Noise Cancelling Headsets – the soft version
- On March 19, 2020
- contact center, headsets, noise cancelling headphones, noise cancelling software
What is required from a software to replace a noise cancelling headphone? In this post we will review the multiple functions of the noise cancelling headsets and discuss how they could be replaced by a software.
Echo is one of the most disturbing source of noise. It appears when the audio that is played to the loud-speakers is picked up by the microphone and afterwards transmitted to the other side. As a result the other side will hear himself in a delay. In some cases the echo will get amplified into a deafening howling sound. Headsets, physically disconnects the speakers from the microphone therefore preventing the echo from being captured by the microphone. A software that should replace headsets must have a good echo cancellation algorithm to be able and subtract from the microphone the audio that was played to the loud-speakers.
Cancel the noise coming from the far-end
One of the requirements from a good noise cancelling headsets is the ability to attenuate noise coming from the far-end. For example if the far-end is on a busy street, one would expect headsets to cancel the ambient noise of the street (e.g. noise of car-horn). Unfortunately most headsets do not attenuate this noise well enough since they only receive one stream of audio from the far-end and have limited CPU power to do proper noise cancellation. In this respect, a software based solution can significantly outperform any headset.
Cancel the noise that is sent out to the far-end
Another capability that is expected from a noise cancelling headset is the ability to attenuate the ambient noise that is captured by the microphone prior to sending it to the far-end. In this respect, only the top high-end expensive headsets can offer descent quality although in any case this quality is not as good as the quality provided by the Noise Firewall software. Such high-end headsets may use 1-2 additional reference microphones that are built into the headsets as opposed to the Noise-Firewall that uses hundreds of input references and can utilize more processing power.
Isolating the person from the ambient noise
This is done in two ways: passive isolation – simply mask the ears from the outside world and active noise reduction which generates the opposite signal to cancel out the ambient noise prior to being heard by the ears. In this respect a software only solution today provides lower quality since it is not physically attached to the ears. We expect new development in this area to close the gap.
As you can see, in most aspects a software solution outperforms headsets. Based on your needs you can decide on the best solution for you. A valid solution can also be to use both headsets & software to have the best of both worlds. We also recommend reading the following two posts to expand your knowledge in this area: (1) different types of noise that should be cancelled by a noise cancelling app and (2) the next generation of headsets.