Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Bad For Your Ears? (Detailed Answer!)

Noise-cancelling headphones are intended to block out outside noise. This is ideal for people who work in loud environments, such as construction workers or factory workers. It’s also beneficial for travelers because it allows them to sleep through the noises of an airplane cabin or a crowded airport terminal.

Many are people wondering and keep asking, “Are noise cancelling headphones bad for your ears?”, so we’re here today to fully respond.

There are many different types of headphones, so let’s start with how noise cancelling headphones work so we can get a full picture of whether noise cancelling harms hearing or not.

Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Bad For Your Ears?
Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Bad For Your Ears?


So, Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Bad For Your Ears?

No. Noise-cancelling headphones are completely safe to use and will not harm you in any way. However, if the volume is not kept at a reasonable level, these devices can still cause hearing damage.


Noise cancelling headphones have small built-in microphones in the ear cups. The sound is picked up by the microphones before you do, and it is then processed by the noise canceling circuitry (again in the earcup).

The noise cancellation circuitry takes note of the frequency and amplitude of the sound and then generates an anti-sound. The latter is combined with the original sound and routed to the headphones’ speakers. The noise has been removed, and you can now listen to your desired audio.

This now works with low to mid frequency sounds in noisy environments such as traffic, airplane and train noise, and others. However, passive noise cancellation is a type of noise cancellation that does not involve active noise control.

The padding of over-ear or on-ear headphones, which seals tightly around your ear and isolates the surrounding noise, is primarily responsible for passive noise cancellation.

This is also possible with in-ear headphones or earbuds, which fit into your ear canal and block out noise. Different types of headphones cancel noise in different ways, whether passively, actively, or both. It is up to you to select the best noise canceling headphones for you.


Do you know where the most noise-cancelling headphones are used?

Planes, to be specific. As a result, it is not surprising that the origins of noise-cancelling headphones can be traced back to the aviation industry. The first noise-cancelling headphones were designed for pilots to improve communication.

The system wanted to get rid of the background noise that was interfering with their hearing. By the late 1980s, Bose Corporation had developed the Series I Aviation Headset for use in airplanes. The headset had an 8-hour battery life and could be charged in flight using a power socket.

Soon after, Bose began supplying noise-cancelling headsets to numerous airlines, making these products available to business and first-class passengers.

Consumers had to wait until 2000 to see the release of Bose’s Quiet Comfort. Since then, the majority of companies have released noise-cancelling headphone lineups. Bose, along with Sony, Sennheiser, Beats, and others, has maintained a strong presence in the market.

These headphones have become more popular and affordable over the last decade. Noise-cancelling technology has also been introduced to in-ear earphones by companies such as Apple and Sony. The Apple AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3 have long been fan favorites.

We must also recognize the growing popularity of passive noise-canceling headphones, which is another story. In short, you can pick from a lot of options when you need a good pair of noise-canceling headphones.


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You can find two types of noise-cancellation technologies used in headphones: passive noise canceling and active noise canceling. Sometimes, headphones use a hybrid of both PNC and ANC. However, there are some inherent differences between both. Let us see how they work.

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1. Passive Noise Canceling

Noise Isolation is another term for passive noise cancellation. This technology keeps outside noise out of your earcups. Passive noise-cancelling headphones will create a tight-knit cover around the ears to accomplish this.

You don’t have to turn up the volume to listen to music or a podcast because outside noise can’t get in. These headphones can provide an impressive listening experience depending on the structure and quality of the noise-cancelling earcups.

Can Noise Cancelling Headphones Harm Your Ears?
Can Noise Cancelling Headphones Harm Your Ears?

2. Active Noise-cancelling

Active noise cancellation employs a more sophisticated approach that makes use of electronic circuitry. An array of microphones picks up ambient noise to support the circuitry. The circuitry then analyzes the ambient noise and generates inverted noise to cancel it out.

It works in real time, and a listener can effectively get rid of loud noises, such as airplane engine noise. Similarly, if you live near a city, an active noise-cancelling headphone will reduce background noise effectively.

Customers prefer both passive and active noise-cancelling headphones. Some people even use them to help them sleep.

Noise-cancelling headphones have also been shown in studies to benefit children with autism spectrum disorder. To cut a long story short, noise-cancelling technology has accomplished far more than you may believe. In the audio industry, it has been nothing short of a revolution.


No. Noise-cancelling headphones are completely safe to use and will not harm you in any way. However, if the volume is not kept at a reasonable level, these devices can still cause hearing damage.

If you listen to music at high volumes while wearing noise-cancelling earbuds or headphones, you may be damaging your ears without even realizing it! In fact, it makes no difference whether your headphones have noise cancellation technology or not.

Even if you listen to music at extremely loud volumes, you risk damaging your ears. Noise cancelling headphones, in fact, may be beneficial to your ears because they block out ambient noises, reducing the need to listen to music at high volumes.

They can also be useful for focusing or if you work in extremely noisy environments, such as construction sites or nightclubs where music is blasting loudly for hours at a time. Isolating headphones, on the other hand, would be preferable in that situation.


Overall, noise cancellation in headphones has no negative impact on your hearing. When you turn on the ANC, you may hear a slight hissing sound, but that’s all. However, for some people, this can be annoying and even cause dizziness.

In this case, it’s best not to use it too frequently or to leave ANC turned off if the environment isn’t too noisy. Keep in mind that this hissing sound is not harmful to your hearing.

Another thing to keep in mind is that noise-cancelling headphones do not emit radiation like our cell phones do. By the way, if you have frequent conference calls or remote meetings, you can increase the noise cancellation from your headphones.

You can use noise cancelling apps like Krisp which will ensure that the noise is removed on both ends of the conference call. In fact, noise cancelling headphones are even good for your health. Let’s take a look at that as well.

Alternative Video: Will Noise Cancelling Headphones Damage Your Hearing?

Will Noise Cancelling Headphones Damage Your Hearing?


Dealing with constant noise is a real challenge if you work in a noisy environment. In this case, noise-cancelling headphones can actually help protect your hearing. Long-term exposure to low-frequency noises can also be hazardous.

We are accustomed to believing that loud noises cause the most harm, but long-term low frequency noises have an impact as well. Loud noises primarily harm your hearing by interfering with your sleep, increasing your stress levels, and causing excruciating headaches.

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Constant low-level noises are just as dangerous as loud noises, if not more so. Stress hormone levels are higher in people who work and live in noisy environments than in those who work and live in quiet areas.

Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been linked to high blood pressure and cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease. Noise induced hearing loss can also be caused by low-level noises (NIHL).

Noise Increases The Level Of Stress Hormones

Children who live in noisy neighborhoods with low-level noise have higher cortisol levels than children who live in quiet neighborhoods, according to a study published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Wearing noise-cancelling headphones reduces the likelihood of your stress hormone levels rising. You protect your hearing and may reduce your chances of developing noise-induced hearing loss.

The best part is that because noise cancelling headphones cancel out background noise, you don’t need to turn up the volume to enjoy your music more. Listening to music at high volume is another significant risk to your hearing.

If you want to get the best effect from noise cancellation, you may want to choose headphones that have good padding along with ANC, which will provide you with both passive and active noise cancellation.


Now we’ll get to the bottom of the big question: is noise-cancelling technology bad for your ears?

NO. Noise-cancelling headphones are not harmful to your hearing. However, listening to loud music (or any other form of media) is not good for your hearing. According to research, people who wear headphones at maximum volume may develop hearing problems after a while.

However, this would occur regardless of whether you were wearing noise-cancelling headphones. The only drawback to noise-cancelling headphones is that they produce a static sound. Some users may experience dizziness as a result of this sound.

However, this is a rare occurrence that does not result in hearing loss. Aside from that, we can’t think of any reason why noise-cancelling headphones would be a problem. Noise-cancelling headphones can improve your health by lowering your chances of developing hearing problems.

Yes, you read that correctly. Allow us to explain. Several studies have found that Americans who live in areas with excessive noise have auditory problems. They also have a high level of stress hormones, which can lead to other serious issues.

Most people who own standard earphones/headphones have only one option for combating ambient noise: turn up the volume. However, increasing the volume does not solve the problem.

Of course, the listener will temporarily be free of ambient noise, but at the expense of putting too much pressure on their eardrums. In these cases, a standard pair of headphones makes no difference.

Noise-cancelling headphones, on the other hand, perform admirably. Because they eliminate ambient noise — either by defending the earcups or by using circuitry — the listener is not required to turn up the volume to maximum.

Instead, they can listen to their favorite songs or podcasts without damaging their eardrums. Some noise-cancelling headphones even have advanced features that allow you to control the ratio of music to ambient sounds. When used correctly, these features allow you to wear noise-cancelling headphones in almost any situation.

We must also add that noise-canceling headphones do not emit any radiation. The circuitry is used only for identifying and canceling the ambient noise. Therefore, you do not have to worry about any health issues when using a pair of noise-canceling headphones.

Can Noise Cancelling Headphones Have Impact On Ears?
Can Noise Cancelling Headphones Have Impact On Ears?


Remember to keep the volume on your headphones at a reasonable level at all times. That is one of the most serious issues posing a health risk. Here’s how to tell if the volume on your headphones is moderate.

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Noise intensity is measured in decibels, and the maximum level of noise that will not harm your hearing is 85 decibels (according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Anything above that will begin to have an effect on your hearing.

Casual conversations in the office or somewhere quiet have a decibel level of around 60. Try to keep your volume as low as possible for a casual conversation. Also, make sure that conversations do not become too heated.

The combined volume of all the speakers can reach 95-100 decibels. Listen to your own body to determine if the volume is too loud for you.

Remove your headphones and pay attention to what is going on around you. If you notice a slight hissing or ringing in your ear, or if all other sounds appear dull and muffled, the volume is too high for you.


It should be obvious to you that the myth of noise-cancelling headphones causing ear damage is untrue. This, like many other tech myths, stems from a lack of proper understanding. Once upon a time, noise-cancelling headphones seemed too good to be true.

As a result, people assumed that the manufacturers were making ear cups that were too harsh on the body. It’s not entirely false. Some headphone manufacturers used subpar designs, resulting in ear pain and discomfort while wearing their headphones.

However, this was only a minor annoyance that was easily remedied by a comfortable design. Some people combined this concept with the notion that noise cancellation can create a pressure-tight space near the earcups.

It could have been one of the myth’s sources. There you have it: an unscientific notion that noise-cancelling headphones may be harmful to your ears.


They are designed to give you a high fidelity listening experience while reducing lower frequency sounds, but they will not protect your hearing in really loud noisy environments. In fact, they could actually increase chances for hearing loss if used in a noisy environment dominated by high frequencies.


So, to summarize, noise cancellation technology will not harm your ears. However, when using headphones and earbuds with or without this technology, you must still exercise caution.

Other ways to protect your ears include limiting your exposure to loud noises and, if necessary, wearing foam earplugs. Remember that hearing loss is permanent! High-volume damage will last a lifetime, so it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your ears.

Noise Cancelling Headphones: Bad For Our Ears?
Noise Cancelling Headphones: Bad For Our Ears?

FAQs About Noise Cancelling Headphones

Are noise cancelling headphones damaging to ears?

No. Noise-cancelling headphones are completely safe to use and will not harm you in any way.

Is wearing noise-cancelling headphones all day bad?

So, for the most part, we can assume that wearing noise canceling headphones in the same way we wear our glasses is safe. However, some experts argue that wearing these headphones all day every day may harm your noise-localization neural circuitry — your ability to determine where sounds are coming from.

Why does noise-cancelling hurt my ears?

The brain may interpret this shift as a decompression and inform your eardrums that they are being sucked out, even though they are perfectly fine. However, because the brain controls the body, pain is the result. Active noise cancellation (ANC) is typically effective at lower frequencies of sound, below 1 kHz.

Is it worthwhile to invest in noise-cancelling headphones?

Yes. If you want to protect your hearing, reduce environmental distractions, and have a better audio experience, this technology will astound you with its powerful results.

Barry Moroney

Hi, Barry here. I'm a tech writer and blogger. I write about the latest technology, gadgets, and software. I also provide the best how-to and guides on the latest sound systems. I'm always excited to share my knowledge with others!


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