Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Protect Hearing?

Loud noises that cause sound pollution are now a part of life, especially in the cities. It is said that humans have a limit of the noise level that is tolerable to the ears. Beyond this level, the ears will suffer severe damages which may be permanent. Many people lose their hearing due to the dangers of loud noises. For this, it is important that we get some safety gear for our ears.

Fortunately, we now have devices to protect the ears well from any damage. We can easily get soundproof earmuffs for this purpose. But some people look for noise-canceling headphones instead. This is because we need to be aware of the surroundings as well. These earmuffs won’t let us hear anything outside, they only block sound. The perks of a noise-canceling headphone on the other hand are that it can both reduce the sound level to a tolerable frequency, and also let us listen to the background. Besides, we can continue with our daily communication via phone calls, or listen to music for relaxation.  

Some of the reasons why we would choose such headphones for protecting our hearing are:

  • They reduce the frequency and loudness of background noise.
  • The earpieces are comfortable for long wear.
  • They offer clear and ambient sounds played.
  • As electronic devices, they are easy to maintain.

If anyone wishes to use these headphones, then they have two other choices, active and passive noise-canceling headphones. Active ones decrease the volume of the music that we listen to using the headphones. So, the sound that we hear won’t damage the sensory cells of the ears. But this may create a problem when there is a case of sudden loud noises. 

In contrast, passive ones have soft and comfortable earpieces that seal the ears. This protects the ears from loud noises from the background. So, these headphones will offer protection from all kinds of loud noises, including sudden explosions. In addition, they offer good sound quality.

Active Noise-Cancelling HeadphonesPassive Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Causes noise cancellationCauses noise isolation
Battery lasts longerBattery drains quicker
Doesn’t protect from sudden or louder noisesProtects from any noise

Noise-canceling headphones are very important for those who work in a noisy environment like construction working areas. But anyone can use these headphones to relax from uncomfortable noise. Hence, before getting one, we need to understand which one will work the best. Out of the two, it seems that passive headphones are better for the protection of our hearing. They have a snug fit and allow you to listen to music or conversation using the earpieces, while also isolating background noises. So, the overall sound level gets ambient for the ears. 

We also have the option of using earmuffs or even earbuds for noise cancellation. While earbuds are smaller versions of headphones to only block the ear canal, earmuffs are specifically designed for soundproofing. All these three devices have different levels of protection.

NRR in a graph for headphone, earmuff and earbud

There is no doubt that noise-canceling headphones effectively protect our hearing. They are designed for this purpose while allowing listening to important sounds. So, we must check carefully before getting one. 

Vitaly Fedorov

Vitaly Fedorov is a seasoned audio technician and writer. After spending ten years in a studio team, I have decided to spread my knowledge to people in this domain. On this site, I work for headphone fixing or repair issues, that you’re thinking about fixing. Click on any article on my site and read the complete answer about that issue. I am excited to read your feedback.

Recent Posts