Noise isolation is how well your headphones or earphones isolate any external disturbances or noise in the surrounding environment.
Very often when you’re looking to isolate sound and zone into your music, what you’re really looking for is a pair of headphones that fit well enough in order to passively block out any noise. When it comes to passive noise isolation, what one needs to understand is that it is all about how well the earphones or headphones fit you.
When it comes to noise isolation of headphone or ear phones, one should note that it is highly impacted based on the kind of ear pad or ear tips of your pair. High noise isolation enabled earphones or headphone merely create a seal around your ears that blocks out environmental sound that is capable of adulterating the quality of your audio. You can choose between noise isolating headphones or earphones based on your preferences.
When it comes to noise isolating headphones, over-ear headphones undoubtedly perform better then on-ear pairs. This is because the ear pads of over-ears completely cover your ears letting you cut out from the environment while listen to your audio. The different materials used for the pads of headphones are Velour, leather, pleather, and leatherette. The type of material used for your headphone ear pads will highly impact its noise isolating capability.
Earphones that come with ear buds do not attenuate sound from the environment. Good ear tips effectively isolate noise without letting your audio quality diminish. The different types of ear tips that can be used with your earphones are silicon eartips, dual density eartips, double flange eartips, and triple flange eartips. The new Comply Foam Tips however provide better noise isolation as compared to any kind of ear tips. The foam takes the shape of ear canals blocking maximum environmental sound.
Contrary to popular opinion, noise isolation is very different from noise cancellation. Noise isolation is passive blockage of environmental sound and can be attained merely by acquiring the right fit of your headphones. Lots of headphone companies worldwide create headphones that actively cancel out ambient noise, for example the sound of an airplane engine. The problem with these active noise cancellation headphones are that they’re artificially battery powered, and are often relatively expensive.
Closed-back headphones have ear-cups that are designed to attenuate complete noise isolation. The ear-cups of these headphones are sealed with aluminium or premium plastic materials. These headphones do not allow sound leakage, lending you a more compact listening experience. These sets are ideal for those who want to listen to music outdoors without disturbing anybody.
Open-back headphones feature an ear-cup design that allows air to pass through your headphones, for a more natural sounding experience. These headphones allow sound leakage, making them inappropriate to be worn in public places.
It's very easy to confuse the type of headphone and how well noise can be isolated from it. While noise isolation differs between on-ear headphones and over-ear headphones, a headphone being open or closed back does NOT affect isolation in any way. That you would disturb everyone in the room if you've got open-back headphones is a different matter altogether!