Anyone that has spent any serious amount of time listening to an Ipod or any other mp3 player has had to buy new earbuds. Let's face it, the pair of earbuds provided with most mp3 players are far from the top of the line. They may be good but they are never great.
So the included earbuds either break at some point (even if they are not half bad) or they need to be replaced because their sound reproduction is not great. Faced with having to buy new earbuds, what do you do? If you have done any research online into what you should buy you have kindly come across what is advertised as noise canceling earbuds. Do these work and are they worth it? Well, that depends.
Noise canceling technology has been around for awhile. You probably know about it from the idea of using a set of noise canceling head phones while flying on a plane. The technology for headphones was heavily developed for, and has since been marketed as, a "better way to fly." The sound of the jet engine whining is eliminated by the noise canceling and you probably have a better, more relaxing flight.
It turns out one of the reasons these headphones do well on an airplane is because they are dealing with a noise that is constant and of a low frequency. For that purpose, the technology works just great. Higher frequency sounds and more intermittent noises are not blocked as well. This does not matter as much if you are flying in a jet airplane. You notice a great difference, besides the fact you may still hear some level of environmental noise. Often these noises are irregular loud noises but they can also be other sounds too like, for example, people's voices. They are muffled and greatly reduced but some sounds are still there. Since earbuds use the same ideas as headphones as to how to deal with noise cancelling they too can be good with some sounds and not as good with others.
The real kicker in this whole deal is the fact that earbuds provide an opportunity to improve the sound isolating benefits of headphones. Earbuds that fit snugly into the ear canal can block sound and in many cases the environmental noise that is blocked are the same types of sounds that can not be deal with well by active noise cancelling.
The take home point from all of this is if you are thinking of buying some noise canceling earbuds, you should consider models that also have good noise blocking capabilities. Another important consideration is why you are thinking of buying noise canceling earbuds anyway. If you are more interested in isolating yourself from everyday noise, in other words you are not needing them for eliminating a low frequency constant noise (jet engine noise on a plane, commuter train noise, traffic noise outside of a house that is on a busy street, etc.), you might just need a pair of noise blocking earbuds.