Are you officially one of those students that isolates their hearing from background noise using noise cancelling headphones? Nothing wrong with escaping your surroundings every once in a while! An intriguing question has been piquing our interest lately: Do they help?
NOISE BLOCKING IS ONLY THE BEGINNING
There's a popular misconception trending that noise cancelling headphones can block out any sound around you. They're then purchased with the high hopes of silencing obnoxious roommates, tone deaf professors, yelling kids, yapping significant others, and the barking dog outside. (Spoiler alert: They're not even effective on the dog.) Noise-cancelling headphones do not actually reduce sound levels, but ambient noise is less audible to those wearing them (hearing protection).
THERES LEVELS TO THIS
The trouble is, most noise cancelling headphones are active noise cancellation. Active noise-cancelling headphones use tiny microphones on the inside, and sometimes the outside, of the earcups to process the sound headed toward your ears and immediately play the opposite phase of that sound through the headphone drivers. The opposing forces effectively reduce the air-molecule movement, and you get a reduction in perceptible sound. This means that the headphones being purchased, are most effective on lower frequencies of sound. Therefore, you will hear the barking dog over the yelling kids, while trying to ignore the significant other who doesn't know you're online with the monotone professor.
If you’re looking to block out only human voices and other higher-frequency sounds, then that's where passive isolation comes in. Passive isolation is a physical barrier between your ears and the sounds you don’t want to hear. Nearly all closed-back, over-ear headphones—especially those designed for recording—do a solid job of attenuating those sounds.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO
We would love to hear from you about the type of headphones you use and where you use them. Do they help? Would you study with them? Be sure to leave us a comment.