Noise Cancelling Headphones, Do they work?

Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work?

Headphones are something that we use almost every day; we listen to music, podcasts, news and make calls on the go.

They seem like a new thing, but noise cancelling headphones have been around since the 1950s and where first used in aviation. Now everyone can get their hands on them, and it doesn’t have to cost you a kidney.

How do they work?

I always find the term ‘noise cancelling’ a little misleading, as some might take this as ‘silent’ which these headphones will not do, and it’s important to understand that.

Noise cancelling headphones just reduce the amount of ambient noise, rather than creating dead silence. They work by using microphones to pick up the outside noise, and neutralise the noise by playing a sound that mimics the ambient noise but is phase-inverted by 180 degrees (anti-noise, if you will!)  The two sounds cancel each other out inside your ears. The amount of ambient noise the headphones cancel out depends on the make, model and shape of the headphones, your own hearing and the frequency of the surrounding ambient noise. It’s not an exact science!

Do they work?

As long as you get a decent legitimate pair, yes, they should work. The results will vary based on the above, but you will get reduced ambient noise.

Personally, I find them great for traveling, especially on planes and coaches. My headphones, which were not particularly expensive, manage to drown out the constant drone of engine noise and background chatter. I now honestly cannot travel without them.


There are a few benefits to these headphones that you might not even realise

  • Getting a decent pair should block out annoying noise around you.
  • Protects your hearing by allowing you to reduce the volume of the audio you are listening to. How often with your normal headphones do you find yourself maxing out your volume level so you can hear what you’re listening to over the background noise? Noise cancelling headphones take away the background noise and allow you to play your own sound at a level that is better for your hearing.
  • If you work or study in a busy environment, they can give you a reprieve from the world around you and allow to concentrate on what you’re doing.
  • They can help you sleep, take away a busy road outside or a snoring partner, and at least partially reduce the sound of a screaming baby!
  • For those with a sensitivity to noise, it can help stop them from becoming overwhelmed, overstimulated, irritated, or avoidant and help keep them grounded and calm.


There aren’t many to be honest. Cost can be a big one, depending on what design you are after, but noise cancelling headphones are now so popular that you can easily find a decent pair for under £50.

Obviously, in order to do what they do, the headphones are fairly bulky, so if size matters, these might not be for you.

Are they worth it?

Yes. If you are reading this blog then you are probably already thinking about buying a pair and they are totally worth it. They have so many benefits beyond being able to hear your music better that it’s really not a hard decision to make at all.

Contact Tai on 0345 450 7876