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Insights | Audio | May 29th, 2024

How noise cancelling headphones enhance audio in noisy surroundings

If you’ve ever found yourself unable to focus while in a busy office, or unable to hear someone on the phone while on a windy street, then you need noise cancelling headphones.

But what exactly is noise cancellation?

Let’s explore how noise cancellation works and how it helps you.

A redheaded model wearing denim and the Dyson Zone noise cancelling headphones walking through a town.

How noise cancelling headphones work

Noise cancellation technology reduces external noise that you don’t want to hear.

In the case of headphones, this means preventing you from hearing noise outside of the headphones, so you can better focus on the audio coming from within the headphones.

It does this in a few ways.

Active noise cancellation

Active noise cancellation is the use of technology, such as microphones and algorithms, to cancel out external noise.¹

The Dyson Zone™, for example, uses eight microphones to detect the noise surrounding you 384,000 times per second. It then emits countering sound waves that make the original noise’s sound waves inaudible to you through destructive interference.¹

For more information on this, read our article explaining the difference between active noise cancellation and passive noise cancellation.

Passive noise cancellation

Passive noise cancellation is the use of physical design to prevent you from hearing external noise.² This kind of design typically focuses on sealing your ear into the headphone, making it harder for external sound waves to reach your ear.²

The Dyson Zone™ uses this exact principle, coupled with its active noise cancellation to provide uninterrupted, pure audio.

Noise cancelling earbuds are shaped to fit very snugly into your ear to create a similar seal as noise cancelling headphone cups.

However, as everyone’s ears are slightly different, the headphone cups are more universally applicable.


Beamforming is a supplement to noise cancellation that attacks the problem from the other direction. Beamforming uses directional telephony microphones to amplify your voice when you are on the phone.

The Dyson Zone™ makes use of beamforming to make the people you’re speaking to sound clear, while still blocking unwanted noise.

A model tapping the cup on their Dyson Zone noise cancelling headphones while in complete darkness.

How noise cancellation helps you

Now we understand how noise cancellation works, let’s examine how noise cancellation helps you.

Improve your focus

The primary benefit of noise cancellation is that it prevents you from enduring noise pollution which is an ever-present issue.

It can be difficult to focus on both work and recreation if you’re in a noisy environment. Open plan offices can be filled with ambient noise that can distract or interrupt, breaking your immersion and impeding your progress.

But noise cancelling headphones prevent this background noise from ever reaching you, so you can stay focused.

Lower your volume

If you’re wearing headphones but can’t properly hear your audio, you may instinctively raise the volume.

Overexposure to consistent loud sounds can damage your ears and hearing.³

With noise cancellation, you won’t have to raise the volume of your audio because you won’t hear the background chatter that would typically interfere with your listening.

Relax easier

Some people find it difficult to relax with lots of ambient noise surrounding them.

If you need to take a minute to unwind at work, or want to lounge at home, noise cancelling headphones can help you hit your groove.

Combine the use of noise cancellation with yoga or a good audiobook to help yourself properly unwind and escape from the constant humdrum of the day-to-day.

A black and white picture of a model tapping the cup on their Dyson Zone noise cancelling headphones while against a white background.

Enjoy the silence

You don’t have to play any audio while wearing noise cancelling headphones. Instead, you can relax in the silence. If you’re in the mood for a good book, or just need a bit of peace and quiet, a nice soothing silence can go a long way.

The Dyson Zone™ noise cancelling headphones

The Dyson Zone™ noise cancelling headphones are our premier set of headphones that features multiple modes of active noise cancellation that you can easily cycle through.

Isolation mode provides you with that classic noise cancelling experience, completely immersing you in your own soundscape.

With a tap against the headset, you can switch to Transparency mode.

Transparency mode deactivates all ANC features so you can focus on important factors outside of your zone, like traffic or someone asking directions.

When you’re done, tap the headset again to get back to your pure audio.

For more, read all about our Dyson Zone™.

It’s time to invest in noise cancellation

Not only does noise cancellation enhance your audio, it also enhances your quality of life.

If you’re looking for a way to relax, focus or just ensure you can actually hear your music when out and about, then you’re looking for noise cancellation.

And if you’re looking for high quality active and passive noise cancellation with beamforming, then you’re looking for the Dyson Zone™.

1 Burns, V. (2020) How do noise-cancelling headphones cancel sounds?, BBC Science Focus Magazine. Available at: (Accessed: 25 September 2023). 
2 Molesworth, B.R.C. and Burgess, M. (2013) ‘Improving intelligibility at a safety critical point: In flight cabin safety’, Safety Science, 51(1), pp. 11–16. doi: 
3 How does loud noise cause hearing loss? (2020) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at:,speech%20even%20in%20quieter%20places. (Accessed: 25 September 2023). 

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