There are two main methods of noise cancellation (although a third shall also be detailed a bit later on) with regards to headsets, earphones and other portable devices. Here’s a bit about them and how they work…
The first type of noise cancellation basically occurs whenever anything obstructs the inner ear; this has the effect of dulling our ability to hear whatever’s going on around us. If you put your hands over your ears right now, or you stick your fingers in your ears, the background noise will diminish. This, in a very real sense, is a form of noise cancellation. In this regard, any set of headphones that cover the ear, or even the types that sit inside the ear, effectively cancel out background noise and are therefore ‘noise cancelling’.
The second type of noise cancellation is a little bit more complicated. Typically, these headphones cost more money, but they offset this cost by being rather clever and also very effective. The second type of headphones are those that generate a low-level of white noise around the vicinity of the speaker. The white noise, largely inaudible to the Human ear, creates a sort of ‘sound vacuum’ that eliminates all background noise, allowing you to focus purely on whatever you are listening to.
There is also one more type of noise-cancelling headset, which is the bone-conduction headset (sometimes known as ‘bonephones’), these headphones actually bypass your outer ear entirely and go instead to vibrate the tiny bones in your inner ear. Your brain still understands this every bit as much as it would if you were listening through your outer ear (or pinna) but you now have the added option of chucking good old fashioned ear plugs into the equation, whilst at the same time still continuing to use your headphones.
With gadgets like tablet computers, smartphones and MP3 players becoming more and more prevalent in modern society, headphones and earpieces are becoming increasingly commonplace. People are now trying to have conversations, listen to music or even hold video conferences in traditionally loud places.
From busy streets to crowded trains, it has never been more important for people to be able to hear content clearly and easily whilst they are ‘on the go’ – it is for this reason that noise cancelling headsets have become such a popular consumer item in the early 21st century.