Table of Contents
- 1 Monoprice Hi-Fi Active Noise Cancelling Headphone w/ Active Noise Reduction Technology
- 2 JVC HANC250 Noise Cancelling Headphones
- 3 Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling Closed-Back Headphones
- 4 Plantronics BackBeat PRO Wireless Noise Canceling Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic
- 5 Parrot Zik Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones with Touch Control
- 6 Sony MDR-ZX770BN Bluetooth Noise Canceling Headphones
- 7 Golzer BANC-50 Bluetooth 4.1 High Fidelity Active Noise Cancelling Wireless OverEar Headphones with apt-x
- 8 Naztech i9BT Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
- 9 PSB M4U 2 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones
- 10 Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones
Headphones are an indispensable part of every music lover on the go, but also all those who want to listen to music in peace, secluded from external sounds. However, headphones today (and we shall present the top 10 best noice cancelling headphones under 100 & 200 dollars) have become a part of a certain image, mostly because today’s producers try to keep up with trends by offering headsets in different colors and shapes on the market. Many manufacturers have recognized the opportunity to sell headphones of a dubious quality on the market by following various trends and an attractive appearance. Often these headphones have an oversized bass sound, prominent highs and a slower dynamic.
Finally, they are tailored primarily to the reproduction of bad MP3 recordings whereupon there is an attempt to disguise bad recordings, drawing attention to a particular frequency band, usually the bass. Millions of people around the world fall for a bass sensation as the bass is the first sound which charms, while manufacturers of such handsets are rubbing their hands with glee. Fortunately, there are still many users who know how to recognize and want quality sound.
The technical specifications of headsets
For a basic understanding of the functioning of certain headset models, we should be acquainted with 5 basic concepts:
- the driver (the size of the sound unit),
- the sensitivity,
- the frequency range,
- the impendance,
- max input power.
The size of the sound unit
Although many believe that a better driver also means better sound, this is often not true. Greater sound units should ensure a higher frequency range which also means that a better bass or a higher driver is not a crucial factor for better sound. For example, smaller drivers (which in the in-ear models average 8-13 mm) will more accurately reproduce a high frequency range as it is faster and has more control. Larger drivers (with headsets) vary in sizes from 30 to about 60 mm, while an increase of the quality with the size of the drivers is possible, if necessary, in the case of comparing different models from the same series and from the same manufacturer.
The frequency range of headsets
Frequency range is a range of frequency sound vibrations that headphones can reproduce, which means that lower and higher values, from those stated in the specifications of the handset, will not reproduce sound, although it may exist on the audio recordings. However, since the average human ear cannot hear frequencies below 63 Hz and over 20 kHz (although some claim up to 23 kHz), for the average user it is enough to know that a quality headset must satisfy the range from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
The sensitivity of headphones
This data shows how loudly some headphones can reproduce sound given the strength of the sound source (mobile phone, MP3 player, PC or amplifier). This figure is expressed in decibels (dB) and volume per mW power devices and therefore sometimes displayed and labeled dB/mW. Portable devices typically deliver about 10 MW of power and thus they work well with every handset with a sensitivity greater than 90 dB, if the resistance is no greater than 64 ohms.
Headphones of a low resistance will always be louder on devices with low voltage such as MP3 players and mobile phones (up to 5V) and therefore most headphones intended for listening to music on the move have the resistance – in the majority of cases – from 16 to 32 up to approximately 64 ohms, for headphones that are designed for mixed use (power over MP3 player or the amplifier, depending on the occasion). Ideally, an audio player should have 8 times a lower resistance than the handset – for example, if you have 32 ohm headphones, the player should not have a higher resistance than 4 ohms.
It is important to stress that resistance is not a factor that determines better or worse headsets, but simply determines which type of audio player/amplifier it is intended for. It is a fact that Hi-Fi headphones generally have a higher resistance because headphones of a greater resistance use more power and less electricity, which helps to override noise produced by all electronic devices, which increases the SNR (signal-to-noise-ratio), thus achieving less distortion and overall better sound.
Max input power
Max input power is the maximum power that the handset can receive and not undergo any damage. The values usually range from 50mW for the headphones designed for use on the move, over 500 mW of mixed and 1W and more for Hi-Fi headphones which are used only with a stereo amplifier or a headphone amplifier.
Quality headphones will allow you to ‘wear’ a good sound, but the best of all is that with them you can experience a real Hi-Fi experience for relatively little money. Starting from considering which the top 10 best noise canceling headphones under 100 & 200 dollars are, to the final selection and purchasing, the most important thing is to think hard about where and how you will use the sets most often.
Do you use earbuds to listen to music? Maybe you should consider some alternatives – learn more about their disadvantages.
Studies have shown that these headphones are a major cause of hearing loss in children and teenagers. All of us have tiny hair cells in our ears which are found in the cochlea of the inner ear and which contribute to sound gently and safely reaching our brains. Extremely loud sound can damage the hair cells, and eventually hearing is affected and due to mistakes in our youth, we could be deprived of all that wonderful music we like to listen in our old age, as well as the music being invented in the future.
With buds, it is less likely to enable the “smoothing out” of the sound and it is more difficult to control the volume than when you use standard-quality headphones. Thus, a direct flow of sound in the ears can damage the eardrum. If you adjust the sound at the strength of 75% (this is usually around 85 decibels) your sound will after a period be permanently damaged. Also, many argue that sound is of a better quality when you are listening to music through ordinary good quality headphones.
In fact, some people have had problems with clogged ears and infections. Many doctors believe that a greater and more frequent accumulation of wax in the ears, as well as congestion and ear disease, occur precisely because of frequent use of ear buds.
What to pay special attention to!
If you hear ringing and buzzing in the ears or some muffled sounds, it is possible that you have already partly damaged your hearing. In that case, visit a doctor immediately to see how to prevent further damage to your hearing. A doctor should be visited also in the event that there is a blockage of the ear canal and accumulation of wax.
Earbuds are in no way so dangerous if you follow some rules. What is true for the other handsets is also valid for the so-called buds – minding the volume. Keep it always below 60% and take breaks at least once every hour. You should not keep one ear bud inside the ear for more than 60 minutes. Also, some headsets have built-in limits, noise blockers. Those who use iPods can download Apple’s volume limiter.
As for the buds, it is important to be careful with hygiene. It is definitely not recommended to share these headphones with others, because in this way you can transfer some bacteria and infections. Also, it is recommended that they are cleaned regularly – use a cotton ball soaked with a little alcohol or a disinfectant.
If you want complete isolation from external noises
What could be better than simply turning off the traffic under the window or a garrulous colleague at work by pressing a button? With modern music players, and that happens to be every cell phone, we can keep out the outside world and immerse ourselves in your own. This can be extremely useful – and furthermore, we are in a better mood and more relaxed, while a research that was published showed that we are more relaxed with music at work, more concentrated, more precise and more efficient.
Noise no, sound yes!
Of course, we cannot and should not listen to music through headphones just anywhere. People are unbeatable in detecting the direction of a sound which facilitates the orientation and direction in the environment in which we move. If these sounds are removed, we are lost, and this can lead to disaster. Also, this is not valid for just when we’re behind the wheel driving, where the headphones are otherwise prohibited.
Using headphones while running, even in nature, can be very dangerous – those deep in thought can, for example, trip and hurt themselves.
But, of course, not all headsets are the same. The market contains more and more of them and each has its advantages and disadvantages: from the price to the volume and sound clarity to the ability to filter out ambient noise.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones Under 100 & 200 $ – Top 10
Monoprice Hi-Fi Active Noise Cancelling Headphone w/ Active Noise Reduction Technology
Approximate Price : $93.00
A good set of budget noise cancelling headphones that give you good value for money when you compare them to the competitors on the market. They don’t do anything fantastically but they don’t do anything terribly either, when you consider the price you pay.
The noise cancelling works well enough, although it can’t be compared with more expensive headphones, but it does a decent task. Passive noise isolation is pretty good as well. An AAA battery provides enough power for around 50 hours of active noise cancelling.
The quality of build is good, with the ear pads well padded and using a memory foam, so the headband is padded well enough. Being made of plastics, they are lightweight and seem strong enough for most, and they are foldable so they can be carried while traveling easier.
A lightweight set of over ear headphones in comparison to other headphones. They have a good snug fit, but it isn’t too tight over the ears. Coupled with the memory foam that is used in the ear pads of these headphones which makes sure that the pressures of wearing them are distributed well, that they are comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
They have the basics features that you would expect from a set of headphones. You also get a number of different cables in the package, the first being a standard 58 inch cable, the second a 55 inch cable that has an inline microphone and control module. Also, you have adaptors, a 3.5 mm to ¼ inch and an airline plug adaptor. All this comes in a nice durable carrying case.
For the price, the sound quality of these headphones is fairly good, and they can be compared with other noise cancelling headphones. They do sound better with the noise cancelling turned off, but this is not a unique problem just for these headphones, as most noise cancelling headphones suffer from the same issue.
They have a fun sound to listen to that is not a big bass or a hard aggressive treble, they just lack a little clarity of sound overall, when compared to those more expensive brands. But it should be listenable for most.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
The noise cancelling is good
Totally affordable for a set of ANC headphones
Great value for money
Comfortable and portable
Sound quality is good
Good at all, just not great at anything
Looks a little cheap
JVC HANC250 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Approximate Price : $93.00
A very nice set of headphones that provide comfort, good noise cancellation, durability and a good quality of sound – all at a very attractive and affordable price.
With these headphones, the manufacturer has taken a 2 prong approach to noise cancellation, with the ear pieces being constructed using a double housing, which gives a good insulation from outside noise, but when you switch on the active noise cancellation, then things really do start to work very well, some might even say impressively. Especially so if you are in an environment where the background noise is a low frequency rumble, such as the noises of planes or trains. Thus, they are great for travel or in the office.
Mostly made from plastic, that is and gives the impression of being long lasting. All the joints are well made and they don’t give cause for concern, so you can carry them without fear of breaking them easily.
Being on-ear headphones, these are surprisingly comfortable, being lightweight and putting as little pressure as possible on the ears. Thus, you would be hard up to find a more comfortable set of on-ear headphones as these. As with all on-ear headphones, you will find that moment when you get some sensation of tingling in the ears from wearing them and you will need to take a break.
The AAA battery gives around 50 hours of active noise cancellation, which is good enough, but if your battery does die, the headphones will continue to work. The headphones do fold flat for carrying in a travel case. They lack any volume controls on the headphones or a mic for making or taking calls, so you will have use the device that you are plugged into for that.
The sound quality is really good, with all the ranges nicely balanced, the bass is not dominant, but it is well tight and gives a good response, with the hi-hats of rock and dance tracks really coming out. The mid range frequencies sound nicely natural as well.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Noise cancellation is good, compared to more expensive models
Battery life of up to 50 hours
Good build quality, comfortable and light
Value for money
Sound quality is good for ANC headphones
The non-folding design
The battery is badly located
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling Closed-Back Headphones
Approximate Price : $99.00
A good set headphones that offer a good performance, comfort, with features and functions that some more expensive headphones don’t offer. These can give you a good listening experience at home, work or travel for a very good price.
The noise cancelling on these headphones is very good, as good as some headphones that are more expensive. Just consider that you could pay three times less for these than for other more expensive models, but the noise cancellation is 70-80% of other models. So, this hardly becomes noticeable, when you take the price into consideration.
The passive noise isolation works well enough for those moments when your battery dies, which could take up to 40 hours to happen.
These headphones have a high quality build, all the plastics are top quality. The metal on the headband and the hinges are strong and able to withstand a lot of stress.
These are a little heavier than other headphones, but this does not affect their comfort. The ear pads are made from memory foam and are covered in soft, supple black leather which feels very luxurious. The headband has a very comfortable pad, so overall, they are made to be worn for long periods of time.
These headphones have a basic set of features that all work well. They fold for easy packing, they have an active noise cancellation on/off switch an in-line mic, nothing fancy but it all works well. You have a carrying bag a set of adaptors, so this is a nice package for the price.
For a pair of noise cancelling headphones, the sound quality is very good, with the sound being balanced, and offering finesse. The highs are smooth with no shrillness to them, the midrange is natural and very open, the bass, even if just a little heavy is tight and sounds as it should. The sound does suffer if you turn off active noise cancellation with a loss of bass and the clearness in the mid and treble ranges. So, always use noise cancellation if you wish to get the best sound quality you can from these headphones.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Noise cancelling and isolation very good
High build quality using durable materials
Heavy yet still comfortable to wear
Good value for money
Sound quality is better than most ANC headphones
A little sound leakage in quiet environments
Plantronics BackBeat PRO Wireless Noise Canceling Hi-Fi Headphones with Mic
Approximate Price : $149.00
A set of headphones that work well enough in all departments with good build quality and sound quality.
The noise cancellation may not be the best but it works decently enough for all environments, and the battery life of the active noise cancellation is 24 hours, which is not great but it is satisfactory.
The build quality of these headphones is high, as they are made from durable plastics that can suffer a fair amount of punishment. This is good, as they don’t fold and are pretty bulky.
They are a very comfortable set of headphones to wear, with big soft and plush ear pads and are a nice fit over the head, so it is not a problem to wear them for long periods regardless of their weight.
One feature that really does stand out with these headphones is their connectivity, with Bluetooth reaching up to 100 meters in an open space. Also, they have a very nice feature of a sensor for when you are wearing them or when you take them off they pause the music automatically. They have a built in mic which works well enough.
The sound quality is satisfactory, with all the ranges being well defined, the bass is smooth and fine not loud or bombastic, and the treble does at times lack a little clearness and becomes harsh. But in general, the sound quality is good with good details.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Decent noise cancelling
Built to last
Good features (Aptx, Bluetooth range, NFC)
A detailed sound with a good bass
Not really great at anything
Parrot Zik Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones with Touch Control
Approximate Price : $117.00
A good set of headphones that are comfortable, with a good sound quality, build quality and a good active noise cancellation. All wrapped in a very unique design.
The noise cancellation on these headphones is better than average, and is good in all the environments that you might encounter. They use four different mics and it is claimed by the makers that this reduces 98% of the background noise. But this comes at a price, as the battery life is roughly 5 hours when using active noise cancellation and Bluetooth. But it does increase if they both are not used at the same time.
The build quality is good and uses durable plastics so that if you take reasonable care of them, they should last you for some time.
Because of their size, which keeps the pressure nicely even on the ears and the big well padded ear pads, wearing them for extended periods of time should not be a problem.
They have the nice feature of a head sensor, so that when you take them off the music stops playing and when you put them back on, it starts again. They have a built in mic which works well enough. There are touch sensors on the right ear cup for volume, but they only work when you are connected via Bluetooth.
Please remember, these are Bluetooth and active noise cancelling headphones, which is probably the worst combination for achieving good sound quality. But even with all of that, the sound quality of these headphones is good when the active noise cancellation is on. With a clean and balanced sound, all the ranges are clear with none of them being over the top or lacking in quality.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
A unique design
Large but comfortable
Well made and will last
Good sound for a combination Bluetooth and ANC headphones
Poor battery life, of 5 hours with Bluetooth and active noise cancellation on
Sony MDR-ZX770BN Bluetooth Noise Canceling Headphones
Approximate Price : $179.00
A good set of affordable active noise cancelling and Bluetooth headphones, with a good build quality and nice comfort with a good sound quality.
The noise cancelling feature can be compared to other makes that are more expensive and they are better than most in this price range. They will work at cancelling out most low frequency noises such as engine sounds, air conditioning and similar. The built in battery life is about 13 hours and then you will need to recharge it.
The build quality is better than average, even though they are lightweight and may seem a little flimsy, but they are not, as they are built for traveling so they are more than robust for all situations.
With their over-ear design and nicely padded ear pads, they are very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The clamping pressure may seem a bit too firm at first but it gets lighter the longer you wear them.
With Bluetooth and NFC wireless connectivity, which will work to around a 30 ft, range you will mostly use these without wires.
They also have AptX support for those wanting the best sound quality over Bluetooth (just read the instructions on how to enable it).
The microphone for making calls is built-in and works without any problems.
The sound quality will not disappoint you, the mids and highs are well balanced and clear, with the bass strong enough. So, the effect is a fun sound, with a good beat that is capable of being versatile in different genres of music.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Better than average noise cancelling
Minimalist stylish design
Comfortable due to light weight and soft ear pads
Nice, fun sound quality with some weight
Great at anything
Golzer BANC-50 Bluetooth 4.1 High Fidelity Active Noise Cancelling Wireless OverEar Headphones with apt-x
Approximate Price : $83.00
Here is a set of very good value for the money, a pair of Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. That are very solid across all areas, when you consider how much they cost.
The noise cancellation works well, yet not as good as some more expensive makes, but well enough. When in the environments of a plane or an office, they are quite effective. The battery life is for using Bluetooth and active noise cancellation is about 12 hours, while when using just active noise cancellation, it is 30 hours and just Bluetooth is around 15 hours.
The build quality is not the best when compared to others, it is not that they are badly made, it is just that they are not made from high end materials. They seem very plastic and don’t fill you with great confidence for their longevity. But for the price, they are still made well enough.
They are comfortable to wear over long periods of time with thick padded ear pads that seem to become softer the longer you wear them.
A standard set of features that all work well enough, as they have a built in mic that functions perfectly well.
The sound quality is pretty good, considering the price of these headphones, and it is better than average for Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. With the active noise cancellation feature on, the sound is much better louder and richer to listen to. They do all the ranges well enough, so for the average listener, the set produces quite a nice sound.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Noise cancelling good
Comfortable after a little use
Good features for the price
Value for money
Decent sound for ANC wireless headphones
Not great at any one thing
Quality build quality
Naztech i9BT Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
Approximate Price : $99.00
A budget set of Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones that do many things just a little better than some of their competitors. If you buy them, you will not be disappointed.
The noise cancelling feature on these headphones is pretty effective, nearly as effective as the models 3 or 4 times the price of these. The battery is also good, with 12 hours of usage with Bluetooth and active noise cancellation on. With just Bluetooth on, it is around 15 hours and with just active noise cancellation, it is close to 30 hours.
Even though light and not seeming overly durable, they actually do stand up to the test of time, using mostly plastic that is flexible and doesn’t break that easily. Their durability is more than enough for most people.
Another pleasant surprise with these headphones is their comfort, as they are smaller and rest on the ears comfortably. The ear pads are comfortable and use memory foam, seeming to nearly melt around your ears. Thereby, those long haul flights or listening to music for hours on end can all be done without any discomfort.
A basic package that gives you everything you might need, a cable for wired use, an airplane adaptor, a 6.3 mm adaptor and a USB charging cable. Furthermore, all these can be stored in the hard case that comes with the headphones. Also, they have a built in mic that works without problems.
The sound quality is the only really average feature of these headphones, but they are Bluetooth and noise cancelling and this is also a problem with other more expensive makes. The sound quality is good overall, with a warm sound.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Good noise cancelling
A hard carrying case with all the cables/adapters
Can work as wired headphones
Good battery life (up to 12 hours with BT and ANC)
Very comfortable memory ear pads, perfect for long flights
Affordable, great value for money
Difficulties using the earphone buttons
PSB M4U 2 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Approximate Price : $200.00
This offering from PSB is a good set of noise cancelling headphones that have a good selection of mode settings and a good high quality sound, making them a very nice set of headphones within this sector of the market.
The noise cancelling is very effective and can compare very favorably with other more expensive makes. They are great for travel or in the office as the ANC (active noise cancelling) is top quality. The use of a closed back over-ear design also means they have good noise isolation, so combined with the noise cancellation, you are getting a very quiet set of headphones.
These are a big set of headphones, and they have to have enough space to fit in an amplifier and AAA batteries for the noise cancelling. They are constructed from metal that is covered in layers of plastic. This all adds to the effect of a heavy bulky set of headphones and they are very durable, they can be folded for travelling so they are easier to carry, but they do weigh a lot, so bear that in mind.
The ear pads are soft and very comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. The headband is covered in a layer of fake leather, but once on you really do not notice their weight as they are a comfortable fit for most heads. The only issue could be the tightness of the fit, the clamping on the ears, but this could be an issue if you have a bigger than average head.
These headphones have a built in amplifier which most other set of headphones don’t have. This is nice for when you are using them with your smartphone, as you can always get a nice high quality sound from them.
They have 3 modes of listening:
Passive mode – no power or noise cancelling.
Active mode – only amplifier on, without ANC.
Active ANC mode – both amplifier and ANC are on.
All these modes work well, but the best sound quality is gotten when all are active.
The PSB has an in-line mic that works just as you would expect from a set of high end headphones.
Now this is where the PSB really stands out, as they can stand up to other more expensive headphones, having a very clear and balanced sound, with all the ranges being very clear, crisp and very detailed. They have a good bass, but aren’t bass heavy nor are they for bassheads – just a very fine balanced sound across all ranges and suitable for all tastes of listening materials.
Their sound signature is slightly V shaped, so if you enjoy or prefer this type of sound signature, they will be perfect for you.
The headphones work well without the amplifier turned on, but the sound really shines with it on. Using them across a wide range of musical genres, they present all the subtle details of the music that you might be listening to – giving you a great sound across all the ranges, with a powerful bass, very full mids and a bright treble, giving you a clear and very accurate sound of each track you are listening to.
With the PSB you will get a good set of noise cancelling headphones that are durable, with a comfortable design, and a sound quality that is comparable to a high end product.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Great noise cancelling comparable to high end headphones
Large and heavy, but still comfortable
A durable metal and plastics design
A built-in amplifier
3 listening modes
A Battery life up to 50 hours (2 AAA batteries)
Very balanced and detailed sound quality
Heavy and bulky design
Not comfortable for larger heads
Sennheiser PXC 450 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones
Approximate Price : $200.00
This set of headphones from Sennheiser gives a great combination of good noise cancelling and a great audio performance.
Using its NoiseGard technology, these compare very favorably with more expensive headphones in regards to noise cancelling. Combined with noise isolation, they produce very good results in loud environments. The noise cancelling works using a battery which gives you about 16 hours of use, but even if you turn of the ANC, they still work well enough.
The build quality is as good as you would expect from the brand. Using plastics that are covered by fake leather where needed, they are strong enough for most users. A little heavier than others, they can be folded for storing or travel.
Being a little larger and heavier than some other headphones, they are still very comfortable to wear for long periods of time, with the headband and the ear pads very well cushioned.
The headphones can be used with active noise cancelling on or off and they have a third option which is called TalkThrough, which allows you to talk to people while still wearing the headphones – it works by the mic recording the voice and sending that through the headphones so you can hear. It sounds a little awkward but it does work as it is supposed to. The controls are on the right earpiece, as is the battery storage.
The sound quality of these headphones is more than good for a pair of noise cancelling headphones. In fact, the sound quality gives these headphones a strong edge over some of the competition in this segment of the market.
The headphones sound is rich and clear, while the bass is good, as it doesn’t overpower nor does it get muddy. The ranges are balanced, with no range being dominant. The mid and high ranges are crisp, and they are great for listening to electronic, rap or rock music. And one surprising feature is that they sound the same with the noise cancelling switched off.
Advantages and Disadvantages:
Very good noise cancelling
Heavier but comfortable
No change in sound with ANC off
Great sound quality for noise cancelling headphones
What about the ear phones that are inserted into the ear?
In recent years, in-ear headphones have become increasingly popular. They are handy, discreet, and those of a higher class emit great sound. But, at the same time they can be a source of major problems for the ears and hearing if they used regularly in a wrong way.
Ear buds in the ear are in point of fact a foreign body. Improper use, especially if you’re pushing the buds inside the ears too deeply and with too much force, can cause damage to the outer ear and ear wax accumulation. So be careful and gentle, you only have two ears!
Since earphones are not usually cleaned, they can be a source of infection: a study published in the Journal of Health and Allied Sciences showed that the average user handset has 40% more bacteria in the ear canal. Too much bacteria can cause serious problems, including a total loss of hearing.
When inserting headphones in your ears, you should pay more attention to hygiene, and regularly and thoroughly clean the ears and earphones.
There are some dangers lurking in small ear phones.
Many people think that these earbuds cannot do anything bad to them. But they are wrong: technology now allows itself the possibility to send to the eardrum more than 150 decibels, and it makes absolutely no difference if this involves the gentle crooning by Shakira or the wild pitches of Iron Maiden. 150 decibels is the noise caused by a jet engine when you are standing right next to it. Medical workers have long known that the margin of danger when the volume starts to destroy the ears is 85 decibels, which is comparable with the volume level when you are in a car. So do not listen to anything at the greatest volume: the hair cells in the inner ear that vibrate with sound and transmit signals to the brain will be shattered. And no, they will not grow again. Chronic hearing loss is permanent.
“I can’t hear well.”
16% of the EU population now has chronic ear injuries and the number of people with growing hearing problems is increasing.
Especially among young people, hearing loss can be largely attributed to an improper use of headphones. These involve mechanical damage to the outer ear due to a rough insertion of headphones in the ears which can damage the eardrum and ear sensors in the inner ear due to loud music.
There is also tinnitus, an unpleasant and constant ringing in the ears, which is, among other things, a result of excessive noise, and can literally drive you nuts. In today’s time, there are cases of tinnitus, according to some data, which add up to 40% more than in 2000, and how to eliminate this disorder is still unknown.
A sin upon our heads?
Decades ago, the first mass headsets appeared together with the Walkman. Age and fashion have moved in such a way that it is rare for someone to be sporting this model on the street today. In short, it can be said that people usually swap a good appearance for a healthy habit with great reluctance.
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But it is worth trying headphones out. Advances in technology and design are outstanding. Today’s headphones are able to muffle the noise from the environment, which means that you can listen to music at a tolerable level of decibels, and that the sounds from the outside world cannot reach you. They are pleasant to wear and will not slip off your head as did ‘sponges’ more than thirty years ago. Cleanliness and sound quality are amazing. Even if they are a little more expensive, the advantages of good headphones quickly exceed their cost.
5 convincing reasons for a rational use of headphones.
1.0% is the likelihood for ear hair cells to heal, due to which our hearing is weaker.
2.16% of EU citizens have hearing damage.
- In the last 20 years, 33% more young people have damaged their hearing because more than 50% of young people regularly listen to music too loudly.
4.40% more people than in 2000 suffer from tinnitus, that is, a hissing in the ears.
5.90% is the percentage by which a good headset can decrease unpleasant noise.
Discover the good and bad sides of the noise cancelling headphones under 100 & 200 dollars.
Ear bud headphones
These headphones usually come with portable players, but such quality headphones can offer acoustic quality that can be measured with great headphones.
They are inserted into the ear canal or are placed on the outer part of the ear; also, some models have a clip to avoid then buds from falling out.
The good side of these headphones is that they are lightweight and compact, easily transportable and can enable from moderate to excellent isolation from external noise.
The disadvantages are sound quality and lower power bass frequencies as opposed to large headphones. However, these headphones can be uncomfortable with prolonged use and the cable can easily get tangled.
This category of headsets usually refers to lightweight ones with two types of carriers: the standard vertical carrier with a bow over the head and a horizontal bracket behind the head or neck. These headphones are almost always open and leak sound for a good reason: if you are running, the last thing you want to do this to completely block outside sounds of the street where you are.
The good side is the design with a support behind the neck that will not spoil your hair style and will not fall off during running. The disadvantages are a design with a thin carrier, which is not as durable and in some models the pressure on the ears are stronger than average.
Open or semi-open headsets
These headphones rest on the ear lobes and are used with low-cost portable devices, as well as home high-end devices. While these headphones can have the design of a casing that covers the ears, they are never completely closed (leaking sound) as with closed handsets.
The pros are that they heat up the ears less than closed headphones and the cons are that they isolate outside noise less and have less bass than closed headphones.
Large closed headsets
These headphones completely close your ears. Because of their size and total acoustic isolation, closed headphones are commonly used at home and are not suitable for portable devices.
Its pros are a good reproducing of bass frequencies and a complete blocking of outside noise. The disadvantages are their size and weight, and some models can be uncomfortable, heating up the ears too much.
Wireless headphones have been present on the market for years, but only recently have they begun to approach the sound of wired quality headphones. There are two ways to transfer sound: using infrared rays and a transfer by using radio signals. Infrared headphones use light signals to transmit the signal from the base to the handset, but you need to be within eye range in order to receive a signal from the base. A transfer using radio signals (RF) utilizes frequency radio waves for the same job, so that the signal can pass through walls, which may cause a signal failure.
The latest wireless headsets use Bluetooth technology that can be used with portable MP3 players such as the iPod, so there are no cables.
The good side of wireless headsets is that there are no cables that interfere with the listening experience and you can listen to the TV, DVDs and music without connecting to devices, while the bad side is that only a few models can approach the sound quality of the model with cable and many have additional noises in the background.
Noise cancelling earphones
These headphones abate noise from the environment by creating an anti-sound that removes noise in your ears. They do not eliminate noise completely, although better models significantly reduce the noise generated by loud air conditioners.
They are somewhat less effective in silencing the background clatter of trams and buses. These headphones come in all shapes, from large to the small ones which are placed in the ear.
Its pros are that you do not need high volume to override outside noise, and you can listen at a lesser volume, which reduces ear fatigue. Also, you hear quieter details in listening to music. The disadvantages are that some are sensitive to anti sound, which is expressed as a pressure in the ears. Most people will not notice this, but we recommend that you try out the headset before buying; all handsets use batteries to power the circuit, and can be installed in the headset housing or in a separate module on smaller models.
Surround ear phones
Some models of these handsets can electronically synthesize surround sound to create a larger sound field that stereo sound. Other models use a more acoustic approach to create the illusion of surround sound in the ears. A handful of models even have built-in electromagnetic membranes in the housing of the headphones for a ‘real’ surround sound.
In contrast, Dolby Headphone is a surround sound that is available on some A/V receivers that mimic the effect of surround sound with any headphones that are connected to the receiver. Headphones with surround sound are primarily intended for home movies or for gamers, but they sound great with ordinary music as well.
Its pros are that these headphones produce a spatial effect of ordinary stereo headphones. The disadvantages are that they sound too artificial or have too many reverberations. The quality varies with the design and no model sounds as spacious as distributed multi-channel speakers.
Re the most expensive earphones in the world: does price also stand for quality?
The most expensive headphones in the world are not the best, but they are certainly the kind of electronics that turn heads. Of course, if you have a surplus of $100,000.
Advice for the noise cancelling headphones under 100 & 200 dollars:
Of course, there is a difference between the more expensive headsets but an important factor is the requirement for a more expensive headset, the need for hi-fi sound (especially open) or studio sound monitoring or DJ-ing, which will refer you to specific models, as well as the volume which you wish to use for listening to hi-fi equipment or on a mobile phone. The difference is proportional to the price, but it reaches some $1,000 and everything over this is all about an exclusive handset rather than sound. It’s nice to hear the sound on headphones costing $900 but it is not for every day, when let’s say this model weighs 500 grams and can be listened to for a long time without the pressure. For everyday listening, some of those costing $50-100 or $100-200 are sufficient for a great sound. The difference is not heard immediately when you get the more expensive ones, but only after longer listening can you notice the difference when you go back to the cheaper ones, and recognize the disadvantages. It just depends if someone wants to invest more money or not, although this is a long term investment as opposed to say a mobile phone.
Sound quality – what is the scientific research?
Given the fact that the specifications of the speakers are usually very poor when it comes to providing relevant information, how do we recognize the quality of the sound that we hear?
So how do we know what we’re listening to?
Research recently conducted by the US-based Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) provided insight into the fact that 90% of consumers, while purchasing audio equipment give priority to sound quality, while not more than 39% are prepared to spend more money to buy high-quality audio products.
This news is positive for manufacturers of high-quality audio equipment, but not only that: there is a warning to consumers about product specifications that often they say nothing relevant about how these devices sound when heard in real time and space.
The truth is that the specifications of audio devices are unchanged from the period of Thomas Edison, and everything that today’s specifications guarantee is that the device will emit a sound, without any indicators of the quality of the sound. “More useful information about performance can be found on a car tire specification than on a speaker,” says, Floyd Toole, a famous acoustic scientist. The point is that many specifications of this type give only a slight idea of the real characteristics of the device.
Customers will continue to insist on detailed specifications that will realistically show the possibilities of the product, but there are those who believe that customers are not able to bear the truth. Thus, the so-called explanations consist of claims that sound quality is too complex a question for the customer to understand or that such a measuring of quality is too expensive or even to relativize sound quality which is thought to depend on demographic characteristics, the cultural milieu, the previous audio experiences or the music taste of the one who is evaluating. There is another reason why many manufacturers seem parsimonious when it comes to sharing information about their products, and that is the fact that by telling the truth about the products, it becomes extremely easy to distinguish truly high-quality products from the bad. This would lead to the disappearance of false gloss from the Sound Empire.
When such claims are brought to the test of scientific knowledge about the perception and measurement of audio quality, their inaccuracy is clearly evident.
The science of measuring sound quality
Harman International researchers have investigated the quality of speakers and reproduced sound. This was commenced in the 80s of the 20th century at the National Research Council in Canada, where the work of Floyd Toole allowed the first glimpse into how subjective and objective measures of quality of sound are linked, i.e. that of a loudspeaker. This work was continued at the University of Northridge at the beginning of the last decade of the 20th century. The first special upgraded rooms whose purpose was to test listening were developed, as well as the development of methods which enabled a better control of all the variables that lead to buzzing, including the position of the speaker. Two quiet chambers were part of these studies, which enabled engineers to ensure performing accurate measurements.
Over the next decade, trained listeners evaluated hundreds of speakers manufactured by Harman and its competitors. The tests conducted were designed in such a way that the audience did not know the piece brand in question, or anything about its design or price. The findings arising from these studies showed that the trained listeners liked the same speakers.
However, the question for which an answer was not found is whether the preference of sound quality among the trained listeners was the same as of those who have not undergone training, which actually represent the target group of customers for this product.
One study involving 300 untrained subjects (listeners) was conducted in 2004. In it, the preferences of untrained speakers were compared with the preferences of trained listeners. It was shown that their preferences were actually very similar, except that the trained listeners usually gave lower, sharper and more uniform assessments.
Then, more recently in Los Angeles County, students and high school students were tested in order to determine whether their taste in sound quality was corrupt due to long-term use of MP3 devices of a modest quality. The study showed that the students preferred music files whose quality is at the level of reproduction through CDs in comparison to MP3 versions – in 70% of cases. None of the students preferred the MP3 audio of low quality, and this conclusion was based on the studies carried out: young people could still hear well and they preferred sound of a higher quality.
The same sample of young people was used to test the speakers, of which different descriptions and levels of preferences were granted to four different types of speakers. These were the following:
- A well-balanced, neutral model – (Infinity Primus 362);
- A loudspeaker with “a strong bass and high tones” – (Polk RTi 10);
- Another one “with refines medium tones” – (Klipsch RF35);
- And an expensive model with “colored, uneven sound” – (Martin Logan Vista).
The test was carried out on 149 foreign students, in order to compare the experience of these research participants with that of their peers in America. In addition, the evaluation was performed on 12 trained listeners from Harman. What is encouraging is the fact that the loudspeaker which was preferred by the majority of respondents was the Infinity model (technically the most accurate and least expensive model), and that there is an agreement on the preferences expressed by the students from the United States, Japan and trained Harman listeners. As past surveys showed, the more trained listeners showed a tendency to give lower and more consistent evaluations which were distributed over a wider range of scales of preference.
Modeling and predicting preferences based on objective measures
So far, we have addressed only the observational nature of the evidence, which showed that listeners prefer precise, neutral speakers, which could be inferred from their comments and assessment of sound quality. In any case, it remains an open question whether there are differences in preference for sound quality with trained compared to untrained listeners when the measurement is done in the context of controlled testing conditions.
Further studies have shown a clear link between the physical characteristics of a loudspeaker and listener preferences. Loudspeakers which have left a better impression on the listeners are those which have had a flatter and wider frequency response curve, with good control of early reflections, sound energy and index orientation. The more linear ones were the results of measuring the characteristics of the loudspeakers and the closer to the initiative was their response, the more the listeners liked them. In other words, listeners still want to hear the truth.
The last piece of the puzzle about sound quality is a patented mathematical model that implements the analysis of the technical aspects of the loudspeakers and also provides for the manner in which a trained listener assesses the overall quality of the sound – on a scale of 0 to 10. The accuracy of such predictions is 86%, and this figure is based on a sample of 70 different models of loudspeakers. Even with 86% accuracy, this model gives us more information on the perceived sound quality than the specifications, which do not give us any more information except that the product provides us with sound.
So what about earphones?
Harman also dealt with scientific studies that assessed the link between perceptions and objective measures of the quality of sound coming from the headset. So far, the findings are similar to those prevailing during the last 30 years, since such tests have been carried out. When items such as brand, price, fashion and involvement of celebrities are taken out from the calculations, the fact remains that listeners prefer those earphones that provide the most neutral and most balanced sound. Thus, the commercially very popular Beats by Dre Studio headphones were positioned at the bottom of the scale, with comments such as “too noisy, a corrupt and colored sound,” by trained as well as 71 untrained listeners. This shows that listeners definitely want “to hear the truth,” regardless of whether the loudspeaker is in the room where they are located or it is close to the ear.
We are currently conducting research that involves both trained as well as untrained listeners from different demographic groups, in order to find and define the sound quality that satisfies the largest number of potential buyers.
Market surveys show that users of audio devices want a better experience when it comes to sound quality, but what they lack are the right information and tools to find them. For audio companies, this is an opportunity to show their clients how they can attain a better quality of sound. Harman International is getting ready to take a leadership role in this mission, considering it is active and committed to the development of scientific methods to measure sound.
Take care of your hearing!
“Over 120 million people in the world have damaged hearing” (the World Health Organization).
Hearing is a gift to be treasured. But as we age, hearing becomes more and more weak. It seems that this process is accelerated because of the modern way of life, due to which people are constantly exposed to different types of sounds and noises. A prominent scientist from the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, said the following: “In a typical American, approximately 75 percent of hearing impairment is not only a consequence of aging, but also how much she or he took care of his hearing during his lifetime.”
Thus, intense, brief exposure to loud noise may adversely affect the sensitive structures in the inner ear. However, hearing loss is often the result of “the cumulative effect of noise in the workplace and noisy hobbies and other heavy entertainment,” said audiologist Dr Margaret Cheesman. How can you protect your hearing? To answer this question, we need to know more about how our sense of hearing works.
The sounds we hear
It seems that the environment in which we live is becoming noisier. Many people are daily exposed to various types of loud sounds, from the noise of cars, buses and trucks in the streets to the deafening noise of electric machinery in the workplace.
Sometimes we directly contribute to the problem of increasing the volume on a device while listening. For example, many prefer to listen to music via the Walkman or Discman, with headphones on their head. According to Marshall Chasin, the co-founder of the Canadian clinics for musicians, studies conducted in Canada and the United States show that an increasing number of young people have hearing loss that is caused by a very loud listening to music through headphones.
But how can we determine what is too loud? Sound is characterized by three properties – duration, frequency and amplitude. Duration simply indicates how long a sound is heard. The frequency and height of sound defines the number of vibrations per second, a unit called a hertz. The range of frequencies that a person with healthy hearing can hear ranges from 20 to 20,000 vibrations per second.
An amplitude or intensity of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). In ordinary conversation, the volume is about 60 dB. The longer you are exposed to sound louder than 85 dB, the larger the later hearing loss, audiologists say. The louder the volume, the faster it results in hearing damage. In one report, Newsweek said: “The ear can for two hours without any serious consequences listen to the sound of an electric drill (100 dB), but it cannot bear more than 30 minutes of the noise in a video game (110 dB). Any further increase in the volume of 10 decibels means 10 times more deafening noise.” Tests have shown that sound becomes painful when it reaches about 120 dB. It is therefore unlikely that some home stereos can produce a sound of over 140 dB!
In order to better understand how loud sounds can damage your hearing, let us look at what happens when sound waves reach the ear.
How does the sense of hearing function?
A part of the outer ear, called the auricle or the earlobe. is designed to collect sound waves and direct them towards the ear canal, from where they soon reach the eardrum. At that stage, sound waves cause the oscillation of the eardrum, which in turn causes a flickering of three ossicles in the middle ear. Then the vibrations are transmitted to the inner ear, in the fluid-filled labyrinth that is located in the bone cocoon. Now the vibrations cause the movement of fluid in the cochlea, the part of the inner ear that contains the hair cells. The fluid in the cochlea stimulates the top row of hair cells in the production of nerve impulses. These impulses are then sent to the brain, where they are decoded and interpreted as sound.
The limbic composition helps the brain assess which sounds to pay attention to and which to ignore. For example, a mother may not pay attention to the usual sounds she hears while her child is playing, but will respond immediately when it cries out of fear. The fact that we listen with two ears enables us to obtain a complete sound image, which is very useful because it allows us to determine where the sound comes from. However, when it comes to speech, the brain cannot simultaneously understand more than one audio message. “For this reason, it is not easy to hear the person you’re talking to on the phone and at the same time keep track of what someone next to you is saying,” the book The Senses claims.
How noise damages hearing
To better understand how loud sounds can damage your hearing, consider the following comparisons. An Occupational Safety report compares hair cells in the inner ear with wheat in a field, and the sound in the ear with the wind. A gentle breeze, which is compared with a low volume, will sway the wheat, but will not damage the stalks. However, a stronger wind will bend the stalks. In fact, a sudden and violent gust of wind or a low wind blowing continuously over a long period can to such an extent damage stalks that they can no longer recover but will simply wither.
Noise affects the tiny, delicate hair cells in the inner ear in a similar way. A sudden sonic boom can damage the tissue of the inner ear and lead to permanent hearing damage. In addition, prolonged exposure to very strong noise can permanently damage the delicate hair cells. And, once they are damaged, they cannot be rebuilt. The result can be a buzzing and ringing in the ears or in the head that is called tinnitus.
Protect your hearing for it to serve you longer
Although hereditary factors or some accidental injuries can cause hearing loss, we can take precautions to protect our precious ears in order for them to serve us longer.
It is good to be informed about the possible dangers. According to one audiologist, “To wait until a problem occurs and then to do something is the same as putting protective sunscreen after your skin is already burnt.”
How we hear is often more of a problem than what we hear. For example, if you listen to music through headphones, you might want to adjust the volume so you can hear the sounds around you. If the sound of the stereo in your car or at home is so loud that you cannot talk in a normal fashion, then this is probably a sign that you have damaged your hearing. Experts caution that two to three hours of exposure to 90 dB can damage hearing. It is recommended that whenever you are exposed to noise, use earplugs or other protective devices.
Parents should remember that children can more easily get hearing loss than adults. Note that the toys that generate noise can be dangerous, as an ordinary rattle can produce a noise of 110 dB!
The ear is a sensitive, small and miraculous organ. Thanks to it, we can hear the varied and beautiful sounds of the world around us. No doubt, hearing is a precious gift that needs to be well taken care of.
The approximate force of some sounds in dB (decibels):
- Breathing — 10 dB
- Whispering — 20 dB
- Conversation — 60 dB
- Traffic — 80 dB
- A mixer — 90 dB
- A train passing by — 100 dB
- An electric saw — 110 dB
- A plane flying — 120 dB
- A gunshot — 140 dB
Perhaps you have a problem with your hearing if you are doing the following:
- Turning up the volume of the radio or TV to such an extent that it bothers other people;
- Keep asking people to repeat what they had said;
- Frowning often, sitting forward and turning your head to hear the person talking to you;
- Hearing poorly when you find yourself in places where there are many people or where there is background noise, for example at social gatherings or in a store full of people;
- Often having to ask others what was said.
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