canceling feature that you can access with one press of a button. Activating the noise free-mode shuts you out from the noisy world giving you a silent space to relish your own time with the headphones on.
What are the different types of Noise-Canceling Headphones?
Speaking of noise cancelation, there are two different types that you should know of:
- Passive Noise Cancelation (PNC)
- Active noise Cancelation (ANC)
PNC or passive noise isolation in a headphone doesn’t require an internal mechanism to work. It functions in a very simple way depending on the design of the ear cups in case of headphones and ear tips in case of earbuds. The PNC headphones have ear cups that form a tight seal around the ears. These cups work like a barrier reducing the ambient sound. In the case of the in-ear headphones, it works even better because the ear tips are plugged into the ear canal efficiently blocking the sound coming from outside.
ANC or active noise cancelation, a much more complex process designed internally. They absorb the external noise by using conflicting frequencies to manipulate the sound thus minimizing the noise (more on the working of ANC later).
Now, do these headphones only eliminate the noise, or do they have other benefits too? Are there any negative impacts of this feature? Are noise-canceling headphones worth the investment? Well, the good thing is, noise-canceling technology itself doesn’t have any ill effects on your ears. They lead you to safe hearing practice.
Pros and Cons of the Noise-Canceling Headsets.
However, nothing is perfect in this world. While the technology is safe, there are other ways you may be negatively affected when using active noise-canceling headphones. It is always good to weigh them based on their pros and cons before you decide to purchase them. Let’s have a quick insight into the various advantages and disadvantages of using noise-canceling headphones.
- The ANC headphones filter out or dampen the surrounding sound every time you turn the feature on.
- If you do not want to be isolated completely from the world, you can either turn off the ANC completely or turn on the ‘pass through’ mode that every ANC headphone has. This way you can allow some part of the sound to enter while you can still enjoy listening through the headphone.
- Do not have to crank up the volume to the dangerous highs! This is one of the major benefits of having ANC in your headphones. Since you get a quiet ambiance by turning the ANC mode on, you can clearly hear every little voice, or note in a musical track clearly even at low to moderate volumes. This way your ears get protection from the harmful consequences of high-volume listening.
Pros of ANC & PNC modes
- Headphones with ANC technology also offer better sound. With the ANC mode on, there is no surrounding noise or disturbance so the audio that you hear is crystal clear giving you improved listening. This applies to the call quality as well. Both you and the caller can listen to each other much more clearly which leads to a smooth communication flow.
- You do not necessarily have to listen to a song or audio content to use the ANC or the PNC feature in your headphones. If you do not like to listen to music, but need a quiet, stress-free environment instead, you can simply turn on the ANC mode in your headphones. This also helps in concentrating on your work better.
- Great for travelling. Long-distance flights can be pretty stressful especially if the co-passengers are too noisy. Added to that, some people feel uncomfortable due to the low-frequency engine sound of the airplane. Noise-canceling headphones can be hugely beneficial in not only blocking out the noisy ambiance but also the engine sound allowing you to relax or drift off to sleep.
- Shuts you out from the entire world so much so that you aren’t aware of what’s happening around you. This can pose potential risks if used in traffic, or places where you need to stay alert.
- Since the ANC technology requires the use of opposite frequencies to counter the external sound waves, it may affect the original quality of the audio. This means that the audio may slightly lack the crispness that you can get without the noise-canceling mode on. But this bothers more to the critical listeners than the others.
- It requires more power to work which means that it drains the battery faster. So using AND may need you to be charging your headphones faster than it actually requires.
- The headphones with integrated ANC may be bigger or bulkier owing to the internal engineering to accommodate the ANC components like additional mics, bigger battery, etc.
- Oftentimes, using noise-canceling headphones may increase the severity of Tinnitus for the ones who are suffering from it. Tinnitus is an ear disorder in which the person experiences humming, ringing or buzzing sound in the ears time and again. The ANC headphones when used without the audio draw your attention to that, making you hear those rings more prominently. However, it also sometimes helps with the issue. ANC allows you to hear with headphone volume turned down, and this in return helps in reducing the Tinnitus condition.
Now, when it comes to noise-canceling headphones, Audio-Technica is a popular name in the professional audio space. The brand, known for its series of headphones offerings admired by several industry professionals and critical listeners for their comfort, functionality, look, and most importantly their high-level performance.
While a lot of these AudioTechnica over-ear headphones were originally designed for studio use. The company has now expanded its product lines with some of the audio gears open for casual use as well. This means that it has headphones for everyone whether you are a studio professional or someone who needs them for movies, games, or music.
The brand offers both wired and wireless products while wired ones offer superior passive isolation and the wireless headphones provide ANC mode.
In this article today, we have broken down some of the best Audio Technica noise-canceling headphones for you to go through. So let’s move on to the next section for more.
Best Audio Technica Noise-canceling Headphones: List of Some of the Best Audio Technica Headphones and Earbuds Designated for Different Applications, Their Features and Prices:
Audio Technica has not only captured a huge space in the professional market. In addition to these, it also gained a huge fan following in the consumer market with its high-quality headphones with superior sonic performance. The best Audio Technica headphones available in the market today have a sturdy built, with open-back, closed-back, and semi-open-back options. These offer different kinds of sound signatures to suit different audio needs.
But if you are specifically looking for the best “Audio Technica noise-canceling headphones”, then here’s a well-rounded list for you that covers the AudioTechnica over-ear headphones and popular Audio Technica earbuds with their significant features. Different headphones provide different levels of performance depending on their design and price ranges. Then there are the company’s premium offerings along with quite competitively priced when compared with other premium headphones. This gives them an edge over the others in the professional market.
Let’s move on to the list to see what the company has to offer:
Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC SonicPro: (Overall best Audio Technica noise-canceling headphones)
One of the best Audio Technica noise-canceling headphones, a well-rounded pair packed with features for different use cases. You will hardly find a pair of headphones like this one that is so versatile that they can be used for both studio and entertainment purposes. Speaking of which, the headphone specifically designed to work in both wired and wireless modes.
The detachable 3.5 mm audio cable can be removed when needed and additionally, it also comes bundled with a standard cable, an airplane compatible adapter, and a carrying pouch for easy portability and connectivity.
Why is it the best?
There is a reason why this product is one of the best Audio Technica headphones. The stylish look of these Audio-Technica over-ear headphones is technically supported by durable built and softly padded memory foam ear cups and headbands. This also makes them extremely comfortable to wear for long hours. The over-ear design fits around the ears snugly forming a decent seal that reduces quite a bit of the surrounding noise.
When it comes to performance, these headphones do a pretty good job in that area as well. With a frequency range of staggering 5 Hz to 35 kHz, they deliver excellent sonic performance. The wide frequency response ensures crystal clear and detailed audio across the entire frequency spectrum. This high-resolution audibility is backed by the active noise-canceling (ANC) feature. The dedicated mic integrated into the headphones filters the ambient noise giving you a quieter environment. These mics are skillfully placed on top of the ear cups, so their performance doesn’t get affected by the wind or the head movements.
The battery life is also good with about 30 hours of total playback time on a single full charge. But with ANC turned on, it may go down a little bit which is obvious. But do remember that the headphone’s ANC feature is ideal for indoor and low traffic and may not be very effective for heavy outside noise. However, for a price of $139.95, this is surely a great deal.
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC700BT QuietPoint: (Best Audio Technica noise-canceling headphones with budget friendly price tag)
Audio Technica’s QuietPoint series, specifically designed to give you a calm and quiet ambiance for a better listening experience through its active noise-canceling mode. So if you are looking for the best Audio-Technica over-ear headphones with ANC and within a lower budget, this one is worth considering.
The headphone features a low impedance of 32 Ohm which makes it suitable for use with smaller gadgets like smartphones or tablets. One of the best Audio-Technica headphones, this one compiles comfort, performance, look, and versatility all within a price tag of $99.00.
Why should you buy it?
Owing to the design, these Bluetooth headphones are lightweight and sleek with enough padding to keep you comfortable during long listening sessions. The overall headphone is made with durable high-quality plastic that renders superior durability and makes it wear-resistant. The touch-sensitive controls are easy to access and use.
These Audio-Technica over-ear headphones are engineered with 40 mm speaker drivers that deliver powerful and accurate sound with a frequency response of 5 to 45,000 Hz. The proprietary noise-canceling technology/ system with 4 mics ensures that the ambient noise is blocked out effectively. The headset over-ear cups are designed in such a way that they seal around the ears perfectly ensuring minimum audio leakage.
Now, although the sound of the headphone is pretty much balanced, the bass is slightly emphasized. So unless you are particular about having a neutral sound profile or a perfectly even tone, you are going to love the way it sounds.
Given the 25 hours of playback time, foldable design, wired connectivity mode during emergencies, ANC, and excellent acoustics- this headphone is your best bet if you are on a tight budget.
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT: (Premium best Audio Technica noise-canceling headphones)
Now, if ANC700BT makes you feel that you would want a slightly more efficient pair of headphones with similar functionality otherwise, then you may want to take a look at ATH-ANC900BT. While the build quality and the overall look of this model are very similar to the previous ones we have listed, there are some significant differences here.
The most prominent feature of this pair of AudioTechnica over-ear headphones, long battery life of 35 hours while active noise-canceling and Bluetooth are turned on. This is 10 hours more than what ANC700BT has. The headphones use 40 mm drivers that have a carbon coating with similar properties to that of diamond (DLC coating) which helps in superior sound reproduction.
The Bluetooth 5.0 allows a stronger connection with low latency, quick pairing, and a long signal range, so you can move around freely without worrying about the audio drop. Even though this is one of the best Audio Technica noise-canceling headphones from the brand’s premium shelf, the price is pretty competitive when compared with some of the similar headphones with ANC from other brands.
If you are buying this from Amazon, you will get this at $149.00 (while its original price is $299.00).
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9: (Premium best Audio Technica noise-canceling headphones for different applications)
Here’s yet another top-end product of AudioTechnica over-ear headphones, that offers an incredible sound profile with an effective ANC. While the price of these headphones is on the higher end, if you have an open budget and are looking for a versatile option for multiple applications, this sure will not disappoint you.
The headphones boast a highly effective active noise-canceling technology that blocks out up to 95% of the environmental noise with the help of the dedicated ANC microphones integrated into the headsets. There are 3 levels of ANC that you can choose from for enhanced listening: airplane, office, and study.
What are the different applications of these headphones?
The ‘Airplane mode was originally engineered to dampen the low-frequency sound like that of the airplane engine or any other rumbling sound. The ‘Office’ mode, made to reduce the chattering mid to high-frequency sounds in your workplace, and the ‘Study’ mode allows you to have a quiet ambiance to concentrate on studying, so the noise reduction is almost 85%.
Coming to the comfort, the durable yet lightweight build with memory foam ear cups absorbs all the pressure around your ears to fit the long listening sessions. The headphones have an amazingly neutral and well-balanced sound presentation which means that you can use them for your sound mixing projects as well.
The only glitch with this headphone is that it needs to be powered by an AAA battery to work wirelessly which may be a dealbreaker to some as you have to keep changing the battery. Otherwise, with all the features and high-fidelity acoustics, this is one of the best Audio Technica headphones that will deliver impressively well. You will get this for $279.99.
ATH-ANC20 QuietPoint Noise canceling headphone: (Best Audio Technica noise-canceling headphones with ANC for budget buyers)
If you are looking for a noise-canceling option without breaking a bank, these Audio-Technica on-ear headphones from the QuietPoint series are worth taking a look at. While this may not be as good as the other best Audio Technica headphones we have listed above, this pair can do a great job for their astonishingly low price.
The headphone’s noise cancellation technology eliminates 80% of the surrounding noise while maintaining a clean and balanced sound profile. With 100 dB sound sensitivity, the headphone can get loud even at moderate volumes.
The foldable design with swiveling ear cups and dense padding ensure comfort and convenient storage. The headphones need an AAA battery to work wirelessly but when the battery is exhausted, you can even connect it with the detachable 3.5 mm audio cable with an in-line mic that comes with it. The price of $39.00 combined with all these features is a great bang for the buck.
ATH-ANC300TW QuietPoint True Wireless Earbuds: (Best Audio Technica earbuds)
A lot of people do not like overhead headphones because they do not like the robust construction the headsets have. For them, the best option is earbuds. This pair of Audio Technica earbuds has compactly built with an ergonomic design that can sit securely and comfortably inside the ear canals.
Even though they are not the smallest available earbuds in the market, these Audio Technica earbuds are small enough to compete with a lot of earbuds from well-reputed brands. The best part, they come with 4 different sizes of silicone ear tips along with a pair of medium-sized comply foam ear tips to ensure you get the best fitting.
What makes these earbuds the best in the market?
The noise-canceling technology is one of the highlight features of the Audio Technica earbuds. The left earbud has noise-canceling control along with volume control. The earbud has an onboard button to manage between the ANC and the social modes. However, you will have to access Audio-Technica’s connect app to get other provisions like different levels of ANC, disabling the ANC without activating the social mode, etc.
Speaking of the performance, the ANC technology in these earbuds does a pretty good job suppressing the surrounding noise and the Social mode also lets the right amount of external sound you will need to stay aware. The battery life of these earbuds is 4.5 hours which is average, but this is given their compact size and ANC combined. Although, the charging case holds up to 13.5 hours of additional power backup.
As for the acoustics, most of the Audio-Technica earbuds and headphones go with their neutral signature sound. These earbuds also have the same signature sound with a flat frequency response. This ensures that there is a well-maintained balance between the lows, mids, and highs.
So basically, this pair afflicts a good balance between functionality, performance, and design making it one of the best Audio Technica headphones in earbuds style. $199.00 is slightly higher for these earbuds, but they often have discounts that you can keep an eye on.
ATH-ANC100BT: (Best Audio Technica earbuds under $100)
These Audio Technica earbuds are great for those who aren’t expecting a whole lot of ANC yet need some kind of environmental noise suppression for better listening. The earbuds are extremely comfortable to wear, and they have a cable connecting both of the buds with an inline remote that carries the controls and mic.
The earbuds are ergonomically designed, and they easily go into the ear canal to form a seal. If you can get the fit right, these Audio Technica earbuds offer great passive noise isolation. The remote has a clip at the back which needs to be fastened to your shirt, so the earbuds do not keep coming off due to the weight downwards.
What are the features of these earbuds?
The earbuds use the company’s proprietary QuietPoint noise-canceling technology for a quiet background for you to focus on the audio content. One thing that is worth mentioning here is the noise cancelation functionality of these Audio Technica earbuds isn’t the best you will get, but it works fine if you are in a less noisy environment and want to soften the external sounds. However, both the passive and the active noise-canceling features combined work fine.
The headphones, equipped with 12 mm speaker drivers that offer mighty sound reproduction. The audio is also clear and detailed, so you do not have to struggle listening to the low-volume audio. The battery life of 10 hours with ANC and Bluetooth on is quite impressive for its size.
These Audio Technica earbuds are available at $99.00 on Amazon and are great for traveling or commuting.
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC40BT: (Neckband style Audio Technica earbuds)
This neckband style ANC40BT QuietPoint is a convenient pair of earbuds that feature active noise-canceling with in-line mics and controls for ease of use. The noise-canceling mics in the headphones are capable of eliminating about 90% of the noise allowing you to get a noise-free listening experience.
The headphones have their controls distributed on the control panel at the end of the neckband. There is a dedicated power on and off, a call management button, and the volume keys. The earbuds have changeable ear tips, and they come with different-sized tips for you to find the best fit. The good thing, even after the battery goes down, the headphones can be connected with the 3.5 mm audio cable and used in wired mode.
The headphones have a price tag of $39.99 considered pretty competitive compared to other neckband style headphones from other brands available today.
A Not-so-boring History of Noise-cancelling Headphones? How Do Noise-canceling Headphones Work?
To begin with, the concept of noise-canceling technology was first invented in 1933 by Paul Lueg, a doctor of medicine and philosophy. His theory stated that the noise-canceling function works by exposing these noise waves to conflicting or opposite waves. This process is technically performed using one or more microphones.
This concept was later modified over the period by several scientists and technologists to what works as Active Noise Canceling technology in headphones today. Dr. Lawrence Gerome Fogel submitted his patent after making modifications to this concept.
While this theory took about two decades to put to use, it was initially used to integrate into the headphones used by the pilots who experience the low rumbling sound of the flight engine in the cockpit. This reduced the sound to a great extent and proved to be a great solution to protecting their ears.
More History of Noise-Canceling Headphones.
A proper noise-canceling headphone came into existence in 1989, when the founder of the Bose Corporation, Amar Bose incorporated the proper form of noise-canceling technology into the Bose headphones. He got this idea when using the in-flight headsets while he was traveling from Zurich to Boston. He realized that these headphones could hardly help him get entertained with the music because the sound of the flight was dominating the sound coming from the headphones.
Amidst all the criticisms from various people, Bose succeeded in bringing out the noise canceling headsets “Bose Combat Vehicle Crewman Headset “ that targeted the pilots and US Army.
Today the noise-canceling headphones have hit the consumer market and are more of a necessity than a luxury with so much noise pollution around. The ANC feature is available in both premium as well as budget-friendly headphones, so everyone can make use of its benefits. The only thing that varies is, ideally the effectiveness of this feature depends on the price.
How do these noise-canceling headphones work?
Headphones with ANC use dedicated microphones that pick up the environment noise. An amplifier in the mics generates sound waves that are “anti-phase” or “out of phase”. This means that these sound waves are exactly opposite to that of the noise waves from outside. Going by the concept that the positive and the negative nullify each other, the noise waves with positive sound pressure when colliding with the negative sound pressure from the ANC microphones get nullified and thereby giving you a quiet noise-free ambiance.
ANC or active noise cancelation is a wonderful technology that has numerous benefits that we have discussed within this article. However, misuse of any technology has adverse effects on a person and so does ANC. Therefore, you must go through the various risks involved when using ANC headphones and use them cautiously. Many headphones these days also come with the various ANC modes or levels that offer complete noise-blocking ability if need be or even partial noise elimination where you can hear some part of the ambient sound to stay aware of your surroundings. Some of the best Audio Technica noise-canceling headphones listed above come with ‘hear through’ mode or different presets, so you can use their headphones without putting yourself at potential risks.
Most of the Audio Technica earbuds and headphones are good in their way depending on how and where you want to use them. But, out of them, some of the best ones including the premium, mid-priced, and budget lines are Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC SonicPro, Audio-Technica ATH-ANC700BT, and ATH-ANC100BT.
Well, it is a personal preference, but most of the time wired headphones are preferred over wireless ones when it comes to studio work to get the purest form of audio without losing any data. However, unless you need a completely neutral sound which completely depends on what you minted to use the headphone for, the top 3 headphones in the list are designed for versatile applications.
Yes, most of the headphones and earbuds from this brand come with ANC presets, so you can set the ambiance depending on your surroundings.