What Is ANC & How Does Active Noise Canceling Work?

What Is ANC & How Does Active Noise Canceling Work?

Posted by House of Marley on May 1st 2023

If you've been in the market for new headphones or earbuds recently, you may have come across the term ANC or Active Noise Cancellation. What is ANC? It's a technology that is revolutionizing our listening experience, making it more immersive and free from unwanted background noise.

What Is Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)?

ANC, short for Active Noise Cancellation, is an advanced technology incorporated in headphones and earbuds to reduce unwanted noise. This acoustic marvel serves to provide a cleaner, purer sound, allowing you to enjoy your music or podcasts without the distraction of ambient noise. If you can’t decide between earbuds vs headphones, luckily both options offer this feature. 

How Does Active Noise Canceling Work?

ANC technology uses a rather fascinating approach to combat noise. The headphones, earphones, or earbuds with ANC have built-in microphones that actively listen to the ambient sound around you. These microphones then produce a mirror image of the noise, known as "anti-noise," which is fed into your ears along with your music. This anti-noise effectively cancels out the unwanted external sound, leaving you with only the sound you want to hear. Be sure to learn more about earbuds vs earphones today, if you didn’t know they’re actually distinct.

Types of ANC

ANC technology comes in three main types: Feedforward ANC, Feedback ANC, and Hybrid ANC.

Feedforward ANC

Feedforward ANC uses microphones placed on the outside of the ear cup. These microphones capture the external noise before it reaches your ear. The headphones then generate the anti-noise to cancel it out. This type of ANC is particularly effective at reducing high-frequency noise.

Feedback ANC

Feedback ANC, on the other hand, places the microphones inside the ear cup, so they capture noise that has already entered the headphone. While this method may seem less immediate than Feedforward ANC, it is often better at dealing with low-frequency noises.

Hybrid ANC

As you may have guessed, Hybrid ANC combines both Feedforward and Feedback ANC. The aim is to provide a broader range of noise cancellation, tackling both high and low-frequency noises.

Benefits of ANC

The advent of ANC technology has brought about so many benefits of wireless headphones and earbuds, and among the most notable include the following factors. 

Improved Audio Quality

ANC dramatically enhances the audio quality of your headphones or earbuds. It works by isolating the sound you want to hear from the unwanted background noise, thus enabling a more enjoyable and immersive listening experience.

Enhanced Focus and Concentration

With ANC headphones like the Positive Vibration XL ANC from House of Marley, you can listen to your favorite tunes or an important podcast without being disturbed by outside noise. This results in improved focus and concentration, whether you're studying, working, or simply relaxing.

Reduced Stress and Fatigue

Constant exposure to noise can lead to increased stress and fatigue. ANC helps to alleviate this by providing a personal quiet zone, regardless of the noise in your surroundings.

Other Types of Noise Cancellation

While ANC is leading the way in noise cancellation, there are other types too, including Passive Noise Cancellation, Environmental Noise Cancellation, and Transparency Mode.

Passive Noise Cancellation

Passive Noise Cancellation doesn't involve any electronics. Instead, it uses the materials of the ear cups or earbuds to block out external noise physically. It's often combined with ANC for a more comprehensive noise reduction.

Environmental Noise Cancellation

Environmental Noise Cancellation (ENC) is a more specific type of noise canceling. It uses a set of microphones to suppress environmental noise during phone calls, making your voice clearer to the person on the other end.

Transparency Mode

Transparency Mode allows some ambient sound to pass through the headphones. This feature can be useful if you want to stay aware of your surroundings, like when walking on busy streets or waiting for an announcement at an airport.

Can ANC Damage Hearing?

It's a common concern: can ANC headphones or earbuds harm your hearing? While excessive volume can indeed damage hearing over time, ANC itself doesn't contribute to this risk. In fact, by reducing the need to increase volume to overcome background noise, ANC can, to some degree, help protect your hearing, though it’s important to note that most consumer headphones are not certified, nor intended for use as hearing protection.


Marley Headphones

House of Marley's ANC Headphones and Earbuds

Here at House of Marley, we are proud to incorporate ANC technology into our high-quality, performance-focused products. As part of our commitment to sustainability, we mindfully source our materials and deliver superior audio quality, embodying Bob Marley's love for music and the planet.

Our ANC headphones and eco-friendly earbuds offer a powerful bass, precise mids, and energized high-end audio through custom tuning. They are designed to provide the ideal balance between sound, style, and sustainability.

Whether you're listening to your favorite tunes, podcast, or connecting with friends and family over a call, our ANC products ensure that you hear what you want – and not what you don't. By choosing House of Marley, you not only enjoy the benefits of advanced ANC technology but also contribute to global reforestation efforts through Project Marley.

In a world where noise is an inevitable part of our environment, ANC technology provides a refuge, a personal bubble of sound where you can escape into your music. So whether it's the sounds of the city or the chatter of a busy office, with sustainable headphones and earbuds from House of Marley, you can immerse yourself in the music you love and block out the noise you don't.

In the words of Bob Marley himself, "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." With ANC, this rings even truer. We invite you to experience this musical journey with us, to become part of the House of Marley community, and together, we can make a positive change in the world.

In the end, it's not just about canceling noise; it's about encouraging harmony — in our music, in our lives, and in our planet. Join us in this journey and let's make our world a better place, one beat at a time.


Guldenschuh, Markus, Alois Sontacchi, Michael Perkmann, and Martin Opitz. 2012. “Assessment of Active Noise Cancelling Headphones.” 2012 IEEE Second International Conference on Consumer Electronics - Berlin (ICCE-Berlin), September. https://doi.org/10.1109/icce-berlin.2012.6336504

Hansen, Colin H. 2001. Understanding Active Noise Cancellation. London ; New York: Spon Press.

Westman, Jack C., and James R. Walters. 1981. “Noise and Stress: A Comprehensive Approach.” Environmental Health Perspectives 41 (October): 291. https://doi.org/10.2307/3429324

Portnuff, Cory. 2016. “Reducing the Risk of Music-Induced Hearing Loss from Overuse of Portable Listening Devices: Understanding the Problems and Establishing Strategies for Improving Awareness in Adolescents.” Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, February, 27. https://doi.org/10.2147/ahmt.s74103

“A Quote by Bob Marley.” n.d. Www.goodreads.com. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/4401-one-good-thing-about-music-when-it-hits-you-you.