What is ANC in Headphones? Ultimate Guide!

What is ANC in Headphones

When you wear your headphones, many times, you may get disturbed by the outer noise. ANC in headphones helps to deduct this noise.

Active Noise Cancellation has become the most popular feature in headphones today. It subtracts the outer noise when you’re wearing your headphones and helps you listen to whatever you want to without any disturbance.

But but but! There are three types of ANC as brands have different AMC.

So, here is an informative article for you, which will help you know more about ANC in headphones.

How ANC Works in Headphones?

Active Noise Cancellation uses the noise-cancellation system to stop the unwanted outside noise. The ANC has a microphone embedded inside it that listens to the outside and inside the earphones’ sound. The ANC chipset and speaker inside the earphones invert the soundwaves and cancel the outside sound by neutralizing soundwaves, neutralizing by taking +2 outside and adding -2 inside to make zero.

The ANC chipset processes the Active Noise Cancellation in three different ways.

A feedback ANC system

In this feedback setup, the mic is placed inside the ear cup and in front of the speaker, so it gets to hear the resulting signal in the same way the listener does.

Pros of feed-forward ANC system: –

  • It can better adapt to variations and correct the signal if needed.
  • It also works on a broader range of frequencies.
  • If the headset is worn in the wrong way and doesn’t cover the ears properly, the feedback ANC system can account for this, at least to some extent.

Cons of feedback ANC system: –

  • The high-pitch shrill you get after you place a microphone too close to a speaker is quite risky.

By a feed-forward ANC

This system has a microphone placed on the outside of the earphones. In this, the mic hears the noise before the person. The ANC processes the noise and creates the anti-noise before sending the resulting signal to the headphone’s speaker.

Pros of a feed-forward system: –

  • The mic can pick up the outside noise early, so it has more time to respond and generate the anti-noise.
  • It’s better at reducing higher-frequency noise up to 1-2 kHz.

Cons of the feed-forward system: –

  • This setup has no way to self-correct; it can never hear the anti-noise it makes. It just assumes the listener can’t hear any noise.
  • If the headset is not worn wrongly, this setup amplifies the noise at some frequencies.
  • The feed-forward ANC works within a narrow range of frequencies. It focuses on reducing noise to around 1kHz.
  • The mic is closer to the outside world, so it is more sensitive to wind noise.

By a Hybrid ANC system

Yes, your guess is correct; this hybrid ANC system has combined both the forward and feedback ANC systems by placing the microphone on the inside and outside of the ear cup.

It has the best of both the ANC systems.

Pros of Hybrid ANC system: –

  • It can suppress noise at a broader range of frequencies.
  • It can adapt and correct errors easily.
  • If you have not worn the headphone properly, then also it will work perfectly.

Cons of Hybrid ANC system: –

  • It costs twice any normal headset.
  • It requires more expertise to work it correctly.
  • Having two microphones can generate more unwanted white noise, so higher-quality microphones are needed to reduce this.

Do you know the history of ANC in headphones System?

Active Noise Cancellation is not at all a new concept; it’s from the 1930s.

The technical term for ANC is “destructive interference.”

  • In 1934 a German scientist invented the “zone of quiet,” a theoretical patent for canceling noise by interference.
  • In 1950 ANC was used to reduce noise in passenger vehicles.
  • In 1986 ANC headset from Bose was used to reduce airplane noise.
  • In 1990 ANC saw widespread use in the military and civil aviation.
  • In 2000 Bose launched the first consumer ANC headset.

And now, there is n number of brands that produce ANC headphones. In a true sense, only active noise cancellation doesn’t make a perfect ANC headset; many factors make a great ANC headset.

Do you like wearing ANC Headphones while traveling?

Yes, everyone does! Who doesn’t like hearing podcasts or music without any interference? But if you are on a long trip and you want your headphones to work for long hours, then turning off the ANC system is a must because it will consume more of your battery. If you don’t care about the noise, then switch the ANC system off.

If you are flying, the best choice for you will be hybrid ANC, as they will act on both high frequencies and lower frequencies.

Taking you out from noisy surroundings to a peaceful one where you can enjoy your music.


All three categories of ANC in headphone is good, but you have to choose one. Select the one which suits you the best.

Hopefully, this information is useful to you and helped you in some way.

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