ANC Explainer: What is it and How it Works


ANC Explainer: What is it and How it Works

Product 2021-08-30
There’s nothing quite like an immersive music experience. Eyes closed, head rockin’, pounding the table to the beat of the song and singing at the top of your lungs, type experience. An experience we can relate to while at concerts, but one we want to take with us from the concert venue out into the streets as we’re traveling from place to place during our everyday lives. However, with subways running, people talking, car horns beeping, and other environmental sounds, obtaining this type of experience can be hard when wearing headphones or earbuds. Unless of course, Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) is incorporated within the device that can help tune out the environment so you can tune into your music.

Just like most technologies, not all ANC capabilities are made the same. There are different types, ranges of noise cancelled by software optimization and more variations that make it harder to pick the best from the worst. Before diving deep into what ANC is to help you better understand the technology, we first need to understand what noise is.

Noise, or sound, is made up of a wavelength in the air that has a basic structure – the height, known as amplitude, and frequency, which is how fast the wavelength moves up and down. For instance, let’s talk about a guitar. If a player strokes all six strings, six sound wavelengths are driven through the air that vary in height and frequency. If the wavelength has a high frequency rate (moving up and down really fast), the higher pitch the sound is compared a slower frequency rate that has a lower pitch. Now, if the guitar strings are stuck hard, it drives a higher peak or amplitude in the wavelength that produces a louder sound compared to a weaker chord hit that produces lower peaks for a quieter sound. Just remember, higher peaks the louder the sound, higher frequency, higher pitched.

What is ANC, How Does it Work, and Will it ever be “Perfect”

With the basic understanding of what sound is, let’s discuss how ANC works. At its core, ANC takes the sounds in the air and replicates each wavelength, but delays the replicated wavelength by one-half matching a peak with a valley. The process of replicating the wavelength and matching a peak to a valley is known as anti-phase, but what matters is that if done correctly, the resulting effect is drastically reduced unwanted outside noise.

To produce ANC, a device enables a set of microphones on the outside of the headphones to listen to outside noise. Once detected, that noise is captured and signed to the chip within the headphones, which then creates the replicated wavelength to cancel it out. Generally, ANC is best used for cancelling out consistent noises like airplanes or subways as sudden noises can be hard to replicate without finely tuned software optimization.

A lot of consumers want perfectly tuned ANC capabilities that will provide perfect noise cancellation. However, perfect ANC can cause dizziness and to ensure consumers don’t pass out, all ANC certified headphones allow some level of noise in or offer variations to help customize the effect to what the consumer wants.

Different Types of Noise Cancellation and Modes

For headphones, there are three types of noise cancellations which vary in effect:
● Passive Noise Cancellation: This type of noise cancellation is produced by the plastic ear cups that come with some ear buds and the seal it produces in your ear. It’s the most basic type of noise cancelling effect due to the form and hardware it uses.
● Active Noise Cancellation: As described above, this uses microphones and speakers to reduce background and surrounding noise through anti-phase wavelengths.
● Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation: This is the most sophisticated ANC feature as it uses microphones and speakers to automatically adjust your ANC capabilities with the world around you.

Also, many earbuds enable different modes utilizing an app either downloadable or built into a smart device. One of the more common types is an Adjustable Mode, which gives users the ability to manually adjust the level of noise cancellation. This gives them control based on where they are and what is comfortable to them in a certain setting. The other type is a Transparency Mode, which allows users to manually turn off the ANC to hear the world around them without stopping the music or removing the earbuds.

How OnePlus Utilizes ANC within its OnePlus Buds Pro

With the OnePlus Buds Pro, we’re taking the best of the best and have made refinements of the ANC implemented which we’re calling Smart Adaptive Noise Cancellation. This is because we’re enabling our users ways to customize their ANC within the Buds Pro to ensure they always hear what they want, and here’s how we’re doing it.

First, the OnePlus Buds Pro accomplishes ANC through three microphones; two microphones pointed towards the exterior to listen to outside noises and one microphone near the ear tip to listen to sound close to the ear. These three mics detect outside noise, send those frequencies to the processor and then produce anti-phase wavelengths to counter the unwanted sounds. The noise cancelling ranges are between 15 to 40dB.

Second, we’re pairing the Buds Pro with our HeyMelody app on compatible Android and iOS devices. Through HeyMelody, users have the ability to adjust ANC based on three settings: Faint (turning ANC down to ~25dB), Extreme (turning ANC up to 40dB) or Smart which allows the ANC feature to auto adjust based on the levels of noise in their surroundings.

Along with Smart Adaptive Noise Cancellation, the OnePlus Buds Pro will definitely meet your listening needs with 11mm dynamic drivers turned for a rich base, Warp Charge capabilities giving you 10 hours of playback on 10 minutes of charging, and IP 55 water and sweat resistance so you can take your Buds Pro to the gym and listen in style.

We’re excited that the OnePlus Buds Pro are officially available to consumers so you can have a more immersive audio experience no matter where you are.