As a Noise Cancelling Headphones user, you know the importance of blocking out external sounds to immerse yourself in your music.
But have you ever experienced discomfort or pressure on your ears while using them for an extended period? It’s a common issue many users face and can be frustrating and distracting.
We’ll explore why noise cancelling headphones pressure on ears. Also, how to reduce it, and what to look for when purchasing headphones to cut discomfort.
Understand Why & How Noise Cancelling Headphones Pressure on Ears
Noise-cancelling headphones are designed to reduce background noise by using microphones that detect and cancel out external sounds. While they are very effective at reducing unwanted noise, they can also create some pressure on the ears.
How Noise-Cancelling Headphones Create Pressure?
The noise-cancelling technology itself creates pressure. The headphones use a small microphone to pick up sound waves from outside and reverse them before they reach the listener’s ear.
This makes a sound wave opposite in phase and cancels the external noise. But the process of creating this opposite wave producesmoreonal sound waves. That can generate a feeling of pressure in the ear.
Factors That Influence the Amount of Pressure
The pressure created by noise-cancelling headphones can vary depending on several factors.
- Design: The design of the headphones can play a role in how much pressure is created. Over-ear headphones are generally better at reducing stress than on-ear models. They make a greater physical distance between the ear and the headphone’s speaker.
- Sound frequency: The amount of pressure can also depend on the frequency of the sound being canceled. Lower frequencies can create more pressure than higher frequencies.
- Volume: The volume level of the external sound being canceled can affect the amount of pressure the headphones create. Louder external sounds need more cancellation, which can increase the pressure.
- Level of noise-cancellation: The level of noise-cancellation used by the headphones can also impact the amount of pressure. Higher noise-cancellation levels will need greater processing power, which can generate more pressure.
- Size and shape of the ear cups: The size and shape of the ear cups can also play a role. If the ear cups are too small or tight around the ears, they can create more pressure.
- Duration of use: The duration of use is another factor impacting how much pressure is felt. Using noise-cancelling headphones for long periods can increase the likelihood of experiencing discomfort, as the pressure can build up over time.
The Impact of Pressure on the Ear Canal and Eardrum
The pressure created by noise-cancelling headphones can impact the ear canal and eardrum. It can cause discomfort and, in some cases, even pain.
The prolonged use of noise-cancelling headphones with high-pressure levels. This can affect the inner ear and contribute to hearing problems.
Regular breaks while using noise-cancelling headphones are recommended, mainly for extended periods. Additionally, users should consider selecting comfortable headphones and a model with appropriate pressure levels.
How Do Different Types of Noise Cancelling Headphones Impact Ear Pressure?
There are two main types of noise-cancelling headphones: passive and active.
Passive noise cancelling headphones
These headphones block out external noise by physically blocking the sound waves from entering the ear.
They use materials that absorb or reflect sound waves, such as foam or plastic. Since they do not emit sound waves, they do not create more pressure on the ear.
Active noise cancelling headphones
These headphones use technology to cancel out external noise actively. They have microphones that pick up external sounds and create an opposing sound wave that cancels out the external noise.
This technology makes a type of pressure called “inverse sound wave.” Which can cause some people to experience ear pressure or discomfort.
Common Symptoms of Pressure on Ears
Common symptoms of this pressure include ear pain and discomfort, headaches and migraines, nausea and dizziness, and tinnitus.
1. Ear pain and discomfort
The constant stimulation of sound waves causes the inner ear to become agitated and strained. It results in a feeling of pressure on the eardrum.
This sensation can range from slight discomfort to severe pain, depending on how long you’ve used the headphones.
Headaches are another sign that you may suffer from pressure on your ears due to noise-cancellation headphones.
This head pain is usually caused by increased muscle tension due to extended exposure to sound waves.
3. Nausea and dizziness
Nausea and dizziness are other common symptoms of ear pressure caused by noise-cancellation headphones. Prolonged exposure to loud noises can cause disturbances in your inner ear.
It can lead to nausea or an off-balance sensation known as vertigo. Reducing the volume is best if you experience these symptoms after using noise-cancelling headphones.
4. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Tinnitus is usually caused by prolonged exposure to loud frequencies, which can damage tiny hairs inside the cochlea responsible for auditory processing.
If you hear ringing sounds in one or both ears after using noise-cancelling headphones. In that case, it’s essential to seek medical help immediately so that any potential damage can be assessed and treated appropriately.
Ways to Reduce Pressure on Ears While Using Noise-Cancelling Headphones?
Here are some ways to reduce pressure on your ears while using noise-cancelling headphones:
- Find comfortable headphones: Select headphones that are comfortable to wear and fit well over your ears. The ear cups should fit securely but not too tightly.
- Use the correct size ear tips: If you’re using noise-cancelling earbuds, use the right ear tips. Using the wrong size can cause discomfort and reduce noise-cancellation effectiveness.
- Take breaks: Regularly take breaks from using noise-cancelling headphones, especially if you plan to use them for an extended period. Taking a break can help to relieve any pressure that has built up in your ears.
- Lower noise cancellation levels: If your headphones have adjustable noise-cancellation levels, try lowering the levels to reduce the pressure in your ears.
- Use passive noise-cancelling headphones: Try using passive noise-cancelling headphones, which do not emit sound waves and therefore do not create additional pressure on your ears.
- Reduce volume levels: Try reducing the volume of the external sound being canceled. Louder external sounds require more cancellation, increasing the pressure in your ears.
- Avoid using them while traveling on an airplane or in high altitudes: Increases in cabin pressure during takeoff and landing can cause pain, discomfort, or damage to the eardrum. Using headphones that create pressure can exacerbate these effects.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help alleviate the discomfort caused by ear pressure. Make sure your body is hydrated before and during headphone use.
Why Do My Noise-Cancelling Headphones Hurt My Ears?
There are a few reasons why noise-cancelling headphones may hurt your ears:
Pressure: Active noise-cancelling headphones use technology to block out external noises, which can pressure your ears slightly. This pressure can cause discomfort if you wear your headphones for extended periods.
Fit: If your headphones are too tight or loose, they can cause discomfort. Adjustable headbands can help ensure a better fit.
Noise-cancelling level: Some headphones may have different levels of noise-cancellation. Too high a level can create more pressure, leading to ear discomfort.
Sensitivity: Like other earbuds or headphones, some people may be more sensitive to noise-cancelling headphones, leading to discomfort or pain.
If you experience discomfort or pain, try adjusting the fit or noise-cancelling level. If the problem persists, switching to a different pair of headphones or speaking to a doctor may be best.
Why Do Noise-Cancelling Headphones Make Me Feel Weird?
Noise-cancelling headphones use powerful sound waves that can affect those wearing them. This effect can cause a person to experience feelings of dizziness, pressure, or fatigue. There are a few factors that contribute to this:
Stress: Noise-cancelling headphones use active technology to block out sound. This can create a feeling of stress or anxiety.
Changes in Volume: Active noise-cancelling headphones reduce the volume of external noise, but the change in sound levels can cause a feeling of disorientation.
A feeling of Isolation: Using noise-cancelling headphones can create a sense of isolation from the outside world. This can make people feel uncomfortable or anxious.
To help with these symptoms, adjust the noise-cancelling level of your headphones or take occasional breaks from wearing them. If the symptoms persist, it may be best to speak to a doctor.
Why Does Noise Cancelling Hurt My Head?
Noise-cancelling headphones create sound waves 180 degrees out of phase with ambient sound waves. This creates destructive interference that eliminates the ambient noise.
Because of this, some users may experience pressure on the head and ears due to the difference in sound pressure levels between the active noise cancellation sound waves and the ambient sound levels.
This can be particularly uncomfortable for those who have more sensitive hearing.
James Dimento is a Chief-in-Editor of SoundUnify. He is a headphone enthusiast and creative writer passionate about audio technology. He has three years of experience writing about headphones and sound quality and is responsible for creating reviews and taking care of all administration.