Discussion on Active Noise Cancelling Performance

I was wondering recently, is there an industry standard way of measuring the performance of ANC on headphones.

I’ve been watching/reading reviews on various products in this category and people describe the ANC on some headphones being “better” or “worse” than others, with some comparing the same product on different firmware revisions.

Personally, I’ve only used a handfull of ANC headphones and it seems to be a very binary feature for me, meaning either you have it or you don’t, but like with all things, it seems there’s more to it than that.

If anyone has any good resources on this technology, whether it be theory or implementation, I’d love to learn more about it.

The only place were noise canceling headsets are actively studied are in aviation. A search in this area will yield a lot of info.


Maybe the question is:

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Rtings.com has an extensive list of measurements, including noise isolation which includes passive and active. Its worth a look.

Spoiler: The Sony WH-1000X series blows away the competition in these results.

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Top 6 in 2020 here. Click on full review and then scroll down to the bottom to see isolation data:

No, the question is not “Is it a gimmick?” ANC proved its value for air travel and other places with constant background noise probably 15+ years ago. On airplanes I switch between (1) foam earplugs, (2) ANC headphones, or (3) Etymotic’s isolating IEMs. ANC is the most comfortable for long flights, and allows one to keep the volume down to a normal level.

Headphones either have this function or not at the time of design, and that can never be changed. ANC requires a dedicated in-headphone microphone and sound generator to cancel out the noise. Therefore, they don’t/can’t work like a conventional headphone with an external amplifier. (In my experience ANC headphones do not improve with an external amp – at all.) The Sony WH-1000 series have a blend/bleed function that makes it possible to reduce but not eliminate environmental noises. This can be very useful. I once tried full ANC on a subway and lost many of the safety cues I normally heard.

gadgetplus.com have a product name: Mu6 Space 2 Active Noise Canceling Headphones. The Active Noise-Cancellation for Space 2 employs digital composite feedback design, its noise cancellation performance is significantly improved by more than four times than former version, acquiring a maximum noise cancellation -40dB in the frequency range of 10Hz-1,000Hz