The headphone industry has witnessed various technological innovations over the years. From old bulky earpieces which have been transformed to smaller, lighter more comfortable products to the introduction of in ear headphones which thanks to miniaturisation sit inside the ear itself and despite their size still deliver high quality sound.
One of the more recent developments has been the growth in noise cancelling headphones designed to block out external noise. These are particularly useful in situations such as when travelling on planes, buses, tubes or trains or any other noisy atmosphere which might make listening to your music, movie or phone call difficult.
What is the technology behind noise cancellation? Basically there are two types of noise reduction, passive or active.
Active noise cancellation involves the use of small microphones and electrical circuitry built into the headphone earpieces or a small control box in the case of in ear headphones. The microphone picks up the ambient sound and via the electrical circuit creates sound waves which are opposite to the external noise thereby “cancelling” them out. This method can achieve up to 98% reduction in external noise heard by the headphone wearer. The headphones which operate this form of noise cancellation require batteries or have small rechargeable batteries built in to power the electronic circuitry.
Passive noise cancelling headphones work in one of two ways; with in-ear headphones or earphones the earpieces fit inside the ear canal thus reducing the amount of noise that can get in. This is sometimes referred to noise isolation. Secondly for headphones manufacturers have developed earpieces made of soft comfortable noise absorbing foam which completely enclose the ear (over ear headphones) and limit the amount of external noise that can be heard by absorption of the foam.
Another great use for noise cancelling headphones is when one is partaking in certain sporting activities. Many sports headphones utilize the noise isolation method to enable people to concentrate on their running, their gym routine or other activities without being distracted by surrounding noise.
Sports headphones need to be well built to withstand the rigors of energetic activity and many available in today's' marketplace are often sweat proof ensuring the products do not get affected by perspiration from activity or rain when outside. Some sports headphones as well as being washable after use even have anti bacterial agents infused in the earpieces to maximize hygiene. It is not uncommon for such earphones to also have the functionality to receive and make mobile calls either wired or via Bluetooth- no matter what one is doing people want to be connected and to be reachable. Headphone development has come a long way in the last 20 years and it will continue to develop to meet the needs of a changing world.