Do Noise Canceling Headphones Protect Hearing?


If you’re an avid music listener like me, you must know how important it is to have a quality pair of headphones.

The difference between listening to music with and without headphones is simply incomparable.

Once I’d gotten myself a lovely quality pair of headphones, I was shocked to find out just how different certain songs sound when you listen to them on headphones that are actually of very high quality.

I could hear these subtle nuances in the sounds and instruments that I wasn’t able to hear before, and keep in mind that these were songs that I’d listened to many, many times before and I knew most of them by heart.

Do Noise Canceling Headphones Protect Hearing

Also, before I’d gotten into soundproofing, headphones always used to be my go-to solution when there was too much of external noise bothering me.

I’d just put on some music and try to focus on it and ignore the annoying sounds around me.

What exactly are noise canceling headphones?

Considering all of this, it’s no surprise that I was thrilled when I found out that there are actually headphones that are made specifically to be able to cancel the outside noise.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – don’t all headphones cancel the noise when you play some loud music?

They do but to an extent.

Some noise-canceling headphones are programmed for the exact purpose of blocking outside sounds, which is why they’re so effective.


This means that you don’t have to turn the volume all the way up to block the noise, which is certainly healthier and more practical.

Once I learned all of this I couldn’t help but wonder - Can these headphones help protect my hearing? It was a logical assumption, but I still had to do some research and figure out all about it, as usual.

In case you're wondering how exactly noise canceling headphones work, how they affect our hearing and should you consider buying them, I'm happy to share all there is to know.

Why is it so important to protect our hearing?

Nowadays, in the age of technology, most of us are constantly exposed to all kinds of noises, especially those of us who live in an urban, densely populated area.


There is nothing strange about the fact that the noise is the second biggest cause of hearing damage after aging.

Surprisingly, we ourselves contribute to our hearing damage the most.

Even though there are many noises around us that we don't have too much control of, such as traffic, for example, we do have control of the music we listen to and how loudly we listen to it, and hardly anyone leaves the house today without their headphones on and the music turned up.

The problem is that when we listen to music at a high volume for a long time, hearing loss is almost inevitable.

We won’t even notice that our hearing is getting worse because this usually happens very gradually.

gaming headphones

But what are you do to when you’re exposed to so much unbearable noise that you simply have to turn the music volume to the max?

This is where noise canceling headphones can come to your aid.

Types of noise canceling headphones

Passive noise canceling headphones

These headphones do not use any electronic technology to help minimize outside sounds; they simply rely on the material they're made of to do all the work.

This is why these headphones are often made from rather thick materials.

We can compare their effect to the one you get when you put a finger in your ear – you only block some of the sounds.

These headphones function in a similar way to the actual soundproofing of, for example, a room.


There has to be a lot of material to prevent the sound from spreading, which means that these headphones can be a little too heavy to some people.

And while they do minimize some sound from the outside, and can help protect your hearing from sudden loud sounds, they are not particularly effective in canceling low-frequency sounds.

Active noise canceling headphones

While active noise canceling headphones may be a lot more expensive, they are certainly worth the money.

These headphones are programmed to analyze the noise around you and adapt to it, which enables you to only focus on the sound that you want to hear, the one coming from your headphones.


Basically, these headphones register the sound waves of the surrounding you’re in and match their own sound waves to the exact same degree.

This means that you don’t have to turn the volume to the maximum, so these headphones actually can help protect your hearing!

The best possible place to use them is an airplane since they are by far the best at eliminating sounds like the constant airplane humming.

However, unlike passive headphones, active noise canceling headphones cannot really protect your hearing from sudden, extremely noisy sounds such as firecrackers or gunshots.

Do noise cancellation headphones protect hearing?

They absolutely do. You just have to make an informed choice and pick the right ones for your particular situation.

You should make the choice depending on which noises you want to protect your hearing from.


By now you’re already familiar with the fact that active noise cancellation headphones work best in environments where there are constant, low pitched sounds.

They do an amazing job at protecting your hearing, especially due to the fact that they enable you to listen to music at a normal volume level and not worry about the noise around you.

When it comes to passive noise cancellation headphones, they can protect your hearing from high pitched noises, but only under specific circumstances.

If you turn their volume to the maximum, you’re doing yourself more damage than good.

This is why active headphones might be a better choice for most of the circumstances in which you need to protect your hearing.


How to choose the best possible noise cancellation headphones?

Of course, you’re the person who can make the best choice about whether you need to buy these headphones and, more importantly, which kind you should buy.

It all depends on your personal preferences and on the places where you plan to use the headphones.

On this particular market, there is something for everyone, and I’m here to help you make an informed choice so that you can pick the best possible option there is.

Protection from high-frequency noise

If you want to protect your hearing from insufferably loud noises such as constant firecrackers during the holiday season, these headphones are the right choice for you.

However, if you turn the volume on these headphones all the way up, then it’s all pointless – you’ll just damage your hearing even more.

  • Passive noise cancelation headphones work best against sudden high-frequency sounds
Skullcandy passive headphones

Do you see how massive these Skullcandy Hesh 2 headphones are?

If the first thought that came to your mind was that these must be passive noise cancellation headphones, you were absolutely right.

Although they are a bit too big and impractical, these headphones do an amazing job at blocking high pitch noises, according to many satisfied customers.

Their price is around $60, which is reasonable considering the fact that they will serve you well and for a very long time.

Protection from low-frequency noise

If you’re someone who regularly uses public transport, buses, trains, even airplanes, you will find that active noise cancellation headphones are the best fit for you.

You will be amazed at how well these headphones function once you’ve tried using them in any of the abovementioned places.

  • Active noise cancellation headphones work best in environments with constant mid-pitched or low pitched sounds
TaoTronics active headphones

Among the multitude of active noise canceling headphones on Amazon, I found TaoTronics headphones to be quite affordable and, according to the customer’s reviews, very impressive in every respect.

They only around $55, which is not that high a price considering their performance and quality.

Paww active headphones

If, however, you wish to set aside more money to get a perfect pair of noise cancellation headphones, let me introduce you to Paww WaveSound 3 headphones, which are widely praised all over the internet.

Not only is their performance nearly perfect, but they are also foldable, which means that they are ideal for traveling – you won't need to worry that they'll break in your bag.

Unfortunately, they’re not very cheap, you’ll have to say goodbye to $100 if you want to own them.

Conclusion: So, Do Noise Canceling Headphones Protect Your Hearing?

To conclude, noise cancellation headphones definitely can help you protect your hearing, but only if you use the right type of headphones for your surroundings.

Depending on the frequency of the noise you want to protect yourself from, you have to make the most appropriate choice.

If you follow the advice I’ve given you, I’m absolutely convinced that you’ll succeed.

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