How Do Noise-Canceling Headphones Work? 🎧

3 min read

Morning audiophile!

Sick noise canceling phones durd!

But hang on.

You need to thank the noise canceling headphones that walked so you could run…

Ya lol.

That’s a 1925 anti-distraction helmet.

The world’s first noise canceling headphones.

It was called ‘The Isolator’ and it worked by sheer brute force:

  • Helmet made of solid wood that blocked 95% of noise
  • Tiny eye holes to keep you focused on stuff right in front of you
  • Oxygen supplied through a tube

Which begs the question, how do noise canceling headphones work today?


Flight from Zurich (ZRH) - Boston (BOS).

This dude Dr. Amar Bose is in his seat patiently gearing up for the long haul:

Ya, Dr. Bose couldn’t hear a thing when his plane got into the air.

It was impossible to listen to music over the plane noise.

So Bose starts designing a noise canceling headphone.

10 years later, he had it!

He releases this aviation headset specifically for pilots, military, and first class travelers:

But what’s the secret?

Basically noise canceling headphones listen while you do.

Look at a simple soundwave – like the rumble of an airplane – coming in:

That wave has a peak (top) and a trough (bottom).

When a noise canceling headphone detects this, it plays a new soundwave into your ear.

One that’s the exact opposite of the noise outside.

Inside the headphone, the two soundwaves peaks and troughs offset each other.

They cancel out:

And you’re left with silence to enjoy your sweet sweet tunes!

Stay Cute,
Henry & Dylan 🌈

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