What Is Ambient Sound?

What Is Ambient Sound

If you listen to music or wear headphones on a regular basis, you’ve probably heard the term “ambient sound” before. In fact, it’s the year’s most recent fashion trend.

What is ambient sound, exactly? Ambient sound refers to background or surrounding noises that are present in a specific location, such as traffic, pedestrian chatter, rain, horn honking, and so on.

If you’re listening to music, you’d prefer to have few to no interruptions unless an emergency occurs, of course. Even while listening to music, it is critical to be able to hear important sounds and be aware of your surroundings.

We delved into the definition of ambient sound and the types of headphones to look for. Continue reading to learn more.

What’s the Difference Between Ambient Sound and Noise Cancelation?

What's the Difference Between Ambient Sound and Noise Cancelation

These two terms are almost certainly familiar to you. They appear to be referring to the same thing, but they are actually quite different. Allow me to explain.

To summarize, noise canceling headphones have only one purpose: to block out any external noise. This is accomplished by altering the headphones’ design, such as using noise-canceling materials in the cups and padding.

You won’t be able to hear the bird chirping in front of you or the dog barking outside your house if you use noise canceling headphones. The chirping of the bird and the children outside will be audible through ambient sound, but you will not be distracted from your music. Isn’t this a very useful feature?

What Is Ambient Sound Mode on Earbuds and Headphones?

What Is Ambient Sound Mode on Earbuds and Headphones

Ambient sound mode on headphones or earbuds works similarly to any other noise cancellation mode you’ll come across. It’s the same, but there’s a lot more to it. Not only will you be able to hear ambient noises clearly, but you will also be able to hear your favorite song clearly through your headphones.

Keep in mind that turning on ambient sound mode on your headphones or earbuds doesn’t imply you’ll be able to hear your music AND every sound in your environment at the same time – that’s not possible. Yet, Technology is a brilliant invention.

What Is Ambient Sound and What Does It Mean

What Is Ambient Sound and What Does It Mean

Of course, ambient sound mode does not eliminate background noises like noise cancellation does, but it is a big aid, especially when you’re in a crowded environment or doing home chores while on a crucial business call while your kids play in the backyard.

You want to hear what your coworkers are saying, but you also have your ears pushed against the rear door, waiting for the tiniest squeak or crash to alarm you.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you that ambient sound mode is deserving of the attention it has received, there are a few more. To begin, if you work in the film industry, you will agree with us that ambient sound is beneficial when blending two different shots to create a smooth movie.

It also adds some delightful background noise, such as rain droplets splattering, to give your listening experience a little more punch.

What is Sony Headphones’ Ambient Sound Mode

What is Sony Headphones' Ambient Sound Mode

Sony is known for producing excellent headphones for ambient sound, such as the Sony WH-1000XM3. A large variety of Sony headphones have noise cancellation as well as Ambient Sound Mode.

Sony’s Ambient Sound Mode feature comes in useful when you’re in a social situation where you need to be present and aware of your surroundings. The noise cancelling feature will be turned on by default when you initially put your Sony headphones on. Simply tap the NC/Ambient or NC button a few times to activate the Ambient Sound Mode.

Following are the events that occur with each tap of the button:

  • The headphone’s Ambient Sound Mode is activated with the initial tap.
  • The noise cancelling feature is switched off with a second tap on the NC/Ambient or NC button.
  • The noise cancelling feature is activated and switched on with the third tap.
  • The Headphones Connect app, which allows users to modify the ambient sound level, was one aspect of the Sony headphones that impressed our team.

Samsung Galaxy Buds and Ambient Sound

Samsung Galaxy Buds and Ambient Sound

Samsung provides a wide choice of earbuds to pick from, all of which include the ambient sound feature. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, and Samsung Galaxy Buds + are among these earbuds. All of these earbuds have the same method for activating ambient sound mode: it’s simple to find, navigate through, and use. The ambient sound feature is also available on Samsung’s Galaxy Buds.

Simply activate the Ambient Sound option if you’re in an environment or circumstance that requires you to be aware of your surroundings and what’s going on around you. It’s worth noting that this ambient sound setting is only available when the Samsung Galaxy Buds are paired with the Galaxy Wearable app.

Another thing to keep in mind is that iOS users do not have access to the Ambient Sound feature.

After you’ve gotten to the Galaxy Wearable app, go to the ‘Ambient Sound’ section.

Toggle on Ambient Sound mode by tapping the toggle switch here. You can change the volume of the ambient sound to your liking. When you have ambient sound mode turned on, you can also use the ‘Voice Focus’ option, which allows you to make human speech sound more prominent than other external sounds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Ambient Sound

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Ambient Sound

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro has an ambient sound setting for those occasions when you need to hear what’s going on around you. The Galaxy Buds Pro also has a feature called ‘Detect conversations,’ which can alert you if someone is chatting to you or is in close proximity to you.

When you use this function, your earbuds’ volume will be set to default when you are listening to music. Simply tap the icon on the Galaxy wearable app to activate the ‘Detect conversations’ mode.

You must have at least one earbud in your ear to activate ambient sound mode. After that, launch the Galaxy Wearable app. Set the volume slider to what you want it to be by tapping the ambient sound symbol.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and Ambient Sound

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and Ambient Sound

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live lacks the conservational ambient sound mode found in other Galaxy Buds models. It has a ‘Active noise cancellation’ mode instead of ambient sound mode.

When it is turned off, you will notice that there is some compression when you are listening to music. To avoid this, go to the Galaxy Wearable app’s ‘Labs’ section and tap the toggle switch to the right of ‘Relieve pressure with ambient sound.’

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ and Ambient Sound

Samsung Galaxy Buds+ and Ambient Sound

Ambient sound mode on the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ is only available if the Galaxy Buds+ is connected to the Galaxy Wearable app on an Android device, or the Buds app on an iPhone 7 or later, or iOS 10 or later.

Toggle the toggle switch next to ‘Ambient sound’ on the Galaxy Wearable app to turn it on. You can utilize the High or Extra high volume features to hear more external sounds.

When you’re on the phone, you can use the Ambient Sound feature as well. To do so, go to ‘Advanced’ and then toggle the switch next to ‘Use Ambient sound during calls’.


Most headphones and earbuds come with an ambient sound mode that is extremely useful in situations and environments where you must be aware of your surroundings. Knowing what’s going on around you and being active in your awareness is a good precaution to take. Of course, before purchasing a pair of headphones or earbuds, consider the price, the battery life, the appearance of the headphones, and the comfort and durability they provide.

Some people prefer only active noise cancelling headphones, while others only want the ambient sound mode. But what if you could have the best of both worlds? Some headphones and earbuds come with both active noise cancellation and ambient sound mode, which is an unbeatable combination!

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Sara Khan

About the Author: Sara Khan

For almost 5 years, I've been passionately blogging about headphones and audio technologies. Hundreds of headphones were tested and tried. Always on the lookout for the "best-value-for-money" headphones. Today, I'm more concerned with back-end content creation and technical concerns.

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