Noise cancellation in headsets: What exactly is it?

If you’ve ever shopped for headsets or headphones, I bet you’ve heard the term “noise cancellation” used once or twice. I can also bet that you weren’t always quite sure what it meant. It’s not your fault: Depending on the context, noise cancellation can mean a number of things, and companies aren’t exactly consistent in how they use the term. Let’s try to unravel the riddle.


First off, there are two broad types of noise cancellation – one in the microphone(s) and one in the headphones themselves. The first type helps the person on the other end of the line to hear your voice instead of the ruckus in the bar you’re calling from. The second type protects you – the wearer – so that you aren’t disturbed by that same bar noise.

Now let’s look at each one of them in a bit more detail. Continue reading