Noise Isolation vs. Noise Cancellation: What's the difference?

Hearing protectors come in many different styles, shapes, and sizes, but did you know they also utilize different sound technologies? Deciding which product is best for your needs can be difficult and overwhelming, so we broke down the two most common noise-reducing technologies to help you decide which form of hearing protection is right for you!

Noise Isolation

ISOtunes products are classified as noise isolating. Noise isolation occurs when eartips are properly inserted into the ear. The eartips act as a physical barrier, essentially isolating your ears from ambient noise. ISOtunes are not intended to eliminate 100% of noise, but to isolate damaging noise while keeping you aware of your surroundings at the same time.

Active Noise Cancellation

Products with active noise cancellation (ANC) generate the inverse of any ambient sound surrounding you, therefore actively canceling out unwanted noises. Once the microphone picks up background noise, ANC technology counteracts it with an inverse signal, canceling out the majority of background noise as a result. 

Why do these differences matter?

The most important differentiator between noise isolation and ANC is that noise isolation technology does not require a battery. Whether your ISOtunes are turned on or off, your ears will always be protected. 

In contrast, ANC does require a battery, so noise cancellation only works if the product is turned on. As soon as the product is turned off, or the battery dies, most of the hearing protection is gone. Additionally, the majority of ANC products do not have an NRR (Noise Reduction Rating) and therefore are not considered OSHA-compliant hearing protectors. 

Which is a better fit for me?

The answer to this question depends on what you are looking for. If you want OSHA-compliant hearing protection technology to protect your ears on the job, noise isolation is probably the best fit for you. On the other hand, if you are simply looking for a way to cancel out some background noise and don’t require hearing protection, you may prefer ANC.