UPDATED 24/10/2023. ANC means Active Noise Cancellation and has become a popular and more common feature in both headphones and earbuds. While ANC is a well-known feature that cancels unwanted noise, all ANC technology is not the same. Let’s take a closer look at ANC and the different types of ANC in the Jabra Elite range.
As mentioned in an earlier post, ANC is all about generating “anti-noise” that mirrors and cancels the ambient noise. In fact, the technical term for this is “destructive interference,” which makes ANC sound like a badass fighting for the good guys.
In an ideal world, ANC should result in a completely noise-free experience for the one wearing the headphones. But, we don’t live in an ideal world. Not all ANC earbuds sound equally well. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. While the basic ANC concept is the same, there are different types of ANC technologies available, each with its own unique approach to combating unwanted noise.
Four Types of Active Noise Cancellation
While the basic ANC concept is the same, there are three different ways to do ANC: feedforward, feedback, and hybrid. As ANC has evolved over the years, we’ll introduce you to these while going through four types of ANC you’ll find in the Jabra Elite earbuds.
1. Standard ANC
There are two ways of implementing what we refer to as standard ANC: Feedforward ANC and feedback ANC. Jabra standard ANC comes with feedforward ANC, which is perhaps the most widely used type of noise cancellation technology. Simply put, it is when the microphones are placed outside the earcup of the headphones to pick up ambient noise. That way, the microphone hears the noise before the person does. The ANC then processes the noise and creates the anti-noise before sending the resulting signal to the headset speaker, preventing it from reaching the listener’s ears. Feedforward ANC is good, because the mic picks up the noise early on, so it has more time to respond and generate the anti-noise. This also means that it’s better at reducing higher-frequency noise, and this is the ANC you experience in standard ANC in Jabra products.
Meanwhile a feedback ANC instead uses microphones placed inside the earcup to pick up the sound that reaches the listener’s ear. With the mic place inside the earcup and in front of the speaker, it gets to hear the resulting signal in exactly the same way the listener does. While it can deal with a broader range of noise frequencies, it doesn’t deal as well with higher-frequency sounds.
You will find standard ANC in Elite 4.
2. Hybrid ANC
Hybrid ANC is the best of both worlds, combining feedforward and feedback ANC technologies. By using both external and internal microphones, hybrid ANC is capable of canceling out a wider range of frequencies, providing a more immersive noise-canceling experience.
With hybrid ANC, the external microphones capture ambient noise, while the internal microphones pick up the sound that reaches the listener’s ears. By analyzing both signals and generating inverse sound waves, hybrid ANC can effectively cancel out a broader spectrum of noise, including both low and high-frequency sounds. Beyond the ability to suppress noise at a broader range of frequencies, it adapts to and correct errors and is not as sensitive to how the person wears the headset. Hybrid ANC typically costs more, but you also get more tech for your money. You’ll experience Hybrid ANC in the Elite 5.
3. Adaptive Hybrid ANC
As the technology of headsets constantly evolves, there’s no reason to stop at hybrid ANC. Upscaling to Adaptive Hybrid ANC means you get a hybrid ANC that constantly optimizes and adjusts the level of noise cancellation. Essentially, it continuously scans for any leakage of noise in the ear canal to detect what sounds to cancel. The Adaptive Hybrid ANC offered in Elite 8 Active even has a specific mode for adapting to wind noise, so the wind won’t bother you while on your run or commuting. You get up to 60% stronger noise cancellation than in a standard ANC.
4. Jabra Advanced ANC TM
Can it really get more silent? The answer is yes. The Jabra Advanced ANC is another upscale to the popular technology, which is featured in our Elite 10 earbuds. With this advanced technology, you not only get all the great benefits from the Adaptive Hybrid ANC – Jabra Advanced ANC also comes with stronger 10mm speakers that ensure an even more powerful noise cancellation experience. This advanced ANC technology provides you with double the power of standard noise cancellation. So, when you need some of that precious me-time or you want to block out all the noise while stuck on a train, Jabra Advanced ANCTM does it for you.
So, is choosing great ANC headphones or a pair of ANC earbuds all about going for the expensive hybrid solution? Not quite! Even if you get ANC working flawlessly, there are other things to take into account: physical design, passive noise cancellation, music quality, and so on. You can find out more in this post.
Active Noise Cancellation technology comes in various forms, each with its own advantages and applications. Jabra offers a range of ANC earbuds and headphones – for your office, for your music, and for your calls.
A Brief History Lesson on ANC
Active noise cancellation isn’t a brand new concept – it actually goes way back to the 1930s:
- 1934: German inventor Paul Lueg registers a theoretical patent for cancelling noise by using interference and creating “zones of quiet.”
- 1950s: Harry Olsen demonstrates how ANC can be used in practice for e.g. reducing noise in passenger vehicles.
- 1986: Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager fly around the world using ANC headsets from Bose to reduce airplane noise.
- 1990s: ANC headsets see widespread use in the military and civil aviation.
- 2000: Bose launches the first consumer ANC headset.