How to Block Bass Noise—and Save Your Sanity

How to block bass noise

To our neighbor the music might sound perfectly balanced, but for us “it’s all about the bass.”

Or, suppose the bass is coming from a party across the street or a dance club.

You live pretty far away, but still, the rhythm of the drums coming through your windows and door is inviting you to the party.

I have been asked by quite a few people how to block bass noise, so in this post I want to share what I have found to be effective.

Before I go into more details, the most effective tools and tool combinations for blocking bass sounds I have found so far are:

  1. Good active noise cancelling headphones in combination with customized dark-brown noise
  2. Foam earplugs (and some reusable earplugs) in combination with customized dark-brown noise
  3. If the intruding bass is not too loud, dark-brown noise or ocean underwater sounds alone

When I started using these tools, I was surprised how much noise reduction is possible.

For example, thumps that I thought I feel and therefore couldn’t be cancelled were in fact still coming through my ears—and could be cancelled.

But, if the bass is above a certain sound level or conducted directly into your bed via the floor or connecting walls, you will feel vibrations and no amount of noise cancelling can stop that.

The most effective antidote to annoying bass sounds is good active noise cancelling headphones

I have tested what I consider the currently two best active noise cancelling headphones (ANC headphones), and they make a big difference even with low bass notes. They are indeed fast enough to counter thumping beats.

The number one noise cancellers reduce low frequency noise in the range from 30 to 250 Hz by between 20 and 25 decibels.

For comparison: In an in-depth aircraft noise attenuation study, a very decent exterior wood stud wall (with added resilient channels and a double layer of gypsum board) reduced low frequency noise between 50 and 125 Hz (that’s where a lot of the bass is) by about 17 to 27 decibels (own readings from figure 1).

So against these bass sounds, active noise cancelling is like adding a room within a room.

Noise cancelling headphones to block bass noise

I have tested two active noise cancelling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Bose QC35 in three different situations:

  1. Against event noise coming from PA speakers across the street
  2. Outside a dance club with noticeable bass bleed
  3. Against a home subwoofer

In all three situations, both headphones significantly reduced bass noise.

In other words, active noise cancelling makes a big difference.

Caveat emptor: most budget ANC headphones are a lot less effective than these two.

How do these noise cancelling headphones compare?

With the home subwoofer, I was able to play different types of music and compare both headphones more in detail to determine which one outperforms:

I chose different songs specifically for the bass frequencies they contain.

These included classical rock (bass), pop (bass, low bass, and sub bass), and hip hop (low bass and sub bass).

Here are the low frequency spectra for a characteristic part of a hip-hop song (peak at 40 Hz) and a rock song (peak at 82 Hz).

I filtered frequencies above 300 Hz to make it easier to compare these headphones strictly on bass noise reduction.

low frequency spectra of hip-hop and rock music

As you can see, hip hop and rock pieces pose different challenges for both noise cancelling headphones/earplugs and your wall.

The result:

While both the Bose QC35 and the Sony WH-1000XM3 worked well, Sony’s headphones blocked more bass noise.

Subjectively, depending on the song, the Sony headphones performed 10 to 20 % better than the Bose. Furthermore, their seal was somewhat less sensitive to head movements.

If your prime reason for obtaining ANC headphones is to get as much relief from bass sounds as possible, I recommend the Sony WH-1000XM3.

(For sound quality and overall usability, I prefer the QC35, but if the bass was torturing me, I would get the Sony.)

Beyond a certain volume, however, even the best ANC headphones cannot cancel enough of the sound for it to remain unnoticeable.

But even then, not all is lost.

Enhancing the noise cancelling performance

Hidden in both headphones is another antidote: their excellent low frequency extension.

They can well reproduce sound frequencies from as low as 10 Hz; they go lower than almost any subwoofer you or your neighbor can buy.

How can you use this low frequency extension?

When the bass is loud enough to keep bothering you even with enabled ANC, you can additionally play shaped dark-brown noise to mask the thumps that might otherwise drive you nuts. (For more on how to do this, see below.)

This combination of active noise cancelling and low frequency noise masking is the most effective anti-bass tool I have found so far and it should indeed take you very far.

Please note this though: if your neighbor uses his home theater sub to simulate an earthquake, even this combination may not be enough.

Above a certain sound level, you will feel the bass.

Still, in my tests, bass that I thought I feel rather than hear was still largely coming through my ears.

Unfortunately, these ANC headphones are expensive, and while I find them comfortable during the day and when lying on my back, they are not ideal for side sleepers—which I mostly am.

If you are determined to use ANC headphones as a side sleeper, a horse-shoe pillow can help.

Are active noise cancelling earbuds an alternative? (update)

Most active noise cancelling earbuds don’t perform nearly as well against low bass as the best over-ear ANC headphones, but there are exceptions:

Recently, I tested the 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro (comparative test and review), a pair of wireless neckband earbuds.

To my surprise, these ANC earbuds worked well against low bass noise. Below 110 Hz (think EDM/hip hop bass), they were even a tad more effective than the Sony headphones, which are already very good.

Overall, and in particular against mid-and-high frequency noise the Sony WH-1000XM3 and M4 are substantially more effective, but if it is only the bass that is disturbing you, these may be worth a try.

Moreover, the battery lasts for a whole night (most true wireless earbuds don’t come close), and while the earbuds protrude somewhat from the ear, they are easier to use for side sleeping than over-ear headphones.

My second suggestion: Use good foam earplugs and learn how to insert them deeply. Add dark-brown noise to mask the remainder of the bass.

I have tried several types of foam earplugs, including Flents Quiet Time, Flents Quiet Please, and Mack’s Slim Fit against my home subwoofer with the same types of music I used to test the ANC headphones.

Foam earplugs are good for reducing bass noise

The three foam earplugs I tested worked surprisingly well.

Note: for a complete coverage of these earplugs, please check my post The 6 Best Earplugs for Sleeping.

In my tests, ANC headphones did better against low bass, but nevertheless, the earplugs made a big difference.

The trick is to insert them as deep as possible, otherwise they may disappoint.

(Don’t insert them recklessly though and to the point where they hurt. This post can help with earplug insertion.)

How much of a difference does earplug insertion depth make?

In his paper Calibrating’ the insertion depth of roll-down foam earplugs, Elliot Berger shows that the difference between a partially inserted cylindrical foam earplug (3M E-A-R Classic) and the same earplug fully inserted can be close to 20 decibels at 125 Hz (own readings figure 2).

With tapered foam earplugs, the difference can be even larger: in Berger’s experiments, a fully inserted tapered earplug (3M 1100) provided nearly 40 decibels of noise reduction at 125 Hz while the partially inserted plug offered less than 15 decibels noise reduction.

For comparison, in this study by the Partnership for AiR Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction, a good double pane window (Figure 0.4) reduced noise from 63 to 200 Hz by about 20 decibels.

Note: in the U.S., attenuation data for hearing protection earplugs is only reported down to 125 Hz, but in Europe foam earplugs are tested down to the 63 Hz band—many of them achieving a noise reduction well in excess of 20 decibels at 63 Hz with optimal insertion.

A well-fitted foam earplug can be as effective as adding another double pane window when the neighbor across the street is having a party.

And, reducing the noise level by 10 decibels means halving its volume, so 20 decibels amount to a 75% loudness reduction.

There comes a point though when wearing earplugs won’t be enough.

If the music is played loud enough, even a substantially reduced rhythmic bass is still annoying and can keep you awake.

When wearing earplugs, it may not be the loudness of the remaining bass that keeps you up, but rather its intermittent nature.

Use dark-brown noise to augment the earplugs’ performance and mask the remainder

If you have a good audio system, e.g. with a subwoofer or large speakers, play dark-brown noise through your audio system to mask the remainder of the rhythmic bass.

I use a similar solution against footfalls coming from an upstairs apartment.

You have to fine tune the placement of the speakers and pitch and volume of the brown noise so that it masks the bass, but doesn’t become a nuisance itself.

(Excessive constant low-frequency noise can also cause rumbling in your room, so you have to walk a fine line here.)

So how do you mask bass sounds with dark-brown noise?

Whether you are using active noise cancelling headphones or foam earplugs, at some point their noise blocking performance will not be enough.

This is the point where I would add dark-brown noise to mask what remains of intruding bass sounds.

If you are using ANC headphones, just play the masking noise through your headphones (see below for apps and settings).

If you are wearing foam earplugs, you can play your masking noise through your home audio system (better for side sleepers) or wear headphones with a good low frequency extension on top of your foam earplugs.

Tip: If the bass that annoys you isn’t very loud, try playing dark-brown noise through your speakers without wearing earplugs. Perhaps that is all you need for comfort.

Will a “normal” white noise machine work?

Most likely, it won’t be sufficient.

A white noise machine is an excellent tool against many kinds of nuisances such as barking noise, people talking in adjacent apartments, and even most traffic noise.
This is why they are so popular. I am a fan of these little sound conditioners and have accumulated a small collection.

However, against serious bass noise, the white noise machines I own don’t work very well.

This has to do with the way our hearing works.

To successfully mask a sound, you have to employ broadband noise (aka white noise) that encompasses the frequency range of the sound you want to mask, or at least gets close to it.

The frequency response of the small speakers of my white noise machines doesn’t get close enough to bass noise, so these white noise machines can’t mask the bass.

What’s more, it is easier to mask higher-pitched sounds with somewhat lower-pitched noise than the other way around.

But in principle, bass can be masked, provided you can produce masking noise in that frequency range.

We need a white noise machine with a good low frequency extension, one that can produce bass.

Your subwoofer, larger speakers, and good headphones are good candidates.

As mentioned earlier, most good headphones have a low frequency extension that exceeds your average subwoofer.

If you want to use foam earplugs and don’t have any suitable headphones or speakers (preferable for side sleepers), the inexpensive, humble on-ear Panasonic RP-HT21 headphones go down to 16 Hz.

Note: you could wear these over your earplugs.

Budget headphones with a good low frequency response

And we need shaped dark-brown noise that emphasizes the bass frequencies we want to mask

The standard options you find in many white noise apps, such as white noise, pink noise, and to some degree even “normal” brown noise have a lot of sound energy in the higher frequencies.

You would have to play them very loud to get enough sound energy in the lower frequencies essential to masking intruding bass noise.

What’s more, the higher frequencies do not contribute to our objective: “masking the bass.”

An equalizer is a good tool for tailoring our masking noise to the sounds we want to mask. My favorite white noise app, myNoise has such an equalizer:


The sliders from left to right control the following octave bands: 31 Hz, 63, 125, 250, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000, 8000, 16000 Hz.

I have used the settings shown here together with the Sony WH-1000XM3 to mask the bass from my subwoofer.

As mentioned, you can experiment with headphones and subwoofers / large speakers to mask bass noise.

However, each of these has a somewhat different frequency response.

Consequently, you need to set the equalizer depending on the speaker/headphones you use, and the intruding bass frequencies that intrude into your house.

I recommend you start with the settings above and then adjust the four left-most sliders (31-250 Hz) and overall volume for optimal masking performance with the least amount of rumbling.

Finally, adjust the six remaining sliders according to what sounds best to you (and what other noises you want to mask).

Ocean underwater sounds are a great-sounding alternative for masking bass

If you find that dark-brown noise doesn’t suit you and want to try something different, the ocean underwater sound from the excellent sound app Atmosphere: Relaxing Sounds carries substantial energy in the low frequencies and it sounds great.

Deep sea underwater sounds to mask bass noise

You can mix in other sounds such as waterfalls or brown noise to cover more of the mid and higher frequencies.

Again, you need to play these sounds through a subwoofer/large speakers or your headphones to mask bass noise.

Atmosphere is free and available as an iOS app and Android app

Final Words

Some active noise cancelling headphones and well-fitted foam earplugs in combination with customized dark-brown noise are surprisingly effective at blocking even louder bass noise.

I sincerely hope that you can get relief from annoying bass sounds and enjoy both a peaceful day and restful sleep.

Let me know how it goes.


26 thoughts on “How to Block Bass Noise—and Save Your Sanity”

  1. Thank you so much for this post!

    I was at my wits end with trying to drown out the bass from my next door neighbor. I left them a note last month and politely asked that they lower the bass but there has been no improvement so I assumed it was going to be on me to improve my situation. I have a very old pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones (circa 2002/2003) and they weren’t really doing anything to remove the bass. I figured that my headphones were just too old and that newer headphones would have better technology and that’s what led me here. I decided on the Sony headphones you recommended but wanted to wait until the weekend so I could buy them in store. I then got to the part in the article where you recommended myNoise and I promptly downloaded it.

    About 10 minutes ago my neighbors started up the bass again and I played around with the app and I can confidently say that the combination of my old Bose headphones and the app (after I played around with the equalizer) has done a pretty darn good job of cancelling out my neighbor’s noise, so much so that I don’t think I need to get the soundproofing panels, bass traps etc that I was researching (I don’t even think those would have worked in my situation but I was desperate). I do plan on purchasing new sound cancelling headphones before I go on my next international trip and I do think I’ll get the Sony’s based on your recommendation but it’s nice to not have to make a large purchase right now with everything going on (COVD).

    I apologize for the long post but I didn’t see any other comments here and I wanted you know that your post really helped at least one person.

    Thank you! <3

    • Hello Niya,

      many thanks for your feedback.

      I am glad you have found some relief from the bass noise.

      Soundproofing against bass is tough. I am glad you didn’t have to go down that road.

      Wow, in 2002. You were a very early adopter of noise cancelling headphones. I didn’t have anything that fancy in 2002. Only decent Beyerdynamic standard headphones and low-tech foam earplugs 😉

      All the best and stay safe.

  2. I’ve been reading up on many noise-related articles, particularly about how it affects health and similar effects. My situation is very much like Niya’s above, including my neighbors’ behavior and attitude—yes, unfortunately in my case, it’s not just a single source.

    Besides some technical notes, this post is by far the most understandable I’ve come across, esp. about bass (a souped-up “earthquake-grade” car subwoofer is what I have to contend with every so often, as like moments ago before I came upon your post).
    Before this, I only expected to be directed to the usual but costly home construction-related fixes and the like.

    And not being entirely sure if anything ever existed, I was also on the look out for recommended ear plugs against subwoofer noise that could at least help (I’m currently looking at a Mack’s item but wasn’t really sure if I should go for it).

    Your post has covered many quick fixes, including being introduced to Brownian noise; I had only previously tried white, pink, and Dohm but they could really be tiring.

    I’ll save up for ANCs as per your recommendation.

    Many thanks.

    • Hello Kaffee,

      thank you for your feedback. It’s a pity that some people just don’t care.

      In the meantime, I have found an additional pair of ANC headphones, ANC earbuds to be more precise, that work very well against bass noise, and in particular the lower bass frequencies (which is really difficult).

      In my tests, against bass <110 Hz, the 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro (link to my review) performed even somewhat better than the Sony over-ear headphones.

      Yep that’s that EDM/hip-hop bass (if you look at the frequency charts above).

      Against bass from 125 to 250 Hz (more present in rock), they are still good but not quite as good as the Sony. Against speech and shouting the Sony (and earplugs) are significantly better.

      But still, these are earbuds with a stunning ANC performance, and easier for side sleeping than over-ear headphones.
      All the best.

  3. Thanks for that article. It is the first detailed and helpful information I have found. I have bilateral tinnitus 24/7, which is bad enough but also have new neighbours that have a love of loud bass. They have band practice with bass and drums etc. all on amps at full volume at least three times a week. I can’t afford to move so have to find something to help lessen the noise. I have downloaded both apps you recommended and have bought Bose QCII headphones. Fingers crossed it will help. The headphones alone don’t help with the bass much.

    • Hi Lauren,
      wow – band practice next door. I don’t know how loud they practice, but with amps at full volume…

      You are mentioning you have the Bose QCII. Are you referring to the QC2? That would be a fairly old model, very good at the time, but newer Bose models such as the QC35 II would be significantly more effective.
      In any case, you could wear foam earplugs underneath to boost the performance.

      In my tests, the Sony headphones (WH1000XM4 and WH1000XM3) do better against bass noise, but at some point, unfortunately, even the best active noise cancelling headphones are not going to be enough.

      I hope you can get some relief.
      All the best.

  4. Thank you for all the information, and it is nice to know I’m not alone in my issues with bass. I personally end up having panic attacks whenever I hear bass for an extended period of time (almost always music) but I can’t afford to move, especially right now. I am going to try a slim fit earplug from your recommended list, and do my best to not further mess up my clog-prone ears.

    As much as I would like to drop $300+ on ANC headphones, I can’t, and with my situation speakers are out of the question. I know you don’t really recommend cheaper models of headphones, but is there anything at all that can bring relief? I’m lucky that currently most of the bass I experience is from cars outside, some close and others a few blocks away, but I can “feel” all of it. It’s 5am as I write this, and have been experiencing someone in a car playing bass-heavy music for an hour and a half somewhere outside and I hear it over my big fan. The stress of this stuff is going to kill me.

    Either way, with earplugs I am worried I might block out enough noise frequencies to not hear important phone calls (even on high volume) or the smoke alarm or something, and my spouse is a heavy sleeper. Is this a valid concern? I wish I could just not live around people and avoid it all!

    Sorry for the ramble, thank you in advance for any suggestions, and again, thanks for all the info here.

    • Hello Exhausted,

      that sounds terrible!

      Sound waves you can feel cannot be muffled / cancelled at your ears.
      But, in the past, I mistakenly assumed I felt low-frequency noise which in the end, I was able to mostly cancel (at my ears).

      From what you are writing, it sounds like you are looking for a tool that goes after the bass while not blocking too much of other sound frequencies (e.g., mid-and-high frequency noise).

      A couple of months ago, I tested a pair of neckband noise cancelling earbuds, the 1More ANC Pro (link to my review). I found them to be very effective at reducing bass noise, better than any foam earplugs I have ever tried, and they don’t go deep into the ear-canal.

      (For mid-frequencies foam earplugs are substantially more effective.)

      So if the foam earplugs don’t do the trick with the bass, these might be worth a try.

      While not exactly cheap, they are a lot more economical than the best over-ear noise cancellers.

      Also, their battery (unlike that of true wireless ANC earbuds) should be more than enough to last for a night.

      Let me know how it goes.
      All the best.

  5. This is awesome! Thanks so much. I didn’t realize the importance of the dark-brown noise. Do you know if there are machines that create it (similar to a white noise machine). Like mentioned, I only have the app on my phone that produces the (still high frequency) brown noise.

    • Hello Ian,

      A good white noise phone app should be able to produce dark brown noise. The mentioned app myNoise can.

      I am not sure how you are listening to the sound (?), but your phone’s speaker cannot produce bass frequencies (regardless of what the app does). If you are listening via good headphones (or a large speaker), you should be able to hear much lower frequencies.

      The speaker of virtually all white noise machines is also not large enough to produce the low end.

      When I have a bit more time, I could check how low the better white noise machines go using the headphone jack. But that will take a bit. Would you want to use such a machine with headphones to listen to dark brown noise?

      Have a great day.

      • Thank you! Yes probably using an app on my phone to send the noise through headphones. I wonder if the Bose headphones that have ANC and are more like earbuds might be easier for sleeping?

        • It depends on how much bass noise reduction you need and whether you sleep on your back or side:
          The wired Bose QC20 earbuds would be easier for side sleeping and have enough battery for a night, but they don’t block nearly as much sub bass as the over-ear options.

          The newly released true wireless QuietComfort earbuds have 6 hours of battery. They wouldn’t get me through the night. Also, they protrude quite a bit.

          The wireless neckband earbuds 1More ANC Pro could be a good option.

          Please see my reply to “Exhausted” above for details.
          I have also updated the post and included a link to my test of these buds.

          I haven’t yet found small true wireless earbuds with good sub-and-low bass noise reduction and sufficient battery life.

          All the best.

  6. Thank you for posting this information about blocking out bass noise. I am super sensitive to bass noise – my heart speeds up, my adrenalin shoots and I’m in total freak-out panic mode. Bass noise is my definition of torture.
    I will try the Sony HW-1000XM3 and the 1 More Dual Driver ANC Pro with ear plugs.
    Three Questions:
    You mention the Sony with two models XM3 and XM4 – is one better than the other?
    Do the over the ear headphones hurt your head after awhile?
    I have never heard of brown noise before and don’t own any subwoofers. I am confused about this, if you play brown noise through sub woofers isn’t this more bass?

    Please consider creating a Twitter account and an Instagram account. I would gladly follow you for the latest updates. I would be really glad to share the posts too. I’m sure you would gain 1000s of followers. I’m really glad to hear that I am not the only one that cannot stand bass music. I’m really glad there are solutions. Just an FYI, in Toronto, there is a classical FM radio station 96.3 that launched an anti-noise pollution league. Thank you!

    • Hello Jane,

      I agree. A thumping bass may be heaven for club patrons or neighbors on a roll, but it is amongst the most annoying noise problems for everyone else.

      As to your questions:

      1. The WH-1000XM4 headphones are the successor of the M3. I have had the M3 for a while now, and more recently also gotten the M4. So far, I find noise reduction effectiveness and wearing comfort for the two models virtually identical. They also sound pretty much the same.
      For me, the main advantage of the M4 is that they can connect to two devices at the same time; they also have a slightly better microphone for making calls; I would say that call quality is still only average though.

      The noise cancelling function of both models is outstanding.
      If your primary objective is to reduce bass noise and/or listen to music, I would optimize based on price.

      2. “Do they hurt after a while?” I find them comfortable so on my back I can use them for hours. But people (and ears) are different, so I can’t speak for you. For side sleeping (which I prefer), I think all over-ear headphones are a bit of a challenge.

      3. The 1More ANC Pro earbuds would be easier for side sleeping, and because there is no headband, there is absolutely no headband pressure.
      I find them very comfy and good against bass noise. The battery easily lasts through the night (with current true wireless ANC earbuds the battery is a problem). Against mid-and-higher frequency noise they are not nearly as effective as the Sony headphones, but if it’s the bass that is bothering you…
      They protrude a bit from the ear, so if I just hit the pillow with them, they would still become uncomfortable.
      But a pillow with a hole (link to post with ideas), a pillow with micro beads, or a travel pillow can remedy this for me. You could also try a rolled-up towel on top of a pillow or even put your ear between two pillows.

      4. Playing brown noise via an audio system with subwoofer works like this:
      A thumping, rhythmic bass keeps arousing the brain (and hence jolts you out of sleep) and can be hugely annoying.
      If you wear foam earplugs, everything becomes quieter, but often you still hear “umpf, umpf,” albeit quieter.
      Brown noise adds a constant noise curtain you can liken to a large waterfall; it ideally makes the thumping disappear in that constant flow of water. You need a large speaker to mimic a large waterfall.
      Played loud, the brown noise would likely still disturb you, so I would use foam earplugs to lower the overall volume. It is a delicate balance (and there is a limit).

      Adding brown noise to your active noise cancelling headphones or earbuds works the other way around: First you cancel as much of the bass as you can. Then, if necessary, you play brown noise at a lower volume though the headphones to drown out the remaining bass.

      Thank you for your suggestion and your info about that radio station.
      I am considering posting on social media. It just all takes time away from solving problems.

      It’d be great if you could share this and other posts if you have found them useful.

      All the best, and let me know how it goes.

  7. Thank you again Helmut,
    One more question.
    In order for noise cancelling headphones to work, do you need to play music in them?

    • For the noise cancelling headphones and earbuds we have been discussing, you don’t have to play music for the active noise cancellation to work (but they must be turned on).

      All of these headphones will auto-connect to the most recently connected Bluetooth device, unless it is out of range. I always have them connected.
      The 1More must be connected to a device (phone, iPad, etc.) or they will turn off, but you don’t have to play sound.
      For the M3 you can specify in the app whether they should turn off if they can’t connect. For the M4, the app allows you to specify whether they should turn off after you take them off.

      The post Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Work Without Music has a bit more info about what to expect.

      All the best.

  8. Hi Helmut,

    great post and super in depth! I was wondering what you think about noise isolating earphones, specifically shure’s model SE215’s. I was talking to a friend about trying to find a noise proof solution and she recommended them straight away. I think this model might work well since it tries to fit the earbud correctly into your ear so as to keep out the noise. I was thinking those paired with brown noise would work really well. What do you think? Would the noise cancelling sony’s still be better in your opinion?


    • Hello Harry,
      thank you for stopping by. Good question.

      In terms of pure performance, noise-isolating in-ears can be great.

      You didn’t mention whether you are bothered by bass in the daytime or want to use them for sleeping. For daytime use, they are definitely an option. (for sleeping read on.)

      I have Etymotic in-ears and their passive noise isolation is stunning. They are good even against bass noise, but need to go very deep into the ear.

      I don’t have the SE-215 but I have heard good things about them as well.

      Others have compared the noise isolation of Etymotic and Shure:
      Etymotic seems to be slightly ahead, but the SE-215 too should work quite well against bass, if you can get a good fit.
      So in terms of performance, definitely worth a try.

      Do I think they will outperform the Sony against bass: I doubt it.

      I haven’t directly compared them yet, but for bass, my money would be on the Sony, even against the Etymotic.

      They could outperform other ANC headphones though.

      I find the Sony comfortable (and more comfy than the in-ears I have), but for side sleeping they are not ideal.

      As for the SE-215 and sleeping:
      The housing of the SE-215 appears to be quite large to me and you have this over ear-memory wire.
      Also, the ear tips have a rigid stem and are set at an angle to the housing; these aren’t just foam earplugs.

      Ultimately, you would have to try.

      As for the Etymotic: their overall noise isolation is tempting, but I prefer not to sleep having those so deep in my ears (even on my back). But, some people do use them for sleeping. 🙂

      For comparison, the 1More ANC Pro earbuds just seal the entrance and do everything else with electronics, so there is virtually no pressure in the ear canal.

      They too protrude a bit from the ear, but I can make them work even when sleeping on the side.

      Personally, if the issue is the bass, I would rather have their active noise cancellation do the work.

      Let me know how it goes.

  9. Hello!

    I just moved in to a large apartment complex and I’m dealing with someone’s loud music (I’m honestly not even sure which unit it’s coming from), and it’s not so loud that I can tell what the song is, but it’s juuust loud enough that the bass leaks into my apartment, and through the silicone ear plugs I normally wear for sleep (I’ve used Mack brand in the past but I’ve found that the drug store CVS brand are smaller and work better for my ears. They’re just inefficient for blocking bass).

    I found your article last night around 2am as I was being kept awake, and when I got to the myNoise app suggestion, I downloaded and adjusted the equalizer to match the image you provided.

    I did have to remove my ear plugs for the best effect, but just playing the dark brown noise from my iPhone’s speakers (iPhone 11 Pro, I had the volume level a little bit above halfway, with my phone close to the bed on my nightstand), the relief from the intruding bass tones was pretty much immediate (I actually almost cried). I was able to get to sleep without my ear plugs and just using the myNoise app with that custom setting.

    Just wanted to say thank you, sincerely, for the effort put into testing products and writing these reviews. My sleep has been saved and I’m grateful to have this new noise tool to use when needed.


    • Hello Mars,

      Thank you for stopping by and your kind words.
      I am glad you got some relief from the bass. And, if necessary, you can always connect a larger Bluetooth speaker to your iPhone should you find the phone’s speaker can’t produce the low frequencies you need.

      All the best.

  10. Hey Helmut, thanks for this article!
    I have a couple of questions (stomping of upstairs neighbor):
    1. I use bose qc25 ANC + dark brown noise in a big PA speaker. Apparently, the lower brown noise is being canceled by the bose…and when the stomping comes, it’s being reduced by the bose but the masking is gone because it’s being cancelled by the bose…can you address this situation?
    2. Similar situation where I use good earplugs for low-bass. The earplugs would cancel the brown noise…and when the stomping comes, it sounds pretty loud…
    Would you please help with this? Thanks!

    • Hello Nancy,

      Since you have the QC25, I would not play brown noise via external speakers but rather the headphones. Use the ANC to reduce the stomping.
      As a second line of defense, add dark brown noise (myNoise) via the headphones.

      The QC25 can reproduce lower frequencies than most speakers. They would be on par with some serious sub-woofers. Take a look at the myNoise EQ-screenshot and experiment with the volume + sliders #2, 3, and 4 to mask the remainder of the stomping sounds.

      As to the earplugs, my guess is that your brown noise does not extend to the frequencies where the stomping occurs. To test this, you could play brown noise without the earplugs first and adjust the volume and myNoise sliders until the stomping gets drowned out. If this doesn’t work, your speaker can likely not reproduce the necessary frequencies.

      If you don’t mind sleeping with headphones, I would focus on the QC25.

      All the best.


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