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The AS3501 has proved itself, having been around since 2009, and now costs around $2 (1000).
Cobalt also manufactures the NC-255 on an ODM basis for brands such as AT&T, Beats, and Klipsch.
Unfortunately for music lovers, many types of ambient sounds can interfere with or even block the sounds coming through their headphones. Active noise-canceling headphones can do everything that passive ones can do -- their very structure creates a barrier that blocks high-frequency sound waves. Using these components, noise-canceling headphones are able to provide an additional reduction in noise of 20 decibels.
While noise-canceling headphones do a good job distinguishing between the audio a wearer wants to hear and the background noise he or she wants to keep out, some people say that they compromise sound quality by muffling sounds. For lots more information on noise-canceling headphones and related topics, check out the links on the next page.
On opening the controller, I found the AS3501 all-analog active noise-cancellation IC from AMS. AMS provides full design help, and the device is also in OEM brands such as Pinteo and Tivoli.


If you have ever tried to listen to a CD or MP3 player on a plane, then you know the problem well: The roar of the engines makes it difficult to hear what's being piped through the speakers -- even when those speakers are situated in or on your ear.
They also add an extra level of noise reduction by actively erasing lower-frequency sound waves. Notice that the two waves -- the one coming from the noise-canceling headphone and the one associated with the ambient noise -- have the same amplitude and frequency, but their crests and troughs (compressions and rarefactions) are arranged so that the crests (compressions) of one wave line up with the troughs (rarefactions) of the other wave and vice versa. That means about 70 percent of ambient noise is effectively blocked, making noise-canceling headphones ideal for airline and train travel, open office environments or any other location with a high level of background noise. Users can also experience a change in air pressure, although ports built into the ear cup are meant to vent air trapped behind the speakers.
The dB scale is logarithmic, meaning that a change of 10 dB represents a tenfold change in loudness.
That's because the materials of the headphones themselves block out some sound waves, especially those at higher frequencies. In essence, the two waves cancel each other out, a phenomenon known as destructive interference.
They also help alleviate fatigue when traveling, which can result from exposure to low-frequency noise for an extended period of time.


They change sound waves into electrical signals, while speakers change electrical signals into sound waves. The best passive noise-canceling headphones, however, are circum-aural types that are specially constructed to maximize noise-filtering properties.
They actually create their own sound waves that mimic the incoming noise in every respect except one: the headphone's sound waves are 180 degrees out of phase with the intruding waves. You can even use noise-canceling headphones if you don't want to listen to another audio source but do want to cancel out background noise. That means they are packed with layers of high-density foam or other sound-absorbing material, which makes them heavier than normal headphones.
The tradeoff of all that extra weight is a reduction in noise of about 15 to 20 decibels (dB). But considering jet engines create 75 to 80 dB of noise inside the aircraft cabin, passive models have some serious limitations.



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