Noise Cancelling Headphones

People are turning to noise cancelling headphones to help them to relax more and improve their enjoyment of their music, movies and games.

Our range of hireable, noise cancelling headphones at Place Over Ears can help you to arrive more relaxed from your travels or help you to concentrate on your work. Let us to tell you more about this clever audio technology and what to look for when you hire or buy a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

Why Noise Cancelling Headphones?

We regularly listen to our headphones within public spaces (airports, stations, offices) and in trains, cars and aeroplanes. These environments are excellent at creating consistent, low-frequency background noise which is generated by people chatter, cabin vibrations and engine noise.

Research has shown that ambient sound intrudes on our listening pleasure and creates extra workload for our brains and this reduces our capability to relax with our soundtrack. People who are exposed to consistent background noise often find it more difficult to recall information and overcome workloads and so become less productive.

By using noise cancelling headphone technology, we can improve not only our enjoyment of our music and movies, but we can also arrive at or destination that little bit fresher.

How Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?

Noise cancelling headphones reduce unwanted sounds by applying one of, or a combination of two techniques called Passive or Active Noise Cancellation (ANC).

Noise cancelling headphones monitor external noise and insert a corresponding negative frequency which cancels out the unwanted noise, this is called 'anti-noise'

Graphical Depiction of Active Noise Reduction. Image credit: Marekich (2012)

Active Noise Reduction (ANR) or Active Noise Control (ANC) are sophisticated technologies that are employed by the noise cancelling headphones that we hire at Place Over Ears.

These headphones reduce nuisance sounds by employing discrete, external microphones to listen to the ambient sounds around the listener and then they incorporate a second negative sound into their audio output (that you cannot hear), and it is this sound which cancels stable, low frequency noises.

Acoustic experts in white lab coats call this process destructive interference. Normally, a phrase containing the word ‘destructive’ wouldn’t be welcome, but here it refers to the elimination of unwanted noises, a process which could be called anti-noise; hence the term; noise cancellation.

Getting To Know The Technology


Noise cancelling headphones rely on a separate power source; hence why these special headphones require their own battery, which is usually housed discreetly in the unit.

Headphones equipped with Active Noise Reduction (ANR) are still capable of working without batteries. So, if you run out of battery power you can still listen to your music, but you won’t be able to enjoy the headphone’s noise-reduction capabilities.

Noise Cancellation Performance

Headphones will often quote their noise cancelling capabilities in tested environments. For example, Audio Technica’s ATH-ANC9 headphones (pictured) offer 95% noise reduction at the lower frequency range of 200hz.

Audio Technica ATH-ANC9 noise cancelling headphones utilise Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology to reduce ambient noise by 95% at the lower frequency range of 200hz.

Audio Technica ATH-ANC9 noise cancelling headphones utilise Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology to reduce ambient noise by 95% at the lower frequency range of 200hz.

It’s important to remember that noise reduction operates at its optimum in a lower range of sound frequencies. When sound frequencies increase, or their sound patterns become more erratic, noise-cancelling will rely more on the headphones’ sound insulating properties to protect your listening experience.

Staying Safe With Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise cancelling headphones are designed and engineered to eradicate background noise.

Stay safe by never using noise cancelling headphones while driving or cycling, or when operating machinery that relies on audible safety warnings, or working environments that depend on your unrestricted aural awareness to maintain yours and other people’s safety.

As with other types of headphones, noise reduction technology should only be used in accordance with the equipment’s operating instructions.

Cancel the noise, but stay safe!

The Place Over Ears team hope that you enjoyed our guide to noise cancelling headphones.