When implemented well, active noise cancellation (ANC) can be a big plus on wireless headphones or sets of wireless earbuds. But technology has its own challenges, at least one of which is a fairly strict requirement for a tight seal, to prevent outside sounds from entering the ear canal.
In an effort to help headphone manufacturers deliver a more effective ANC requiring little by little buyer to make it work well, Qualcomm has announced a new version of the feature that it calls Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation (AARN ) it is said.
In addition to making existing ANC earbuds designs more effective, it has the ability to deliver new designs – such as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live – to deliver the same level of ANC without the need for ear canal piercing silicon earplugs.
It will be integrated into the company’s QCC514x Bluetooth chips, which already support long battery life, ANC, and hands-free voice assistant access manufacturers should choose to implement the feature.
In addition to being able to compensate when an earbud is not fully fitted, the AARN can also dynamically adjust to conditions as they change, which Qualcomm claims will make for an intuitive user experience.
This is not uncommon for models equipped with ANC like Apple’s AirPod Pro or Amazon Echo Buds. This is partly to ensure the best sound quality, but it is a way to guarantee most people achieve the full impact of earbuds ANC capabilities. Right now, the difference between a good fit and a great fit can be considerable in terms of ANC effectiveness.
With Qualcomm’s AARN, the hope is that these fit tests may become a thing of the past, or at least there is no requirement for the ANC that still performs admittedly well.
As a way to present its AANC announcement, Qualcomm shared the results of its 2020 “State of Play” survey, in which it reported 5,000 smartphone users from the US, UK, Germany, Japan and China, ages 18–64 Voted in age. Regarding their wireless headphones preferences.
Respondents indicated that sound quality and price were their top considerations. And while the ANC only featured in sixth place, Comfort and Fit were ranked number three.
If Qualcomm’s AARN reduces the need for people to bend and pierce their ears to get a better seal, it’s going to please a lot of people.