What are the differences between all the different noise cancellations, and what works best for you? Let’s get into it.

Here’s the deal: Not all noise cancelling headsets are created equal.

Passive noise cancellation is a physical mechanism that separates your audio experience from intrusive background noise. This can be due to the foam padding around the earcup, the gel insert that goes into the ear canal, or the way an earpiece is shaped that dampens the noise levels of ambient sound. This is sometimes referred to as noise isolation.

Active noise cancellation is an electronically driven mechanism using internal microphones to sense ambient noise and to generate a mirror image of the sound. This signal is then sent to internal electronics that creates the exact opposite sound waves, negating the original noise. The signal then travels to the earphones, resulting in the ambient noise being reduced. This works best with repetitive low-frequency noise and non-human voice sounds. “Active noise-cancellation usually requires activation of a specialized mic that detects external noise patterns, then generates a sound to neutralize most traces of the noise.”

From HowStuffWorks

Microphone noise cancellation is a trickier subject. It takes multiples factors into account, including active noise cancellation inputs that create the matching waveform that dampens ambient noise, which creates a clearer outgoing sound.

To get some of the main questions out of the way:

Headphones or headsets? Headphones are primarily for music or personal listening, while headsets are generally considered communication devices and often include at least one microphone. Your typical earbuds are considered headphones, even though they often have an integrated microphone.

Do I need active noise cancellation? Technically, no. Many headsets and headphones offer at least some level of passive noise cancellation. However, if you work in a loud environment, active noise cancellation can help cut down on that ambient noise that can be distracting.

Is microphone noise cancellation the same as active noise cancellation? No. Where active noise cancellation uses the inputs from the microphones to clear the ambient noise around the user, microphone noise cancellation uses those same inputs to smooth out the transmitted voice sounds to the far end. Be advised that microphone noise cancellation does NOT get rid of all human voice sounds.

What headset should I choose for each? That depends on what you’re using your headset for. If you need better active noise cancellation to help focusing in a noisy environment away from the office, earbuds like the Jabra Evolve2 Buds are a great portable choice. If you need a better microphone for taking meetings, the powerful microphone noise cancellation of the Poly Voyager 4320 might be your best choice. If you need a good workhorse of a headset that offers the best of all worlds, then a Bluetooth device like the Poly Voyager Focus2 or Jabra Evolve2 75 offer the most well-rounded sounds experiences currently.

If you have questions about what devices might work best for you, please reach out to us at info@btpi.com, or give us a call at 1-800-457-4287. We’re happy to set you up with the best device for your needs!