Noise-cancelling headphones: what should I look out for when buying one?

headphones

Noise-cancelling headphones: what should I look out for when buying one?

What should I look out for when buying ANC headphones?
Which noise canceling headphones are the best?
How do noise canceling headphones work?
What is transparency mode?
Every headphone can do passive noise canceling to a greater or lesser extent
Noise canceling or noise suppression offers every headphone. Many manufacturers even indicate this external damping in their technical data as a decibel value. Because headphones shield the ears, certain frequency ranges are naturally lowered or suppressed. This is called “passive noise cancelling”.

Active noise canceling (ANC)
Active noise suppression or ANC, on the other hand, always needs electricity, since built-in microphones constantly “listen” to the outside world and a built-in chip rotates the phase of the sound waves by 180 degrees. This anti-noise should then extinguish noises from the outside, which unfortunately does not always work reliably with many cheap offers from no-name manufacturers. Unpleasant hissing or sometimes drastic sound changes are unfortunately not uncommon. A candidate where the sound doesn’t change at all and the noise isn’t perceptible either is the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 (for testing) .

If you travel a lot or want to be quiet in noisy environments, headphones with active noise canceling are a must.
Some premium manufacturers are now offering clever ANC headphones that go far beyond simple noise filtering. Air pressure sensors detect whether you are currently sitting on the plane. The active noise canceling then adapts accordingly. The Sony WH-1000XM4 (for testing) or Sony WF-1000XM4 (for testing) , for example, can do this . The Bose Headphones 700 (for the test) don’t do that, but their very good noise suppression can be adjusted in ten levels thanks to the app.

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You can also set headphones so that voices such as announcements on the train or the pilot are let through. So you can enjoy peace and quiet without missing important information. This function is also called transparency mode or hear through mode . Headphones that master the transparency mode to perfection are, for example, the Apple AirPods Max (for testing) and the Apple AirPods Pro (for testing) . But progress does not stop here either. So own the Technics EAH-AZ60 (to test)two different settings for the Hear Through mode. A general mode ensures safety on the road, as all environmental noises are faded in. Another mode, on the other hand, specializes in the human voice and clearly emphasizes it.

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