How Does Active Noise Cancellation Work In Your Earbuds?
If you’ll allow us some first-world hyperbole for a moment, we’d like to declare that there is nothing more irritating than having audio clutter persistently affecting our enjoyment of music, podcasts and movies while on the go. Crying babies. The high-pitched whine of train-track friction. The annoying squeal of bus brakes. It’s just the worst, isn’t it? Especially when it interrupts awesomely gory details from the latest episode of The Casual Criminalist. Frankly, it would do anyone’s head in. But fret not, weary commuter, active go-getter, musical connoisseur! This is where the wonders of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC, for short) come in.
What is Noise Cancellation?
First of all, what do we mean by noise cancellation? In simple terms, this means blocking out unwanted sound. Easy enough to understand, right? That’s it. Job done, blog post over! However, the details aren’t quite that straightforward. Much like the (rather awful) saying of ‘there are many ways to skin a cat’, there are multiple ways to achieve a noise-canceling effect. In broad terms, they can be categorized into two types: Passive Noise Cancellation / Active Noise Cancellation.
We’ll start off with the most common form of noise cancellation – passive NC. Passive NC works by using materials with sound-absorbing properties (such as foam and certain compounds of rubber) to isolate the projection of sound into a user’s ears. This creates a seal that blocks other sounds from intruding into the ear canal. To some degree, all earphones (and headphones) have passive noise cancellation – so long as you place something inside or over your ears, you are benefitting from passive noise cancellation.
Active noise cancellation is, as the name implies, an active method of getting rid of unwanted sound. We’re simplifying it to a massive degree here, but how it works is quite straightforward in concept. Technical wizardry inside your earphones will analyze incoming sound via the use of outward facing microphones. After determining its frequency, mini-speakers inside these earphones would then emit their own sound to counter or cancel external noise. The ‘cancellation’ happens because the produced sound is in direct frequency opposition to the external noise.
Different Types of ANC
Aside from just producing soundwaves that eliminate external noise, there are different types of ANC that can (usually) be selected based on different surroundings, usage scenarios and external conditions. Here are just a few.
This form of ANC changes depending on surroundings, and adjusts the level of ANC / counter-waves being produced based on the amount of external noise being detected. In theory, if there is no noise, the ANC would not be activated.
As the name rather cleverly implies, this form of ANC changes based on user preference, instead of automatically adjusting itself based on external noise levels. Want more or less ANC? That’s entirely up to you.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, transparency ANC allows some sound to come through from external sources, so that users are aware of their surroundings. This is especially useful when speaking to others, or on a busy street when traffic is passing by. We’d recommend just not wearing your earphones for either scenario though (for safety reasons).
This takes transparency ANC up a notch by having user-selectable levels of transparency while ANC is active.
This mode of ANC will allow you to hear your own voice when active, such as during phone calls or a Zoom meeting.
Choosing the right OPPO ANC Earbuds for you
Now that you know what ANC and what sort of modes are available, it’s time for the best part – investing in your very first set of OPPO earphones! Our first instinct would be to tell you can’t go wrong no matter which OPPO earphone you purchase, but we’re also aware that different users have different needs. Sometimes you might not even need ANC, and that’s perfectly okay.
So here we go!
Lifesetter / Go-getter – OPPO Enco Air2 Pro
You’re on-the-go, you’re on the move, you go everywhere no matter what the weather. You want to take your music, podcasts and expensive-assembled collection of Stephen Fry-narrating-paint-drying-while-grass-grows audiobooks with you to your workouts, your hikes, your commute. Life is there for you to experience, and by golly that’s what you’re going to do. With ANC, IP4X water resistance, 12.4mm titanium diaphragms, up to 28 hours of use and Bluetooth 5.2, the OPPO Enco Air2 Pro will keep up no matter how fast you live your life.
Heavy Commuter – OPPO Enco Free 2
You live in buses, trains and cabs. You’ve got time in the day to center yourself and flick through social media while all around you the world moves about in a hazy kaleidoscope of technicolored madness. You are the calm beyond the storm. Peace is your middle name. Getting through that commute and all the rough-and-tumble it entails mean the Enco Free2, with 30hr battery life, three-level ANC and Dynaudio-developed acoustics, is the perfect choice.
Remote Working / Homebody- OPPO Enco Air 2
You want to be immersed in your own space and time. You’ve got a banging playlist that will accompany your chores. Your world starts and ends at your door. Outside? The outside doesn’t matter, for you are the captain of your soul. Lightweight, with a stonking great 13.4mm diaphragm driver in each ear and binaural low-latency audio, the Enco Air 2 keeps the outside world out, and the joy of audio in.
Audio Connoisseur – OPPO Enco X2
From the grand timbre of a French horn on Hans Zimmer’s Inception OST, to the soul-shaking low-end thump of Armin van Buuren’s Hystereo, with a segue into the sparkling introspective melodies of BTS’ Black Swan, music is your galaxy. You live for it. You breathe it. You cannot conceive of a world that does not embrace the diva-esque vocals of Adele, or the soaring rock anthem that is Drive from L’Arc en Ciel. This is why the Enco X2 is your weapon of choice – class-leading adaptive ANC, Dynaudio-developed sound, dual-diaphragm audio drivers, wireless charging and IP54 water resistance come together to produce the ultimate wireless earbuds for the audio lover in you.
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