Noise Cancellation at Coffee Shop

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by NewMacOldGuy, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. NewMacOldGuy, Dec 23, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011

    NewMacOldGuy macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2009
    Have you been at a coffee shop that is so noisy that you just cannot concentrate in whatever you are doing in your computer ?
    Even with standard in-ear (canal) headphones ? (no music)
    Note: My Bose QC15 headset is bulky and I don't bring it out of the office.

    Today I was wondering if there are Mac OS X applications that allow you to use the built-in microphone to cancel the ambient noise. The noise that still leaks through the in-ear headphones would be (sorta) cancelled by the out-of-phase noise picked by the built-in microphone.

    I searched the cyberspace (ouch!) but could not find it.

    Do you know of any applications like this ?

    PS: Caribou cafe today was at -20db (bg music) with periods of -9db (crowds) ...
  2. ralphj macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2011
    I've never come across one, but it actually sounds like an awesome idea! I'm a developer in my spare time, would you mind if I worked on it? It would probably be freeware anyhow...
  3. NewMacOldGuy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2009
    Sorry about the delay getting back to you.
    Yes, please work on the idea and let us know if it feasible.
    Good luck and keep us posted.
  4. mape2k macrumors regular

    Apr 18, 2011
    I don't think it's an easy thing to write an App for, but I don't know ralphj can do ;)

    In the meantime, you could try out the Travel Line by Sennheiser. Their NoiseGuard works really well and I heard it blocks noise well, even though you don't listen to any music.
  5. m85476585 macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2008
    I don't think this will work in software for a few reasons:

    -Cancellation requires an out of phase signal, but it has to be out of phase at your ears. The built-in microphone is not near your ears, so it cannot detect the phase near your ears. Using a headset with a built-in microphone on the cord would be better, but I still don't know if that's good enough.

    -There is a significant delay to sample, process, and output a cancelling sound with the built-in hardware. You will likely find that this is far too much for effective cancellation.

    -Even dedicated noise cancellation hardware in headphones is only fast enough to work on low frequency sounds. Noise cancelling headphones rely on physical isolation and blocking for high frequency sounds.

    Unfortunately there's probably no good solution. You could bring your Bose headphones, listen to music or white noise over your earbuds, find a quieter place to work/get coffee, or complain (politely explain your issue) to Caribou management that the background music is too loud and ask if they could turn it down.

    You could easily try white/pink noise. You can use Audacity, a free program, to generate it. The louder you turn it up, the more background noise will be blocked (though then you have to listen to the noise you are generating). Noise should work well to block annoying sounds like people having a loud conversation next to you or loud music, but it won't give you a quiet environment to work in.

    You could also try to find better in-ear headphones. Some are better than others for noise isolation, but I can't recommend and specific models. would be a good place to ask.

    Personally, I like to listen to death metal to block annoying sounds, though it isn't my first choice if I'm in a quiet environment or if I'm trying to get work done.
  6. bubbleboy450 macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2007
    Yes it is possible

    My two cents is that OS X already has this built in. (But only for the internal microphone). If you go to sound settings there is a checkbox to turn on ambient noise reduction. That checkbox disappears when I change from my macbook pro mic to any other usb mic I have tried.

    It is technically feasible, but not allowed in software, if only some one could figure out how to enable it for usb microphones.

    Attached Files:

  7. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    That's the problem! CHEAP standard earphones.

    Stop complaining and buy at least a >$100 pairs of good in-ears. The Ethymothics for example provide a good 26+ db of noise attenuation. I use it when am vacuuming and the few night I have to put up with my cousin's snoring.

Share This Page