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Noise-canceling headphones can help prevent hearing loss when used properly



  Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless

Noise-canceling headphones can protect your hearing when using the right pair at the right time.


Sarah Tew / CNET

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is a serious threat in today's noisy environment. Lively streets in the city, sporting events, concerts, festivals and more expose our sensitive ears to dangerously high decibels. The risk of hearing loss increases if you listen to loud music through headphones . But what to do if it is always so loud that you need to constantly increase the volume?

You may have considered using noise canceling headphones to end the never-ending battle between your headphones and external sounds. By excluding background noise, you can lower the volume of your music or your podcast to protect your hearing. However, they are not always the right answer – read on to find out why.

Passive Noise Canceling Headphones Compared to Active Noise Canceling Headphones

Two types of noise canceling headphones can protect your hearing in two very strong ways.

Passive Noise Canceling Headphones (PNC) essentially provide soundproofing with a rugged design that protects your ears from external noise. Normally, PNC headphones are tight and may feel heavy, but drown out sounds – especially explosive, transient sounds such as gunfire and firecrackers, as well as high-pitched sounds such as a crying baby or a howling dog.

Active Noise Canceling (ANC) headphones use sound adjustment technology to "delete" external sounds. They identify the pitch of surrounding sounds in the vicinity, e.g. For example, the whir of a jet engine or the collective buzz of a coffee shop full of people. They are most effective where the overall sound and overall volume remain constant.

ANC headphones require some "settling time" to measure sound waves and then generate sound waves 180 degrees out of phase.

Do sound-suppressing headphones protect your hearing?

Yes, noise-canceling headphones protect most of your ears – both active and passive.

PNC headphones protect your hearing by protecting your ears from loud external noise, especially transient sounds such as gunfire or explosions. PNC headphones also provide protection for people with busy occupations who need to communicate, such as: As pilots or construction workers who operate heavy machinery.

ANC headphones protect your hearing to some extent by reducing the volume at which you hear music through headphones. Loud music damages the cells of tiny sensory hair in your inner ear, which helps to send auditory signals to your brain. The lower the volume, the less damage these cells can do.

ANC headphones will not protect you from sudden, explosive noises as they are based solely on the ANC mechanism and do not offer the protective seal that PNC headphones offer. Headphones that combine the PNC structure with ANC technology provide optimal protection in all scenarios.


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Should I buy passive or active noise canceling headphones?

If you want to protect your ears from explosive or high-frequency noise, PNC headphones are the right choice. Since ANC headphones take some time to identify and associate external sounds, they are unable to adapt to volatile sounds and protect you from them. But if you're just looking for hearing protection, you're probably better off wearing protective earmuffs.

If you want to fend off the constant buzz of public transport, busy streets, and crowded offices, you should use the ANC headphones. You can greatly reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss by listening to lower-volume music that you can achieve with ANC headphones.

It is worth noting that noise canceling headphones are not a good choice for listening to music while exercising outdoors. In situations where you need to be aware of your surroundings – for example, on a busy street – you should follow these tips to play safe while walking or cycling with headphones .


The information The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider if you have questions about a disease or health goals.


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