In Ear or Over-Ear? Getting the Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise cancellation technology was actually introduced in the 1950s. It was created to help aviators reduce the sound of engines, propellers, and wind noise. It was quickly adopted by the aviation industry as a means to help passengers enjoy a more pleasant flying experience. By the 1990’s it reached the consumer market. This rapid expansion into the consumer market started as an elite product. The original noise cancellation headphones were quite expensive, and to be honest, the sound quality was questionable. Noise cancellation headphones work by creating a sound that opposes the outside ambient noise. The two cancel each other out and you only hear what you’re meant to hear. As demand for noise canceling headphones increased and they became more popular, more and more options became available. The price decreased and the sound quality increased. Today you can find noise canceling headphones in a variety of styles, shapes, price points, and quality levels. There really is something for everyone. One of the first decisions to make is whether you want over the ear headphones or in the ear headphones or ear buds. Here are some questions to consider: What’s More Comfortable for You? Comfort is essential and it may be the most important consideration. You can find both in ear and over the ear styles that utilize one of the two forms of noise cancellation. For example, you can find over the ear and in the ear noise cancellation headphones that utilize the physical noise blocking approach. They prevent outside noise from reaching your ears. Ear buds accomplish this by fitting tightly into the ear canal. Over the ear headphones accomplish it through a tight fit and sound proof material that surrounds your ear. Over the ear headphones may be heavy and bulky. You may prefer lighter headphones. And if you have small ear canals the ear buds may not stay in. They can be uncomfortable. When you’re choosing headphones focus on comfort first. If they’re not comfortable, you won’t wear them. What’s Your Priority? Noise cancellation headphones work by creating an additional sound which cancels out the outside noise or by physically blocking the sound. If your priority is sound quality, you may experience that better with headphones that physically block outside noise. These aren’t the best choice, however, if you’re going to be walking or driving with headphones. They do block emergency sounds and you can be hurt if you’re unable to hear cars and pedestrians around you. However, if your priority is to have a pair of earphones that you can use safely throughout your day or during travel, ANC, or active noise cancelation, technology may be your best bet. These block noise by creating an additional sound that cancels out the background noise. For example, when you’re on an airplane you hear the sound of the engine. ANC technology creates a sound that is essentially the opposite of the airplane engine - the two sounds cancel each other out. You’ll still hear emergency sounds because they’re sudden and thus not being compensated for by the technology. Finally, the last consideration is price. To be honest, you can find well priced headphones in a variety of styles. Find a style that feels comfortable to you. Then focus on the technology and your purpose for buying noise canceling headphones. Finally, narrow your options to fit your budget. When it comes to over the ear or in the ear noise canceling headphones, the best choice is the one that’s right for you. They’re equally effective.


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