Can Noise-Cancelling Headphones Be Used Without Music?

Can Noise-Cancelling Headphones Be Used Without Music? How many types of noise-cancelling headphones are there? Let's find out together!

by Derrick Reeves | Updated: September 4, 2021

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Noise-canceling headphones are the perfect way to enjoy peace and quiet in a noise-filled environment or to get your music back without any other sounds interrupting you.

But before you put them on, it’s important that you understand how they work and what noise-canceling technology is so that you can choose the right pair for yourself.

In this article, we will explore noise-canceling headsets with no music - their features, benefits and limitations. 

Noise Cancelling Headphones Work Without Music  

Noise-canceling headphones are most effective when play music.

This noise-canceling technology in the headphones is designed to only allow certain frequencies of sound to pass through - namely, those that are created by human voices and music.

In this way, noise-canceling headphones help you enjoy your favorite songs without any other noise interrupting you or creating a distracting background noise for when you’re working, but noise-canceling headphones can be used without listening to music. 

Some noise-canceling technology will still eliminate much of the noise that may come from your surroundings and interrupt you while you're on a phone call or skyping with friends.

This means that if there are no other noises coming into contact with your noise-canceling headphones, then there is no noise for it to cancel. 

Although that answer gives you the basic idea of noise-canceling technology, what you need to know is that noise-canceling headphones work by using microphones on the outside of the headphone cup.

This microphone detects sound waves and sends them through a processor which creates an inverted waveform. The inverted waveform is then played into your ear canal from inside your noise-canceling headset in order to cancel out the noise outside your headset. 

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700


How Noise-Cancelling Headphones Work? 

Noisy-canceling headphones can be classified as either noise cancellation or noise isolation headphones. 

Passive Noise Isolation 

Passive noise-canceling is just that, passive. It's when the noise in your environment causes some of the noise to be canceled out.

This means it does not require any power and can work well for low-frequency noises such as air conditioners and fans but has a harder time with higher frequencies such as voices or machinery. 

Active Noise Cancellation 

Active Noise Cancellation is noise cancellation that requires power and noise from your environment is canceled out by sound waves emitted through the headphones.

The noise-canceling technology will be more effective with higher frequencies which are easier to cancel but has a harder time canceling lower frequency noise such as air conditioners or fans. 

1MORE Wireless Earbuds Active Noise Cancelling

Using Noise Cancelling Headphones Without Music 

Active noise cancellation headphones are the best option for noise-canceling headphones without any music.

This is also a good option if you are in an environment with lots of noise around such as machinery or traffic because it will cancel out anything that falls within the frequency range. 

Noise-cancelling technology can be used to block outside noise and enjoy your favorite songs, but noise cancellation has limited want noise-canceling technology to cancel out the noise around you.

Noise isolation headphones are more appropriate for situations where it's important that no noise is heard from your surroundings, but sound quality may not be as good. 

An active cancellation headphone measures the surrounding noise and detects it by using a microphone on the outer side. Waves are then sent to counteract the noise. That noise is then canceled out by a speaker inside your noise-canceling headset, leaving only silence for you to enjoy. 

Noise isolation headphones work differently than noise cancellation technology: they block outside noise with a seal created between the earcup and outer ear.

Using Noise Cancelling Headphones Without Music 

They do not require power, noise around you and emits sound waves in the opposite direction to those noise frequencies.

This means that if there is no noise coming into contact with your active noise-canceling headphones, then it will not emit any emissions or cancel out anything. 

By analyzing your environment, you can tune in to the frequencies of noise that are present there, which are usually higher in frequency and louder than the noise as noise-cancelling headphones without music and sound waves coming from a fan or construction noise, which is easy to cancel out. 

The headphones aren’t as effective in canceling noise coming from your surroundings on a low frequency. 

Noise isolation headphones are best for listening to music or watching TV, but not as good if you want noise-canceling technology that helps decrease noise in your environment. 

Can Passive Noise Isolation Headphones Be Used Without Music?  

Can Passive Noise Isolation Headphones Be Used Without Music  

There is no need to use headphones with music to use passive noise isolation. Passive noise isolation headphones block unwanted noise by creating a seal between the earcup and outer ear.

This means that if there is no noise coming into contact with your passive noise-canceling headphones, then it will not emit any emissions or cancel out anything. 

Noise reduction would be minimal when used without music because they rely on external sound 

Passive noise-isolating headphones use a seal to block out outside noise without emitting any noise of their own, so they can be used with or without music as the sound is not being emitted from within the headphone cups themselves. 

Cons Of Noise Cancelling Headphones 

Noise-canceling headphones work best for frequencies that are higher, so noise-canceling technology isn't as effective with lower frequency noise such as an air conditioner or fan. 

If you want to block out crying baby sounds, you shouldn't expect to see any noise-canceling headphones that work effectively above 12,000 Hz, since those frequencies don't work very well. 

It is difficult to find headphones that completely block noise; noise-canceling headphones do not qualify for that distinction as they only reduce their volume. 

If the noise you want to block out is really loud then there's a chance that your music will be drowned out or become too quiet. In addition, high-frequency noise isn't effectively canceled which means and noise-canceling headphones without music both noise isolation and noise cancellation. 


Noise-canceling headphones without music are best for lower frequencies such as noise-canceling noise-isolating but not all of them work with higher frequencies which is where noise isolation noise cancellers can be more effective.

You should also consider what you want to block out before making a purchase decision.