Noise-cancelling Noise Reduction Earphones / Earbuds

Get the benefits of noise cancellation in a cheaper, more portable package, with noise reduction earphones.

The most popular noise-cancelling devices are headphones, which fit around the ear or over the ear. However, you can also get the active noise cancellation (ANC) feature in a set of earphones (or "in-the-ear headphones") if you like.


ANC Earphones vs ANC Headphones


  • Earphones are more compact, lightweight, and portable than headphones.
  • Noise-cancelling earphones are usually less expensive than noise-cancelling headphones.
  • If inserted into the ear canal (and not merely perched at the entrance like many earbuds), earphones can offer greater passive noise blocking. This is useful because the active noise cancellation feature works mainly on lower frequencies, while passive noise blocking is effective with higher frequency noises as well. With both methods combined, you get better total noise reduction.


  • Overall sound quality is often not as good as with headphones. You can sometimes hear a hiss from the noise cancellation circuitry, especially if you are in quieter surroundings.
  • Earphones may be uncomfortable to wear for long periods if they are not a close fit with your ear size and shape.
  • In-ear headphones require occasional cleaning.
  • For hygiene reasons, you will probably prefer not to share earphones.


ANC Earphones vs Passive Earphones

As long as you don't spend a lot for them and you're not expecting the utmost in musical sound reproduction capability, you may find noise-cancelling earbuds a satisfying choice. However, if sound quality is a major factor for you, you may want to consider passive noise-isolation canalphones (earphones) instead. They are favored by professional musicians for their sound quality and effective noise-blocking characteristics.


Suggested Models

There are not as many models to choose from as there are with noise cancellation headphones. Two noise-cancelling earphone models that get good reviews are the Panasonic RP-HC55 and the Audio Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint®. Each retails for up to $100 (US dollars) but can be found for $40 to $60. Both come with several different sized earpieces to help you get a comfortable fit.


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