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-cancelling 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-cancelling 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, cancelling them out. This allows any sounds generated within the headset to be understood more clearly (music, radio communications, etc.). Unfortunately, these very noise-cancelling 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.

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