Learn How to Make Noise Canceling Headphones
Noise-canceling headphones can cost more than regular headphones. This is something everyone knows. While there are occasions when high-end headphones are worth the investment if they are going to improve your quality life, there are also times when the price tag is prohibitive.
You might have been looking for noise-canceling headphones to drown out the sounds of noisy neighbors but aren’t willing to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars? Maybe you’re looking to buy a Christmas present for someone who already owns good headphones. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create noise-canceling headphones.
You can make your own noise-canceling headphones amplifier for just $10 with standard electronic components. This article will demonstrate how to make noise-cancelling headphones.
What is Noise Cancellation?
Noise cancellation is the process of reducing or eliminating undesirable sounds from an environment. This could be engine noise or people talking near you in an office. For long trips, airline pilots first used noise-canceling headphones to reduce noise.
These noise-canceling headsets are widely used today in a variety of settings including airports, offices and streets. These headphones are especially useful for people with hearing problems, such as tinnitus.
Did you know that noise cancelling in headphones and in earphones can occur in two distinct ways? Both active noise cancellation as well as passive noise cancellation are the two main methods.
Difference between passive noise cancellation and active noise cancellation?
An integrated microphone picks up ambient noise from the surroundings and activates noise cancellation (ANC). This noise is fed into ANC, which creates an opposing sound frequency. This frequency is then transmitted back to us via the speakers. Low ambient noise results when opposing frequencies collide.
The ANC feature on headphones is usually more expensive than the passive noise isolation. A decent pair will cost around $50. These budget headphones have only the binary-on/off ANC function. For headphones less than $200, you will have to pay more for features like Ambient mode or adjustable ANC.
You can expect more advancements in ANC technology as the price increases. Some ANC headphones less than $300 allow you to control the volume of noise. For less than $1000, you get industry-leading technology and up to 11 levels in noise cancellation.
However, passive noise cancellation (PNC), is more commonly found in most headphones or earphones available. In order to protect our ears against unwanted background noise, PNC headphones or earphones don’t require power and instead use noise-isolating material like foam and pads.
How effective is passive noise cancelling?
Passive noise cancelling is less effective than active noise cancelling. But, it can still reduce noise. It all depends on the design of headphones and the type canceled sound. There are two options for reducing background noise: active or passive. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending upon the blocked frequency range.
Passive noise cancellation earbuds can be used to reduce the noise level by up to 15dB. Earbuds and headphones with active noise cancellation can better reduce low frequencies. Low-frequency noise is a common problem for pilots in aviation and helicopters. Therefore, it is understandable that manufacturers initially developed this technology.
Using ANC can reduce lower frequencies, such as those from lawnmowers and subway traffic, by up to 60 decibels. An average reduction of ambient noise is 30 decibels (dB). The passive noise isolation feature of headphones is more effective than ANC earbuds at reducing low-frequency and high-frequency noise.
How does Noise Canceling Headphones Function?
If you are commuting, or listening to music outside of a soundproofed area, noise-canceling headsets are the best option. You must first understand the concept of canceling noise.
What’s the difference between noise and sound?
Sound is a type energy that travels through the air or any medium as a vibration from pressure waves. Waves can be measured in amplitude, height (or cycles per second), and frequency (or cycles per second). Amplitude measures the strength or magnitude, while frequency measures how often a soundwave repeats itself within a second. The frequency and amplitude of a soundwave are affected by how loud and high-pitched they are.
Noise is a distracting or irritating sound. Noise can be caused by construction work, engine noise, and loud music. A microphone is used to detect ambient noises around you and noise-canceling headphones do the same. This noise is then processed and inverted by a digital signal processor (DSP). This effectively cancels out the noise, leaving only the music or audio content you are looking for.
Tools How to Make Noise Canceling Headphones
Make sure you go through the checklist how to make noise canceling headphones to ensure that all materials are included. In order to make sure you have everything you need for a project; you might want to buy extras in the event of making a mistake. Here’s what you need:
- Earmuffs or ear protections that isolate noise (such as Dr. Meter EM100)
- Speakers for replacement headphones
- Any working earphones to plug in and connect with the cable
- Small Polyethylene (PE), foam about the same size and shape as two replacement headphone speakers
- Soldering iron
- Glue gun
5 Steps How to Make Noise Canceling Headphones
Once you have a basic understanding of noise cancellation, it is possible to start making headphones with this technology. In just a few steps, you can create noise-canceling headsets.
1. Select the Best Headphones
Not all noise-cancelling headphones are created equal. You need to find the right headphones to cancel out noise. Over-the ear headphones offer the best noise cancellation. They fit comfortably around your ear and cover your entire ear canal. This helps to block out ambient noises better than either earbuds headphones or on-ear headphones.
Even if you don’t have an over-the ear pair, you can still make noise-canceling buds. The best headphones will deliver the best results. You can also use earplugs without active noise cancellation if you don’t have ANC earbuds.
Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting headphones for noise cancelling.
- Headphone type: On-ear, over-the-ear and earbuds
- Headphone sizes: For noise cancellation, bigger is better
- What types of noise do you want to cancel (low, medium, or high frequencies).
2. Take out the Earpieces
If you’re using an over-the ear pair of headphones, take the earpieces out from the earmuffs. The earmuffs will be separated from the earpieces. You can remove the earpieces by removing the metal bands and tearing the fabric covering the headband.
Next, take out the swiveling metal brackets that attach to the earpieces. It can be challenging due to the extremely strong nature of these components. Cut the metal wires from the earpieces, then remove the plastic parts.
3. You can Separate the Headphones
Remove all housing components from the headphone’s speakers. This will leave you with speaker enclosures that you’ll need reduced to a smaller dimension.
- You can take the foam ear cushions out of your headphones.
- Take out the plastic grills holding the speakers in place. You should exercise caution as the speaker wires are small and thin.
- The screw will allow you to remove the remaining plastic speaker housing section from the headband.
- You can also cut in half the other plastic pieces to take out the headphone cables.
- Last but not least, it should only have two speakers attached. The speakers are linked by sensitive connections so be cautious.
- When you’re taking apart the headphones, take off the netting that was attached to the ear pillows. This is important as we will need it later.
4. Assemble Earmuff Earpieces
These earmuffs will act as the housing for our noise cancelling headphones. You will need to remove the covering fabric from the headband.
- Remove the earcups from the earpieces. It will slide into tabs along the cup’s edge.
- Take out the foam from the earpiece, but don’t toss it.
- Drill a hole in each earpiece. It’s where you attach the headbands and earpieces.
- Make a notch at the top of each earpiece. Through this hole, the speaker’s wire will enter into the ear cups.
- Make a cut in the bottom of your left earpiece to place the signal wire.
5. Connect the Headphones
Now, it’s time for everything to be put back together.
- Use the metal bands and screws to reattach the earpieces from the headband.
- Reattach the swiveling steel brackets to the ears. Before you tighten them, ensure they are in the correct place.
- Connect the housing components around your speakers. Place them in the correct order.
- The plastic grills that hold your speakers in place must be reattached.
- Remove the headphone cables from the housing and replace it with the plastic section.
- Finally, reconnect the netting from the ear pillows.
- You are now ready to put your noise-canceling earbuds to work!
What to Expect When You Soundproof Your Headphones
Sound quality improvement
Headphones come standard with ear cushions. This is why you might need to replace these components in order to improve the audio quality and acoustics. Sound-boosting applications may be used if the sound quality in your newly repaired DIY noise-canceling headset is not adequate.
There are some apps that can help you improve the sound quality, such as Bass Booster and Equalizer. You should be aware that these apps often require access to your device settings. So make sure you carefully read the instructions.
Changes in fitness
You might find that your DIY noise cancelling headphones fit differently than they did when you first bought them. Good news is that the headband and earpieces can be adjusted to ensure a better fit.
Some cases may also result in a change in the fit of your noise cancelling headphones if the ear pads are changed or replaced. If you experience any issues with the fit of your noise-canceling headphones, adjust the earpieces or headband accordingly.
Isolation from noise is improved
People might soundproof their headphones to increase the noise isolation. You can expect a decrease in noise isolation if your DIY noise cancelling headphone project is successful.
Standard ear cushions are made to form an acoustic seal between the user and their ear canal. The lack of this seal can allow outside noise to easily penetrate and cause problems with the audio quality.
Imagine that you are trying to reduce external noise. If this is the case, active noise-canceling headphone might be a better option than DIY noise-canceling.
Hearing low-frequency sounds is difficult
A common problem with noise-canceling headphones are their ability to muffle or completely eliminate low-frequency sounds. If you are trying to listen to deep basslines, such as music and movie dialogues, it may pose a problem.
This can be countered by increasing the bass volume in your device’s equalizer settings. You can make low-frequency sounds clearer without having to sacrifice the noise-canceling abilities of your headphones.
Response of Weaker Bass
The original ear cushions are being replaced with noise-canceling Earmuffs. As such, the bass response will be less. You can get a pair or aftermarket ear cushions to improve the sound quality if this bothers you.
Volume slightly increased
There will be an increase in volume because the earmuffs are used to house the noise cancelling components. Before you replace your headphones, consider listening to lower volumes if you prefer to.
These are some of the things that you can expect when making your DIY noise cancelling headphones. Each project will be unique, so you might see slight differences in the final results. With some experimentation and adjustments, you can make headphones that fit your needs perfectly.
The benefits of using noise canceling headphones
You will enjoy a few key benefits from using noise-canceling headsets. Here are some of the benefits you will enjoy.
Better listening experience
Did you ever try to listen to music while in a noisy environment. Do you know what it’s like to try to drown out the sounds in a noisy environment? But it can be very damaging to your ears.
By reducing or eliminating outside noise, noise-canceling headsets can help to avoid this problem. You can have a better listening experience by reducing the external noise. You’ll be more able to hear what you’re listening too.
Reduced external noise
The main benefit of noise-canceling headsets is the ability to reduce external noise. It’s especially useful for people who are trying to concentrate or want to hear less distracting sounds.
These active noise-canceling headsets are even more effective at reducing external sound. They use microphones that detect and cancel any sound waves trying to reach your ears.
Noise-canceling headphones are a great option if you struggle to focus. They will help you to avoid distractions, and create a calmer and more conducive atmosphere.
Many people find that noise-canceling headphones help them to stay focused while studying or working. You can cancel any noises that could be distracting, such construction noises or talking people.
Conversations can be easier if there are no external noises. This is possible because noise-canceling headphones help to reduce the sound that enters your ears and allow you to focus more on the person speaking to.
It’s also a fact that people speak louder when they know they are the only sound source. This can make for more meaningful and engaging conversations.
Prevents hearing damage
The great thing about noise-canceling headphones? They can protect your hearing and prevent damage. You can avoid reducing external noise to an unhealthy level by using them.
Noise-canceling headphones can cancel the sound waves entering your ears by blocking out the noise. You’ll be able listen to audio content with lower volume, which is good for your ears.
It improves your sleep habit
Your sleeping habits can be improved by noise-canceling headphones. They will help you to avoid any unwelcome sounds that may keep you awake. Many people find that wearing noise-canceling headphones when they sleep helps them fall asleep faster, and give them a more restful nights’ sleep. You might consider noise-canceling headphones if you are having trouble sleeping.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can noise-canceling headphones cause dizziness?
A: Some people report feeling lightheaded or dizzy when they first use noise-canceling headphones. It’s most likely that you are not used to hearing such a calm environment. This should resolve itself after a while. If it does not go away or it becomes worse, you should stop using your headphones and see a doctor.
Q: What is the best way to tell if headphones are noise-canceling or not?
A: Not every headphones is noise-canceling. Most headphones that advertise themselves as noise-canceling will contain some form this technology. You can test whether your headphones are noise cancelling by listening to the same music with or without headphones. If there is any difference in the level of noise, then your headphones might be noise-canceling.
Q: Do noise-cancelling use microphones to reduce background noise?
A: Yes. Noise-canceling headphones use microphones in order to cancel out any sound waves that try to enter your ears. They can reduce the external noise that enters your ears.
Q: Can noise-canceling headphones block all sounds?
A: Noise-canceling headphones are not able to block all sounds. They just reduce the noise outside your ears hear. You’ll still be hearing things such as cars passing and people talking. You’ll notice that the noises you hear will be muted if your headphones aren’t on.
Q: Can I use noise cancelling headphones to make phone calls?
A: Noise-canceling headphones can be used for phone calls. Many people find them to be more comfortable than regular headphones for calling. They can reduce background noise you hear from the other end of the phone.
Q: Does noise cancellation work with or without music?
A: No music is required for noise-canceling to work. However, the noise-canceling is not as effective if you aren’t listening to any audio content. The headphones are dependent on sound waves reaching your ears to cancel them. They won’t be able to do their job properly if they don’t hear any sound.