Do Noise-Cancelling Headphones Hurt Your Ears? (Explained)

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Michael Gray

Michael Gray

Michael has been writing about consumer technology for over a decade. He usually writes about headphones & other gadgets.
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Noise-canceling headphones have become a tad bit popular for quite a few years. The experience of seamless music without any disturbance is a luxury for anyone in today’s noisy world. 

People look for peace wherever they reside. But with the population burst and car honking, it is difficult for anyone living in the city to find some quiet.

It is in these moments that noise-canceling headphones help. It’s not only for canceling the noise but also helpful for those who love music and prefer hearing their favorite songs daily. 

So top headphone brands came out with amazing headphones that can almost cancel the noise altogether.

Today, there are tons of options when it comes to noise-canceling headphones. Each brand has its own style and is ergonomic too. 

The cost too is on the higher side when compared with other headphone options like “in-ear” and “over the ear.” Anyways, before we move ahead, let’s discuss in detail regarding what is a noise-canceling headphone!

Let us first understand what are noise-canceling headphones, and how do they work?

Noise-canceling headphones have been known to use direct electronic processing so they can analyze ambient sound. Post analysis, an “opposite” sound is generated so that the overall impact will create less sound. 

Remember that these headphones won’t create some sort of silence, nor will they guarantee a 100% elimination of noise. 

But what they do is reduce the sound in your surroundings. So if a train passes by you, you’ll hear a reduced level of sound.

Which kind of person needs noise-canceling headphones?

Like we mentioned above, a person that usually resides in a noise prone area will benefit through these headphones. Also, a traveler will benefit the most because these headphones can make any journey hassle-free and more pleasant.

Apart from this, it is highly suggestible that you opt for in-ear or over the ear headphones

Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM3

This is because these come in the same price range and sometimes even for less. They also do a fair job of canceling noise, and you can hear your songs or talk to anyone with ease.

Are noise-canceling headphones the correct solution?

A noise-canceling headphone is a temporary solution for those who find discomfort in hearing good music.

It is also better when you are talking to someone while traveling on a noisy route. There are high possibilities that even with a noise-canceling headphone, you might still hear a few noises in the background.

In the past, some users have complained of discomfort in the ears. This discomfort can be due to the incorrect placement of the headphones or because of the sound waves affecting the ears on hearing for a longer time.

If your work permits you to use headphones, then a noise-canceling headphone is a correct solution for you. But ensure that you limit its use as much as possible to safeguard the health of your ears.

Is a noise-canceling headphone good for health?

Let us be clear in telling you one thing. Hearing sound through any kind of a headphone for prolonged periods is dangerous for your ears. 

Yes, we do agree that noise-canceling headphones block sound and give a pleasant experience. It also protects your hearing to a certain extent. But you must know that being exposed to low-frequency noises for a prolonged period is never good for health. 

Your ears get affected, and it can be dangerous for your hearing abilities. Not only low frequency but also long term usage of headphones can harm your hearing.

These sounds can affect your ears in a few ways like…

  • Affect your sleep patterns
  • Raise your stress hormone levels throughout the day &
  • Headaches! There are a lot of headaches experienced by users while using headphones.

Do noise-canceling headphones hurt your ears?

Noise-canceling headphones, in general, do not affect your hearing negatively.

But like we mentioned above, any headphone used for a more extended period is detrimental to health, and hence we request you to avoid it.

There might be few that hear a peculiar sound while using the headphone. These sounds resemble like a hiss! On hearing them continuously, you might feel dizzy! It will not affect your hearing, but you might experience a bit of head pain.

Also, let us be clear in telling you that noise-canceling headphones will not emit any kind of radiation. Yes, smartphones usually emit radiation, but the same cannot be applied to these special headphones.

Though, there is a high possibility that your stress level hormones will notice a huge spike. This happens because of the neighborhood we live in. If there are constant sound and bickering, it has a direct impact on your health. Noise-canceling headphones will save you but only temporarily.

One positive way of noise-canceling headphones being good for health is via behavioral change. As we hear music, if something disturbs that experience, we crank up the volume.

In doing so, we are applying stress on our ear-buds. But in noise-canceling headphones, you don’t need to crank up the volume. You can eliminate a significant portion of the sound and enjoy your music.

What can I do to protect my hearing?

From multiple users experiences, we have collated a list of suggestions which you can utilize and follow:

  • When you hear music through your gadgets (smartphone, tab), then keep the volume at a moderate level. After a certain point, as you try increasing the volume, the smartphone will send a warning message. This message states that you don’t increase the volume to protect hearing. Ensure that you hear music at a lower sound only.
  • According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, any noise up to 85 decibels is considered to be safe for hearing. Anything above this will surely affect your sound. Hence please ensure that the volumes on your gadgets are at moderate levels.
  • It is advisable to also listen to the signs your body gives. Sometime after prolonged use of headphones, users have reported that they can feel a ringing sound in their ears. This is not a good sign, and hence you must give your ears some rest from hearing loud music.


In conclusion, we would like to tell you the following things:

  • Noise-canceling headphones were created to hear sound in a noisy environment. These were not created to eliminate sounds from the outside world completely.
  • Headphones, whether general or noise-canceling, must be used moderately. Overuse of any headphone is drastic and can negatively affect your health.
  • Research has stated that living in noisy environments often result in stress hormones rising. This affects health in the long run. Hence try as much as possible to be in a calm and less noisy area.
  • Ears are delicate and are one of the most basic necessities of a human being. Hence we must take care of it as much as we can. Loss of hearing can never be treated, and hence we request you to take care of them as much as possible.
  • As mentioned earlier, any sound below 85 decibels is supposed to be fine as per the human body. Anything above that will affect your hearing. So let’s ensure that we maintain this sound level. 

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