Many people ask this question”Does noise cancelling damage hearing?”, so we are here today to fully answer it.
Let’s break this down real quick. The short answer is no, but there are important things worth mentioning on the way.

Noise cancelling technology is applied to headphones, and its also the most widespread use which concerns people regarding their health.

There are many type of headphones so first of all, let’s see how noise cancelling headphones work, so that we can get the full picture if noise cancelling damages hearing or not.

The basics of noise cancelling headphones 

There are small built-in microphones in the earcups of noise cancelling headphones. The microphones receive the sound before you do, which is later processed by the noise cancelling circuitry (again in the earcup).

The noise cancelling circuitry notes the frequency and amplitude of the sound and then creates an anti-sound. The latter is mixed with the original sound and fed to the headphone speakers. The noise is cancelled and you are able to listen to your desired audio. 

noise cancelling headphones

Now this works with low to mid frequency sounds in noisy environments like traffic noise, airplane and train noise, and more. However, there’s another type of noise cancellation which doesn’t involve active noise control – passive noise cancellation. 

Passive noise cancellation mainly happens thanks to the padding of over-ear or on-ear headphones that seals tight around your ear and isolates the surrounding noise. This is also possible in case of in-ear headphones or earbuds which go into your ear canal and block the noise from going through. Different types of headphones have different ways of cancelling noise, whether passively, actively or both. It’s up to you to choose the right noise cancelling headphones that fits you best.

Does noise cancelling damage your hearing?

Overall, noise cancellation in headphones doesn’t affect your hearing negatively. You may hear a slight hissing sound when you the ANC is turned on, but that’s about it. However, for some people this can be irritating and even result in dizziness. In this case it’s better not to use it too frequently or keep ANC switched off if it’s not too noisy. Keep in mind, that this hissing sound does not damage hearing.

Another important thing to note is that noise cancelling headphones do not emit radiation like our mobiles phones do. 

By the way, you can add up to the noise cancellation from your headphones, if you have frequent conference calls or remote meetings. You can use noise cancelling apps like Krisp which will ensure that the noise is removed on both ends of the conference call. 


In fact, noise cancelling headphones are even good for your health. Let’s take a look at that as well.

Are noise cancelling headphones good for health?

Dealing with constant noise if you happen to work in a noisy environment is a real struggle. In this case, if you use noise cancelling headphones, those will actually help protect your hearing. Being exposed to low frequency noises for a long period of time is also harmful. We’re used to thinking that loud noises do the most damage, but long term low frequency noises are impactful as well.

Loud noises mostly do the damage to your hearing by interfering with your sleep, raising your stress levels and resulting in awful headaches.

Low-level noises that are constant are just as dangerous as loud noises if not more. For people who live and function in a noisy environment the stress hormone levels are higher than for those who work and live in quiet area.

noise cancelling headphones protect hearing

The increased level of stress hormone called cortisol is linked to high blood pressure and cholesterol – this increases the risk of heart diseases. Low-level noises can also cause noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). 

Noise increases the level of stress hormones…

According to the study published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, children who live in noisy neighborhoods with low-level noise have higher levels of cortisol than children who lived in quiet neighborhoods.

Now, if you wear noise cancelling headphones, you minimize the chances of your stress hormone levels increasing. You protect your hearing and possibly reduce the risk of gaining noise induced hearing loss. 

The coolest part is that since noise cancelling headphones cancel the surrounding noise, you don’t feel the need to crank up the volume to enjoy your music more. Listening to music on high volume is yet another big risk for your hearing.

If you want to get the best effect from noise cancellation, you may want to choose headphones that have good padding along with ANC, which will provide you with both passive and active noise cancellation. 

What can you do to preserve hearing?

Remember to always  keep the volume moderate as you listen to your headphones. That’s one of the primary issues that pose a health risk. 

Here is how you can figure out if the volume on your headphones is moderate. The intensity of noise is measured in decibels and the maximum intensity of noise that won’t harm your hearing is up to 85 decibels (according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration). If you listen to anything above that it will start to impact your hearing. 

Casual conversations in office or somewhere quiet are about 60 decibels. Try to keep your volume as much as to that – a casual conversation. And make sure that conversations don’t get too intense either. Loudness from all the speaking parties can get up to 95-100 decibels. 

Another way to find out if the volume is too loud for you is to listen to your own body. Take your headphones off and pay attention to what is going on. If you hear a slight hissing sound or ringing in your ear, or if all the other sounds seem dull and muted, then the volume is too high for you. 

noise cancelling headphones dont damage hearing

Wrapping up…  

There is no risk for your health involved with noise cancelling headphones. The noise cancelling technology is safe for hearing and there is no need to worry about any possible radiation, because there is none.

Noise cancelling headphones actually to a great deal with protecting your hearing from the surrounding noisy environment. They help remove the noise and improve your listening experience.

All you need to pay attention to is the volume level on your headphones. The higher the volume the bigger the risk of damaging your hearing.

Now you can go and enjoy your noise cancelling headphones in peace and quiet. And remember to keep the noise level not higher than a casual conversation of 60 decibels. You will thank yourself for that one!