Blue Microphones has finally convinced me that active noise cancellation needn’t be a crime against nature. Call me old-fashioned, but the concept of battling noise by introducing noise—albeit of an opposite frequency, so that the two sound waves theoretically cancel each other out—has long been anathema to me. If the driver is producing noise at that frequency, after all, how effective can it be at also producing music at that frequency?
Blue’s solution seems so obvious that you have to wonder why they’re the first to implement the idea: They put two drivers in each ear cup. There’s a 44mm set for reproducing music, and an independent 30mm set dedicated to active noise cancellation. Four omidirectional microphones monitor your listening environment and pick up the ambient noise that’s to be cancelled. I didn’t have an opportunity to use the Satellite in an airline cabin, but its active noise cancellation wiped out all trace of most background noise all around my home, including the whoosh of the too-loud fan on the aging homebrew desktop PC I used to play games on. I also auditioned the phones in a car driving at freeway speed (as a passenger, of course).