How Active noise cancelling works in headphones

They themselves listened and found all the answers for best noise cancelling headphones.

The technology of active noise cancelling is not new, but so far it is supported by a relatively small part of headphones and headsets. About how it is relevant, whether it works qualitatively, as we promise, and what can be learned from the results of relatively simple tests, we’ll tell you today.

A bit of theory

The systems of active noise cancellation are not so difficult. Their work is based on the fact that two identical waves with opposite phases, being superimposed on each other, are mutually suppressed .

In practice, this principle is implemented using a special microphone, built-in headphones, and an electronic unit that reverses the phase of noise waves and gives the resulting signal to the audio track along with the music. This “anti-noise”, is formed with a real noise, they absorb each other, creating a feeling of complete isolation from the outside world.

Quite understandable, is not it? But how does this feel in practice and does the technology always work exactly as the manufacturer promises? We decided to check everything ourselves, and for this we armed ourselves with three models of best noise cancelling headphones from Audio-Technica, belonging to different price ranges: ATH-ANC33iS, ATH-ANC40BT and ATH-MSR7NC.

Let’s go, so to speak, from the smaller to the larger, and at the same time tell about all these extraordinary devices and their capabilities.

beast bluetooth headphones


  • Diameter of the speaker membrane: 13 mm
  • Frequency range: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB
  • Resistance: 32 Ohm
  • Battery type: AAA
  • Battery life: 60 hours
  • Weight (without battery): 26 gr
  • Cable: 1,3 m, minijack 3,5 mm

The most compact and inexpensive headphones in our testing support the proprietary technology QuietPoint , which, according to the manufacturer, can neutralize 90% of extraneous noise. In addition to its main function, ATH-ANC33iS also have all the functions of the headset, for which the right earpiece has a corresponding button with a button.

In addition to it, closer to the plug of the audio input on the cable is located one more unit, responsible just for noise suppression. An AAA battery is inserted into it, which is enough for 60 hours of QuietPoint operation. However, even when the battery is discharged, the headphones still continue to work, albeit in a passive mode.


Noise suppression

Quite frankly, the “black hole” effect described in the literature has not been achieved with these headphones. No matter how you fix them in the ear canal, no matter how you position yourself in relation to the source of extraneous sounds, some of the noise still penetrates. Especially well it is audible, when the system of noise-canceling works, and music, actually, is not present. Of course, in life you will not do this, but this is how you can most objectively assess the work of QuietPoint in ATH-ANC33iS.

When listening to music tracks, even at a low volume, everything, of course, is much better. That part of the noise, which still penetrates into the ear, is in most cases not enough to spoil the pleasure. It is interesting that with different types of noise the system demonstrates different efficiency . Excellent sounds are cut off moving train, perforator, noise of cars. At the same time, with an obsessive call of the old phone or children’s crying QuietPoint copes worse.

Do not worry, we love children and we will never make them cry! For the experiment, there was quite enough of a good speaker system, a pair of stereo speakers and a library of sound samples. 🙂


General impressions

In general, ATH-ANC33iS left a pleasant impression. These are good dynamic headphones for their money. They do not grab stars from the sky, but at the same time they confidently play out all that is needed, in the entire dynamic range. There will be no “crystal middle” of the rebar emitters, as well as bass quality high-end speakers, but there will not be anywhere a smooth AFC, quite a decent panorama and a comfortable fit in the ears. Replacement ear pads, of course, are attached.

The noise cancellation unit is light enough not to pull the headphones out of the ears, besides it is provided with a reliable clip, which makes it convenient to fix it on the clothes. By the way, there is an additional volume control on it, which is surely useful both for listening to music with your best noise cancelling headphones and for telephone conversations. The cable is simple, without any frills, but for some reason it does not get mixed up, even if it is heavily twisted in your pocket.