Not all active noise cancelling (ANC) technologies are created equal. Different types serve different purposes with each having their own set of pros and cons. Here we’ll explain the three main implementations of ANC so you can understand their differences and decide which is best for you.
In a feedforward setup, active noise cancellation comes from an external microphone that is placed outside the earcup. This microphone is more sensitive to low/mid frequencies and can isolate sounds such as human speech, traffic, and other ambient noises. Unfortunately, due to its sensitive nature, feedforward microphones are notorious for picking up unwanted wind howl.
In a feedback setup, active noise cancellation comes from an internal microphone that is placed inside the earcup. This microphone is more sensitive to low frequencies and hears what the wearer hears. Since a feedback microphone is positioned closer to both your ear and the speaker, there is risk that it may cause high pitched sounds that are painful to hear when not designed correctly.
In a hybrid setup, active noise cancellation comes from both an external and internal microphone, combining the techniques used in feedforward and feedback systems. Due to the advanced nature of hybrid ANC, the technology usually costs twice as much as the others, but in exchange, it provides the best performance. The Razer Opus wireless ANC headset utilizes this hybrid system for active noise cancellation.