Have you ever been annoyed by noisy neighbors or loud vehicles when trying to relax in your backyard or garden? As outdoor living spaces become more popular, so does outdoor noise pollution. Active noise cancelling (ANC) technology offers a high-tech solution to block unwanted sounds when you’re outside. In this guide, we’ll explore how active noise cancellation works, top speaker options to consider, and tips to get the most out of noise cancelling speakers outdoors. Let’s dive in!
Understanding Outdoor Noise Problems
Outdoor areas can be just as noisy, if not noisier, than indoor spaces. Common outdoor noise culprits include nearby roads, railways, airports, construction sites, barking dogs, power tools, and loud music from neighbors. Studies show noise pollution is linked to increased stress, sleep disturbances, cardiovascular issues, and hearing loss over time.
Measuring sound levels outdoors uses decibels (dB). The A-weighted decibel scale (dBA) is commonly used to assess environmental noise based on human hearing sensitivity. Noise above 70 dBA is considered dangerous and can cause permanent hearing damage. Many cities have noise regulations; for example, the allowable noise limit for residential areas is often 55 dBA during the day and 45 dBA at night.
Minimizing noise outdoors comes with unique challenges compared to indoor acoustics. Sound dissipates instead of echoing but factors like wind and reflection off surfaces make controlling noise difficult. This is where active noise cancelling technology can help combat ambient sounds.
How Active Noise Cancellation Works
Active noise cancellation (ANC) uses speakers to generate inverted sound waves that destructively interfere with and cancel out unwanted noise. It’s different from passive noise cancellation which relies on physical blocking, like insulation. ANC involves:
- Microphones detecting ambient noise
- Circuitry analyzing the sound waves
- Speakers producing inverted waves
- The combined effect reduces the overall noise
This technology works best on consistent, low frequency sounds like the steady hum of engines. Sudden, high-pitched, or multi-directional sounds are more difficult to cancel. But ANC can still mask other noise to some degree.
Considerations for Outdoor ANC Speakers
Using active noise cancelling speakers outdoors poses some unique considerations:
- Weatherproofing – Waterproof, UV, and corrosion resistant materials are a must for long-lasting performance outside. Look for an IP waterproof rating.
- Power – Battery powered options with at least 10 hours of life are ideal for portability. Some speakers have solar panels to self-charge during daylight. Access to outlets can work for fixed installations.
- Wind resistance – Microphones are sensitive and wind can interfere with noise cancellation, so wind-shielded designs are preferred.
- Speaker direction – Pointing speakers toward the noise source improves cancellation. But having surround sound dispersion can also immerse you in masking background noise.
- Sound quality – While you don’t need concert-level fidelity for noise cancellation outdoors, poor sound quality defeats the purpose of enjoying music or media.
- Noise regulations – Outdoor speaker use may be limited by local sound ordinances, especially for late night listening.
Top Noise Cancelling Speaker Options
With the growth in outdoor living, manufacturers now offer noise cancelling speakers designed specifically for outdoor use. Here are some top picks:
Bose QuietComfort 45 Outdoor Speakers
The iconic audio brand Bose makes these weather-resistant speakers with adjustable mounts and 360-degree sound projection. They connect to other QuietComfort 45 products for whole-home noise cancellation.
Pros: Powerful ANC, wnind-resistant, connects to home WiFi and voice assistants
Cons: Very expensive, only works with Bose ANC ecosystem
JBL Boombox 2 Portable Speaker
This super rugged Bluetooth speaker pumps out intense sound for its size. The battery lasts 24 hours and it has an IPX7 waterproof rating.
Pros: Loud, durable design, long battery life
Cons: No built-in ANC but loud enough to mask noise
Anker Soundcore Motion Boom Plus
Anker’s speaker has better ANC than comparable models under $150. The directed sound mode aims sound for focused noise cancellation.
Pros: Great value, USB-C charging, handles splashes well
Cons: ANC performance lags premium brands
When comparing noise cancelling outdoor speakers, be sure to check the speaker wattage, frequency range, noise cancellation depth, and battery life. Prices range from $50 for basic portable models to $800+ for premium installed systems. Consider how much background noise masking you need versus complete cancellation.
Tips for Placement and Use
To maximize noise reduction from your outdoor speakers, keep these tips in mind:
- Elevate speakers above ground level to help sound travel farther.
- Angle speakers to directly face noise sources like busy roads.
- Experiment with different arrangements to find the ideal setup for your space.
- Be aware of sound reflecting off surfaces like walls and fences.
- Combine absorption products like sound panels with ANC speakers to further dampen noise.
Proper placement and testing different configurations will help boost the noise cancelling performance outdoors. You may need a couple different speaker arrangements for optimal coverage.
ANC technology will continue advancing with developments like:
- AI and machine learning improving cancellation of complex sounds
- Miniaturized directional speakers discreetly camouflaged
- ANC applied to audio recordings and broadcasts
- Costs dropping to make ANC mainstream in more products
As research makes active noise control more accessible and effective, regulations on outdoor sound may adjust to embrace these innovations responsibly.
Blocking unwanted noise in outdoor areas poses challenges but active noise cancellation technology offers a high-tech solution. Seeking weatherproof designs with extended battery life or solar charging ensures reliable performance outside. Combining directional ANC speakers with sound absorption allows you to enjoy your outdoor oasis in peace and quiet. As costs come down, expect to see noise cancelling speakers become as common outside as they are today on flights and in offices. The future is quieter and that’s music to our ears.