Ambient Sound vs. Noise Canceling: Is There any Difference?

FACTS CHECKED BY  Jose George​

Ambient sound vs. noise canceling is a battle familiar to most music lovers. While noise cancellation is a staple feature, ambient sounds are a newer trend taking over most audio devices.

We know you like zero interruptions when listening to music, but hearing other sounds increases your environmental awareness. For this reason, the ambient sound feature was born.

But is it different from the OG noise cancelation? Let’s find out! This article will explore the differences between ambient sound and noise-canceling features and highlight a few devices offering these technologies.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

Table of Contents

What’s the Difference between Ambient Sound and Noise Cancellation?

Lady listening to music on headphones

Lady listening to music on headphones

Although noise cancellation and ambient sound look similar, they’re more different than you think–almost like opposites. Noise-canceling headphones prevent any external noise from interrupting your music experience.

Interestingly, manufacturers achieve such feats via headphone designs. Instead of regular procedures, they insert noise-canceling materials into the cups and padding. With these features, you’d be oblivious to a bird chirping in front of you or a dog barking nearby.

In contrast, Ambient sound headphones will allow some noise to slip in, but not enough to distract you from your music. Although ambient sound mode feels like noise-cancellation, it offers more benefits than blocking out sounds.

For starters, you will hear surrounding noise distinctly, but music will seep into your ears with impressive clarity. However, ambient sound mode won’t drown out background noises like noise cancelation.

Moreover, it will come in handy if you’re in a busy place or areas that need your attention. Some filmmakers will agree that ambient sound is incredibly helpful when merging two shots for a smooth movie. In truth, it will add some enticing background sound, like raindrop splatters or chirping crickets.

Different Devices with Ambient Mode and Noise Cancelation

Ambient Sound vs. Noise Cancelling:Lady meditating with headphones on

Lady meditating with headphones on

Let’s look closely at some headphones offering the best ambient and noise cancelation modes.

Ambient Sound vs. Noise Cancelling: Ambient Sound Mode in Sony Headphones

Sony is a tech giant in producing quality headphones with ambient sounds. Like the Sony WH-1000XM3, many Sony headphones provide noise-cancellation features combined with ambient sound mode.

Sony’s ambient sound mode will come in handy when you’re in social places that require your presence and environmental awareness. While the noise canceling feature turns on automatically, you’d have to activate ambient sound manually.

Luckily, it’s easy to switch on. You only need to tap the NC button a few times. Here’s what each tap of the button does:

  • The first tap activates the headphone’s ambient sound mode.
  • The second tap turns off the noise-cancellation function.
  • The third tap reactivates the headphone’s noise cancellation function.

Alternatively, you can use Sony’s headphones to connect the app to activate and adjust ambient sound levels.

Ambient Sound vs. Noise Cancelling: Ambient Sound on Samsung Galaxy Buds

Samsung adds appealing features to their Galaxy buds, including an ambient sound mode. What’s more? It’s easy to find, navigate, and use.

However, you can only activate the ambient mode with the Galaxy wearable app. Once you open the app, click on ‘Ambient Sound” and toggle the switch to switch it on. After that, you can adjust the ambient sound volume to your preferred level.

Another juicy feature Samsung offers is ‘Voice focus.’ Interestingly, this mode allows you to hear human voices clearer than other external sounds–after activating ambient mode.

Note: Ambient mode on Samsung Galaxy Buds is not available on IOS.

Ambient Sound on Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Like their predecessor, you can only activate ambient sound on Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro via the Galaxy wearable app. However, these headphones over a different feature called ‘Detect Conversations.’

Essentially, this feature will notify you when it detects someone talking to you or nearby. Also, you can turn it on by tapping the icon on the Galaxy wearable app.

Ambient Sound vs. Noise Cancelling: Ambient Sound on Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Things are quite different with the Samsung Galaxy Buds live. While they don’t come with the conservational ambient mode, these variants offer an ‘Active noise cancellation’ mode that gives similar results.

When deactivated, you’ll notice some compression when listening to music. But don’t worry. You can avoid it by navigating to ‘Labs’ on the Galaxy wearable app and activating the “Relieve pressure with ambient sound’ switch.

Ambient Sound vs. Noise Cancelling: Ambient Sound and Samsung Galaxy Buds+

You can use ambient sound mode on your Samsung Galaxy Buds+ on IOS and Android phones (via the Galaxy wearable app).

While it seems similar to its predecessors, you can enjoy an extra feature with this variant. In truth, you can hear more external sounds by utilizing the high or extra-high volume options.

In addition, you can use ambient mode on calls with these headphones. You must navigate to advanced and activate the ‘Use ambient sound during calls” option.

Final Words

Ambient Sound vs. Noise Cancelling:People talking with headphones on

People talking with headphones on

Ambient sound and Noise cancellation are helpful features that can improve your listening experience. Noise cancellation will come in handy when background sounds can disrupt your music, while ambient sounds are the go-to for situations requiring environmental awareness.

Although most prefer having one or the other, many brands incorporate noise cancellation and ambient noise for maximum (and heavenly) results.

Do you have questions? Feel free to drop us a message, and we’ll help.

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