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Old 03-26-2013, 09:25 PM   #1
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Noise Cancelling Helmet?

At one point I heard some company was making a helmet that had active noise cancellation built into it (which would really reduce road and engine noise, but still allow the rider to hear sirens and such). Anyone know about this or know if it's been done? I've searched and can't find anything. Maybe I'll build a helmet with noise cancelling headphones built into it or something. I hate earplugs and I hate noise. :)
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:28 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by GusinCA View Post
At one point I heard some company was making a helmet that had active noise cancellation built into it (which would really reduce road and engine noise, but still allow the rider to hear sirens and such). Anyone know about this or know if it's been done? I've searched and can't find anything. Maybe I'll build a helmet with noise cancelling headphones built into it or something. I hate earplugs and I hate noise. :)

Noise cancellation, or insulation.

Insulation is possible, cancellation is impossible with a static physical system.
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:17 AM   #3
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I bet Bose could come up with a system. I have their noise canceling headphones and they are amazing.
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:50 AM   #4
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I bet Bose could come up with a system. I have their noise canceling headphones and they are amazing.
That is an active system. Sure you could make resonance cavities that would knock of X frequency, but you are dealing with a broad spectrum ona bike going down the road.

So do you cancel wind? windscreen? engine? tire? what do you work on, and at what speed does it work?
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:54 AM   #5
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That is an active system. Sure you could make resonance cavities that would knock of X frequency, but you are dealing with a broad spectrum ona bike going down the road.

So do you cancel wind? windscreen? engine? tire? what do you work on, and at what speed does it work?
The headset I have seems to work on a wide frequency spectrum of white noise. I'm no audio engineer....but they are, I'm sure they could figure it out. Wind noise would be the biggest issue. The way I understand it, the headphones feed back the same noise that's coming in canceling the sound waves....however it works it works very well.
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Old 03-27-2013, 06:23 AM   #6
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I just reviewed noise suppressing headsets and ear buds for a work application. Pretty amazing technology. It can suppress background noises in excess of 110db to less than 82db while enhancing speech to about 86db if I remember correctly. You can hear a person talking at normal volume while standing beside a diesel truck running at high idle (96db) with no problem.

BUT, you need to insert the ear buds properly OR you need to wear ear muffs. I don't know how you could work that into a helmet that you simply slide onto your head. I think you'd still need to insert ear buds and you need to do that well.

BTW, it was obvious during the demo that almost nobody inserts earbuds properly.

If someone is interested, the product is made by an Australian company called Sensear. Pretty cool stuff but not cheap.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:21 AM   #7
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The noise inside a helmet at highway speed is very high - say 90-100 Db without ear plugs.

That kind of noise level is very hard to cancel out, and to boot it's the low freqency stuff from buffeting and vibration that bothers us the most. And unfortunately that low-freqency noise is even harder to cancel out

Noise in the higher spectrum is more easily filtered with earplugs and so present less of a problem.

Overall a noise cancelling helmet is a very different proposition than trying to filter out a constant background hiss in and airplane which is what most NC-headsets are made for.

If you want a quiet ride the best solution I've found over the years is to have clean airflow to your helmet (no screen), a really good racing or touring helmet and then a really good pair of earplugs.
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:18 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by GusinCA View Post
At one point I heard some company was making a helmet that had active noise cancellation built into it
Oneill had a helmet on the market that they promoted as "noise canceling". It had a factory-installed communications system with a noise-canceling microphone but the earphones in it were not noise-canceling.

Overall I'd say it was not a noise-canceling helmet. Looked like it had plenty of whistles mounted on top too.

I bought a sampler of different re-usable earplugs to find one kind that fits great and goes in easily. (Available from Aerostich.) That plus no windshields and a Shoei. Like B&Y said.
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:50 AM   #9
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For me it's mostly engine noise, I ride off road 99% of the time and don't go that fast (20 or less mostly). I've tried riding with the Bose headset on just for a little bit as a test and it was perfect. if only someone would make a helmet that had those built into it. I have a nice Shoei Dual Sport helmet, but it's not quiet enough (for me).

Maybe an electric motorcycle is the only true way to get rid of the noise, but $12,000 seems like a lot to spend when really all I want is a quiet helmet... :)
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:51 AM   #10
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My guess is the real reason we don't see one is the liability issue. Someone is going to have it on and not hear the car coming or whatever and sue. With all the electric cars on the road it's super important to not simply rely on sound to know where danger is, but that doesn't matter, someone will find a way to sue about it anyway...
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:14 PM   #11
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:18 PM   #12
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I have noise canceling headsets in my airplane. The noise in a plane is probably very similar to that on a motorcycle with wind, engine, exhaust and propeller noises that all get canceled out pretty well.

The first time I used the noise canceling headset in the plane I was able to hear a bad bearing in the nosewheel. This noise could not be heard before.

The biggest issue is that you need a pretty good seal around the ear cups. Even a small eyeglass arm can significantly reduce the performance of the noise canceling. This would probably be difficult to achieve inside a helmet, but I could be wrong.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:53 PM   #13
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It would not have to seal, you can actually do it with two speakers and it is really weird. Point one speaker at the other and invert the sound wave and you hear nothing at all.
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:31 AM   #14
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It would not have to seal, you can actually do it with two speakers and it is really weird. Point one speaker at the other and invert the sound wave and you hear nothing at all.

Not exactly, you hear nothing at a specific distance (i.e. lambda + 1/2 straight line) AND there is nothing for the sound to reflect off of. Since lambda is different for every frequency, and you have two ears, this becomes extremely complicated quite quickly.

If it was that simple when you wired your stereo speakers backwards you wouldn't hear anything, instead they just sound like crap from all of the destructive interference.

If you can move speakers back and forth and get a sound cancellation effect, but you will only be able to get it to work for a single frequency, and then at low frequencies, when you get into the 18kHZ at 343m/s you don't have a lot of room to create the anti-node with perfect destructive interference.
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Tripped1 screwed with this post 03-28-2013 at 01:39 AM
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:44 AM   #15
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Not exactly, you hear nothing at a specific distance (i.e. lambda + 1/2 straight line) AND there is nothing for the sound to reflect off of. Since lambda is different for every frequency, and you have two ears, this becomes extremely complicated quite quickly.

If it was that simple when you wired your stereo speakers backwards you wouldn't hear anything, instead they just sound like crap from all of the destructive interference.

If you can move speakers back and forth and get a sound cancellation effect, but you will only be able to get it to work for a single frequency, and then at low frequencies, when you get into the 18kHZ at 343m/s you don't have a lot of room to create the anti-node with perfect destructive interference.
Yeah I figured it was way more complex than that, I just remember a demo at a science museum where they had two speakers setup and you could press the a button to make the other speaker be quiet. It was pretty freaky. And it was just a single tone
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