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In the following review we will look at the best noise cancelling headphones to block out voices.
It will overlap with noise cancelling headphones that block out other types of sounds as well.
Keep in mind that noise cancelling headphones are not only designed to cancel out voices, but a variety so sounds including lawn mowers and airplane engines.
This becomes especially necessary when one is in an office and people are talking all the time.
Noise cancellation technology has enabled normal people to find an element of piece even when in a noisy environment.
So lets have a little dig at the noise cancelling headphones that are the best to handle talking.
When thinking about noise cancelling headphones, particularly active noise cancelling headphones, the best type to go for are over ear headphones.
Over ear headphones cover both noise cancellation and noise isolation (consider both).
There are in ear headphone options which provide noise cancellation, but because they do not cover the ears in full they tend not to have the same noise cancelling capability.
Lets talk a little bit about noise cancellation.
Noise cancellation algorithms and technology has become incredibly good, especially when it comes to drowning out low to medium frequency sounds.
These low frequency sounds are sounds such as noise emitted by fans and airplane engines. With voices it can sometimes be tricky.
If a baby is crying for instance it may be hard to muff out that type of sound.
But two people having a random chat will generally be no match for the power of high quality noise cancelling headphones.
Although if you do not want something over your head, maybe because it is not allowed on the job, then you should consider noise isolating earbuds.
These are also good at reducing sounds, from background noise and conversations.
Keeping in mind there is absolutely no headphones that can block out all noise.
Now lets talk a little bit about the difference between
- Noise isolation (or better known as passive noise cancellation) and,
- Active noise cancellation, which is usually what people are talking about when talking about noise cancellation
- Noise isolation uses physical barriers to reflect and/or absorb outside noise.
- All headphones have at least some noise isolating capability. The best form of noise isolation will probably come from over ear headphones.
- Noise cancelling (active noise cancelling) uses microphones and speakers to produce “anti-noise” that cancels out outside noise.
How noise cancelling works
Now this article is about noise cancelling headphones that block out voices, so lets talk a little bit about the science behind active noise cancellation and why it can achieve the results that you are after.
The concept was conceived in 1978 and developed in the 1980’s, by the founder of Bose.
Initially noise cancelling technology was for use by pilots, the military and first class flyers.
Sound travels in waves, and each sound wave is different. noise cancelling headphones use destructive interference.
Noise cancelling headphones have built in microphones, which when a sound wave is detected, create a new sound wave that is the total opposite.
So each sound wave has a peak and valley/trough.
The microphones of the headphones create a peak for every incoming trough/valley and a valley for each incoming peak.
The waves of the incoming sound and the counter waves from the microphone cancel each other out, and this is how you get noise cancellation.
Some noises can leak through, because noise cancelling headphones work best in places with consistent noise.
Which headphones block out the most noise ?
Lets look at the overall best headphones that block out not only voices and talking, but also the most noise.
1. Sony WH-1000XM3
The Sony WH1000 XM3 headphones are the upgrade to the Sony WH1000-XM2 headphones. Now the XM2’s were in my opinion the flagship wireless Bluetooth noise canceling headphones along with the original Bose QC35.
So naturally Sony were going to have to do one hell of a job to improve on those headphones.
Then Sony unveiled the WH1000XM3. Initially I imagined that the only difference would be the 3 at the end.
Many people who purchased the XM2’s stated that these headphones were very good at keeping out noise, but comfort was a problem.
I found the Sony WH-1000XM 3 to be absolutely amazing.
I should not show my bias, as this is meant to be an honest review, but the Sony is my favorite in the category of wireless noise canceling headphones, closely followed by the Bose Quietcomfort 35 II.
For more on the Sony WH-1000 XM3 Continue reading……
2. Sennheiser PXC 550 wireless over ear headphones
Sennheiser is an audio company that has been in the business for the better part of 70 years.
The latest addition to the Sennheiser noise canceling headphones offering are the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless (PXC 550).
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless headphones are designed with the travelers needs in mind.
We all know that when it comes to noise canceling Bluetooth headphones, there is usually some level of compromise (or at least there should be) between the specs and the price.
So when the PXC 550 came in at an asking price of $400*, the expectation was that these headphones would have all the bells and whistles and everything in between.
I am not sure what the thinking was in the pricing as this is at the upper end of the Bluetooth noise canceling headphone pricing segment especially given the nature of the competition (Think Sony and Bose QC 35 II).
The Price very quickly dropped to $350* as the market was not as responsive.
But the price has subsequently dropped to below $300*, and at time of writing have been discounted all the way to around $250* and slightly higher depending on where you get them.
For more on the Sennheiser PXC 550 wireless over ear headphones
3. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Firstly, I must warn you, these are not the cheapest headphones out there.
I purchased these headphones at the opening retail price of $400.
This is only the second time that I have made a purchase of headphones at this price the last time was when I purchased the Sennheiser PXC 550 wireless.
Take nothing away from the qc35. They are still an absolutely amazing set of headphones, they’re really lightweight and the sound quality and noise cancellation is top-notch.
If you want a comprehensive review of the qc35 II then click on the following link.
So these headphones are not a replacement for the QC35II headphones, but they certainly are a new line.
It is not clear from the communication from Bose whether they will discontinue the QC range, or whether they will have the 700 and the QC range side-by-side indefinitely.
If these headphones were a student they would be an over achiever, delivering the typical quality that you would expect of Bose, and even providing a few extra goodies.
For more information on the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Continue reading………..
4. Bose QC35 ii over ear noise cancelling headphones
Bose released the latest version of its signature active noise cancellation headphones the, Bose Quiet comfort 35 II (QC35II) which comes with google assistant and Alexa built in.
The Bose headphones also come with Bose AR audio augmented reality platform enabled.
A close second (I mean very close) to the Sony WH-1000XM3,
These headphones are the upgrade to the popular Bose Quiet comfort 35.
The QC 35 II, still offers a similar type of noise cancellation capability, audio performance and dual microphone as the original QC35.
The QC35 II also comes with a 20-hour battery life, just like its predecessor.
The biggest difference between the two headphones are the new action button located on the left ear cup.
This button gives you instant access to voice controlled tasks in countries where voice assistants (Amazon Alexa or google assistant) are available.
If Google assistant or Amazon Alexa are not available, clicking the action button allows you to quickly toggle through 3 different ANC settings.
Coupled with quick charging that gives you 2.5 hours of additional playtime hours with a 10-minute charge, and 11 preset languages, the Bose QC 35 headphones are a multifaceted, quality sounding, and well engineered set of cans.
For more information on the Bose QC 35 II Continue reading……
5. Microsoft surface headphones
Microsoft is of course the computer giant better known for their operating software than their headphones.
Microsoft have previously attempted to enter the hardware space with limited success (Remember Nokia).
So how do they fare? Surprisingly pretty well.
Now to be perfectly honest these headphones form part of the surface suite of products, which include laptops and other related products.
There are a few teething issues that Microsoft need to focus on though, and if they do,
I believe in time, Microsoft will be a real contender in the wireless noise canceling headphone space.
When I saw them for the first time, I found them to be very appealing with the light Grey finish and sleek design.
You can just see that Microsoft were focusing on the tech here. Similar to the Sony there are only a few physical buttons, which are tactile in nature.
For more on the Microsoft Surface headphones Continuing Reading………..
Other Questions related to noise cancelling headphones
So do noise cancelling headphones block out voices ?
In short, yes they do , but not always
Current active noise cancelling technology works best for frequencies below 500 Hz and is somewhat effective only up to about 1000 Hz.
Engine noise and traffic rumble are mostly below 500 Hz and so are greatly reduced or even completely eliminated through active noise cancelling (ANC).
It is said that the human voice frequency ranges between 300 and 3400 Hz.
A typical adult male could have a voice frequency of 85-180Hz and a typical adult female can have a voice frequency of 165-255 Hz.
So as you can see normal human voices tend to be within the frequency band that can be eliminated by active noise cancellation.
Do noise Cancelling headphones help on airplanes?
This is perhaps the best thing about active noise cancelling headphones.
Frequent flyers and people who want to get rid of babies crying and jet engine noise should definitely invest in a pair of noise cancelling headphones.
As mentioned above, noise cancelling technology tends to work a lot better in environments where the sound is consistent, and they should handle lower frequency sounds such as jet engines particularly well.
The headphones mentioned above may be the best, but they are pricey. Fortunately there are many options of headphones made especially for flying that do not have to break the bank.