- What is Noise-Cancellation?
- How Does Noise-Canceling Works in Headphones?
- Passive Noise Cancellation: What is it?
- Active Noise Cancellation: Definition
- DIY Noise-Canceling Headphones: 5 Easy Steps
- What to Expect If You Soundproof Your Headphones
- Perks of Using Noise-Canceling Headphones
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Everyone knows how pricey noise-canceling headphones can get. There are times when a high-end gadget that you know will improve your quality of life is worth the splurge, but there are other times when you just can’t justify the expense.
Maybe you’ve wanted a pair of noise-canceling headphones to help drown out the sound of your noisy neighbors but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on them. Or maybe you’re looking for a Christmas gift for someone who already has a pair of good headphones. Whatever the reason, you want to know how to make noise-canceling headphones without spending much money.
The good news is that it is possible to make a DIY noise-canceling headphone amplifier for around $10 using some standard electronic components. This article will show you how to make noise-canceling headphones, plus additional information about the different types of noise-canceling headphones and how they work.
What is Noise-Cancellation?
Noise cancellation is reducing or eliminating unwanted sounds from a given environment. It can be anything from engine noise while you’re flying to the sound of people talking nearby in a busy office. Noise-canceling headphones were first developed for airline pilots to help them cope with noise and improve comfort on lengthy trips.
Today, noise-canceling headphones are used by people in various settings, including airports, office buildings, and even on city streets. They can be especially helpful for people who suffer from tinnitus or other hearing-related issues.
How Does Noise-Canceling Works in Headphones?
Noise-canceling headphones are the best upgrade you can make if you’re commuting or listening to music outside of a soundproofed area. To get a grip on canceling noise, you first need to know what it is.
What is sound?
Sound is a type of energy that travels through the air, or any other medium, as a vibration of pressure waves. We measure waves in amplitude (height) and frequency (cycles per second).
Amplitude is the strength or magnitude of a sound wave, and frequency is the number of times a sound wave repeats itself in a second. The higher the amplitude and frequency of a sound wave, the louder and higher-pitched it will be, respectively.
What is noise?
Noise is any unwanted sound that can be distracting or annoying. Many things may cause it, like construction work, car engines, or loud music.
Noise-canceling headphones work by using a microphone to detect the ambient noise around you. This noise is then processed by a digital signal processor (DSP) and inverted to be out of phase with the original sound. This inversion effectively cancels the noise, leaving you with just the music or audio content you want to hear.
Passive Noise Cancellation: What is it?
Passive noise cancellation is a type of noise-cancellation technology found in most over-the-ear headphones. PNC is a simple process that uses the physical properties of sound to reduce unwanted noise.
When sound waves hit a solid object, they cause the thing to vibrate. This vibration can be transmitted through the air and into your ear, causing the noise. By using large, padded ear cups that cover your entire ear, headphones can reduce the amount of sound transmitted into your ear. Over-the-ear headphones are better at canceling noise than on-ear or earbud headphones.
How effective is passive noise cancellation?
Passive noise cancellation is not as effective as active noise cancellation. However, it can still provide a noticeable noise reduction. The amount of noise canceled out will depend on the design of the headphones and the type of canceled sound.
When reducing background noise, both passive and active noise cancellations are excellent options. However, each has advantages and disadvantages depending on the blocked frequency range.
You can achieve a noise reduction of 15dB to 30dB by using earbuds with passive noise cancellation. Active noise-canceling headphones and earbuds better reduce lower frequencies. Aviation and helicopter pilots deal with a lot of low-frequency noise daily, so it makes sense that manufacturers originally developed the technology for that purpose. Using ANC, lower frequencies like lawnmowers, subway traffic, and airplanes can be reduced by as much as 60 decibels (dB). The overall reduction in ambient noise is an average of 30 decibels (dB).
Headphones that contain passive noise isolation are better at reducing mid and high-frequency noise than ANC earbuds.
Active Noise Cancellation: Definition
Your headphones or earbuds use noise-canceling technology to reduce the ambient noise around you. Microphones generate a phase-inverted sound in your headphones, which listen to the outside noise and generate a noise-canceling effect before reaching your ears. Antenna-cancelling technology works by creating equal but opposite noises.
Active noise cancellation, unlike passive noise isolation, requires a source of power. All ANC headphones and earphones required charging to benefit from active noise cancellation. That’s why they have reduced battery life.
Active noise cancellation is more straightforward to integrate into earbuds and headphones than passive noise cancellation. You can effectively block ambient noise with a custom-made PNC. Earbud manufacturers frequently use active noise cancellation to provide some noise reduction without changing the fit of their products. A proper fit is critical when using PNC, as your ears have unique shapes and sizes to accommodate.
DIY Noise-Canceling Headphones: 5 Easy Steps
Now that you know the basics of noise cancellation, you can begin to make your headphones using this technology. The following steps will show you how to create noise-canceling headphones in four easy steps.
1️⃣Choose the right headphones.
Noise-canceling headphones are not all created equal. If you’re looking to make a pair of headphones noise canceling, it’s crucial to pick the right ones. The best headphones for noise cancellation are over-the-ear headphones. They fit snugly around your ear and cover your entire ear canal. It helps to block out more ambient noise than on-ear or earbud headphones.
If you don’t have a pair of over-the-ear headphones, you can still make a pair of noise-canceling earbuds. Headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) will provide the best results. However, if you don’t have access to ANC earbuds, you can use earplugs with passive noise isolation.
There are a few things you need to consider when choosing headphones for noise cancellation:
- Headphone type (over-the-ear, on-ear, earbuds)
- Headphone sizes (bigger is better for noise cancellation)
- The types of noise you want to cancel out (low, mid, or high frequencies)
2️⃣Detach the earpieces from the earmuffs.
If you’re using a pair of over-the-ear headphones, detach the earpieces from the earmuffs. It will create an open space between the earpieces and the earmuffs. Simply pry the metal bands from the earpieces and cut off the fabric covering the headband to remove the earpieces.
Remove the swiveling metal brackets from the earpieces next. Due to the extreme sturdiness of these components, this can be a difficult task. Remove the earpieces by cutting the metal wires and then prying the plastic parts apart.
3️⃣Separate the headphones into pieces.
Take out all of the housing components around the headphones speakers. It will leave you with speaker housing, which you’ll need to cut down to a smaller size.
- Take the foam ear cushions off of your headphones.
- Remove the plastic grills that hold the speakers in place. Do this with caution, as the speakers have small, thin wires that may easily be torn out.
- Disconnect the remaining section of the plastic speaker housing from the headband using the screw.
- Cut the other plastic sections in half to remove the headphone cables and discard the remaining plastic.
- Finally, the headpiece should only have two speakers attached to it. Remember that the speakers are linked via sensitive connections, so be careful.
While dismantling the headphones, remove the netting off the ear cushions that came with them. We’ll need this later.
4️⃣Assemble the earmuff earpieces.
The earmuffs will serve as the housing for our noise-canceling headphones. Begin by cutting the fabric covering off of the headband.
- Take off the ear cushions of the earpieces. It easily slides into tabs on the cup’s inside edge.
- Remove the earpiece’s foam, but don’t throw it away.
- Make a hole in the middle of each earpiece using a drill. It is where you will attach the headband and earpieces.
- Cut a notch on the side of each earpiece. The speaker’s cable will enter the ear cups through this hole.
- Cut a slot in the bottom of the left earpiece for the signal wire.
5️⃣Put together the new headphones.
Now it’s time to put everything back together.
- Start by reattaching the earpieces to the headband using the metal bands and screws.
- Reattach the swiveling metal brackets to the earpieces. Make sure they’re in the correct position before tightening them down.
- Connect the housing components around the speakers. Be sure to put them back in the correct order and that they’re all facing the same way.
- Reattach the plastic grills that hold the speakers in place.
- Put back the headphone cables and screw in the remaining section of the plastic housing.
- Finally, reattach the netting on the ear cushions.
Now your noise-canceling earbuds are ready to use!
What to Expect If You Soundproof Your Headphones
When it comes to DIY noise-canceling headphones, you should expect a few things.
🎶Change in sound quality
Headphones come with standard ear cushions. That’s why replacing these components might influence the sound quality and acoustics of the headphones. If you feel that the sound quality of your freshly repaired DIY noise-canceling headphones is a little insufficient, you may use sound-boosting applications.
You can purchase some apps, such as “Bass Booster” and “Equalizer,” which will help improve sound quality. Bear in mind that these apps usually require access to your device’s settings, so read the app’s instructions carefully.
🎶Change in fit
Since you’ll be using different earmuffs, the fit of your DIY noise-canceling headphones might be a bit other than when they were new. The good news is that you can always adjust the headband and earpieces to get a snugger fit.
In some cases, the use of new or modified ear cushions might also change the fit of your noise-canceling headphones. If you encounter any fit issues, adjust the earpieces and headband accordingly.
🎶Reduced noise isolation
One of the main reasons people might want to soundproof their headphones is to improve the device’s noise isolation capabilities. Unfortunately, if you’re successful in your DIY noise-canceling headphone project, you can expect a reduction in noise isolation.
It is because standard ear cushions are usually designed to create an acoustic seal with the user’s ear canal. Without this seal, outside noise can more easily enter and affect the sound quality of your music or audio content.
Suppose you’re looking to reduce external noise. In that case, you might want to consider using active noise-canceling headphones instead of DIY noise-canceling headphones.
🎶Difficulty in hearing low-frequency sounds
One of the common problems with noise-canceling headphones is that they often muffle or completely silence low-frequency sounds. It may be a problem if you try to listen to something with a deep bassline, such as music or movie dialogue.
To counteract this, you can try increasing the bass on your device’s equalizer settings. Doing this will help make low-frequency sounds easier to hear without completely sacrificing the noise-canceling capabilities of your headphones.
🎶Weaker bass response
Since we’re not using the original ear cushions and replacing them with noise-canceling earmuffs, there will be a weaker bass response. If this is something that bothers you, you can purchase a pair of aftermarket ear cushions that will improve the quality of sound.
🎶Slight increase in overall volume
Since we’re using the earmuffs to house the noise-canceling components, there will be a slight increase in overall headphone volume. If you like to listen to lower volumes, you might want to consider this before repairing your headphones.
These are some things you can expect when you make your DIY noise-canceling headphones. Keep in mind that each project will be different, so there might be slight variations in the results. With a little bit of experimentation and adjustment, you’ll be able to create a pair of headphones that perfectly suits your needs.
Perks of Using Noise-Canceling Headphones
There are a few key benefits that come with using noise-canceling headphones. Here are a few of the perks you will experience.
⏩Better listening experience
Have you ever attempted to listen to music in a busy environment? If you do, you understand how frustrating it is to crank up the volume to drown out the sounds around you. However, it can be extremely harmful to your ears.
Noise-canceling headphones can help you avoid this problem by reducing or eliminating external noise. Reducing the amount of external noise can create a better listening experience. It is because you’ll be able to hear the music or audio content that you’re listening to more clearly.
⏩Reduced external noise
One of the main benefits of using noise-canceling headphones is that they can reduce the amount of external noise that enters your ears. It is especially helpful if you’re trying to concentrate on something or if you want to avoid hearing any unwanted sounds.
Active noise-canceling headphones are even better at reducing external noise. They use microphones to detect and cancel out any sound waves that are trying to enter your ears.
If you often have trouble focusing, using noise-canceling headphones can be a great way to boost your concentration. They can help you avoid distractions and create a more calm and conducive environment.
Many people find that using noise-canceling headphones while working or studying helps them stay focused for longer periods. Noise-canceling headphones are also great for canceling any ambient sounds that might be disruptive, such as construction noises or people talking.
Conversations can be more pleasant when you’re not trying to compete with external noises. It is because noise-canceling headphones can help reduce the sound entering your ears, making it easier to focus on the person you’re talking to.
You’ll also find that people tend to speak up louder when they’re aware that they’re the only sound source. It can result in better and more engaging conversations.
⏩Prevents hearing damage
Another great benefit of using noise-canceling headphones is that they can help prevent hearing damage. They can help you avoid crushing the volume to unhealthy levels to drown out external noise.
When using noise-canceling headphones, the device cancels the sound waves trying to enter your ears. It means that you’ll be able to listen to audio content at lower volumes, which is healthier for your ears.
⏩Enhances your sleeping habit
Noise-canceling headphones can also help improve your sleeping habit. They can help you avoid hearing any unwanted sounds that might keep you awake. Many people find that using noise-canceling headphones while sleeping helps them fall asleep faster and have a more restful night’s sleep. If you often have trouble sleeping, noise-canceling headphones might be a good option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can noise-canceling headphones cause dizziness?
A: Some people report feeling dizzy or lightheaded when using noise-canceling headphones for the first time. It is most likely because you’re not used to having such a quiet environment. However, this feeling should go away after a while. If it doesn’t, or if it gets worse, stop using the headphones and consult a doctor.
Q: How do I know if my headphones are noise-canceling?
A: Not all headphones are noise-canceling. However, most headphones marketed as “noise-canceling” will have some form of this technology. To test if your headphones are noise-canceling, try listening to some music with and without headphones. If you can hear a difference in noise level, then your headphones are probably noise-canceling.
Q: Does noise-canceling use microphones?
A: Yes, noise-canceling headphones use microphones to detect and cancel any sound waves trying to enter your ears. It allows them to reduce the amount of external noise that enters your ears.
Q: Do noise-canceling headphones block all sound?
A: No, noise-canceling headphones do not block all sound. They only reduce the amount of external noise that enters your ears. It means that you’ll still be able to hear things like people talking and cars driving by. However, you’ll find that these noises will be quieter than they would be if you weren’t using the headphones.
Q: Can I use noise-canceling headphones for phone calls?
A: Yes, you can use noise-canceling headphones for phone calls. Many people find that they work better than regular headphones for making calls. They help reduce the amount of background noise that you can hear on the other end of the call.
Q: Does noise-canceling work without music?
A: Yes, noise-canceling works without music. However, it’s not as effective when you’re not listening to any audio content. The headphones rely on the sound waves trying to enter your ears to cancel them out. If there’s no sound coming in, they can’t do their job correctly.
As a music lover, I find that noise-canceling headphones are a lifesaver. They allow me to concentrate on my work without being disturbed by the sound of people talking or cars driving by. Suppose you’re looking for a way to reduce the amount of external noise that’s affecting your daily life. In that case, noise-canceling headphones might be the answer. They’re affordable, easy to use, and can be a great addition to any audio setup.
However, if you want to save money, you can make your noise-canceling headphones at home. You need a pair of headphones, some soundproofing material, and some basic DIY skills. If you’re up for the challenge, check out this tutorial on making noise-canceling headphones. It’s a bit more work than store-bought headphones, but it’s a great way to save some money.