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How Do Active Noice Canceling Headphones Work? | ANC Headphones

Active Noise Canceling (ANC) is a technology of noise reduction. Firstly, it makes use of a microphone to pick up the noise and sends to the ANC circuit. Then, the ANC circuit processes a signal to the headphone speaker (which is the same speaker you use to listen to music). Next, the speaker emits an extra sound wave in the opposite direction to the incoming noise. Finally, the unwanted noise is canceled out and the remaining sound is the “resulting sound” generated to your ears. This is how an ANC headphone works to reduce ambient noise.

There are three types of active noise cancellation:


Their difference is only about the position of the microphone.

Feedforward is a setup that the microphone is placed behind the speaker. The headset speaker is in between the listener’s ear and the mic. You should find there is one microphone on the most outside part of each cup. This kind of ANC headphones has total 2pcs of microphones. For example, DECALIFE ANC TWS Earbuds 501, there is a mic on each touch panel of the earbud.

In the Feedback setup, the mic is installed in front of the speaker wherein between the listener’s ear and the speaker. You should find a mic in the middle part of each ear cup. This kind of ANC headphones also has total 2pcs of microphones. For example, DECALIFE ANC headphone V8S, there is a mic on each side of headphone besides the control buttons.

Hybrid is a combination of both of the two methods, so it has 2 microphones on each side, and total 4pcs of microphones. For example, DECALIFE ANC headphone V12Q, each ear cup has one microphone on the surface and the other one on the side panel.

Which kind of ANC headphone is the best?

Hearing the ambient sound, the mic keeps sending the signal to the headphone to create the anti-noise wave to reduce and block out the ambient noise. The basic concept of different kind of ANC headphones is the same.

Theoretically,  Feedforward ANC picks up the noise earlier than Feedback ANC as the noise comes through the mic first then to the listener’s ear. Feedback blocks out the noise more accurately as the mic is behind the speaker and hears exactly what the listener hears. Hybrid actually combines the advantages of the two and it is the best method. However, other things we need to take into account is the music quality. It does not mean which method could perform a better sound quality. Hybrid is the most expensive solution. Not only because they have 4 microphones, but it also requires more expert skill and higher quality materials to avoid electrical noise and filtering out the sweet frequency of our favorite songs.


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