Noise Cancelling Headphones

We are using more and more and longer and longer transport, hence the development of headphones with noise reduction, a great success in recent years. I suggest a little decryption to see more clearly.

Metro, plane, train, RER, these increasingly used means of transport have one thing in common:  noise. For everyone who wants to listen to music quietly on the way to or from work, there is only one solution, well insulated headphones. Several solutions are available to you:


Some headphones, by design, already filter out surrounding noise very effectively. They are said to be “passive noise reduction”, because there is no active intervention to combat the surrounding noise annoyances. The in-ear headphones, for example, act like a plug by going into the ear canal and “plugging” it, if I dare say. The degree of insulation depends on the material (rubber, silicone or memory foam) used for the earpiece, the correct adaptation of the earpiece to your roof (the vast majority of manufacturers also offer several sizes of ‘tips in their packaging) and of course the intensity of external noise. An airplane will indeed always make more noise than a TGV, and from there, the need for insulation will not be the same.

In-ear headphones are not the only ones to offer effective insulation, some closed headphones (category to which most headphones with nomad headbands belong) also defend themselves very well in this area. The most effective are those that completely cover the ear, they are called “Circus-Aural” type. So much so that on some we no longer even hear announcements of incidents on the line or entry into an area of turbulence by plane, which can be dangerous. Caution is therefore required, especially on public roads.


The basic principle of active noise canceling headphones is quite simple, in theory. Rather than trying to completely eliminate surrounding noise, the reduction system records the noise nuisance via microphones built into the headphones, analyzes it and then creates noise in the exact opposite phase. The sum of the two signals is canceled, de facto eliminating undesirable noise pollution. There are many noise cancelling headsets check the list on saim deals these headset are very easy to carry and best for travel use.

Of course, this solution is much more complex to implement and optimize. This technology comes from aviation, where we understand the usefulness for a pilot who must be able to protect himself from the noise important and potentially dangerous for his ears, while perceiving the information from the control tower or his crew. Some manufacturers, Bose being the most emblematic of them with its famous Quiet Comfort range, have transposed this technology to the world of audio. It must be admitted that active insulation is often very effective, and relaxing in the sense that it protects you from the surrounding hubbub and inserts you into a small cocoon of very pleasant tranquility.


1- As the name suggests, this is a reduction, not a suppression of ambient noise. There is therefore always a residual noise, more or less annoying. That said it must be recognized that manufacturers, including Bose, Sony, Bowers & Wilkins or Plantronics, have made great progress on this criterion.

2- Even if the phenomenon varies in intensity from one model to another, listening to the many active noise reduction headsets available on the market betrays a shortened bandwidth in the treble and in the bass compared to wired listening, but also a declining neutrality (just compare the restitution with reduction activated then deactivated to realize this).

3- Active noise reduction takes place above all on low frequencies. Useful to combat the sound effects of a roaring reactor, much less when it comes to covering all the audio bandwidth. Activating noise reduction is often paid for by an imbalance in the reproduction, in particular in the treble.

4- Active noise reduction requires a power supply, either by battery (ies) or by battery, integrated in the helmet and which puts a strain on its weight. Not to mention the inconvenience of having to change the batteries (this system is becoming scarce) or recharge the battery. The autonomy varies from 20 to 40 hours depending on the helmet. And unfortunately, some headsets are no longer usable, even wired, with the discharged battery.

Despite these few criticisms, it would be wrong to think that noise canceling headphones are of poor quality. It would be insulting to some tenors of the category, such as the Bose QuietComfort QC35 II, one of the very best or the Sony WH-1000XM3 new tenor of the category, without forgetting the superb and musical Bowers & Wilkins PX.