Do noise cancelling headphones protect hearing?


Most of us have a set or two of headphones, and for most of us, we like noise cancelling headphones. while they are highly used, it is always good to know if they really work. I have a set of these headphones and I enjoy using them at all times. There are a lot of people including me who are concerned about their hearing being affected negatively after using headphones for long hours.

Well, yes. Noise cancelling headphones do protect hearing. In most situations, noise cancelling will protect your ears by cancelling the noise from the environment. However, their effectiveness depends on the type that you select and the quality of the headphones. Therefore, you need to make the right decision when looking for the right option.

Are noise canceling headphones safe for your ears?

The most objective answer to this question is yes; they are better for ears compared with many other types of headphones. Accurate experiments done by independent professionals have shown that these particular headphones are effective when it comes to protecting hearing. But it has also been proven by The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, they do not work in every situation.

When compared with all the other designs, they are the most effective. Consequently, noise cancelling headphones protect hearing better than any other types of headphones.

To ensure that your hearing is optimally protected while using these headphones, there are certain things you will need to do. These are simple things but they will significantly improve your ability to benefit from using particular headphones. Here are some of the primary things you will need to do to ensure your hearing is optimally protected.

How Noise Cancelling headphones work?

There are two main ways that explain how noise cancelling works in headphones. Let’s explore these two.

1. Passive noise canceling muffs

The noise cancelling headphones are designed in two designs. One of these designs is where the exterior noises are cancelled by the muffs on the ear pads. This means that they keep the outside noises out physically.

The headphones which are designed in this way are known as passive noise cancelling headphones. They require being made with special materials which will keep the unwanted noises out effectively.

2. The Active Noise Cancelling

The active noise cancelling headphones are more effective when the outside noises are consistent. If you are flying they shall be able to keep the noise from the plane’s engine out. This is because the noise from the engine is consistent.

However, when in a place where there are different types of noises, the passive ones are more effective. The main reason behind this is that while using these particular headphones, the phase of the noise does not matter. They are designed to keep all kinds of noises out in a physical manner.

Therefore, to effectively protect your hearing while using noise cancelling headphones; you will need to know the kind of noise that is around you. When you determine this you will be able to pick the ones that have the ideal design.

3. The Technology type of Cancelling

The other type of noise cancelling headphones is the one that uses technology to keep the exterior noises out. The technology creates sound waves which are 180 degrees out of phase with the surrounding noises.

How Noise Cancelling headphones Works
How Noise Cancelling Works

Consequently, you are able to only hear the sounds coming from the headphones. These particular headphones are known as active noise cancelling headphones.

How to improve the noise cancelling ear protection by headphones

1. By listening at a safe Volume

You need to properly regulate the volume of your headphones irrespective of where you are. The main reason behind this is that using high volume for prolonged periods can negatively affect your hearing even if you are using noise cancelling headphones.

Personally, I ensure that I use safe headphone volume levels. In fact, the volume on my headphones does not exceed seventy percent. The primary reason I do this is to protect my hearing both in the short and long term basis.

The volume of your headphones is measured in decibels. The headphones that have the highest volume abilities can go up to 130 decibels. You can learn how to measure your headphone decibels and tell if you are at the safe volume levels.

Makers of the headphone try to make them as safe as possible by putting reasonable volume levels. Check this article to know the safe headphone volume for Android or iPhone that you can adopt.

Despite this, noise cancelling headphones protecting your ears will depend on the volumes you use. Therefore, noise cancelling headphones protect hearing in better ways when you use reasonable volume levels.

2. Taking Breaks while using the headphones

To make sure your hearing is properly protected you shall need to avoid using the headphones for long hours without taking breaks. This is because your ear drums need to relax from time to time. You can be in a situation where you will be required to use the noise cancelling headphones for long hours without taking a break.

In such a situation you can use the headphones following the 60-60 rule. But if you have the freedom to take a break, always ensure that you take about a ten minutes break after every two or three hours.

According to the World Health Organization, if you take periodic breaks you will be relaxing your entire body. Since most noise cancelling headphones cover your ears completely it will also be possible for fresh air to get into the interior parts of the ear. This will enhance the health of the ears and as a result your hearing will be optimally protected.

3. Keeping the Headphones Clean

The cleanliness of your headphones partly determines how well your hearing is protected. This is because dirty noise cancelling headphones can even cause infections to your ears. In the guide on How to use headphones safely, we explained ways of keeping your headphones clean, especially after use.

After using the headphones for a certain period of time they shall eventually accumulate dust and other types of dirt that might be coming from your ears such as ear wax. This dirt has a negative effect and it can easily cause health issues.

Cleaning your headphones is simple where you just need to wipe them with a clean piece of cloth. You can even use substances such as hydrogen peroxide which will kill any bacteria as recommended by The World Health Organization.

In addition, you can get replacement earpads which you will be interchanging whenever you notice that your noise cancelling headphones are getting dirty. I have four sets of replacement ear caps which I use to make sure my headphones are always clean.

The most ideal way of achieving this is having a time table where you shall be cleaning the headphones after a certain period. As a result, noise cancelling headphones protect hearing better when you keep them clean.

How to Select the right noise cancelling headphones

The effectiveness of the noise cancelling headphones to protect your hearing will also depend on the particular brand you choose. Certain makers of these headphones are known for concentrating on safety than others.

As a result, if you choose headphones that are made by certain manufacturers you shall be almost guaranteed of the headphones providing optimum protection to your hearing.

To identify the right brand that will have the right features to protect your ears you shall need to go through the specific features of the different headphones. Sometimes the manufacturers can include certain features to market their headphones.

Consequently, you should also go through reviews and testimonials to see what other people are saying about the different noise cancelling headphones from different brands.

As a person who has used noise cancelling headphones for a long time I personally prefer the headphones from BOSS and Beats. From the many options that I have used, I found the ones from these two makers to be the safest. I have never experienced any hearing-related issues despite the fact that I sometimes use them for long hours.

Final Verdict on Noise Cancellation and ear protection

It is no doubt that noise cancelling headphones are better when it comes to protecting your hearing. But you will need to use them in a certain way and in certain places to ensure you benefit optimally from their features. You shall also need to make the right choice while selecting the ideal headphones for you.

Therefore, the answer to the question of whether noise cancelling headphones do protect hearing is yes, provided you use them rightly. Use the right volume levels, keep the headphones clean and also select the ones that are ideal for you to ensure the protection of your hearing.

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Michael Smart

I am an all-round technology writer with a keen focus on new ideas, gadgets, and creative solutions. I love reading, writing and sharing about tech and gadgets.

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