How To Choose Between Noise Cancelling And Noise Isolating Headphones?

How To Choose Between Noise Cancelling And Noise Isolating Headphones?

December 29, 2017 by Mixcder

Noise cancellation is becoming popular in these years. Regarding noise cancelling tech, there are two terms that you should know if you are going to buy a headphone crafted with this tech, which are noise cancellation and noise isolation.


The type you should go for relies on how much background noise you want to block out while listening to your tunes. There is not a simply matter of “this one is better than the other one”. Each of them has its own strengths and weakness. In this article, you can find out the differences between noise cancellation and noise isolation and which one you actually need.


How do they work?

Noise isolation:

Many in-ear and on-ear headphones isolate you from ambient noise. Some are better than others. The idea here is a physical barrier between your ear and the offending sounds. With over-ear headphones, the noise isolation usually isn’t a lot, but enough to muffle the surrounding sound somewhat. For example, Mixcder HD501.



With in-ear headphones, how much sound they reduce is based entirely on how good a seal you're able to get. Everyone’s ears are different, and as such, in-ear headphones fit everyone differently. For example Mixcder R9 does a great job in physically cutting out some noise for its universal fitness, which thanks to included multi-size earips and airwings.

Mixcder R9


Noise cancellation

Noise cancelling headphones use microphones to listen to the incoming sound, then some fancy processing creates inverse waves which get fed back into the headphones. These inverse waves cancel out the ambient sound. One way to think about this is if the ambient noise (an airplane engine, say), is “+1” the headphones would create and add “-1” so your ear hears 0 (i.e. nothing).


The whole process happens so quickly that you can’t tell it is happening. However, it’s not so fast that it can handle every single sound. That’s why noise cancellation works best against consistent noise, like the hum in a plane or people talking at a constant volume. New and sudden sounds, like the loud bang of a slammed door, can still be heard.


Mixcder E7 is an incredible wireless active noise cancelling headphone doing an amazingly effective job of making it seem like you’re just sitting or standing or whatever in a quieter place.



Which type is better for you?

Now that you know the differences between the two types of noise reduction, you need to figure out which one is better. And it’s not a simple answer. Both have their own pros and cons.


Noise reduction level

Generally speaking, noise cancellation is more effective than noise isolation. That’s simply because noise cancelling headphones typically make use of both cancellation and isolation--you get twice as much reduction that way.


Sound quality

This one depends entirely on how much of an audiophile you are. In noise cancelling headphones, the built-in DSP and extra sound waves can interfere with sound quality. While it’s less of an issue if you buy a high-quality cans.


Noise isolation doesn’t generate any extra waves, so the results are more true to the original sounds. Sound engineers prefer these noise-isolating headphones since the audio is what it’s meant to sound like.



Noise cancellation won’t work if the battery is dead--and that means this is yet another gadget you need to charge regularly. You’re probably already used to doing that, especially if you use wireless headphones, but it’s something to consider.


But remember, high-quality noise cancelling headphones also include strong isolation, so even when the battery is out, you can continue to listen.



Given the extra technology needed, it’s no surprise that active noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones cost more than isolation-only equivalents. They are among the most expensive headphones around, but they’re well worth it.


It is all about buying the right headphones for your budget. Here are two tips for you to help you make the choice. First, decide whether you prefer in-ear, or over-ear headphones. Second, make your final choices after balancing the four factors mentioned above and your budget.



Noise Cancellation vs. Isolation: Which Headphones Are Better for You?

Noise Cancelling Vs. Noise Isolating Headphones