How do noise cancelling headphones work? (Smithsonian.com)
How do noise cancelling headphones work?
Lexile

Just by covering your ears, headphones help block the sounds around you. But active noise cancellation takes a little bit more work.

Different sounds have different waveforms. And a microphone on noise cancelling headphones registers the waveforms coming from the sounds around you. Then, the headphones create a new waveform thats the opposite - the antiphase of the original sound. By adding the two waves together, they cancel each other out in whats called destructive interference. And the result is glorious silence.

Sort of.

It can be tricky to get the antiphase just right, and to keep pace with abrupt noises. So active noise cancellation works best with continuous and low frequency sounds like plane engines.

Critical thinking challenge: Why are noise-canceling headphones most effective against noise from plane engines? Is it because the engines are so loud?


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COMMENTS (50)
  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    6/16/2014 - 03:41 p.m.

    I think that having these people make these headphones because they can help other people that needs these type of headphones so that they can do things like help in the airport by helping the people and letting them be safe everyday.

    • Jason0421-YYCA
      8/05/2014 - 02:10 p.m.

      REBUTTAL:
      I think that you should write more than that because if you didn't write more than 1 sentence. I think that you these types of headphones aren't used much because people don't need them. Also if the people do need the special headphones, it would be dangerous if there was like something like a fire, because you wouldn't be able to hear the fire alarm.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    6/16/2014 - 04:29 p.m.

    I think this is cool because this is the power of science being explained to you.Critical thinking challenge: Why are noise-canceling headphones most effective against noise from plane engines? Is it because the engines are so loud?

  • Jason0421-YYCA
    6/16/2014 - 04:33 p.m.

    I think that learning this can help you because if you were in a tough situation with noise, you can just wear a headphone and then cancel the sound. Also if you were in a job, you can wear it and you can concentrate with laser eye vision. I believe that this is very educationL to kids, parents, and of course busy workers.
    Critical thinking challenge: Why are noise-canceling headphones most effective against noise from plane engines? Is it because the engines are so loud?
    Answer: Noise-canceling headphones are most effective against plane engines because engines are usually just very vibrant.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    6/16/2014 - 04:39 p.m.

    I think this is cool because this is the power of science being explained to you about noise. This is cool because Eric is explaining something that many people don't get at all. I still do not get why you still need headphones for plane engines. It's confusing. Well, that's science for you and me.
    Critical thinking challenge: Why are noise-canceling headphones most effective against noise from plane engines? Is it because the engines are so loud?
    Answer: Noise-cancelling headphones are most effective against plane engines because engines are very loud and you would have to hear it for a long time which can become very annoying.

  • Ashley0207-yyca
    7/01/2014 - 05:28 p.m.

    Wow now that is cool. I felt very amazed because how do headphones cancel the noise on a T.V. Maybe I can make something like that when you sleep because in a noisy city it is very loud and annoying during the,night.

  • William1327
    7/09/2014 - 10:10 a.m.

    I Actually have a set of noise canceling headphones! They work very well. But i only have one question, and that is who discovered noise canceling? Amazing headphones!

  • DominicGlitchy4
    7/09/2014 - 10:18 a.m.

    It's because if you have two they cancel out and it echos pretty much. If it had one headphone, it would sound weird but it sounds okay.

  • DominicGlitchy4
    7/09/2014 - 10:28 a.m.

    I don't have a fond with the headphones because they get me red ears and there are speakers on the computer already. Sometimes when there's a video that's loud and you don't expected at all, it's going to be loud!

  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    7/17/2014 - 01:52 p.m.

    REBUTTAL
    I think that you are very wrong about these headphones. They are built to block noise that are very loud, not a TV. I think that you should have read the article even more because from your article, you just read the title. I think that you so wrong about everything in your comment because you are ot even thinking about the article and thinking about the tile.

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