How noise-canceling headphones work - Deepstash

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How do noise-cancelling headphones cancel sounds?

How noise-canceling headphones work

  • The microphone on the earcup listens out for ambient noise.
  • When the noise is registered, the microphone sends the frequency and amplitude of the incoming wave back to the noise-canceling circuitry.
  • An out-of-phase sound is created, then fed into the headphone speakers, along with the music you're playing.
  • It cancels out around 70 percent of external noise without affecting the music you're listening to.

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The invention of headphones
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In 1910, Nathaniel Baldwin invented headphones. A prototype was sent to Lt. Comdr. A. J. Hepburn of the U.S. Navy. Hepburn tested the device and found it worked unexpectedly well to transmi...

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  • Until the 1950s, people used headphones almost exclusively for radio communication.
  • In 1958, John C. Koss introduced the Koss SP3 Steroephones along with a portable phonograph to patients in Milwaukee hospitals that proved revolutionary because their sound quality made them optimal for listening to music.
  • 1979: The Sony "Walkman" created a need for a portable headphone and a lightweight set of MDR-3L2 headphones was included with the portable cassette player.
  • In 1978, Dr. Amar Bose, while on a flight, tried an early set of electronic headphones used for passenger entertainment. But the cabin noise made it impossible to hear anything. He returned to Boston and investigated how ambient noise could be reduced with active noise cancellation.
  • In 1989, the Noise Reduction Technology Group introduced the first noise-reduction headset, designed for the aviation industry.
Portable headphones
  • Portable headphones became smaller and eventually lead to earbuds and in-earphones.
  • In 2001 Apple introduced the iPod, and later iPhone and iPad, comes with a set of white earbuds.
  • 2008. Hip hop artist and producer Dr. Dre and Interscope Chairman Jimmy Iovine launched Beats by Dr. Dre to help solidify headphones as a fashion statement.
  • 2011. Sennheiser, a German headphone company, released 300 sets of the Orpheus headphones and an audio show in South Korea. A set was priced at 30,000 Euros, or roughly $41,000.
  • 2012. The launch of the iPhone 5 started a new era of headphone design, the EarPod, designed to direct sound right into the ear.
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Using Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Wearing headphones can block out some of the ambient sounds and create a subtle barrier to being interrupted.

Regular headphones with some sounds playing will also do the trick. But researchers found listening to music with lyrics caused a decline in performance while white noise wasn't found to have the same impact.

The Distractions We Can Control

For any focused work session, we should prevent the distractions we can control.

  • Allow only a select few emergency channels to go through and interrupt you. Turn off all other notifications on your phone and computer.
  • Ensure your email inbox is closed.
  • Pack your phone away to minimise the impulse to check your phone.
  • Schedule short focused check-in times for essential emails.