Tech Talk: ANC Headphones Explained

Has outside noise ever ruined a good jam session? Your students probably know this problem well. Whether students are listening to music to drown out noises while studying or trying to get into a good workout, ANC headphones are what they need.

What are ANC headphones? ANC (active noise canceling) headphones are headphones that block out outside noises. ANC headphones started as over-the-ear headphones, but audio manufactures have designed ANC ear buds. ANC headphones create a barrier that block out high-frequency sound waves and add an extra level of noise reduction by actively erasing lower-frequency sound waves. Essentially, the headphones create their own sound waves that mimic incoming noises.

Here’s how ANC headphones work. There are two waves, one from the noise-canceling headphone and one from the ambient noise. These waves have the same amplitude and frequency but their crest and troughs (compressions and refractions) are arranged so the crests (compressions) of one wave lines up with the troughs (refractions) of the other wave and vise versa. The two waves cancel each other out allowing the user to focus on the sounds they want to hear.

There are several components needed to make headphones active noise canceling.

  • Microphone – The microphone inside the ear cup “listens” to external sounds that cannot be blocked passively.
  •  Noise-canceling circuitry – Electronics sense the input from the microphone and generate a “fingerprint” of the noise. Then they create a new wave that is 180 decrees out of phase with waves associated with the noise.
  • Speaker – The anti-sound is fed into the headphones’ speakers along with the normal audio
  • Battery – In order to get “active” noise-canceling, you need a source of energy which is the rechargeable battery

With all these components, your students won’t hear loud noises while using ANC headphones like they would with regular headphones making it easier to focus on what they are doing.

Are there other tech products you want to learn more about? Comment below and we will discuss them in our future tech talk blog posts.

Source: How Stuff Works

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