Declan Rees Blog

Noise Cancelling Headphones v/s Noise Isolating Headphones: Which is better for autism?

Both Noise-cancelling headphones and Noise-isolating headphones do the same job: cut out the sound. However, there are few factors to be considered before buying a Noise-cancelling headphone for autism. The key to the process is understanding the difference between Noise-cancelling headphones and Noise-isolating headphones.

Noise Cancellation Headphones: Why choose them?

Noise cancellation in Noise cancelling headphones is an electronic process. Microphones built in these headphones analyze the sound in the environment and send an opposite signal, cancelling each other out. Noise-cancelling headphones work best against low frequency sounds as they are made with sound-absorbing materials, cancelling out sound as loud as 30dB. However, The Noise-cancelling ability of any noise-cancelling headphone depends on the extent of the technology used in them. The headphones are helpful not only for people with autism but also for misophonia or irritation at hearing certain types of sounds. These headphones are soothing to the ear and help reduce issues in sensory processing and anxiety.

However, they are not very effective in cancelling out fast sounds or high-pitched sounds like a baby crying. Noise-cancelling waves add pressure to the user's ears, and those with sensitive eardrums may experience discomfort. That the sound waves produced by the headphone tampering with the source audio's quality is possible. Noise-cancelling headphones draw power from a battery or a device to which it is connected. With ANC or Active Noise Cancelling turned on, these headphones drain the battery faster. There is usually a hissing sound that can be heard from the headphone, especially when there is no audio being played.

Noise Isolating Headphones: What makes them better?

Noise isolation involves wedging something into the user's ear to block out the sound, working like earplugs. Most in-ear noise-isolating headphones go into the ear canal to isolate the sound. Since the size of the ear canal varies, Noise-isolating headphones have to be carefully chosen, and the fitting has to be ensured before buying. Most headphones come with multiple tips, and changing the tips can drastically change the noise isolation quality. Over-ear headphones offer a respectable amount of noise isolation, while some offer a higher degree of noise isolation.

Noise-isolating headphones are cheaper than Noise-cancelling headphones, and they require no batteries unless the headphone is wireless. Noise-isolating headphones generally work better than most noise-cancelling headphones, which can be attributed to these headphones' physical attributes. They can reduce noises up to 15 to 30dB. Due to the absence of noise-cancelling electronics, manufacturers can focus more on the materials, design and construction of the headphone to ensure maximum sound isolation. This also means that these headphones do not require any batteries as there is no active technology to cancel the Noise out. Therefore, Noise-isolating headphones are an ideal choice in places with little access or availability of power.

Therefore, identifying the right autism headphones is vital for people with autism to adjust to the world "meant for neurotypical people".

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