The Best Sound Reducing Earphones
Nothing ruins a moment of pure listening bliss more effectively than noise, especially when you’re wearing earphones. Whatever type of music you’re into – whether you’re nodding your head to the pulsating beat of a lively techno dance track, or rocking out hard on your air guitar – you won’t be able to completely enjoy the experience if you can hear cars honking in the background, or your neighbor’s dog howling at the moon. For situations like these, your regular earphones just won’t do. You need sound cancelling earphones.
Also often described as noise cancelling, sound reducing earphones have the ability to block out noise to a certain extent. This enables you to listen to your music in clear detail, without letting noise wreak havoc on the sound quality. You might find that there are plenty of sound reducing headphones on the market today. If you are looking to get yourself a new pair because the ones you have now just don’t keep ambient noise out effectively, then you may want to know more about how these earphones cancel out noise.
Not all sound reducing headphones treat ambient noise the same way. You will find that some methods of noise cancellation work better than others, but at a cost. The better a pair of sound reducing headphones are at blocking out or cancelling background noise, the lower its sound quality tends to be. This is because the noise cancelling design of some headphones cause the output audio to bounce around inside the sound chamber, resulting in a muddled sound filled with lots of echo.
Two types of sound reducing earphones
There are two general types of sound reducing headphones, with each having their own sets advantages and disadvantages. Which one you go for depends on what you need them for, and the environment that you intend to use them in. Read on and learn more about passive and active noise cancellation,
Passive Sound Reduction
Some headphones use passive noise reduction to prevent background noise from interfering with the sound that you want to hear. They do this through the use of their design and physical construction. In theory, all headphones can provide some passive noise cancellation, it’s just that some are better at it than others. Of the different types of headphones, those that have a closed-back configuration, whether they be circum-aural or supra-aural, offer the highest amount of noise reduction.
In-ear type headphones also provide a fair amount of sound reduction because they act as passive earplugs that prevent sound from entering the ear canal. The soft silicone tips create a tight but comfortable seal that sound waves are unable to penetrate. Passive sound reducing earphones also provide a decent amount of hearing protection, though if pitted against the noise generated by a jet engine, for example, their limitations become quite evident. This is where active noise cancelling headphones have the advantage.
Active Sound Reduction
Instead of trying to simply prevent sound from reaching your ears, active noise cancelling headphones send out an equal but opposing sound wave that cancels out background noise through destructive interference. Active sound reducing earphones have a microphone that picks up and samples ambient noise. The sample is then fed to an integrated processor to generate the antiphase, which is then played back by the speaker. When the antiphase and the ambient sound waves collide, they effectively cancel each other out.
Although active sound reducing headphones do a better job at cancelling ambient noise than their passive counterparts, they are also more complex and therefore more expensive than the latter. They also rely on a power source, such as an AAA battery, in order for their sound reducing circuitry to function. Active sound reducing headphones also tend to be much bigger and bulkier than standard headphones because of all the additional electronic components that make up the noise cancelling circuitry.
5 Of the Top Sound Reducing Earphones Available Today
Active sound reducing in-ear headphones have been less popular than over-ear and even on-ear types, but with the QuietComfort 20i, audio electronics industry leader Bose clearly intends to change that. Other than being able to deliver superb audio quality, what really makes the QuietComfort 20i stand out is its highly effective sound reduction. Unlike other sound reducing headphones, music playback on the QuietComfort 20i will continue in passive mode should the battery for the active sound reduction circuitry run out of juice. The headphones have a compact inline control box that lets you switch between active and passive sound reduction modes. The soft ear tips create a snug fit inside your ear, without passively blocking out sound. For a pair of in-ears the QuietComfort 20i is bit pricey, retailing for around $250, but with its good audio quality and superior sound reducing capabilities, its value is unquestionable. The QuietComfort 20i is compatible with iPods, iPhones, and other iOS devices. For Android users, Bose offers the equally amazing QuietComfort 20.
Bose offers its second entry in this list of the top sound reducing headphones on the market in the SoundTrue in-ear headphones. With patented StayHear tips that provide a stable and comfortable fit, as well a durable build that is capable of withstanding the rigors of on-the-go listening, the SoundTrue is ideal for the audiophile who is always on the move. The SoundTrue also delivers audio quality that is as good as its name suggests – tonally balanced and optimized for natural sound reproduction, allowing it to give you the flat response that few other headphones in its price range offer. It comes with an additional three differently sized ear tips so that you can customize the way the SoundTrue fits in your ear. It is fitted with an inline mic and remote for hands-free calling, and offers enough passive isolation to prevent ambient noise from ruining your listening experience. Costing around half of what you would pay for the QuietComfort, the SoundTrue delivers superb audio, decent sound reduction, and a high level of comfort that not too many of its competitors can match. The average retail price for the Bose SoundTrue is a reasonable $120.
Wood has unique acoustical properties, making it an ideal building material for musical instruments, speakers, and other audio equipment. The NRG Premium from Symphonized Audio makes use of wood and its amazing properties to bring you unparalleled sound though natural audio reproduction. The NRG Premium also provides a good amount of passive sound isolation, and delivers a balanced range of frequencies. It is compatible with just about any audio device that has a 3.5mm audio jack, and is fitted with an inline mic that lets you take calls hands-free. Its soft silicone ear buds ensure a snug fit, effectively sealing out ambient noise. Retailing for around $25, the Symphonized NRG Premium delivers outstanding bass response and acoustic performance for a pair of headphones in its price range.
With its exceptional sound, superior bass response, and a design geared towards maximum comfort, the Klipsch Image S4 gives you more than what its $80 price tag suggests. Arguably one of the better products in the sub-$100 category, the Image S4 features an effective noise isolating configuration that seals out unwanted noise. Its uniquely angled tips should give you a precise and comfortable fit, but in case they don’t, Klipsch included two additional ear tips – one smaller and one larger than what comes attached to the headphones – so that you can customize the way the Image S4 fits in your ear. It is compatible with audio devices that have the standard 3.5mm audio jack. The sound quality on the Image S4 is outstanding, considering its size, and its frequency response rivals that of some its bigger and pricier competitors. The Image S4 comes with a few nifty extras, such as a convenient storage box and cleaning tool. Between its remarkable audio quality, amazing sound reduction, and extremely comfortable design, the Klipsch Image S4 is unquestionably one of the better sound reducing products in the consumer electronics market today.
With great features that parallel its earlier entry in this list, the GLXY Premium from Symphonized delivers amazing sound fidelity and remarkable bass response despite its size. Handcrafted with real wood and equipped with soft silicone ear tips, the GLXY Premium is about as comfortable as it goes as far as sound reducing headphones are concerned. The tips also serve as passive sound reducers, sealing out noise and providing you with a better listening experience. The GLXY Premium is fitted with an inline microphone for hands-free calling, and its gold-plated audio jack ensures a lossless connection to your audio device. Compatible with iPhones, iPods, and other portable audio devices that have a 3.5mm audio output port, the GLXY Premium stands as one of the better performing sound reducing earphones on the market today.