Noise Cancelling vs Noise Isolating: Difference and Comparison

In the world we live in, noise and noise pollution have become an inevitable part of our lives. Especially if one decides to listen to a podcast or a song while travelling, it is almost impossible to clear the background noise.

Noise-cancelling and noise-isolating earphones are exactly meant to solve this important issue, but they possess significant differences.

Key Takeaways

  1. Noise-canceling headphones use technology to actively cancel out external sounds while noise-isolating headphones use physical barriers to block out external sounds.
  2. Noise-canceling headphones can reduce background noise to a greater extent than noise-isolating headphones, making them better suited for noisy environments.
  3. While noise-isolating headphones are more affordable than noise-canceling headphones, noise-canceling headphones can provide a more immersive listening experience.

Noise Cancelling vs Noise Isolating

Noise cancelling technology uses microphones to detect ambient sounds and then generates an inverse sound wave to cancel out those sounds. This is achieved through the use of special noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds. Noise-isolating technology physically blocks external sounds from reaching the listener’s ears. This is achieved through the use of headphones or earbuds that fit snugly in the ear.

Noise Cancelling vs Noise Isolating

Noise cancelling is a common phrase that is used in earphone devices. As the term suggests, noise-cancelling cancels the surrounding noise or sound waves, which tend to flow into your ears.

The process of noise cancellation is electronic, as some components inside the ear cups release inverted sound waves to cancel the sound waves from outside.

The process of noise isolation is completely manual, unlike the noise cancellation process. The noise-isolating earphones isolate your ears from external sound by using physical barriers.

This is a rather simple process. The foam pads in the earbuds block the surrounding noise from entering the ears of the listener.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonNoise CancellingNoise Isolating
MeaningNoise-cancelling tries to cancel the sound waves into one’s ear.Noise isolating means isolating the ears from hearing any sound.
Type of processNoise cancelling is an electronic process.Noise isolating is totally a manual process.
PriceNoise-cancelling earphones are expensive due to their advanced features.Noise isolating earphones are relatively cheap when compared to noise-cancelling earphones.
Used inNoise-cancelling earphones are mainly used while travelling.They are mainly used in homes and commercial buildings.
Other informationNoise-cancelling consumes more power because of the batteries.Since Noise isolating is a manual process, it consumes zero power.

What is Noise Cancelling?

The term Noise Cancellation has become frequently attributed to the earphones which have been released recently.

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The phrase is self-explanatory as the earphones cancel the surrounding noise or sound waves that try to flow into one’s ears.

This process is totally electronic and makes an interesting case of cancelling the sound waves by using technological means.

 Active Noise Cancellation, or ANC, is another term that is commonly used along with the process of noise cancellation.

Some parts or components inside of a noise-cancelling earphone release an inverted sound wave to cancel the existing sound waves. This type of earphone is the most sought out by the public due to its advanced technology.

To begin with, there are small microphones inside an earphone that listens to the surrounding noise or sound waves.

After listening to the sound waves from outside, the microphone releases an inverted sound wave or anti-sound wave.

This type of inverted or opposite sound wave of the existing sound wave present in the surroundings cancels out each other when the sound hits a listener’s ear.

This type of earphone is effective at cancelling low-frequency sounds, but they become ineffective against sudden and high-frequency noise.

Noise-cancelling earphones are truly handy while travelling as they cancel the low-frequency noise of aeroplanes and cars.

noise cancelling

What is Noise Isolating?

The term noise isolation provides a bit of clarity in its method of ‘isolating’ the noise from our ears. This process of noise isolation is totally performed manually and does not involve any electrical or technological means like noise cancellation.

The manual method of isolating the noise is a simple yet interesting process.

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The noise-isolating earphones use a few physical barriers to isolate or keep the sound out of your ear’s listening capability and range. When one covers their ears, the noise from the outside is blocked.

This process of noise isolation is similar to the blocking of noise by using hands.

The earbuds which are inserted into your ears act as the physical barrier by blocking or isolating the outside noise. Getting the right fit for your ears is necessary for the noise-isolating earphones to perform their task.

A bad fit will probably allow some outside noise to your ears.

These types of noise-isolating earphones are effective in blocking and isolating the usual noise around, like people talking and babies crying. It is an ideal style of earphone for office and home use.

Noise-isolating earphones are not effective enough against high-frequency or travelling noises.

noise isolating

Main Differences Between Noise Cancelling and Noise Isolating

  1. Noise cancelling is the process of cancelling the sound waves that pass through the ears. On the other hand, noise isolating tries to block the background sound manually.
  2. Noise isolating is a manual process, whereas noise isolating is an electronic process.
  3. Noise-cancelling earphones or headphones are more expensive as it has advanced features. On the other hand, noise-isolating earphones are cheaper and affordable.
  4. Noise-cancelling earphones are best suited for travelling on flights and trains. They can also be used during studies while noise-isolating earphones are suited for home and office purposes.
  5. Noise-cancelling earphones consume more, whereas noise-isolating earphones consume zero energy.
Difference Between Noise Cancelling and Noise Isolating



Last Updated : 15 August, 2023

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23 thoughts on “Noise Cancelling vs Noise Isolating: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The distinction between active noise cancellation and noise isolation was clearly explained in the article. It’s important to understand the technology behind these devices when making a purchasing decision.

    • Absolutely, Lee Alexa. Having an understanding of how these technologies work can help consumers choose the right type of headphones based on their needs.

  2. The explanation of the process and benefits of noise-cancelling technology, especially for travellers, was well articulated in the article. It highlights the practical advantages of these devices.

    • I agree, Dylan12. Understanding the specific benefits of noise-cancelling technology, such as reducing aeroplane and car noise, is quite informative.

  3. The article effectively highlights the differences in price and energy consumption between noise-cancelling and noise-isolating earphones, providing consumers with important considerations to make when purchasing these devices.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Kelly Leo. Understanding the cost and energy aspects adds valuable insights for consumers looking to invest in earphones.

    • Indeed, Kelly Leo. The emphasis on cost and power consumption helps readers make informed decisions when choosing the right type of earphones to suit their needs.

  4. The article provides a well-detailed comparison and explanation of noise-cancelling and noise-isolating headphones, shedding light on the technological and practical differences between these devices.

  5. The article effectively illustrates the price differences and energy consumption between noise-cancelling and noise-isolating earphones. This information is valuable for potential buyers.

    • I found the comparison of prices and power consumption very useful as well, Chelsea51. It helps in making an informed decision when purchasing earphones.

  6. The clear and concise explanations of noise-cancelling and noise-isolating technologies in the article provide readers with valuable insights into understanding these headphone technologies.

    • I agree, David Jones. The article provides a wealth of information that allows readers to gain a comprehensive understanding of noise-cancelling and noise-isolating headphones.

    • Absolutely, David Jones. The level of detail in the article’s explanation contributes significantly to enhancing readers’ understanding of this topic.

  7. The detailed breakdown of the processes of noise cancelling and noise isolating technology in headphones was enlightening. It’s intriguing to see the manual vs. electronic methods used.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Stefan Roberts. The article provides a clear and thorough explanation of the differences in these technologies.

  8. The article provides an insightful comparison between noise-cancelling and noise-isolating headphones, offering a comprehensive understanding of how each technology works and its applications.

    • I completely agree, Alex65. The article does a great job of explaining the differences and benefits of each type of headphone technology.

    • I found the comparison table to be particularly useful in understanding the different parameters and features of noise-cancelling and noise-isolating headphones.

  9. The article provides a comprehensive overview of how noise-cancelling and noise-isolating headphones work, offering readers an in-depth understanding of the technologies involved. It’s highly informative.

    • I share the same sentiment, Mitchell Jordan. The level of detail and clarity in the explanation of both technologies is commendable and makes for a valuable read.

  10. The article offers a thorough description of the manual method of noise isolation and how it utilizes physical barriers to prevent external noise from reaching the ears. It’s a well-written piece.

    • I concur, Rrichardson. The manual method of noise isolation was explained in a clear and understandable manner, which enhances the overall quality of the article.


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