Headphones Vs. Noise Cancelling Earbuds: Which Is Better And Why?

Noise Cancelling Earbuds Vs Headphones Which Is Better And Why
  • Anthony

Many people are confused about the difference between Noise Cancelling Earbuds Vs Headphones. There is a big difference in what you will want to use depending on your circumstances.

Noise-canceling earbuds will do an excellent job of blocking outside sound if you’re trying to focus while running or walking, but they won’t be very effective at all if you need to hear someone speaking close by.

On the other hand, noise-canceling headphones can be used for both purposes because they cover your entire ear.

If it’s essential that you can hear things around you without any background noises interfering, then noise-canceling headphones might be better for more than just flying or working out!

Noise Cancelling Earbuds

The third type of noise-canceling headphones is earbuds. They are also known as in-ear. They fit into your ear canal to partially block external noises. They can’t filter out higher-frequency sounds like earmuffs or headphones.

They excel in many other areas, however.



Earbuds are small and lightweight and can fit comfortably in your ear canal. They can be taken anywhere, wireless or not. After long-wear, headaches are not an issue. If you don’t use the correct plugs, you might experience occasional tangling or fallout.


While noise-canceling earbuds can be more affordable than noise-canceling headphones due to their lower price, they also have shorter battery life. They don’t offer the same quality noise cancellation. You get the least amount you want at a lower price.

Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Tip: Plantronics BackBeat Go410 and Bose QuietComfort30 wireless headphones are better noise-canceling headphones. These earbuds offer superior noise cancellation and great sound quality but at a higher cost.


Sound quality

The sound quality of noise-canceling earbuds is not exceptional. Some have enhanced bass tones, but it’s still not loud enough, while others have difficulty clearing out high and mid-level frequencies.

You will need to turn up the volume as high as possible to hear every instrument in your favorite song.

Hearing Loss

High volume music can cause hearing loss, especially if it goes directly into your ears. Your hearing will not be protected from prolonged exposure to loud music through earbuds.

You should take breaks if you decide to get noise-canceling headphones. Also, keep the volume at a minimum.


Although noise-canceling headphones are portable and lightweight, they don’t last long. If you put them in your bag, they can be easily broken. It is always safer to be careful and keep them in a separate bag as much as possible. This will help to avoid any tangling.

Noise-canceling headphones

These headphones are becoming more popular on the market. There are two main types of noise-canceling headphones people will consider: on-ear or over-ear.

Both headphones feature closed earcups. You can disable ANC and still get noise cancellation. The only option is passive, thanks to padding. Passive noise-canceling headphones can only cancel sound to a maximum of 15-20 decibels.

Tip: For passive noise cancellation, consider circumaural headphones. They have high-quality foam padding made from noise-absorbing materials. These headphones are heavier than regular headphones.


They cancel 20 decibels more background noise when active noise-canceling headphones are used. There are other pros:

Low Music Volume

It’s much easier to concentrate on the music when noise cancellation is in place. To listen to your favorite songs one-by-one, you don’t have to crank up the volume.

The sound quality will suffice. Some headphones have deeper bass, while others have balanced high and low levels. You can rest assured that noise-canceling headphones will not damage your hearing.


Focusing on tasks while wearing noise-canceling headphones will eliminate all background noise. A noisy environment can be harmful to your health, especially if it is in your workplace.

The best noise-canceling headphones can do the job and eliminate low- to mid-frequency noises, allowing you to concentrate better.

Noise-canceling headphones

Tip: Noise-cancelling headphones won’t suffice to eliminate external noise from conference calls in noisy environments. Krisp noise-canceling software will eliminate all background noise from both your side and the other party.

Appsumo Deals recently set a new record for the software. It also set a record on Appsumo Deals.

Noise cancellation quality

ANC headphones can cancel low- and mid-frequency sounds. The foam padding can help cancel out some high frequencies. You will be able to hear voice announcements and noise cancellations from nearby people if you buy expensive ANC headphones.


Portability And Long Wear

The headphones become bulky due to the extra padding and isolation from circumaural noise. They will not fit snugly around your head, so it is challenging to wear them for long periods.

ANC headphones can be folded and durable, but transporting them or putting them in your backpack can sometimes prove challenging.

Tip: Look for headphones with more padding around your headband. It is sometimes a good idea to sacrifice exceptional design in favor of comfort.

High Power Consumption

Battery life is cut by active noise cancellation. The best noise-canceling headphones can last up to 30 hours with active noise cancellation on. It can be challenging to use ANC with plugged-in headphones.


You can’t get an exceptional design, sound quality, and active noise cancellation without investing in them. ANC headphones are not cheap, but it’s not a significant drawback. You can still choose budget noise-canceling headphones with mediocre ANC until you’re ready for more.

Tip: Even the most expensive ANC headphones can excel in a particular feature. Consider the essential features of noise-canceling headphones before you buy one.

The Sony WH-1000XM3, Bose QuietComfort 35 II, and Bowers & Wilkins PX are three examples of high-quality headphones.

So Do ANC Earbuds Cancel As Much Noise As ANC Headphones?

They’re not there yet. Earbuds can be used in various ways, but they are not as effective as their bigger brothers.

Comparison of two great noise-canceling earbuds (1More dual driver ANC Pro and Bose QC20) and two state-of-the-art noise-canceling headphones (2Sony WH1000XM3 or Bose QC35).

The big headphones are still the best in terms of overall noise reduction.

1More’s ANC Pro earbuds are excellent for low-frequency noise reduction. (Review). They are even better at some frequencies. This opens up new possibilities.

The Sony headphones are better for high bass and high-frequency noise. The Bose QC35 headphones, although not as powerful as the Sony, reduce ambient noise more than the earbuds.

It becomes even more evident when you sit in loud coffee shops.

Both the headphones and earbuds perform well against the low-frequency HVAC system.

Both over-ear models reduce chatter and the frequency of music, especially when making coffee or handling silverware, cups, and glasses.

This is because earbuds placed passively at the ear canal’s entrance don’t have the same ability to isolate as earcups of over-the-ear headphones.

Some passive in-ear headphones, e.g., The Etymotic Research in-ears, offer better passive noise isolation than the earbuds. However, like foam and reusable earplugs, they must go deeper into your ear canal.

Passive noise isolation is essential for optimal low- and mid-frequency noise reduction.

Comfort And Consistent Seal

A headband and ear pads can be used to hold anything in the ear when stationary.

It would help if you accepted headphones with a headband force applied to your head and the ear cushions pressing against it.

You will need to place something in your ear with earbuds.

Maybe you prefer earbuds?

Earbuds are located at the entrance to the ear canal, rather than in-ear monitors that go deep into the ear canal.

Earbuds are generally more comfortable than in-ears. Bose’s Stay Hear tips are favorite earbud tips, though others are also fine.

A good pair of headphones can provide a reliable seal for most people.

Comfort And Consistent Seal

Both the 1More ANC earbuds and Bose ANC earbuds will seal well. However, if you move your jaw in a specific direction or swallow, outside sound can seep in.

This could lead to the noise-canceling performance of the ANC earbuds dropping. You will also need to replace the earbuds now and again.

The following will compare headphones and earbuds in different situations.

Over-ear noise-canceling headphones are better than earbuds if you need to use your headphones daily to reduce outside noise and aid concentration.

As we mentioned, even the most expensive over-ears can still block more noise than the best. This is especially true for high-frequency noise that can be found in almost every place people gather.

Although ANC headphones may not block all conversations perfectly, they will make you feel more exposed than earbuds.

Over-ear headphones can also be seen and communicate to others that you are busy.

It would help if you also considered how comfortable you feel with plugging your ears every day.

Although the earbuds are comfortable, you can also use earplugs to cancel noise at night. It would be best if you tried to rest your ears during the day.

Last but not least, even though quality earbuds can sound great, you’ll still prefer the sound quality and sound quality of over-ear headphones.

It would help if you considered true-wireless earbuds rather than neckband buds. Also, they won’t last for a whole day.

You can always put them in the charging case, but headphones that last 20 to 30 hours are just as convenient.

Use For Travel And On The Move

Long-haul and other long flight

Both neckband and over-ear headphones are excellent choices for long-haul flights.

Over-ear headphones block more chatter and cry, have a more extended life battery, and almost all of them still include a cable that can plug into a flight entertainment system.

You can also wear foam earplugs under your pillow to block out even more noise when you’re trying to sleep.

Neckband earbuds make it more convenient to sleep with your ears against the pillow. The current model has about 15 hours of battery life with ANC enabled. They also come with an audio cable.

On the other hand, true-wireless earbuds don’t generally have enough battery life to last for long flights or trains and can’t connect via an audio cable.

You can solve this problem by putting them back in the wireless charging case after a few hours. A Bluetooth adapter can be purchased to connect to your inflight entertainment system.

Both full-size noise-canceling headphones, as well as earbuds, are fine here.

Earbuds are more lightweight and discreet and don’t get too hot. However, they won’t keep your ears warm during winter.

A neckband model is preferred because it’s easy to wear all day and doesn’t require me to worry about losing headphones.

Others prefer not to wear a neckband and opt for true-wireless.


Exercise: Noise-cancelling headphones are the best. True-wireless is the best option. Earbuds with a neckband work well, too. The neckband can get sticky if you sweat a lot.

Bose noise-canceling headphones are comfortable and fit well. However, they can get hot, and the cushions in the ears will deteriorate quicker under sweat which adds to their cost.


If you use them for daily exercise, they might crack or sustain water damage.

Please choose an earbuds model with an IPX4 rating for water ingress to ensure they can withstand sweat and light rain.

AirPods Pro (IPX4) is, for example. They are water and sweat resistant for exercise and non-water sports.


Earbuds and headphones that cancel low-frequency noise can be as effective as any other tool.

For overall noise reduction, over-ear headphones would be the best. They can be used if you sleep on your side.

They can be used with a horseshoe pillow to side sleep, and it works well but isn’t ideal.

Micro earbuds that don’t protrude out of the ear are ideal for side sleepers, as well as headband sleep phones. However, they don’t offer active noise cancellation.

Neckband noise-canceling headphones are the next best option.

They protrude like most earbuds but can be used well when paired with a towel or hole-punched pillow.

You will need at least 10 hours of battery to use active noise cancellation and white noise, or natural sounds, for the entire night. Many neckband models have this feature.

It would help if you looked for models that last at least 12 hours. Otherwise, you may not have enough battery life, and your earbuds will start to wear out.

There are currently no true-wireless earbuds with noise-canceling that can last more than 10 hours. Many won’t even last 6 hours.

These can be okay if they are used to aid in sleeping, but not if you require noise cancellation and sound throughout the night.


Noise-canceling earbuds provide a higher degree of noise cancellation, as they are more compact and fit snugly in the ear canal. They also block out a more comprehensive frequency range of sound but require more power to run.

It is a more personal option as they do not need to be on a headset with a cord and can easily be used with a smartphone.

Noise-canceling headphones have superior noise cancellation, are more comfortable, are compact, and don’t require any special hardware. If you are using headphones for music or movies, then you should always choose noise-canceling ones.

Both earbuds can be great for canceling out background noise, so it depends on the situation.

Thanks for reading this article at hookeaudio.com. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

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