Active noise canceling
Jan 29, 2010 at 8:41 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

ben4345

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Does it help protect your hearing?
I understand that it can buy letting you turn down your music in nosier areas. But let's say you are walking down a street with loud traffic, and for the sake of it you decide to put on your ANC headphones. With or without music.

I can't imagine that they do. What are your thoughts?
 
Jan 29, 2010 at 10:41 AM Post #2 of 13

Trysaeder

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Quote:

IEM is often mistaken as a kind of health hazard which responsible for hearing loss and ear infection. The fact is, IEM is very safe when properly used.

First, you need to understand that listening music at loud volume over time can damage your hearing, regardless of what kind of headphone (or speaker) you used. The advantage of using an IEM is that you can turn your volume down since you do not need excess volume to overcome ambient noise. The lower volume used in IEM means IEM is actually much safer than using earbuds or headphones in a noisy environment. Do not think that IEM will cause damage to your hearing as it is closer to your eardrum. As long as the volume is low, IEM is just as safe as any headphone on the same volume (scientific references 1, 2)



From here. I'd imagine ANC is similar, but blocks out more ambient noise and less speech, which makes it worse for hearing traffic but better when around people.
 
Jan 29, 2010 at 1:32 PM Post #3 of 13

Ninkul

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Well, technically with ANC.. what your ears are perceiving is just silence (depending on how good the ANC is). So.. I guess it'll be better since you dont have to turn up your music louder in noisier environments but.. Hell, why not just use IEMs? They cancel out plenty of noise
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Jan 29, 2010 at 2:04 PM Post #4 of 13

DavidMorton

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Active noise cancelling headphones differ from pair to pair. They have microphones on the outside of the headphone, and the circuitry in the headphone creates a sound whose signature (as in it's sound wave) is the polar opposite of the noise it receives. This sound, when combined with the incoming sound and passed into your ear has the effect of making things sound quieter. They're all pretty good with low frequency noises, because the generated sound wave doesn't have to be quite as precise in order to cancel the incoming sound, mainly because the sound waves are longer (hence lower frequency). High frequency noises can sometimes have some issues. For example, the Bose QC15 can pretty much eliminate the sound of an airplane engine, but you'll still hear the hiss of the air valve over your head, and you'd better hope you don't have an infant sitting behind you.

So, because the circuitry can be somewhat "selective" about what it wants to block and what it won't block, many of them are made to block ambient noises but not to block sounds coming in at the same general wavelength as a human's voice.

It can help to protect hearing, in that you'll probably keep your music down, but more than that, exposure to sudden volumes over 70 dB or constant volumes over 110 dB is thought to affect the autonomic nervous system (fight or flight). Airplane cabins seem to run around 95-105 dB, which, in my mind, is loud enough. Some of this is speculative, however. I did spend some time trying to find a good journal article or something that would prove the point, but I had a very hard time finding good hard evidence that volumes over a specific dB level actually have these supposed effects.

What I can say, however, is that I feel far more fatigued if I've been on a plane for a few hours without some kind of noise attenuation. I think most people experience this. I have a pair of Bose QC3s. The sound is... well... acceptable, but the noise cancelling is excellent. I've seen the QC15's, and those are supposedly even better. I feel far less fatigued after a flight if I've worn these headphones for the duration of the flight than if I don't wear them.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be headed to Seattle, and I'm planning on wearing my IEMs for the duration of the flights. We'll see if simple noise isolating IEMs has the same effect as the noise-cancelling headphones.
 
Jan 29, 2010 at 7:46 PM Post #5 of 13

ben4345

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I am more curious than anything else.
I don't care about ANC headphone for myself. When ever they're powerful enough to reduce noise enough, the ANC tends to make me feel like my head is going to explode. Weird feeling, huh?
Like I said, I understand it'll cancel out noise so you can turn down your music. But does ANC really protect your hearing by it self?
 
Jan 29, 2010 at 8:49 PM Post #6 of 13

Iniamyen

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ben4345 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I am more curious than anything else.
I don't care about ANC headphone for myself. When ever they're powerful enough to reduce noise enough, the ANC tends to make me feel like my head is going to explode. Weird feeling, huh?
Like I said, I understand it'll cancel out noise so you can turn down your music. But does ANC really protect your hearing by it self?



For the frequency band of noise that they are cancelling out, yes, ANC will protect your ears. This is because they work on the principal that opposite sound waves will add and cancel - even though you begin with two separate noise sources, what you end up with at the point of cancellation is exactly zero. There's no "trickery"; the sound is actually gone. Think of ripples in water and the points at which they cancel. Will something floating on the surface of the water move where there are two waves canceling out? Of course not.

That being said, for the frequency ranges and sound types that they don't protect against (crying baby, traffic, etc...) they won't do much because they aren't canceling it out!
 
Jan 29, 2010 at 9:18 PM Post #7 of 13

scompton

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All of the ANC I've tried give a funny pressure feeling in your ears. I wonder what the cause of that is? And if it effects your hearing in any way? I know for some people, it's incredibly annoying.
 
Jan 29, 2010 at 9:27 PM Post #8 of 13

Iniamyen

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Quote:

Originally Posted by scompton /img/forum/go_quote.gif
All of the ANC I've tried give a funny pressure feeling in your ears. I wonder what the cause of that is? And if it effects your hearing in any way? I know for some people, it's incredibly annoying.


I have tried a couple of ANC headphones before (just for a couple minutes at a time, no extended listening) and I have experienced this as well.

I don't know for sure but I believe this to be due to the noise canceling not being "perfect." If there is a small phase delay between the two noises there would be less than total cancellation, and it might be interpreted by your brain as some type of pressure. Or, the fact that only a portion of the audible frequency range is canceled might be to blame. A similar effect of wrapping your head with a pillow.

Or maybe the rest of your body is still perceiving some noises (as it is moving air) and it confuses your brain that your ears are not experiencing it.

This is all speculative but there could be many reasons why this happens!
 
Jan 30, 2010 at 9:31 AM Post #9 of 13

JakmanFirby

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Hey guys, so i've been wondering about this for quite a while. Does noise cancelling give off alot of radiation? I''m not exactly sensitive to radiation but i think im more than most people. so...?
 
Jan 31, 2010 at 11:02 AM Post #10 of 13

Young Spade

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no, no radiation. its just sound being played at the same time as sound entering the mic at the same time but opposite to cancel it out.

but yea i think that isolating iems will do a better job f you can get a good seal.
 
Jan 31, 2010 at 11:24 AM Post #11 of 13

Prog Rock Man

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I have Goldring NS1000s. I find that with NR off they still isolate you from a lot of outside noise. That means you can keep the volume down, which in the long run should help the ears. With NR you get the same effect, but I don't find you can turn the sound down even more than with NR off. It is just that NR on drowns out more outside noise, particularly constant backgound noise such as engines.

If I then turm the volume down even more it goes flat and dull and I cannot properly hear the music.
 
Jan 31, 2010 at 1:17 PM Post #12 of 13

Jubei

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Quite frankly, IEMs deliver a better proposition for cutting out noise. BUT in my case, as I have ear infection and use my portable rig in buses and subways most of the time, I have now resorted to closed cans. My sister gave me a pair of noise canceling phones (ATH-ANC7b) for Xmas and I have been using that for the last month. It's an okay compromise - less clamping force on my head than my previous closed cans (ATH-ES55). Comfort wise it is very decent and in terms of noise canceling way superior to the ancient Senn PXC250 I had once upon a time. It is quite acceptable.

Still IEMs I've used produce a more satisfactory overall experience.
 
Feb 1, 2010 at 5:22 AM Post #13 of 13

JakmanFirby

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Young Spade /img/forum/go_quote.gif
no, no radiation. its just sound being played at the same time as sound entering the mic at the same time but opposite to cancel it out.

but yea i think that isolating iems will do a better job f you can get a good seal.



awesome thanks
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