Noise Canceling Headphone Buying Guide 2021

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Noise Canceling Headphone Buying Guide 2021

Topic : Noise Canceling Headphone Buying Guide 2021

How to choose noise reduction headphones? This is a problem as disturbing as noise:

·         What kind of noise-canceling earphones should I buy, head-mounted, over-the-shoulder or true wireless? Which form is more comfortable to wear and which one is used

·         What are the noise reduction modes? Active noise reduction and digital noise reduction are selected;

·         Will the earphone noise reduction affect the stability and will there be a delay when connecting wirelessly;

·         Will wireless transmission affect the sound quality, and whether Bluetooth can transmit losslessly and listen to Hi-Res;·        

I believe this series of problems have troubled everyone for a long time. Read more about Noise Canceling Headphone Buying Guide 2021.

So, today we will do a detailed science popularization to let everyone know about noise reduction headphones, and at the same time analyze with you how to choose a wireless noise reduction headphones that suits you.

What are the common noise reduction headphones?

There are many types of noise reduction headphones, which can be classified into different types of products in dimensions such as shape and wearing mode, noise reduction technology and connection mode.

Before studying the options, we have to look at how many noise-cancelling headphones are on the market.

According to the classification of wearing methods, there are currently three types of headphones, head-mounted, shoulder-mounted and true wireless noise reduction headphones. According to the connection method, there are only two types of wireless noise canceling headphones and wired noise canceling headphones.

Noise Canceling Headphone Buying Guide 2021 The wired and wireless modes are well understood. At present, most manufacturers have shifted their focus to wireless noise-cancelling headphones. This is also the focus of our discussion today.

 ROG CETRA wired noise reduction gaming headset

Wired earphones are relatively niche now, such as Xiaomi or ROG are still making wired noise reduction earphones, but these are more to meet the special needs of users.

 Mi Wired Noise Cancelling Headphones

For example, Xiaomi’s wired noise-cancelling headphones are mainly to serve users who are more price-sensitive, while ROG CETRA’s wired noise-cancelling headphones are to meet the needs of mobile game users for low latency and connection stability. These two models are not considered to be Too conventional mainstream equipment.

Noise Canceling Headphone Buying Guide 2021 According to the classification of noise reduction technology, it can be divided into active noise reduction headphones and digital noise reduction headphones.

The so-called active noise reduction headphones refer to the noise reduction system that generates reverse sound waves equal to the external noise, neutralizes the noise, and achieves the effect of noise reduction. Like the Sony 1000X series, Bose’s latest NCH series and QuietComfort, QuietControl two QC series, Beoplay H8 and H9, Beats Studio 3… These are all common wireless noise-cancelling headphones.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless

Of course, some earphones like Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless can also provide good wearing tightness, and users can also block a certain degree of noise after wearing them. But this is only a physical noise shielding effect. Every headset actually has the ability to shield noise after being put on. It has nothing to do with the “noise reduction function” we mentioned

 DIGITAL NC digital noise reduction technology that comes with Sony players

Noise Canceling Headphone Buying Guide 2021 Digital noise reduction technology is a way of adding some processing during sound playback to reduce the impact of environmental noise on sound playback. ANC technologies like Sony’s DIGITAL NC and FIIIL also belong to digital noise reduction.

Compared with active noise reduction, the effect of digital noise reduction is relatively weak, and the noise reduction effect can only be reflected when music is played. The effect is relatively low and it cannot meet the pure noise reduction needs of users.

In addition to wearing styles and noise reduction modes, there are also noise reduction/noise shielding headphones made according to specific scenarios. For example, Bose’s Sleepbuds is a noise-shielding headset specifically for sleep scenes.

Although there are many kinds of noise-cancelling headphones, we mainly come into contact with wireless noise-cancelling headphones in our daily environment, which is currently the most mainstream noise-cancelling solution.

So, we will narrow down the range, mainly focus on the three forms of wireless headphones, head-mounted, shoulder-mounted and true wireless, to highlight the differences between the three and tell you how to choose from these three forms Suitable products.


No matter which headset you buy, the first thing users touch is the sense of wearing. The headset is uncomfortable to wear, will it be inconvenient to wear…These are the problems that users will encounter when wearing a new headset.

When it comes to wearing comfort, everyone’s judgment criteria are different.

Some users may be afraid of head-mounted indenters, some feel that the shoulder-mounted style is more troublesome to wear on the neck, and some users cannot accept the in-ear style. These characteristics are also factors that affect users’ choice of headphones.

However, based on the consideration of the tightness of the earphones, the shape of the noise reduction headphones has actually been fixed. For example, the head-mounted noise reduction headphones will basically adopt a fully-wrapped structure. The shoulder-mounted and true wireless noise reduction headphones are all in-ear. the Lord. Only by using these more closed designs can the noise shielding requirements of noise-canceling headphones be guaranteed.

However, in these three modes, the sound tightness is still different.

The best sealing performance is the headset. The fully-wrapped earmuffs are designed to completely wrap the ears. The earphones also have a certain thickness. With the sound absorption effect of ear cotton, it can improve users by 1/4 to 1 /2 gear noise reduction effect.

The shoulder-mounted and true wireless with in-ear design also have a certain noise shielding ability. Users can replace the memory foam cover (C cover). The C cover of the appropriate size can fill the ear canal space as much as possible to improve the wearing tightness. But the airtightness is still a bit worse than the head-mounted type.

In addition to sealing, wearing stability is also very important.

For most people, the headphone design is the easiest to wear firmly. As long as you don’t choose some very narrow top beam styles, adjust the length before wearing them, and don’t mind that the top beam will crush your hairstyle, the headwear style should give you the most stable wearing experience.

The shoulder-mounted and true wireless are mostly in-ear, and the stability of wearing is similar.

The user needs to choose the correct size rubber plug before wearing it, and adjust the earphone and external stabilization structure when wearing it. As long as they are adjusted well, these two headsets will also have good stability, but they are more troublesome than headsets.

For in-ear headphones like Sony WI-1000X and WF-1000XM3 without external stabilization structure, because there are few things that can be adjusted, they are quite convenient to wear. However, the lack of assistance from an external structure makes the headset less stable to wear.

In terms of wearing stability and airtightness, headsets have greater advantages. If you encounter comfortable earmuffs and top beams, it is indeed the lowest threshold and the most convenient one of the three ways.

However, the scene adaptability of the headset is very poor. The earmuffs are so big that they can hardly be worn when sleeping on the bed, and they cannot be turned around.

Moreover, the headset is really hot to wear. Let’s not talk about the summer in Guangzhou where the “minimum consumption” starts at 30°C. It’s easy to sweat when walking on the street wearing headphones. At this time, no matter how strong the sound quality and noise reduction effect of the headphones are, it does not make much sense. At this time, it is not appropriate to use headphones.

Of course, true wireless headphones are the most adaptable to the scene.

True wireless earphones are not bound by wires and shoulder-wrapping structures, so they can be worn a bit more freely than head-mounted and shoulder-wrapped. It just plugs your ears, and it won’t warm your ears or neck. It can be worn for a long time outdoors on a hot day.

The shoulder-mounted design can be regarded as the middle point between the head-mounted and true wireless. The same in-ear structure will not have the embarrassment of warming the ears, but the shoulder-mounted structure will also cause obstacles when worn.

 Sony WI-1000X shoulder-mounted wireless noise reduction headphones

If you come across large shoulder-mounted headphones such as QC30 and WI-1000X, it will be difficult for you to wear them while sleeping or exercising. Although some readers are sleeping by hanging the hanging shoulder structure upside down, I don’t recommend this kind of strange approach.

In terms of control, the headset has a large space to place the touchpad, and users can use touch gestures to operate the headset. However, limited by the response speed and recognition accuracy of the touchpad, the probability of misoperation is relatively high.

Also, for users who have not used touch gestures before, it is a bit troublesome to remember multiple sliding and continuous tapping actions. In contrast, a true wireless headset that can be controlled by just clicking on the left and right touch blocks is more convenient.

Among the three headsets, the most troublesome operation is the shoulder-mounted design.

We also mentioned this when we experienced the Sony WI-1000X, most of the shoulder-mounted headsets have the buttons on the inside of the shoulder-mounted structure. If you are unfamiliar with the position of the buttons and the manufacturer has not performed recognition operations on the buttons, it is very difficult for users to perform blind operations to control playback while wearing them.

Even if there is a convenient pairing NFC module on the shoulder-mounted structure, it is actually difficult to achieve light-touch pairing after wearing. The design that was able to simplify the operation is now not so convenient. From this point of view, the shoulder-mounted headset should have the greatest impact on control of the three.

Noise reduction technology

For noise-canceling headphones, “noise reduction” is actually the core function.

But the relationship between the noise reduction effect of headphones and the intensity of noise reduction is similar to the “hearing sense” and “sound quality”. The sound quality of the headset is a basic element of the sound performance of the headset, and generally refers to the texture of the sound. The sense of hearing refers to the overall performance of the earphone sound, which is simply how you feel when you hear the earphone sound.

Schematic diagram of active noise reduction principle

The noise reduction effect is the same as the noise reduction strength. The noise reduction strength generally refers to the output effect of the earphone noise reduction unit, and the noise reduction effect of the entire pair of earphones is the noise reduction performance that needs to be combined with the noise reduction unit and the sealing performance of the earphone. Simply put, after you put on this headset, you can feel how quiet the surrounding environment is. This is the noise reduction effect brought by the headset.

To talk about the noise reduction effect, start with the noise reduction intensity of the headset.

Left: WH-1000XM3; Right: Bose 700

Among the three types of headsets, on-shoulder and true wireless headphones, head-mounted noise-reducing headphones have more space than on-shoulder and true wireless headphones, and can accommodate larger noise-reduction units and batteries. With a larger capacity battery, the head-mounted battery life pressure is also lower than the other two models, which allows the noise reduction unit to do more powerful output. The noise reduction strength of the unit is naturally stronger than the true wireless and shoulder-mounted type.

The shoulder-mounted and true wireless earphones with in-ear design are also adopted. Both earphones are designed mainly in small size, and the space for noise reduction unit and battery is relatively small, and the noise reduction strength of the two should be similar.

But for the early release of true wireless noise reduction headphones, they still need to consider battery life, so the output of the noise reduction unit will be compressed, and the noise reduction effect will also be weakened. Therefore, when we experienced the first-generation WF-1000X, we also found that its noise reduction is indeed a bit low.

Sony has solved this problem on the newly updated WF-1000XM3. The noise reduction strength and overall effect of WF-1000XM3 have caught up with the shoulder-mounted WI-1000X. It seems that the true wireless noise reduction headphones introduced after the WF-1000XM3 can also achieve the effect of the early shoulder-mounted noise reduction headphones.

To talk about the overall noise reduction effect of the headset, the wearing tightness is also very important. It can be seen from the comparison of wearing tightness that the strongest sound insulation ability is still the head-mounted type, and the two types of true wireless earphones that use the in-ear structure of the shoulder-mounted and true wireless are not far behind.

Combining the above two points, under the premise of the same noise reduction technology, the strongest noise reduction effect is still the head-mounted noise reduction headphones. The noise reduction effect of the shoulder-mounted and true wireless headphones is not much different. But if the earphone has a better fixed structure or a close-to-ear design, the sound insulation effect will also be improved.

In addition to the most basic noise reduction effect, headphones also need some noise reduction technology to optimize their own noise reduction effect.

For example, Sony’s “SENSE ENGINE” allows the headset to recognize the environment with the help of the sensor on the mobile phone, and calculate the noise reduction effect suitable for the current environment through software, reduce the influence of factors such as air pressure on the wearer, and reduce the burden of noise reduction on people.

SENSE ENGINE has a high degree of automation, but the “Headphone Connect” application must be turned on when the phone is connected to be effective. If you are connected to a non-smart player, the headset will only do a purely unadjusted noise reduction output.

Bose has added a 10-level noise reduction adjustment to the latest Nosie Cancelling Headphone series, and it also allows users to switch quickly with buttons. Microsoft Surface Headphone uses the most basic knob design to achieve 13-level noise reduction effect adjustment…These are the technologies and interactions that manufacturers have invested in noise reduction functions, and the purpose is to facilitate users to adjust the noise reduction effect.

The investment in technology has nothing to do with the form of earphones, but mainly depends on the technological investment of the manufacturer. It is recommended that users take some time to look at the introduction of the noise reduction technology of headphones before purchasing noise reduction headphones, so as to help you better choose the products that suit you.

Connection technology

Since wireless headphones became the mainstream, “wireless connection stability” has only become our concern.

In the past, we only used wireless earphones to listen to music, and the demand for connection stability was not high, as long as we ensured continuous connection. But now we are watching videos and playing games on our mobile phones. While the headset ensures a stable connection, it also needs to reduce the delay and keep the picture and sound in sync to ensure the experience.

In this regard, the use of wired connection headsets and shoulder-mounted wireless headsets on both sides of the headset still performs well.

These two kinds of earphones do not need to take into account the stability of the connection between the earphones on both sides, and there is also a larger space on the earphone for designers to design the transmission antenna. It can be seen that these two headsets will have a more stable performance in wireless connection.

The connection pressure of a true wireless headset is greater than that of the head-mounted and shoulder-mounted models. In the early scheme, the device was first connected to the host in the headset, and the headset was received by the host and then transmitted to the other headset. This type of connection is prone to delays. Even if the headset can ensure the stability of the connection, sometimes the sound and picture are out of sync

Qualcomm TWS Plus true wireless headset solution

Later, Qualcomm also launched the TWS Plus true wireless connection solution, allowing the two sides of the true wireless headset to be directly connected to the playback device, canceling the relationship between the main and the auxiliary machine relay connection. This also reduces the pressure on the wireless connection and improves stability. However, compared with the two solutions using wired connection, the head-mounted and shoulder-mounted solutions, the stable performance of true wireless is still a little worse.

In addition, the transmission pressure of true wireless headphones is greater than that of head-mounted and shoulder-mounted types, which also places many transmission restrictions on true wireless headphones. This limitation is mainly reflected in the support for high-standard transmission coding.

According to existing products, the headset is compatible with the most high-standard wireless transmission codes.


Like Sony’s WH-1000X series of noise-canceling headphones, they already support common high-spec transmission modes such as LDAC and aptX HD. The shoulder-mounted WI-1000X wireless noise-canceling headphones can also use LDAC and aptX HD. There is little gap in the compatibility of high-quality encoding.


In contrast, there are not many true wireless headsets that support aptX, and the only one with active noise reduction is the Little Bird Track Air+. Some true wireless headsets (such as Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless) also support Qualcomm’s newly developed aptX low-latency transmission mode, but there is no true wireless product compatible with LDAC and aptX HD.



In this part, let’s talk about the most important “sound” of metaphysics, which is the performance of auditory perception.


The sense of hearing is actually the result of a combination of many elements of the headset. Headphone unit, wireless audio chip processing technology, wireless transmission specifications, headphone cavity design, the effect of noise reduction on sound performance, the material of earmuffs and rubber plugs, etc., all affect sound performance.


Here, it is actually very difficult for users to make a comparison of fully controlled variables, but a comparison with too large a span is meaningless. Therefore, in this issue of popular science, I will only share how to quickly compare the plan, and will not discuss the difference in hearing between the three types of headphones. Because there are too many variables and too much span in this comparison, the comparison is meaningless.

 Before the comparison test, we will prepare one or two of your commonly used playback devices. Because I usually switch between mobile phones and players, I use my iPhone 8 Plus and Sony NW-ZX300A player every time I do hearing tests.

Player selection is very important, because the transmission mode can be determined after the player decides. You can only find a pair of headphones suitable for your daily use only when you experience it in the usual connection mode.

After confirming the player, you also need to find one or two albums that you often listen to and are very familiar with. Only by listening to songs that are so familiar can you hear the difference between different headphone switching.


If you know the earphones to be compared beforehand, you can also choose some songs suitable for earphones to play. But if you haven’t heard the song yourself before, and the style of the song is very different from what you listen to everyday, then the test is not meaningful.


Noise Canceling Headphone Buying Guide 2021 After these two preparations are done, you can go to the audition. When auditioning, you only need to pay attention to the details of the song and the overall atmosphere performance according to your own preferences. There is no need to put too much emphasis on “three-frequency equalization”, “high resolution and high resolution”, etc. After all, everyone has different style preferences, so you can choose according to your own preferences.

 Another thing to note is that there is no need to be too obsessed with transfer coding.

 Because each headset has its attributes and preferences, like the Surface Headphone and Bose 700 we experienced before, it can output a good sense of hearing in the environment of SBC and AAC. On the contrary, Sony’s WH-1000XM3 needs to be in LDAC mode to exert its maximum strength. The characteristics of the headset are different, and its support for encoding is also different.

 As long as your playback device is determined, then look for headphones according to the device.

 After comparing so many, let’s come to the next conclusion…

After a series of detailed comparisons, we also have some understanding of the three forms of noise-canceling headphones, head-mounted, shoulder-mounted and true wireless.

 Now, we will make a summary based on the comparison results.

 The head-mounted type can provide the most stable wearing effect, and the wearing tightness is also the strongest among the three. With its volume advantage, it can provide you with the longest battery life and the strongest noise reduction effect. But its scene adaptability is poor, many times it can only be worn in the office and long distance tools.

Noise Canceling Headphone Buying Guide 2021 The shoulder-mounted and true wireless earphones are both mainly in-ear designs, and there is little difference in the sealing and stability of the two earphones. However, the shoulder-mounted headset will have an additional shoulder-mounted structure, and it is still not as convenient as a true wireless headset.

 When the weather is not so hot, the shoulder-mounted style can also meet the needs of outdoor use. But if it’s a hot day or you want to use it while sleeping, the shoulder-mounted style is still a bit troublesome.

 True wireless earphones are free of the restraint of the earphone cable and are the most free to use, whether you are walking, in the office or sleeping.

 But after being completely wireless, the transmission pressure of true wireless headphones will also increase, and the stability and delay control of the connection will be weaker than the head-mounted and shoulder-mounted type. In this case, true wireless noise reduction is more suitable for use in general commuting environments. If you are listening to songs and watching a simple video on the road, it can still meet the needs.

 In this way, the three kinds of headphones actually have their own corresponding ranges of use, and there is no overlap between these ranges. If you only buy a headset, it is difficult to fully cover your needs.

 In this case, I personally recommend buying two pairs of headphones to use together. You can use true wireless earphones when commuting, and you can switch to head-mounted or shoulder-mounted noise-reducing earphones when you are in the office, on an airplane, or on a long-distance bus so that you can completely cover your use scene. So this concludes the topic for Noise Canceling Headphone Buying Guide 2021.

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