Many traditional headphone options pose a greater risk to our health. The noise-canceling headphones are a much safer alternative, which mainly work to cancel out external sounds. The widespread use of headphones creates concern in the minds of people regarding the possible effects to their health. So the basic question is whether these headphones are safe for your ears?
Yes, they are safer than the traditional options, but that doesn’t ensure maximum safety. There are many health benefits to wearing noise-canceling headphones, especially when it comes to long-term hearing. Still, there are a number of drawbacks that must be kept in mind while looking at the broader issue of user safety.
What are Noise-Canceling Headphones?
Simply stated, the noise-canceling headphones cancel out the external, unwanted sounds so that wearers don’t get distracted by what’s going on around them. There are digital processors that transmit mirror-image sound waves which effectively cancel out the external sound. The noise-canceling headphones have small, built-in microphones in their ear cups. The microphones receive the sound before you do and the sound is later processed by the noise-canceling circuitry in the ear cup. The noise-canceling circuitry notes the frequency and amplitude of the sound. It then creates an anti-sound which is mixed with the original sound and fed to the headphone speakers thus canceling the noise. This way you are able to listen to your desired audio.
The noise-canceling devices work well with low to mid-frequency sounds in noisy environments such as areas with high traffic noise, airplane and train noise, and more. There are two types of noise-canceling headphones: active (advanced one) and passive. Passive noise-canceling headphones simply block the external sound to pass through the headphone material. They are the cheaper of the two options. Active noise-canceling headphones cover lower frequencies while passive noise-canceling headphones better cancel out higher frequencies.
The different types of headphones have different ways of canceling noise, whether passively, actively or both. Therefore, choose the one that fits you the best. Let’s go through the various advantages and disadvantages of using these headphones.
Noise-canceling headphones are beneficial in a number of ways, including helping to promote the physical and mental health of the wearer. Choose the right pair of noise-canceling headphones and you can remain safe while increasing your productivity.
Loud noises are damaging
Listening to sound at anything over 85 decibels poses long-term health risks for headphone wearers. Therefore, users should keep their headphone usage within the 60-85 decibels range (and should use only for up to eight hours). Hearing loss caused by high decibels is irreversible, so it’s important that wearers do not exceed this threshold, either in decibel or in duration.
Many individuals only exceed this threshold so that the sound within their headphones outweighs the external noise. Noise-canceling headphones offer serious health benefits because, by canceling out external sound, they make it easier and more natural for wearers to turn down the volume.
No low-level radiation
Noise-canceling headphones do not emit low-level radiation like other devices such as smartphones. So, there’s no risk of cancer or other health diseases associated with radiation. You can wear these headphones for longer times keeping the volume low.
Loud noise interferes with our sleep, which leads to an increase in stress level. People are at higher risk if constantly exposed to external noise. The increased level of stress hormone (cortisol) can lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol which is linked to heart diseases. Low-level noises can also cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). The noise-canceling headphones help you relax your mind by canceling out unwanted external sounds. You can use them for sleeping, studying, or other situations where silence is desired.
Many people don’t want external sound because it invades their privacy, causes irritation, anger, and frustration. For them, wearing noise-canceling headphones can help reduce their stress in an easy way and improve their mental health.
Helps in improving focus
It can be almost impossible to concentrate in a noisy environment. By cutting out the external noise you can concentrate more on your work. They can be particularly beneficial for students to use as study devices, thus helping them focus on their studies.
There are several drawbacks to noise-canceling headphones. Keep in mind the following threats so that you can help protect yourself and your loved ones from any unnecessary risk.
Cords can be dangerous for children
Small children may accidentally strangle or hang themselves from the cords. So look only for cordless headphones for your children and guide them on how to properly use them. Keep other headphones out of reach of children.
Tight fits can cause damage
Sometimes it may happen that you buy noise-canceling headphones that are too small. Wearing such uncomfortable headphones for too long can cause prolonged damage. You should be especially careful while buying for children because they may not complain of tight fits and become more vulnerable to nerve or other types of damage. Tight-fitting headphones may lead to severe headaches if worn for too long. Try out headphones before buying so that you can be sure of their fitting.
All noises are not canceled
Passive noise-canceling headphones don’t cancel all the noises. They don’t cover different low-frequency noises that are damaging to the ear. Active ones provide a better shield to external noise even if they are best used to prohibit low frequencies. They reduce both low and high-frequency sounds, which can be damaging to the ears.
Faulty headphones provide false security
The older headphones might not function well enough to cover sounds because of wear and tear. If you unknowingly purchase a defective pair of headphones, you are also exposed to at a higher risk.
Misuse can be dangerous
Noise-canceling headphones are not damaging for your health but can be dangerous if misused. If you start listening to music at high volume it will definitely cause damage to your ears. It’s better to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines when determining how loud one’s music can be. The users should clearly understand what noise-canceling capabilities actually entail. Don’t think that these headphones will protect you against all noises. Actually, these can be just as damaging as regular options when users exceed the recommended decibel count.
We can say that noise-canceling headphones are a much safer option but also pose several threats when misused, such as listening to loud music. They are a perfect choice to combat external chaos and relax and focus on one’s mind with better-protected hearing. They do not emit low-level radiation, so you are not at risk like with other electronic devices such as mobile phones. Just follow the manufacturer instructions, buy cordless, and make sure they fit you well. When used in moderation, noise-canceling headphones have a number of positive effects on the body. They improve our listening experience and protect our hearing from the surrounding noise. Remember to keep the noise level not higher than a casual conversation of 60 decibels and you are completely safe.
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Last Updated on February 3, 2021.