The Ultimate Guide to Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs

Aug 1, 2023 | Hearing Protection

Whether you’re exposed to loud sounds regularly due to work, travel, or living in a noisy urban area, noise cancelling ear plugs offer significant benefits for your well-being and safety. In this comprehensive guide to noise cancelling ear plugs, we will cover the science behind how they work, the types available, and tips you can use to find the perfect pair for you.

The Science Behind Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs

Noise cancelling ear plugs are marvels of modern engineering designed to counteract unwanted external sounds. Understanding how they work is essential to appreciate their effectiveness fully. These earplugs work through active noise cancellation and passive noise reduction techniques.

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)

Active noise cancelling ear plugs use tiny microphones to detect ambient noise. An internal processor analyses these sounds and creates sound waves of the opposite phase, which cancel out the incoming noise. This technology is particularly useful in eliminating low-frequency sounds, like engine rumblings or background chatter.

Passive Noise Reduction

On the other hand, passive noise reduction relies on physical materials and design features to block and absorb sound waves. These ear plugs act as a barrier, reducing the overall volume of noise entering the ear canal.

Benefits of Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs

Benefits of Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs

Protection from Hearing Damage

Exposure to high-volume noises over time can lead to hearing damage or loss. Ear plugs act as a barrier, reducing the intensity of external sounds, which helps protect your ears from potential harm.

Enhanced Safety in Noisy Environments

For those working in construction, manufacturing, or industrial settings, noise cancelling ear plugs can be crucial for hearing protection. They allow workers to communicate effectively while shielding their ears from harmful levels of noise.

Improved Focus and Concentration

In environments with constant background noise or distractions, it can be challenging to concentrate on important tasks. Whether you’re studying, working, or simply trying to read a book, noise cancelling ear plugs can create a peaceful soundscape, allowing you to focus better and be more productive.

Enhanced Sleep Quality

For individuals who struggle with sleep due to noisy surroundings, noise cancelling ear plugs can be a game-changer. They help create a quiet and tranquil sleep environment, reducing disturbances from traffic noise, snoring partners, or other external sounds that might otherwise disrupt your rest.

Stress Reduction and Mental Well-being

Prolonged exposure to loud and disturbing noises can elevate stress levels and impact mental well-being. Noise cancelling ear plugs offer relief from these stressors, providing a sense of calm and relaxation. They can be especially beneficial in busy urban areas or during long flights when external noises are beyond our control.

Types of Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs

There is a diverse range of noise cancelling ear plugs on the market, catering to various needs and preferences:

Passive Ear Plugs

Passive Ear Plugs 1

Passive noise reduction ear plugs work by physically blocking and absorbing sound waves. These ear plugs are made from dense, sound-absorbing materials that create a barrier between your ears and the external noise. Passive ear plugs do not require batteries or electronics to function, making them a simple and effective option for noise reduction.


  • No Batteries Required: Passive ear plugs do not need batteries or power sources, making them a hassle-free and always-ready solution for noise reduction.
  • Affordable: Passive ear plugs are generally more budget-friendly than active noise cancelling options, making them accessible to a wide range of users.
  • Lightweight and Portable: Passive ear plugs are often compact and easy to carry around, making them suitable for travel and daily use.


  • Noise Reduction Levels: Passive ear plugs may not offer as high a level of noise reduction as some active noise cancelling models, particularly for low-frequency sounds.
  • Fit: Achieving a proper seal is crucial for passive noise reduction; finding the right size and fit for your ears is essential for effective noise cancellation.

Electronic/Active Ear Plugs

Electronic Active Ear Plugs 1

These ear plugs use advanced technology to actively cancel out external noises. They typically include small microphones that pick up ambient sounds, and an internal processor generates sound waves of the opposite phase, effectively cancelling out the incoming noise. Active noise cancelling ear plugs are particularly effective in reducing low-frequency sounds, such as engine noise or constant humming.


  • Effective Noise Reduction: Active noise cancelling technology can significantly reduce ambient noise, especially low-frequency sounds like engine rumblings and background chatter.
  • Versatility: Some active noise cancelling ear plugs offer adjustable noise cancellation levels, allowing you to customize the amount of noise reduction based on your environment and preferences.
  • Comfort: Many active ear plugs come with soft and ergonomic designs for comfortable long-term wear.


  • Battery Life: Active ear plugs require power to function, so it’s essential to consider battery life, especially during long trips or extended use.
  • Price: Active ear plugs tend to be more expensive than passive options due to the advanced technology they employ.

Custom Moulded Ear Plugs

Custom Moulded Ear Plugs

Custom moulded ear plugs are designed to fit the unique contours of an individual’s ear canal. These ear plugs provide a secure and comfortable fit, ensuring maximum noise isolation. Custom moulded ear plugs are often used in professional settings, such as musicians, industrial workers, or frequent travellers who require a personalized and precise fit.


  • Perfect Fit: Custom moulding ensures a snug fit, maximizing noise isolation and overall comfort.
  • Ideal for Specialized Use: Musicians, industrial workers, and frequent flyers often opt for custom moulded ear plugs for tailored noise protection. This style of ear plug is also popular in the world of shooting, with custom ear plugs for shooting being favoured by professional competitors and athletes.


  • Cost: Custom moulded ear plugs are more expensive than standard off-the-shelf options, but their benefits may outweigh the cost for those requiring precise fit and superior noise isolation.

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Pair

Finding the right noise cancelling ear plugs can significantly impact your experience. Consider the following factors:

SNR Rating

SNR Rating Explained

Look for ear plugs with a higher SNR rating, as this indicates better overall noise reduction across various frequencies. SNR values typically range from 15 to 35 decibels, with higher numbers offering more effective noise cancellation.

Comfort and Fit

A proper fit is essential for effective noise cancellation and long-term comfort. Consider the following factors:

  • In-Ear Ear Plugs: For in-ear options, select ear tips made from soft, hypoallergenic materials. Test different sizes to find the ones that fit snugly but comfortably in your ear canal. An excellent fit ensures better noise isolation and prevents ear fatigue.
  • Over-Ear Ear Plugs: When choosing over-ear ear plugs, look for adjustable headbands and well-cushioned ear cups. Ensure they provide a comfortable fit without exerting excessive pressure on your head.
  • Custom Moulded Ear Plugs: If you opt for custom moulded ear plugs, consult a professional audiologist to take ear impressions for an exact fit tailored to your ear shape.

Active vs. Passive Noise Cancelling

Consider whether you need active or passive noise cancelling. Active ear plugs require power to function and use technology to counteract external noise. On the other hand, passive noise cancelling ear plugs use physical materials and design to block and absorb sound waves. Choose the type that best suits your lifestyle and preferences.

Battery Life (for Active Noise Cancelling)

If you choose active noise cancelling ear plugs, pay attention to the battery life. Longer battery life ensures uninterrupted noise cancellation during extended use, particularly during long flights or busy workdays.


Consider how and where you’ll be using the ear plugs. If you need them for various situations, such as studying, traveling, and sleeping, opt for a versatile pair that can adapt to different environments.

Durability and Maintenance

Look for ear plugs made from durable materials to ensure they withstand regular use. Additionally, consider the ease of maintenance and cleaning, as keeping your ear plugs clean is crucial for hygiene and longevity.

Consider Specialized Requirements

If you have specific requirements, such as being a musician, working in a noisy industrial environment, or participating in shooting sports, consider specialized ear plugs designed for these activities.


Noise cancelling ear plugs have become indispensable tools. From improving focus to enhancing sleep quality and reducing stress, the benefits of these tiny devices are vast. By understanding the science behind their operation and considering the different types available, you can make an informed decision when choosing the perfect pair to suit your needs.