Noise Cancelling Vs. Noise Isolating Earbuds - Does It Really Matter?

Are you tired of getting distracted by ambient noise while listening to music? Want to get the best noise cancelling or noise isolating earbuds, but don't know the difference between the two?

You're in luck! We hold all the answers to your questions.

In this post, we'll be discussing the features of noise cancelling earbuds and noise isolating earbuds. Furthermore, to help you find the right pair of earbuds, we'll also include a short review of one of the best noise cancelling wireless earbuds in the market.

Curious to know more? Then keep reading!


How Does Noise Reduction Work?

Before jumping into the details of how noise reduction functions, let’s first clear up some misconceptions.

Are Noise Cancelling and Noise Isolating Earbuds the Same?

Do noise cancellation and noise isolation mean the same thing? - Absolutely not!

There's some confusion surrounding the two. So we don't blame you if you're having a hard time telling the two apart.

In simple terms, noise isolation earbuds prevent external noise from distracting you by physically blocking your ears. On the other hand, noise cancelling earbuds are programmed to cancel noise soundwaves from reaching your ears electronically.

So, how exactly does noise cancellation work? Let’s take a closer look.

How Does Noise Reduction Work with Noise Cancelling and Noise Isolating earbuds?

Noise reduction works differently with noise isolation and noise cancellation. Let's take a detailed look at how noise reduction functions in both noise cancelling earbuds and noise isolating earbuds:

    With Noise Isolating Earbuds:

The way noise reduction works in noise isolating earbuds is pretty simple to understand. These types of earbuds create a physical barrier to block surrounding noise from entering your ears.

The best noise isolating earbuds can block noise up to 25 to 30 decibels. If you're at work or in a cafe, you'll be able to block off surrounding whispers.

You'll find many in-ear and on-ear headphones featuring this type of noise reduction.

While in-ear headphones don't completely block off external noise, they do a good job of muffling the surrounding sounds. On the other hand, on-ear headphones' effectiveness depends on how well they can seal up your ear. Usually, the bigger the size, the better!

With on-ear headphones, it depends on the individual. For some, they might be very effective, but if your fit isn't accurate, you might find them ineffective and uncomfortable. If you want to go for on-ear headphones, we suggest you find out your fit first. Physical inspection, or (if you’re buying online) knowing your ear size to the precise measurement is a must-have if you want to buy the right fit.

    With Noise Cancelling Earbuds:

Noise cancelling earbuds function differently to prevent noise from entering your ears. These earbuds have in-built microphones that are programmed to detect incoming noise. Once the noise is identified, these earbuds create inverse waves to cancel out the incoming sounds.

An easier way to understand is by considering the incoming sound as '+1' and the inverse waves created by the earbuds as '-1'. When the two meet, they cancel each other out, leaving you with zero noise level.

Well, this should be the ideal situation, however, the reality is slightly different. While most of these earbuds manage to cancel out most external sound, they can't block off 100% of the noise.

With most earbuds, noise cancelling works more effectively on low droning sounds such as those of the air conditioner, car engines, airplane engines, etc. Sounds with a midrange frequency are more difficult to filter. So, you'll probably be able to hear voices unless they have a low rate, which is easier to cancel out.

Some noise cancellation earbuds might also be noise-isolating depending on the model and its specifications. If you manage to invest in good quality noise-canceling earbuds, their effective noise cancellation will make you feel as if you're in a quiet environment. Moreover, since most of the noise is filtered out, you'll be able to enjoy a better audio experience.

Noise Cancelling Vs Noise Isolating Earbuds, Which One is the Best?

We’ve taken a look at how both noise cancelling earbuds and noise isolating earbuds work, but which one is better?



Noise Cancelling Earbuds

  • Best to prevent hearing loss
  • Can cancel out sounds with lower ranges.
  • Offer better sound quality.
  • Comparatively more comfortable
  • Require more battery power
  • Comparatively more expensive

Noise Isolating Earbuds

  • Do not require an extra battery
  • Comparatively cheaper
  • Can block out noise up to 25 to 30 decibels
  • Can be uncomfortable to wear over extended periods
  • Doesn't block off all noise, only muffles them


It mostly depends on your preferences, needs, and budget. Nonetheless, noise cancelling earbuds are well-known to be the best earbuds for sound quality and for hearing loss prevention.

If you were worried about noise cancellation technology having a negative impact on your hearing, you can rest assured as it does not. The main cause of hearing damage is loud sounds. As the purpose of noise cancellation technology is to block out noise, it does not harm your ears. If anything, these types of earbuds are better than other types as they prevent external loud sounds from reaching your ears.

Moreover, it has been proven that by blocking external noises and improving sound quality, noise-cancelling earbuds make you lower the volume, which is healthier for your ear.

In addition, noise cancellation earbuds come with other features that make them a comparatively better option.

AI-Powered Earbuds, the Next Generation of Noise Cancelling Earbuds.

There are heaps of good noise cancelling wireless earbuds on the market. Some of the best noise-cancelling wireless earbuds integrate the latest technology to offer users with high-quality features. For instance, ReduxBuds are smart earbuds that feature AI-powered active noise cancellation.

The next-generation technology of these earbuds allows them to detect sound from the environment and block it. 
Alternatively, if you wish to hear ambient noise, the Transparency Mode allows you to tune in the surrounding sounds seamlessly.

The AI-powered ANC gives you a lot of control over how much ambient sounds enter your ears.

What Else is Different Between Noise Cancelling and Noise Isolating Earbuds?

Are there any other differences in terms of features between noise canceling and noise isolating earbuds?

It usually varies depending on the model and its specifications. However, we did notice some key differences that were present generally.

Let's take a look.


  • Power:

Generally, noise isolating earbuds don't need batteries as they don't feature noise cancellation technology. In short, no additional power is required. However, some wireless models might come with a charging case, which gives you additional power, thereby increasing your listening time. The extra listening time may vary depending on the model you purchase. 

In contrast, the noise cancellation technology in most noise-canceling earbuds requires additional power. Therefore, these earbuds usually come with external batteries.

The charging cases not only provide extra battery but also make it easy to carry around your earbuds. The downside is that noise-canceling technology drains more battery, which means you'll need to charge your earbuds more regularly.

Although, some earbuds offer users a long battery life. ReduxBuds, for example, comes with a 100 hour battery life. So, you don’t have to worry about constantly charging your earbuds.


  • Sound Quality:

Now, this depends on the model and the features it offers. You can experience excellent sound quality with both noises isolating and noise-canceling earbuds.

Noise cancelling earbuds work best when you're on the move, for example, while in a train or airplane. The noise cancelling technology can cancel out most external noise, enhancing the sound experience. Alternatively, if you're in isolated places like at work, a cafe, or at home, noise isolating earbuds is a good option.


  • Portability:

 Again, this matters on the specific model of earbuds; however, if you need to use your earbuds in remote areas without access to power, noise isolating earbuds are the best option. 

As mentioned earlier, noise cancelling technology drains more power. So, even if you have the charging case, noise-isolating earbuds might last you longer, making them more convenient to travel with. You won't need to worry about continually charging them.

ReduxBuds are a good option if you’re looking for portability. These earbuds come with a charging case, making it easy to charge and convenient to carry around. Moreover, they’re also water-resistant.


  • Comfort:

The comfort level varies depending on the fit of the earbuds. 

When it comes to noise isolating earbuds, particularly, in-ear headphones, you need to ensure you get the right size for our ears. The best sound isolating earbuds come with different ear tips sizes.  Be sure to select one according to the size of your ears. Otherwise, you might have to bear with some discomfort.

As noise isolating earbuds work by creating a physical barrier to block noise, having earbuds crammed into your ears over long periods might be uncomfortable. Moreover, you might also end up with sore ears.


  • Price:

The noise cancellation technology does add a few more bucks to the noise cancelling earbuds, making them more pricey than noise isolating earbuds.

Are the extra bucks worth it? Honestly, it depends on the model. So, we'll let you be the judge.

If you're on a budget, you'll be able to find the best sound isolating earbuds at a low price with ease. However, this isn't to say that all noise isolating earbuds are low priced. Depending on the features, some noise isolating earbuds might come with a higher price tag.

Final Verdict:

With so many options available in the market, picking the perfect pair of earbuds can be tough. However, knowing your preferences and requirements will help make this decision easier.

Ask yourself, what do you need?! If you have a limited budget, noise isolating earbuds would be a good option to consider.

Alternatively, if you want the latest noise cancelling technology, noise cancelling earbuds, like the ReduxBuds, might be a more suitable option.