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What are Noise Suppression and Noise Cancellation?


Where occupational hazards or other high-noise-level conditions exist, it becomes important for workers and others in the immediate vicinity to take appropriate steps to protect their hearing. In many cases, this includes the wearing of headset or ear-muff hearing protection devices (HPDs). Many of these devices have historically reduced the noise reaching the ear by means of noise-canceling technology. In the past, this consisted of an ear-muff-style headset, which cupped closely around the ear, basically reducing noise levels through their insulation and tight fit construction.

As technology addressed the issue of hearing protection, active noise-canceling was developed, which provided a more effective solution. This analog technology functions by detecting the sound coming into the headset, and generating signals that are out-of-phase with the offending signals, canceling them out. This allows any sounds generated within the headset to be understood more clearly (music, radio communications, etc.). Unfortunately, these very noise-canceling attributes also isolate the wearer from sounds that would make them aware of hazardous conditions in their surroundings. With SENS® Technology (speech enhancement noise suppression), the wearer is provided with effective protection, without isolation from their surroundings.

Today, major advances have been made in the area of noise suppression, as opposed to the older noise cancellation technology. These improvements provide for more effective communication and situational awareness while still protecting the wearer’s hearing. Modern headsets can be integrated with two-way radio, Bluetooth-enabled devices, and headset-to-headset communication abilities.

Which has the Advantage?

A major concern with a noise-cancellation approach is that all sounds external to the headset are subjected to cancellation. This can mean that the wearer is less likely to be aware of vehicle movement hazards, heavy equipment motion, alarms, or even warnings shouted by other workers. With safety being a major concern for any worksite, this presents a serious risk to the well-being of workers. This may also impact productivity and effective communications between workers, who are unable to clearly understand face-to-face discussions.

Implementing the digital technology provided by noise suppression becomes an obvious preference for noisy work environments. Effective applications can include the oil and gas industry, environments in proximity to aircraft, mining, and data centers, among others. Each environment poses unique challenges to hearing protection requirements and will benefit from the use of noise suppression devices. Several types of headset devices may be applicable for protecting those exposed to extreme noise levels:

  • Hearing protection with improved face-to-face communications.
  • Two-way radio, with connectivity to a majority of both analog and digital radios, provides clear communications in noisy environments.
  • Bluetooth® headsets connect to most Bluetooth® devices, including smartphones, two-way radios, and even tablets.
  • Short-range headsets, which enable headset-to-headset communications, without radios.

Each of these headsets can provide hearing protection while permitting face-to-face communication and allowing self-awareness of the surrounding environment. These devices are available in several configurations including headband, helmet mount, and behind the neck. Your particular work environment and communication needs will determine the best headset for each application. 

What can Sensear do for You?

Sensear is committed to providing our customers with reliable, effective solutions to your hearing protection and communications requirements, through our ‘three circles’ approach to hearing protection:

  • Hearing Protection – Certified hearing protection and limiting output in the ear to 82dB
  • Total Communication – Face-to-face, Two-way radio, Bluetooth® cell phones, short-range
  • Situational awareness – 360° directional awareness of your surroundings

Our unique SENS® Technology (Speech Enhancement, Noise Suppression) makes our headsets the most effective and flexible approach to hearing protection, combined with reliable, digital communications.

Our industry-leading SENS® Technology and digital communications, combined with our ability to respond quickly to specific requirements, provide you with unmatched products and services. For additional information about how Sensear can address your hearing protection and communications requirements, contact one of our high-noise-level communication specialists.

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