Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)?

What is Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)?

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) is a technology that reduces or cancels external ambient noises in headphones and earbuds. ANC uses microphones to pick up external sounds, process them, and then generate sound waves that are the opposite (anti-phase) to cancel them out.

While ANC is very effective at reducing constant, low-frequency noises like the fan whirring noise, it may be less effective at cancelling sudden, sharp noises or high-frequency sounds.

Some earphones and headphones, such as Anker’s Soundcore Life Q35 offer multi-mode ANC, which you can switch between outdoor, indoor or transport.

How does Active Noise Cancellation work?

Although ANC implementation and effectiveness vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, They all follow these general steps.

  1. Microphones – One or more microphones on the earbuds outside constantly pick up external sounds.
  2. Sound Wave Generation: The captured external sound is then processed by the earbuds’ ANC circuitry, which generates sound waves with the same amplitude but opposite phase (anti-phase) as the external noise.
  3. Combining Sound Waves: The anti-phase sound waves are then played through the earbuds’ speakers along with your audio content.
  4. Cancellation of External Noise: When these anti-phase sound waves meet the original external noise, they interfere, effectively cancelling the unwanted noise.

Remember that the effectiveness of ANC can vary depending on the quality of the ANC implementation in the specific earbuds, the fit of the earbuds in your ears, and the type of external noise you’re trying to cancel. Some premium earbuds have advanced ANC technology that can effectively cancel noise.

Active noise cancellation can operate via the ANC chipset in two primary ways:

  • Feedforward ANC: This utilises external microphones to capture noise, making it suitable for ANC earbuds.
  • Feedback ANC: This system uses internal microphones, ensuring more precise noise capture regardless of how the headphones fit.

There’s also a third type called hybrid active noise cancellation, which merges feedforward and feedback systems. This comprehensive approach effectively reduces noise across different frequencies. Due to their complex design, headphones with hybrid ANC are more expensive but offer superior performance.

Pros and Cons of Active Noise Cancellation

Benefits of ANC

  • Immersive listening experience
  • Enhanced focus on audio content
  • Effective reduction of ambient noise in various settings

Disadvantages of ANC

  • Potential battery drain
  • Increased product cost
  • Reduced awareness of external surroundings

ANC vs. ENC: Understanding the Differences

What is Environmental Noise Cancellation (ENC)

Environmental Noise Cancellation (ENC) is a technology that filters and reduces ambient sounds, enhancing audio clarity in devices like headphones and microphones.

Environmental Noise Cancellation (ENC) focuses on eliminating background noise during audio transmission in devices like microphones or headphones. It’s more specific to cleaning up the audio input or output.

On the other hand, active noise cancellation (ANC) aims to reduce external environmental sounds perceived by the listener, mainly in headphones or earbuds. ANC eliminates or minimises ambient noises for a quieter listening experience.

Types of Noise Cancellation 

Active Noise Cancellation

The most familiar type, active noise cancellation, uses microphones and speakers to diminish surrounding noises. Initially prominent in over-ear headphones, advancements have made it feasible for this technology to be incorporated into true wireless in-ear earphones. A good example is QCY T13 ANC earbuds.

Passive Noise Cancellation

This method relies on well-designed ear cups or earbuds to physically block out external noise. It’s commonly found in both over-ear headphones and in-ear earphones.

Adaptive ANC

A sophisticated type of ANC that automatically adjusts noise cancellation levels based on the surrounding environment. This dynamic adaptation ensures optimal noise control.

Adjustable ANC

Offers users manual control over noise cancellation levels, allowing them to customise their listening experience.

Transparency Mode

It enables users to tune back into the ambient sounds without removing their earphones. It seamlessly blends the external environment with your audio.

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