Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Protect Hearing?

Listening to music is an exciting method of passing the time during this time. Music allows you to forget your problems and relax for a while. That’s why headphones are popular. Therefore that leads to our question of whether noise-canceling headphones can protect hearing.

Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Protect Hearing?

Noise-canceling headphones provide hearing protection, but there are always some limiting factors. There are two noise-canceling headphones, passive and active. Passive headphones don’t use any power to block sound, while active ones create waves 180 degrees out of phase with the surrounding noises.

Proceed reading the article to understand better the noise canceling headphones. Therefore, you’ll be able to choose an ideal one depending on your surroundings.

What Are Noise Cancelling Headphones?

Noise Cancelling Headphones are headsets made precisely to cancel external noise. Some noise-canceling headphones block external sound entirely, making them effective. Some may not be effective, but you will find the best options later in this article.

How Different Types of Noise-Canceling Headphones Protect Hearing

  • Passive Noise Cancelling Headphones

These particular headphones are the type that doesn’t rely on power sources such as batteries to block the sound, and they simply use materials that are made from, such as thick padding. These headphones can connect to your device just the way ear muffs do.

Passive noise-canceling headphones offer commendable performance, and pilots even use them. This usage by pilots is because they provide general protection in most noise situations. They are also ideal for protection in mid and high- frequency sound levels but not for low-frequency.

They do well in minimizing external noises and consequently protect hearing from abrupt loud sounds. However, they may be ineffective for low-frequency sound.

  • Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Active headphones are good for consistent noises where the battery power is suitable to produce sound pressure canceling the external noise. They are mostly useless at high pitch and sudden sounds but work well in low-frequencies.

The active headphones are excellent as you can listen to music at low volume, which is ideal for hearing protection. You’ll need a volume increase for regular headsets if you’re on a bus or train, which isn’t advisable as it may cause hearing loss.

Despite these headsets being more expensive, they are certainly worth the money. They are made to analyze the noise in the surroundings and respond to it. This feature allows you, as the user, to only focus on the sound of the headphones rather than external force.

These headphones determine the surrounding waves of sound and match their sound to be the same as that of the surrounding. This sound matching implies that you don’t need to put a high volume on the headsets to protect your hearing.

The best place to use them is on a plane since they are ideal for eliminating the constant airplane humming. Unlike the passive headsets, the active noise-canceling headphones can’t guarantee you won’t hear sudden sounds like gunshots.

Noise-Canceling Headphones and Hearing Protection

Noise-canceling headphones give safety to your hearing, but it mostly depends on your situation.

Passive headphones are suitable for many occasions since they provide some protection. Active headphones may work perfectly in most situations, while in others, they may fail to work completely.

Soundproofing is similar to passive noise canceling as it involves using materials to block sound physically. These headphones are heavy and may cause less comfort if worn for a long time. The passive noise canceling headphones protect against abrupt sounds like gunshots.

Active headphones need time before they are entirely effective. They accurately measure outside noises and ensures that the noise can’t affect you.

Wearing Noise Cancelling Headphones All Day

Noise-canceling headphones are useful a lot when it comes to protecting your ears from damage caused by loud noise. Wearing it all day does not have a negative impact but would rather help prevent damage that would otherwise result from being exposed to long hours of noise.

In 2011-2012, a study was done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The study was for analysis of the effect of long exposure to noise on people.

This study highlighted that 12.5%of children between 6-19 years and 17% of adults between 20-69 years suffer permanent damage. The damage is due to Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). NIHL is hearing loss caused by being exposed to high pitch every day.

As most professions relate to noise production, prolonged noise levels may lead to hearing loss. You may then avoid this hearing loss by using noise-canceling headphones. That is the reason why most workers using loud machinery use noise-canceling headphones all day.

Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Protect Hearing? |

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How to Choose the Best Noise Cancellation Headphones?

You need to check the type of headphone, the frequency, and the quality of the headphones when you want to buy a good one. The person who can correct your choice about the headphones you need and where you’ll use them is you. This choice needs to factor into your considerations.

Everyone has something they may like in the current market, and we’ll assist you in getting your perfect fit.

High-Frequency Noise Protection

If you require protection from high-level noises like firecrackers and gunshots, the following headphones may suit your needs. However, increasing the volume to the max may cause more harm than good.

  • Skullcandy Passive Headphones

The Skullcandy passive headphones are among the top picks for passive headphones. However, they are large in size and unrealistic, but they perform excellent work in blocking high-pitched sounds.

Their price is around $60, and this is a reasonable price because they can give service for a long time.

Low-Frequency Noise Protection

If you constantly use public means of transport, you’ll realize you require active noise-canceling headphones. These headphones can amaze you with how well they work on us in the places mentioned in the article.

  • TaoTronics Active Headphones

Despite many active noise-canceling headphones, the TaoTronic stands out due to its affordable price and customer reviews. They are not expensive as they cost around $55, provide good performance, and are of good quality.

  • Paww Active Headphones

If by any chance, you want to put aside extra cash to purchase a perfect set of noise-cancelation headphones, then the Paww headphones are for you.

Not only do they provide excellent performance, but you can also fold them, making them ideal for traveling. Therefore you’ll have less worry about them breaking while inside your bag. They are not that cheap, as they cost around $100.

How to Protect Hearing

You can protect your hearing by having minimal headphone usage, using low volumes, and avoiding your headphones whenever you are sleeping. The primary way you protect your hearing is by using noise-canceling headphones and following some guidelines.

  • Minimal Headphone Usage

The longer you use your headphones, the more damage may happen. Therefore, you should avoid using them consistently for more than two hours. You also need to set a daily limit, thus preventing excessive usage.

  • Using Low Volume

From different researchers, the volume needs to be less than 60%. If external noises cause you to exceed the ideal volume, then avoid wearing the headphones.

  • Don’t Sleep With Headphones

Most today’s people like listening to music before sleeping and end up sleeping with headphones. You need to avoid this as it stimulates the ears thus leading to permanent ear damage.

  • Use Headphone Alternatives

If you often walk around noisy areas like subways , choose alternatives instead of using headphones. The other options may include earmuffs that can also drown out sound while safeguarding your hearing.

  • Hearing Test

You should visit a doctor if you’re a regular headphone user and encounter hearing problems. The recommendable way to protect your hearing is to get checked when you meet the issue.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Ear Muffs vs. Passive Noise-Canceling Headphones

Ear muffs can work similarly to passive noise-canceling headphones. They are both nice to protect against high-pitched noises like people talking and even babies crying. They are limited in engine noises and low-frequency bass from speakers.

Therefore, if you require noise isolation, you must use ear muffs rather than passive noise-canceling headphones.

Active vs. Passive Noise Cancelling Headphones in an Overview

Despite the difference in the noises they block, other factors need consideration to find the one that suits you.

Active noise-canceling headphones are light and comfortable. However, passive headphones, due to the use of physical material to block sound, tend to be bulky and uncomfortable if worn for a long.

Some passive noise-canceling headphones that are lighter and more comfortable but expensive have been manufactured.

Are Noise-Canceling Headphones Safe?

Unlike mobile phones and microwave ovens, noise-canceling headphones, active or passive, don’t emit low-level radiation and are safe. They are only harmful when audio plays at high volume. The noise canceling process in active headphones has no effect.


Running away completely from headphones from our life is nearly impossible. However, your health matters a lot. The noise-canceling headphones protect your hearing and reduce the damage that regular headphones can.

If you only want to protect yourself from noise, consider choosing ear muffs rather than noise-canceling headphones, as they are cheaper.

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