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How to Choose the Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

Headphones with ANC are currently one of the most interesting and dynamically developing segments of the audio market. That is why we have prepared a list in which we present essential features of these products, in which conditions they will work best, and we advise you to choose the suitable model for you.

What Is Active Noise Canceling

Sound is nothing more than a wave of sound pressure that hits your ears. ANC ( Active Noise Cancellation ) uses the device’s pickups. Thanks to them, it can cause the noise reduction effect. In technical terms, this one is called “wave-extinguishing.”

The ANC function is about extinguishing waves. Its effect is clear, undisturbed by external noise, sound in the headphones. Active noise reduction is an excellent solution if you need to focus, for example, in the office or on the road. Be careful, though, as active noise-canceling headphones aren’t safe on the street – you may not hear an approaching vehicle or other hazards!

The active reduction process must be rapid. This requires excellent precision and high-quality components. Unfortunately, all this makes it difficult to create efficient and effective headphones with active noise reduction, which affects the high price of this type of accessory. So you have to bear in mind that headphones with ANC can be more expensive than standard ones.

Headphones With ANC – Cut Off Unnecessary Noise

Bluetooth wireless headphones are perfect for listening to music from a smartphone or other portable audio sources. Thanks to them, the user can free himself from unnecessary wires, which turns out to be invaluable, especially in places not particularly friendly to using classic headphones. Above all, the ANC (Active Noise Canceling) system significantly increases the comfort and listening quality, which is supposed to cut off from the surrounding noise. So it will come as no surprise that headphones with ANC are a perfect solution for people who, for example, often use public transport or are looking for a way to reduce noise in the office.

After all, the ANC system is a great invention. Among the models endowed with this boon, we find a wealth of individual technical solutions. Most ANC headphone manufacturers want their active noise reduction system to cut off the listener from the environment almost “at all costs.” It is understandable because it is the easiest way to show it in information materials and direct comparison with any competitor.

Many manufacturers treat the noise reduction system as a priority, but this does not mean that the sound quality is not relegated to the background. Headphones confirm this with ANC, which can boast both high-quality sound and an advanced noise reduction system. Such models include headphones with ANC Bowers & Wilkins PX7 or in-ear headphones with ANC Devialet Gemini.

Headphones With ANC How Are They Made

An active noise reduction system typically uses several microphones integrated into the headphones to record the audio signal (noise) reaching the user’s ear from the outside. The recorded sound is filtered using a compensation signal with a similar waveform (but reversed in-phase), generated based on the noise signal waveform.

In simplified and straightforward language, if the noise outside is a number 2, the headphones emit a minus two signal, giving zero. Of course, in an ideal world, there would be complete silence, but the noise signal has a more indefinite, irregular duration than in the mathematical example just mentioned. So there are errors related to the amplitude and phase of the compensating signal.

Accordingly, depending on the effectiveness of the active noise reduction system, ultimately not complete silence, but a noise signal with a significantly reduced volume and heavily filtered out does not end up in the user’s ear.

The ANC systems used in the headphones are characterized by the effectiveness of noise suppression on the level of 85 to 90 percent and the best even more.

Types of Noise Cancelling Headphones

Active noise-canceling headphones prevent background sounds from reaching the ears, even if their intensity is high, so it is worth investing in them. Now that you know what Active Noise Canceling is, it’s time to find out what headphones to buy with this feature. What to look for when purchasing this type of equipment?

Noise-canceling Headphones- In-Ears, On-Ears, Over-Ears

Most often, headphones with ANC are used for the telephone. Therefore, they should be comfortable to use and handy. A smartphone is usually recommended for slight headphones with active noise suppression.

When buying them, it is worth paying attention to in-ear or intrathecal models, which allow you to obtain the appropriate so-called passive insulation. This is one of the reasons why active noise reduction can be effective. The ear canal is well insulated from external disturbances. 

In addition, the intrathecal models are adapted to the anatomical structure of the ear. They are light and comfortable and do not take up much space. Their downside, however, is the relatively short duration of action. ANC requires additional energy, and in such a small structure, there is no room for high-capacity batteries. Unfortunately, many people will likely experience discomfort when using them because they are inserted directly into the ear canal. 

If this problem applies to you, it is better to reach for classic over-ear headphones (also known as headsets). They are usually characterized by greater power and comfort of use. Their disadvantages include quite a large size, which can be problematic in some situations, e.g., lying down. However, the mere fact that they cover the ears makes an active noise reduction effect.

Noise Canceling Headphones – Wired or Wireless?

Which noise-canceling headphones are better – wired or wireless – should depend on your individual preferences. Note, however, that models that use the Bluetooth function are becoming more and more popular every year. They give more freedom of movement and weigh less. Thanks to them, the problem with damage to the cable also disappears. What’s more, in many over-ear models, the manufacturer allows you to use the included cable – if the default Bluetooth connection with your device is not available for some reason.

What to Look When Buying Headphones With ANC

First of all, the quality of noise reduction and the level of sound intensity that the headphones will generate. In noise reduction, the higher will reduce the value of this parameter (given in decibels), the more unwanted noise. In contrast, SPL (Sound Pressure Level) is a value that affects the power of the headphones. The higher it is, the louder the headphones will play. However, it is worth using common sense in this case because not always more audible is better. This applies to both the sound quality and the impact on hearing, as you can find out in our guide, “Which headphones are the healthiest for your ears.”

Size and fit are other considerations when choosing a specific model. We need to consider these essential features – whether we’re looking for smaller earbuds with ANC or more oversized over-ear headphones with ANC. Regardless of the answer to this question, we should select the model to fit the size of the ears.

Wireless headphones with ANC:

When deciding on over-ear headphones with ANC, you should also pay attention to the fact that the headband connecting the headphones (if such a model is taken into account) is neither too small nor too large. It is also worth checking if it is adjustable in length, so it will be easier to adjust it to the circumference of the head. It would be best to remember that the headphones must fit the ear and fit comfortably to the auricle and the head. So the best solution will be to test how a given model works in our head personally.


Headphones with ANC are an excellent solution for people disturbed by sounds from the outside, frequent travelers, and those whose work requires concentration. When driving mass communication, you can almost completely cut off the bustling compartment, the clatter of wheels, the noise of airplane engines, which you will appreciate especially after removing the headphones from the ANC.

Working on the so-called open space is also a natural recipient of headphones with ANC. When you need to focus on an issue in the office, headphones with ANC turn out to be invaluable and will effectively cut off distracting sounds. Currently, ANC is an “intelligent” solution, allowing choosing the right fit and choice of the environment in which we are located, e.g., in the office, outside, on the plane. All this can be conveniently set from the smartphone application.


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