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Noise cancelling vs isolation?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Which one do you prefer?
post #2 of 6
I don't think anyone here on head fi actually prefers the SQ of active noise cancelling headphones over naturally isolating closed back headphones (I'm assuming this is what you meant). For purposes of isolation, there are indeed situations where active noise cancelling is more effective than regular isolating headphones (such as in cancelling out more low frequency noise, like in airplanes), but SQ wise they typically fall short to more conventional headphones.
post #3 of 6
Isolating.
post #4 of 6
Does anyone know why the active noise cancelling headphones have worse sound quality than the conventional ones? Does the noise cancelling circuit have effect on the sound quality, or the driver in those headphones have some special features that make them less than ideal?
post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by RX7PHILE View Post

Does anyone know why the active noise cancelling headphones have worse sound quality than the conventional ones? Does the noise cancelling circuit have effect on the sound quality, or the driver in those headphones have some special features that make them less than ideal?

I'll try to explain this as easy as possible (I'm not a sound expert by any means). From what i understand, noise isolation is just what you will expect. Noise isolating headphones will usually contain a thick foam/cloth/leather padding to dampen out incoming sound waves. Therefore, more thicker the padding, usually better is the isolation. It also depends upon the pressure that headphone puts on your head. Generally higher the pressure more is the isolation. IEMs block all entrances to ear canal by actually sitting inside of the ear.

 

Now, I'll try to explain how a noise cancelling headphones work. There is a microphone installed with the headphones which actually listens to the external noise. Now the internal circuitry calculates the wave form of the noise and sends exactly opposite sound waves to you ears. The noise waves and the counter waves generated by circuitry cancel each other out and you won't be hearing any noise.

 

Now, you can get that noise isolating headphones doesn't interfere with the signal of the music but noise cancelling headphones does exactly that. If you want to hear the pure sound of the music, noise cancelling headphones are clearly not fit for the job.

 

Also, like all the systems, this noise cancelling is not perfect. Because of some imperfections, there is a constant small hum like noise comes from the headphones (or at least, in the headphones that i have tried. Some pairs might prove me wrong). That becomes annoying after a while.

post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by sammed92 View Post
 

I'll try to explain this as easy as possible (I'm not a sound expert by any means). From what i understand, noise isolation is just what you will expect. Noise isolating headphones will usually contain a thick foam/cloth/leather padding to dampen out incoming sound waves. Therefore, more thicker the padding, usually better is the isolation...

 

There was no need to revive this ancient thread.  Also, It's not padding anywhere near as much as having a very well-sealing design that gives closed-backs isolation, not that all closed-back headphones give isolation.  Usually, the only padding is the ear pads.  To dampen out incoming sound, they are simply well sealed, thick construction and/or heavier plastic/metal help.  Ear muffs are the ones that have thick foam or what not to dampen sounds.

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