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General Talk What Is Ambient Sound?

What Is Ambient Sound?

A Helpful Guide

A Detailed Guide on Ambient Sound

If you listen to music or use headphones regularly, you must have come across the term  “ambient sound” many times before. As a matter of fact, it’s the latest trend of the year. What exactly is ambient sound? Ambient sound refers to background or surrounding noises that are nearby in an immediate location, such as traffic, the chatter of passing pedestrians, rain, the honking of horns etc. 

When you are listening to music, you would rather have little to no interruptions, unless, of course, an emergency arises. What we mean by this is that it is crucial to also be able to hear important sounds and be aware of your surrounding environment, even while listening to music.  

We dug deep into what ambient sound is and the type of headphones you should lookout for. Keep reading to find out more. 

Ambient Sound vs Noise Cancelation: What’s the Difference?

Ambient Sound vs Noise Cancelling

You have surely come across these two terms before. They both seem to refer to the same thing, but in reality, they are both miles apart. Let us explain.

To sum it up for you, noise canceling headphones have only one main job; stop any external sounds from leaking. This is done by altering the design of the headphones, such as using noise-canceling materials in the design of the cups and padding. 

With noise canceling headphones, you won’t be able to hear the chirping of the bird in front of you, or the dog barking outside your house. Ambient sound will let you hear the chirping of the bird and the kids outside, but won’t let you get distracted from your music. Quite a helpful feature, isn’t it?

Read Also: What Are Noise-Canceling Headphones?

What Is the Ambient Sound Mode on Headphones and Earbuds?

ambient sound mode on headphones or earbuds

As the name suggests, ambient sound mode on headphones or earbuds is just like any noise cancellation mode that you will come across. It’s the same, yet a lot more. You will not only be able to hear surrounding noises distinctly but will also be able to hear your favorite song that’s playing through your headphones with great clarity. 

Keep in mind though that by activating ambient sound mode on your headphones or earbuds doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to clearly hear your music AND each and every sound in your surrounding – that’s not possible. Yet. Technology is a clever thing. 

What Is Ambient Sound All About?

Of course, ambient sound mode doesn’t eradicate background noises like the noise cancellation feature does, but it sure is a great help, especially when you are in a busy place, or even doing household chores while on an important work call, as your kids play in your backyard.

You want to be able to hear what your colleagues are saying, but you have also got your ears pressed against the backyard door, ready to alert you with the slightest squeal or crash. 

If that wasn’t a solid enough reason as to why ambient sound mode is worth the hype it has been creating, we have got more reasons. To begin with, if you are someone who works in the film industry, you will agree with us on the fact that ambient sound proves to be helpful when you are merging two different shots together, to make a smooth movie.

Along with that, it adds some pleasant background noise, like the splatter of rain drops, to add a little oomph to your listening experience. 

What is the Ambient Sound Mode on Sony Headphones?

Sony is known to have excellent headphones when it comes to ambient sound, like the Sony WH-1000XM3. A good number of Sony’s headphones come with a noise cancelling function as well as an Ambient Sound Mode.

When you are in a social environment that needs for you to be present and aware of your surroundings, Sony’s Ambient Sound Mode feature comes handy. When you first put your Sony headphones on, the noise cancelling function will be switched on by default. To turn the Ambient Sound Mode on all you have to do is tap the NC/Ambient or NC button a few times. 

With each tap of the button that you do, the following things take place: 

  • On the first tap, the headphone’s Ambient Sound Mode is turned on.
  • With the second tap on the NC/Ambient or NC button, the noise cancelling feature is turned off. 
  • With the third tap, the noise cancelling feature is activated and switched on. 

A feature of the Sony headphones that our team was quite impressed by was the Headphones Connect app which allows for users to adjust the ambient sound level. 

Ambient Sound and Samsung Galaxy Buds

Ambient Sound and Samsung Galaxy Buds

Samsung has a great range of earbuds to choose from, which provide users with the ambient sound feature. These earbuds include the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and the Samsung Galaxy Buds +. The way to activate ambient sound mode on all of these earbuds is more or less the same – easy to find, easy to navigate through and easy to use. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds provide users with the ambient sound feature as well.

Whenever you are in an environment or situation that requires you to be aware of your surroundings and what’s happening around you, simply turn the Ambient Sound mode on. It is worth noting that you can only access this ambient sound mode when you pair the Samsung Galaxy Buds with the Galaxy Wearable app. Another thing you should know is that the Ambient Sound mode is not available to iOS users. 

After you have made your way to the Galaxy Wearable app, tap on ‘Ambient Sound’. Here, tap on the toggle switch to turn Ambient Sound mode on. You can adjust the ambient sound volume as per your preference. Another feature that you can use is the ‘Voice Focus’ which lets you make human voices sound more prominent than other external sounds, when you have ambient sound mode activated. 

Ambient Sound and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Ambient Sound and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

The ambient sound mode is available on the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, for all those times when you need to hear what’s going on around you. The Galaxy Buds Pro comes with another feature called ‘Detect conversations’ which will notify you if someone is speaking to you, or closely around you. With this feature, the volume of your earbuds will default by default when you are listening to music. To turn the ‘Detect conversations’ mode on, all you have to do is tap the icon on the Galaxy wearable app. 

To turn ambient sound mode on, you will need to have at least one earbud in your ear. Next, open the Galaxy Wearable app. Tap the ambient sound icon and set the slider to what you want the volume to be. 

Ambient Sound and Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live doesn’t come with the conservational ambient sound mode, as its fellow Galaxy Buds variants do. Instead of ambient sound mode, it has an ‘Active noise cancellation’ mode . In the situation that it is off, you will realise that there’s some kind of compression when you are listening to music In order to avoid this, after you have made your way to the Galaxy Wearable app and tapped on ‘Labs’, you can tap the toggle switch towards the right of ‘Relieve pressure with ambient sound’. 

Ambient Sound and Samsung Galaxy Buds+ 

Ambient Sound and Samsung Galaxy Buds+

Ambient sound mode on the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ only works if you connect the Galaxy Buds+ with the Galaxy Wearable app, if you use an Android, or the Buds app on an iPhone 7 onwards, or with iOS 10 and above. 

On the Galaxy Wearable app, tap on the toggle switch next to ‘Ambient sound’ to turn it on. If you want to hear more external sounds, you can use the High or Extra high volume features. 

The Ambient Sound feature can be used when you are on a phone call as well. To do this, all you have to do is tap on ‘Advanced’ and then press the toggle switch next to ‘Use Ambient sound during calls’. 


The ambient sound mode that most headphones and earbuds provide users with is definitely helpful in situations and environments in which you are required to be aware of your surroundings. Knowing what’s happening around you and being actively aware is a safe measure that you should take.  Of course, before you buy a pair of headphones or earbuds, keep in mind to check the price, the battery life, how the headphones look and the comfort and durability that they offer you. 

While some people prefer solely active noise cancelling headphones, others would prefer having just the ambient sound mode feature. But what if you could have both? Some headphones and earbuds are accompanied with both active noise cancellation as well as ambient sound mode – a combination made in heaven!

If you have any questions, doubts, or queries, feel free to drop a comment in our comment section below, and our experts will get back to you with an answer in no time. If there are any products you have in mind that you would like for us to review and compare, do write to us!