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What's so bad about noise cancelling headphones?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Seriously, what is it that so many Audiophiles dislike about properly priced ($300 - $500) noise cancelling headphones? 

I know it's the sound quality but how bad are they to deserve all the negative complaints?

Can a brilliant yet well designed pair of NC's like Denon's AH-NC800 be any good then?

Please if YOU own a pair, tell me about them! I want to know what there like to own and use, but most of all give a detailed description of their sound quality with your chosen MP3 and/or Amp. I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks, A1811  

post #2 of 25

Hefty price tag.  Sound like crap.

post #3 of 25

I was going to get one but I realized it would be useless because:

 

- iems isolate noise better than noise cancelling headphones

- useless for home use when I have headphones that sound far better

 

post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by flaming_june View Post

Hefty price tag.  Sound like crap.


I said, in case you didn't read, "Give a detailed description." This may be an open site regarding all opinions and speculations but respect would be expected of an Adult, in case you didn't notice. 

Audiophile1811.

post #5 of 25

Noise-cancelling headphones can cause headaches and motion-sickness in some people.

 

From the Wall Street Journal's Health Mailbox column

 

Quote:

Q: I was recently given a pair of the Bose QC3 headphones with active noise canceling, and have felt queasy every time I put them on. I had to take them off and lie down at one point, and ended up throwing up later that night and was unable to eat more than apple sauce the next day. As crazy as it sounds, did the headphones cause my discomfort?

—-- T.P.

A: It's possible. Bose's "Acoustic Noise Cancelling" headphones work by electronically determining the difference between wanted and unwanted sounds, and creating a correction signal that acts to negate the unwanted noise, according to its Web site. (The company didn't respond to requests to comment.) Sarah Stackpole, a New York ear, nose and throat doctor, speculates that the sound waves that cancel each other out may still transmit enough very low frequency vibrations to stimulate the balance receptors that are connected to the hearing hair cells in the inner ear. These vibrations are akin to those caused by blast explosions or barotrauma in scuba diving, but much less forceful, she says. The disequilibrium that some people may feel from this is made worse because the vibrations falsely signal that the head is moving, but the eyes report that the head is stationary. Those mixed signals make the headphone wearer feel dizzy.

Some people are more sensitive to this sensation than others. Many users love their headsets. If the vertigo doesn't improve, you may need to decrease the input by using earphones without a tight seal.

post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiophile1811 View Post




I said, in case you didn't read, "Give a detailed description." This may be an open site regarding all opinions and speculations but respect would be expected of an Adult, in case you didn't notice. 

Audiophile1811.

 

Why do I have to when there's so many threads out there that already has the same info?  Do some searching next time.  Clear and concise always wins.

post #7 of 25

I'm speaking completely from my ass here: I have never owned noise canceling headphones or listened to them extensively. The theory of active noise cancellation is most easily explained with a pure tone. If you have a, say, 50 Hz sinusoid [y(t)=sin(100*pi*t)], you can cancel the noise out by emitting an equal amplitude sinusoid of the same frequency, but 180 degrees out of phase [y2(t)=sin(100*pi*t+180 deg)]. This works fine and dandy for pure tones; however, it's harder to emit an anti-noise for complex sounds such as those in music. Also, you risk the degradation of your music by emitting noise which may not perfectly cancel out, adding distortion to the music.

 

Once again though, I could be completely wrong (I'm just making a guess based on what I've read about how ACN works). Also, I assume you're speaking about active noise cancellation and not passive.

 

Edit: Also I used sinusoids for simplicity; sound is physically generated from longitudinal waves and not transverse waves.


Edited by XTTX - 11/2/10 at 11:41pm
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by TobaccoRoad View Post

 

- iems isolate noise better than noise cancelling headphones

 

 

ever seen those sony and/or phillips noise cancelling IEMs? *silence*
 

post #9 of 25

It always seems to me that active noise-canceling has a devious way of canceling things you want to hear.  I've never heard an implementation of it that works well.

 

Besides, IEMs block out noise wonderfully and can still give you wonderful sound.  IEMs are just a better solution.

post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by XTTX View Post

I'm speaking completely from my ass here: I have never owned noise canceling headphones or listened to them extensively. The theory of active noise cancellation is most easily explained with a pure tone. If you have a, say, 50 Hz sinusoid [y(t)=sin(100*pi*t)], you can cancel the noise out by emitting an equal amplitude sinusoid of the same frequency, but 180 degrees out of phase [y2(t)=sin(100*pi*t+180 deg)]. This works fine and dandy for pure tones; however, it's harder to emit an anti-noise for complex sounds such as those in music. Also, you risk the degradation of your music by emitting noise which may not perfectly cancel out, adding distortion to the music.

 

Once again though, I could be completely wrong (I'm just making a guess based on what I've read about how ACN works). Also, I assume you're speaking about active noise cancellation and not passive.

 

Edit: Also I used sinusoids for simplicity; sound is physically generated from longitudinal waves and not transverse waves.



Ouch, mixing degrees and radians xD Hurts my eyes...

post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damnegy View Post





Ouch, mixing degrees and radians xD Hurts my eyes...



din notice till you mentioned!! LOLS!

post #12 of 25

The main thing about noise canceling headphones is that you are paying mainly for the technology rather than the sound quality. Therefore sound quality for a nc headphone would be much less than a non nc equivalent. Nc headphones are also crap because iems do a better job of isolating noise anyways.

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damnegy View Post





Ouch, mixing degrees and radians xD Hurts my eyes...

sin(2*pi*f*t) and sin(2*pi*f*t+pi)

Better? :P. It's late, well early now (7:13 am).


Edited by XTTX - 11/3/10 at 4:15am
post #14 of 25

I attempted to use a set of fairly expensive (admittedly Sony) ANC headphones for a reaserch project at uni and found that they performed far better with the ANC disabled (we were unable to produce a consistent db output with the ANC enabled when playing the same tone through them on repeated trials, but achieved this easily with the ANC disabled). I know this is probably niether here nor there as far as audiophile assessment goes, but I have always regarded ANC with suspicion since then.

 

Since IEMs physically block sound from entering your ear, they are a more elegant solution, which allows resources to be dedicated to sound quality.

post #15 of 25

Yeah... the sound quality of many of the NC phones I have heard does not justify the price tag. I would consider them for plane travel, if they were considerably cheaper. A good pair of IEMs for a fraction of the price do their job better, and sound great. I happen to like the monster beats Turbines for around $100. They sound better than $300 NC phones that I have heard.

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