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Abstract Active noise reducing headphones are the application of active noise control .Active noise control brought a revolutionary change in detection and cancellation of low frequency noise. In this paper the authors discuss the implementation of active noise control to headphones. INTRODUCTION Noise is any unwanted signal which is irritating and loud. Reduction of noise is important as prolonged exposure to acoustic noise of high level can lead to permanent loss in hearing. The presence of noise is inevitable but its effect can be reduced to almost zero by using suitable techniques. The passive methods include the use of ear buds, earmuffs or circumaural headphones [1][2]. The traditional passive methods of noise cancellation are not efficient enough in case of low frequency noise due to long wavelength of sound. Active noise cancellation is another technique which is used to attenuate the noise signal and is very effective. In active headphones the active noise reduction is the characteristic for the acoustic noise cancellation. The active headphones diminish the noise which is present in the environment. Such

headphones can be used in very noisy environment to prevent the person using it from the excessive noise. These headphones cancel the effect of noise by generating an anti-noise signal thus cancelling out any noise present at low frequencies effectively. The concept of active noise has existed since the beginning of 20th century. The first patent regarding the possibility of attenuating the background noise was issued to Paul Lueg in 1933. The true research of active noise reduction in headphones was done by Dr. Amar Bose in 1978. In 1986, Bose applied the noise cancellation technology to develop headphones to protect the hearing of the pilots participating in first non-stop around-the-world flight [4]. PASSIVE METHODS The passive methods are used mainly in every headphone for the removal of the higher and middle frequency noise. Any kind of headphones can provide passive attenuation. This is because the material of which the headphones are made block high frequency noise. To provide better attenuation bulky headphones with stiff cushions are used. But there are always limitations for the size, thus such headphones fail for low frequency noise.

ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLING Active headphones eliminate the unwanted noise signals completely. They do this by producing a wave which is identical to the noise wave, but the wave produced is out of phase by 180 degrees. After this the generated wave is superimposed on the noise wave. Thus active noise cancellation is based on the principle that if two waves identical and in phase are added then there magnitude increases. On the other hand if the second wave is identical but with exactly opposite phase the signal diminishes as shown in fig1.




In this case the circuit is a closed one and a microphone is placed inside the headphone near the loudspeaker as shown in fig3. The microphone is used for providing error correction. The signal is fed back to the designed audio signal input as an error correction for the noise.

Thus the user with the headphone is able to listen clearly due to the destructive interference. Fig 2 shows how noise is reduced to silence using destructive interference.

B. FEED FORWARD ACTIVE NOISE CONTROL This is the mostly used active noise cancellation technique. It uses digital filter which can correct both phase and amplitude error. In this technique a noise reference microphone as shown in fig4 is used. This microphone detects the noise as reference noise signal which is adaptively filtered and

The noise cancellation over a wide range of frequencies is achieved by combining the feedback system and the feed forward system into one. The advantage of such system is that it combines the feature of both ANC systems.

Fig. 5. Block diagrams of Hybrid ANC system

fed to the loudspeaker in the headphone. The loudspeaker emits an anti noise signal. This anti-noise signal is known as secondary signal which cancels the primary noise signal. Active feed forward control depends mainly on the detection of the noise signal. It depends a lot on timely detection of the noise signal. The delay between the detection of two noise signal should be less. Nowadays more and more DSP algorithms are made to improve the functioning of the active feed forward control. The error microphone tunes the adaptive filter. The tuning of the filter is done in absence of the audio signal. C. HYBRID ACTIVE CONTROL SYSTEM NOISE

The combined active noise control system may suffer from the problem of computational complexity but the result received from this system makes it better in noise reduction performance and stability than the individual systems at low frequencies. CONCLUSION AND FUTURE PROSPECTS The active and passive attenuation methods used in headphones have been discussed. It is found from the study that both the techniques complement each other. At lower frequencies active attenuation is better while at higher frequencies passive attenuation is better. Combining all three characteristic systems in a single headphone will be best and optimal solution to be used at wide range of frequencies. Protection from noise in headphones has reached a stage where commercial systems are available. Considerable improvement in

the implementation of such systems over the past has been largely due to availability of cheap yet powerful DSP devices. Algorithms like filtered x-LMS algorithm have been tested on DSP processors for headphones [5]. These headphones are very useful for person working near heavy machineries and engines because the noise is selectively eliminated. Both active and passive attenuation technique will be used in future to reduce noise effects as many government bodies have realized that noise is a pollutant in our industrialized society. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The author would like to thank Asst. Prof. Bindya Virmani for her support and guidance regarding the subject. REFERENCES [1] Angela Kuo Wang and Benedict Tse Advising Professor: Wei Ren University of California at Berkeley Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Berkeley, California 94720 [2] Vikas Sethia Article; “noise cancellation in headphones” M.Tech. credit seminar report, Electronic Systems Group, EE Dept, IIT Bombay, submitted November ‘02

[4] Chu Moy, “Active noise reduction headphone systems”, [5] Angela Kuo Wang and Benedict Tse, “Adaptive active noise control for headphones using the TMS320C30 DSP”, Application report, Texas Instruments, January 1997,

[3] Harris, Bill. "How Noise-cancelling Headphones Work." Howstuffworks. 16 July 2007

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