What are Noise Cancellation and Isolation Headphones

What are Noise Cancellation and Isolation Headphones

Headphones are one of the most used accessory with your smartphone. The headphone industry has been undergoing massive changes in the last year. Some companies wiped out audio jack in favor of USB Type-C or Lightning ports, while others came up with new technologies such as CDLA (Continuous Digital Lossless Audio) to improve audio quality.

In this post, we will look in the technologies that reduce external noise on your headphone.

The two major tech used to eliminate exterior noise are noise cancellation and noise isolation. Both of these are around for a while now, but what do they actually do?

Noise Isolation

Noise isolation, as the name suggests, looks to isolate your ear from the external ambient noise. For this, there is no additional power requirements or components.

Noise isolation headphones
src: rha-audio.com


Otherwise called as passive noise cancellation, it usually comes with earbud type headphones as well as over-the-ear headphones. In in-ear headphones, the earbuds cover the entire ear canal thereby preventing the noise from entering the ear itself.

Whereas in over-the-ear headphones, the dense foam around the sound piece covers the entire ear to achieve the same result. The overall outcome depends on how well the headphone fits the ear and the dense material that is used to create the foam. The high priced noise cancellation headphones use better quality materials than the low prices ones to achieve bette results.

Noise Cancellation

When it comes to noise cancellation technology, it is not dependent of the material used for the build. It makes use of the active cancellation method, i.e., the cancellation tech runs the entire time the headphone is in use.

noise cancelation headphones

Coming to the internal specifications, noise cancellation headphones use a digital signal processor(DSP) and a mic for the process. Since these units require additional power, there will also be a better unit to power them.

Nowadays, since certain headphones are connected directly to the USB ports, power is directly drawn from the phone instead of the battery unit.

How does it cancel the noise?

When the headphone is under use, the mic on the headphone listens for the ambient noise near the ear. This noise signals are then processed in the DSP unit to create an alternate sound to cancel the noise.

The created alternate sound is then sent along with the audio from the earphone. So, when the accessory is in use, the external noise is canceled by the sound generated by the DSP.

But there are downsides to it. Since the processing of sound cannot be instantly done, sudden sounds will still be heard. It is only the consistent noise that is canceled by the headphone.


The removal of audio jack is actually in favor of using such technologies to the fullest. The traditional audio jack doesn’t provide enough power for processing the noise. Additionally, the noise can be processed much faster when the processor present in the phone is used.

Which to opt

If your are confused which one to buy, you might need to take in to account of various other factors that affect the same.

– Noise reduction output

In practice, noise canceling headphones perform much better than the isolation ones. This is because of the usual ambient sounds that we might hear. But, these headphones doesn’t come with big foam that can prevent noise even more. So it’s a win-win situation for both.

– Quality of audio

When it comes to canceling noise, there will be an additional sound that is added along side the original audio for canceling the noise. This process might reduce the quality of audio output. But in noisy environments, they do perform better. Choosing the one that suits you is dependent on your usage surroundings.

– Price

Due to additional components, noise cancellation is more costly process in terms of money and energy(battery). But apart from that, they do offer better sounds for the price.


Even though, all these factors influence, ultimately it is the comfort it offers to you as a user is what matters when buying a headphone.

Checkout the best wireless headphones that you can you in any budget here.

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