Audio Solutions Question of the Week: How Do Audio-Technica’s Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones Work?

Question: How do Audio-Technica’s active noise-cancelling headphones work?

Answer: We introduced our first pair of QuietPoint® noise-cancelling headphones in 2007. Since then we’ve expanded the line to include a host of models that allow you and your music to conquer noisy environments, including the over-ear ATH-ANC9 with up to 95% noise cancellation, the wireless in-ear ATH-ANC40BT, and value-priced on-ear ATH-ANC50iS. While any pair of headphones will block out some external sound, providing passive noise reduction, the QuietPoint models are equipped with special circuitry that, at the flick of a switch, will deliver active noise cancellation to give you a truly distraction-free listening experience.

ATH-ANC9 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones


Here’s how the headphones work. QuietPoint headphone models include a miniature microphone built into each of its earpieces. When the noise-cancelling function is switched on, the microphones pick up the ambient noise (traffic, air-handling systems, jet engine, etc.) surrounding you. The headphones’ noise-cancelling electronics then produce a signal that is 180° out of phase with this ambient noise, effectively attenuating the unwanted sound so you can hear your music or other audio without distraction, and without having to crank up the volume excessively. Generally, the active noise reduction frequency range for QuietPoint headphones is 50 – 800 Hz.

As you look at the descriptions of the QuietPoint models, you’ll see that they reduce noise by varying degrees, from 80% to 95% (the ATH-ANC9 even allows you to choose from three different levels of reduction). It’s important to note that our noise cancellation rates reflect the improvement over passive reduction (i.e., wearing headphones without active noise cancellation turned on). Other headphone manufacturers may base their reduction percentage on the difference between using active noise cancellation and not wearing headphones at all, thus inflating the reduction claim. Some manufactures also use an energy calculation versus a SPL (sound pressure level) calculation which will result in a higher percentage claim for noise cancellation. Audio-Technica uses the SPL calculation as it relates to what people actually hear in a real world environment.

If you have any additional questions about QuietPoint noise-cancelling headphones, including which model might best suit your needs, please contact our Audio Solutions Department – we’re always glad to help.



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