- Issue Time
- Jul 31,2023
Many people have wondered whether this technology actually helps or hurts your ears. Read on to learn the pros and cons of noise-canceling earplugs, and how to prevent hearing damage while using them.
You've probably heard of noise-canceling technology in headphones, but many of you wonder if the technology is actually helping or hurting your ears.
This is an important question given recent World Health Organization research showing that as many as 1 billion Gen Zers and millennials are at risk of hearing loss from overuse of headphones.
Read on to learn the pros and cons of noise-canceling earplugs (or headphones), and how to prevent hearing damage while using them.
Headphone Listening May Be Putting Your Ears at Risk
As an audiologist, many patients come in to check their headphone volume. I measured their normal listening volume with AirPods or headphones. result? Many patients turn the volume on their headphones to unsafe levels. In some cases, the volume in their ears exceeds 100 decibels (dBA). Many patients don't notice these changes because their ears and brain adapt to listening at a particular volume, creating a listening pattern.
Traditional earbuds without noise canceling are especially troublesome when you need to adjust the volume to cut through the noise around you in a coffee shop or on a plane.
Since the FDA doesn't regulate headphone volume, we need to monitor our hearing levels ourselves. Fortunately, the volume of music we listen to is something we can control. A good rule of thumb? If you're listening with regular headphones, keep the volume up so you can still hear the person next to you.
Now, you might be wondering how noise-canceling technology can change that. So let's dive into the specifics of hearing health and noise-canceling headphones.
Are Noise-Canceling Headphones Good or Bad?
The good news is that in some cases, noise-canceling headphones can benefit your ears. Some of these situations might be blocking out background noise in a busy coffee shop, blocking out the blaring sound of traffic in a park, or walking around the city. This technology helps you listen without turning the volume up to dangerous levels in an attempt to beat background noise levels. Noise cancellation can help reduce volume without sacrificing sound quality or struggling to hear noise. However, it's important to remember that even with noise cancellation turned on, you should still keep the volume at a reasonable level, preferably below 80dB (decibels). Limits sound above 85dB to prevent damage that could lead to permanent hearing loss or tinnitus.
How Does Active Noise Cancellation Actually Work?
Noise Cancellation works by producing an "anti-noise" wave that is 180 degrees out of phase with the original sound wave. This anti-noise wave removes specific sound frequencies, eliminating the sound before it reaches your ears. So how exactly do headphones do this? Let's take the AirPods Pro as an example: the external microphone on the earphones picks up the sound in the environment and then generates a reverse wave to cancel out the noise around the wearer. All of this happens very quickly; in fact, about 200 times per second (that's pretty impressive, isn't it?).
How Effective Is the Noise Cancellation?
Active noise cancellation is usually effective, but some frequencies or sounds are more likely to cancel out than others. A typical example is steady-state or low-frequency noise since it is relatively easy to remove. On the other hand, some high-frequency or impulsive noises (i.e. sudden loud sounds) are more difficult to cancel out, but may still get through, depending on the type of technology used in the headphones. Another factor in determining how well this technique works is how well they fit your ears. Many noise-canceling headphones also take advantage of passive noise cancellation by closing the ears, further enhancing the noise-canceling effect. To ensure the best performance from any noise canceling device, it must be ensured that it fits snugly in both ears and does not move around too much when in use.
How to Use Noise-Canceling Headphones to Prevent Hearing Damage?
When using noise-cancelling headphones, maintaining a reasonable volume (ideally below 80dB) is essential to prevent hearing damage. If you're not sure how loud the volume is, try keeping the volume no higher than 70% of the maximum volume on your headphones. Another good idea is to take breaks during the day or limit your total listening time per day.
Are Circumaural Headphones Better or Worse for Hearing Loss Than Earbuds?
In fact, headphones or earbuds are both good choices. If you're looking for a more reliable noise-canceling option, look no further than over-ear headphones, especially over-ear headphones. That's because these headphones are bulkier but seal the ears better, dampening ambient noise more significantly. So what does this mean for headphone wearers? First, it's easier to listen at a safer volume. Earbuds with noise-canceling technology are still good, but they often don't seal the ear canal as well as over-ear headphones.
Which Should You Choose: Earbuds or Headphones?
The answer varies with personal preference and lifestyle. While both offer noise-canceling technology, over-ear headphones tend to keep the volume down while you listen to music.
Over-ear headphones are usually less expensive and more portable than over-ear headphones. With this in mind, whatever choice you make, remember to consider your listening skills.
Noise-canceling headphones are a great way to enjoy music without loud volume, but only if used properly. By following safe listening habits, such as setting a reasonable volume below 80 decibels and taking regular breaks from not using headphones every 30 minutes or so, you can protect yourself from the effects of chronic exposure to levels above 85 decibels. Potential hearing loss. In conclusion, circumaural headphones provide better insulation between the speaker and eardrum than earbuds, but both devices should still be used with caution. To stay safe when listening to music through headphones, remember that less is more (for your ears).
The above has introduced the working principle and benefits of noise-canceling headphones. If you want to buy noise-canceling headphones, please contact us.
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