Jay Gladwell wrote on 5/12/2008, 2:10 PM

(Disclaimer: I did a search and found a thread about NC headphones, but it didn't answer my question.)

Okay here's my question...

I've always had a problem on location with my headphones. If there is an unwanted sound heard (by all present) I can't really tell if I'm hearing it through the headphones or if the sound is leaking into my ears from around the headphones. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, I'm wondering if noise canceling headphones would help with this rpoblem. One would think that with NC cans the only sound you'd hear would be coming through the headphones from the mic.

Yes, no, maybe, you're way off base, what are you smokin'... Which is it?



craftech wrote on 5/12/2008, 3:38 PM

Which headphones are you using? Many people seem to buy the Sony MDR-V6(MDR-7506). Despite the fact that they are closed headphones (back is sealed) they don't isolate all that well and are bass heavy and uncomfortable when I wear them for a few hours.
I really hate them.

I absolutely love my JVC HADX3 headphones. They isolate extremely well and I can wear them all day without any discomfort. They also sound crystal clear.

Unfortunately, they are discontinued, and the only ones who claim they have them are the sleazy New York City consumer electronics stores that make B&H look like an enigma in the "big apple". Example: Butterfly Photo. Note that both of those website vendors I linked are one in the same scum with a different alias.

I would recommend the following:

Sennheiser HD280

Audio Technica ATH-A500 or

Audio Technica ATH=A700


Audio Technica ATH-ES7

LarryP wrote on 5/12/2008, 3:54 PM
You might want to give earphones a try. They go in the ear canal and seal out the sounds instead of trying to cancel them. So far the only problem I've had is forgetting I had them in and trying to walk away from the camcorder (oops!). Very nice for airplanes also.

I've had an Etymotic ER-4 pair for years. Shure makes nice ones along with host of new entrants primarily aimed at in ear monitors.

BH had some good prices last I checked.

Dale7 wrote on 5/12/2008, 4:55 PM
"Noise canceling" headphones are supposed to electronically block ambient sound but in my experience they aren't very effective, especially on airplanes where you can still hear the rumble of the engines; we use the Etymotic ER-4 in-the-ear earphones...they're small, lightweight and nice for traveling, using with a laptop, etc. but in my opinion the best by far for blocking out ambient noise are the Remote Audio HN-7506 -- they're large & heavy, but excellent for use in high-noise environments (and I think they're very comfortable to wear).
Jay Gladwell wrote on 5/12/2008, 6:42 PM

John, I've been using the Sennheiser HD 25 SP. Nice headphones, great sound, so long as you're in a "quite" environment.

Jay Gladwell wrote on 5/12/2008, 6:46 PM

Larry, I actually have a pair of the Shure E4c earphones that I use with my iPod. Never thought of using them while shooting video. I may have to give those a try. But I think I may need something that is quicker to take off and on in a hurry.

rs170a wrote on 5/12/2008, 7:26 PM
Jay, I bought the Shure E3cs a few years ago, use them all the time and love them :-)
If I have to take them off in a hurry, I find it's easer to unplug them from the camera.

farss wrote on 5/12/2008, 8:26 PM
Problem is the output from almost all cameras is too low.
Two solutions.
Headphone amp. We have a very good Rolls (these are great for a boom op as well) unit but sometimes just another bit of kit to carry.

More sensitive headphones. We've been buying and reselling TakStart DJ Heapdhone off eBay. For well under $50 they work a treat with any camera. I wouldn't for a second suggest these are good headphones, just friggin LOUD which is what you want when listening for errant sounds.
I could take Sony 7509s (the expensive version of the 7506) to a shoot but find the el cheapo Takstars better for the task at hand.

Jim H wrote on 5/12/2008, 8:35 PM
I think Dale7 has it wrong. NC headphones are only effective when you've got a persistent background noise (like that of a rumbling airplane engine). The algorithm needs to be able to reproduce the reverse image of the noise in order to cancel it - it does not do well with voices or random clunks and bumps. I've used the bose variety with the closed ear cups many times on airplanes and they do work but nothing will block 100% of any sound.
Jay Gladwell wrote on 5/13/2008, 5:35 AM

Okay, Jim, I see what you're saying. The NC phones would not block the sound of a door being shut in the distance.

My issue is discerning if I heard the door shut through the headphones or if the sound came into my ears around the headphones.

I presume, from what's being said, that any quality "over-the-ear" headphone would help to lessen (not eliminate) the problem. Is that correct?

For example, yesterday we were at a shoot in a giant concert hall. The subject was one person in the premier seating section. She was miked with a lav. While recording, someone in the distance closed a door. I heard it, but not through the headphones. When I got the video back to the editing room, I could not heard the door shut on the tape.

I would like to be able to hear what is being recorded rather than what is happening around me. Mics don't always pick up everything we hear.

John_Cline wrote on 5/13/2008, 6:14 AM
NC headphone are only good at cancelling noises up to about 1,500hz with a reduction of 15db maximum. They also have some residual hiss due to the active electronics. I've got several pair of NC headphones from various manufacturers, from cheap to fairly expensive. I finally got a pair of Shure SE series earphones and their broadband isolation (up to 30db) and sound quality are far better than any of the NC headphones I've heard. Even the Shure SE110 model is quite decent at an MSRP of $120. I worked my way up to the SE530 and I've never heard anything sound better at any price and on an airplane they block out a more than significant amount of noise.

They are so effective at isolation that Shure sells a "Push to Hear" accessory that allows you to hear what's going on "outside" when you're wearing them.

Lots of companies are now making earphones and some of them are really high quality. M-Audio is making some highly regarded models.

Earphones aren't quite as convenient as headphones in that you just can't just take them off and hang them on the tripod handle, but it's not that difficult to remove them. If isolation and sound quality are your main concerns, nothing can touch them.
riredale wrote on 5/13/2008, 12:54 PM
Jim H:

Not wishing to be nitpicky, but I don't think that's quite right.

All an active noise-canceling headphone does is to sample the ambient noise and then just invert it and feed it in the proper amount to the headphone transducer. A random noise would work just as well as a periodic noise, since all that's happening is a signal inversion. I believe some circuits use a default amount of injection, while others sample the result and then tweak until the noise is minimized; maybe in that instance a circuit could get confused by random noise and fail--I really don't know.

As already noted, this cancellation technique works only approximately well and only at lower frequencies. I used to fly a Mooney single-engine aircraft and used some active-canceling headphones made by LightSpeed. The dominant noise in a small plane is the repetitive beat of the prop blast against the windscreen at 2,700rpm x 2 blades = 90Hz. Turning the canceling circuitry on did wonders for that noise. But there was another noise in the cockpit--the "whoosh" of air rushing by at 200mph. Sadly, active cancellation did nothing for that, simply because the frequencies involved were much higher. For that, you need passive techniques.

I use cheapo Sony headphones sometimes when shooting, but switch over to Shure in-the-ear buds when going by commercial airline. With foam sleeves the noise isolation is so dramatic that I would be happy to sit beside a screaming infant, or at least until it threw up on my laptop.
Dale7 wrote on 5/13/2008, 3:17 PM
"I think Dale7 has it wrong."

Jim H,

What do I have wrong?
I wasn't giving a technical analysis, just my opinion based on my experience. We do a lot of traveling (been to Asia 29 times in the last several years) and like I said, noise-cancelling headphones don't work that well for me. I put on my HN-7506's...all outside noise disappears and I can fall asleep easily. The sound crews at NASCAR use them.
R0cky wrote on 5/13/2008, 3:51 PM
The way nearly all NC headphones work is in the analog domain. They place a mic inside the ear cup and use that signal to create an inverted version of noise inside the ear cup and drive the speaker with it to cancel the noise.

Cheaper models just give you a knob to adjust the gain of that signal, better ones use electronic feedback to drive the noise to as close to zero as possible.

The reason that the frequency is limited to about 1500 Hz and the reduction to 10-15 dB is due to the physics and mathematics of feedback systems. If you try to have more reduction or higher bandwidth you'll build an oscillator ("feedback" to you musicians). Imagine turning up the gain to your PA too high with the speaker in your ear and you'll get a feeling about how bad that is.

I had some early NC headphones that would do this sometimes. Not fun.

To actually get the desired audio signal to the speakers without canceling it too in this system requires injecting it in the proper place and also canceling it in the feedback signal from the in ear mic.

I think Sony has a new system out with some kind of intelligent digital magic that does a better job but I haven't seen any test data.

nolonemo wrote on 5/13/2008, 6:27 PM
I have heard of people using in-ear phones, and also wearing headphone-style hearing protectors (which can be quite cheap -- ) to further cut down outside noises. Haven't tried it myself.
Musicvid wrote on 10/21/2020, 10:05 PM


Thanks for sharing, but this information comes 12 years too late for this thread.

To share your insights with others, a new thread of your own making is always preferred!

Dexcon wrote on 10/21/2020, 10:05 PM

I suspect that the OP has resolved this issue long ago because this post and comments go back to May 2008, more than 12 years ago.

Dell Alienware Aurora 11

Windows 10 Home

10th Gen Intel i9 10900KF - 10 cores (20 threads) - 3.7 to 5.3 GHz

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER 8GB GDDR6 - liquid cooled

64GB RAM - Dual Channel HyperX FURY DDR4 XMP at 3200MHz

C drive: 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

D drive: 6TB WD 7200 rpm Black HDD 3.5"

E & F drives: 2 x 2TB Barracuda HDDs 2.5"


RogerS wrote on 10/21/2020, 10:22 PM

If an ancient post is still coming up in search for a given topic, is it so bad to reply to it?

(12 years is quite long, though)

Dexcon wrote on 10/22/2020, 1:22 AM

If an ancient post is still coming up in search for a given topic, is it so bad to reply to it?

Not at all assuming that there is some current relevance to the original topic. In this case, the OP asked for recommendations for noise cancelling headphones. It would be a very long stretch to expect that the OP is still interested in receiving suggestions 12 years later. That's my reasoning anyway.

Last changed by Dexcon on 10/22/2020, 1:50 AM, changed a total of 1 times.

Dell Alienware Aurora 11

Windows 10 Home

10th Gen Intel i9 10900KF - 10 cores (20 threads) - 3.7 to 5.3 GHz

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER 8GB GDDR6 - liquid cooled

64GB RAM - Dual Channel HyperX FURY DDR4 XMP at 3200MHz

C drive: 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

D drive: 6TB WD 7200 rpm Black HDD 3.5"

E & F drives: 2 x 2TB Barracuda HDDs 2.5"


vkmast wrote on 10/22/2020, 6:10 AM

The OP was a regular poster with over 5K posts/comments on the forum up to 2012. Don't know if he still follows this forum.

Musicvid wrote on 10/22/2020, 10:16 AM

If an ancient post is still coming up in search for a given topic, is it so bad to reply to it?

(12 years is quite long, though)

Yes, because recommendations made last decade are always obsolete, even in context.

NickHope wrote on 10/23/2020, 12:33 AM

I hid the comment and blocked the user. Very obvious spam. (1. Ancient post 2. 1st contribution from the user. 3. Thread top of search for the spammed product in question because of its clear, matching title).