How Do MRI Headphones Work? Basic Guide with Benefits

I had my MRI scan last week, and the tech asked me to wear headphones. I seemed questioned and thought about how it can be possible to wear headphones during medical treatment. To overcome the machine-thumping sounds, I had to wear them and, in the end, came up with the opinion that the headphones did an excellent job. In this article, I like to share my thoughts on How Do MRI Headphones Work?

MRI headphones work somewhat differently than regular headphones. They are made up of non-magnetic materials, and the headset is connected to a compatible stereo system of the machine via air tubes.

In this article, I will describe how non-magnetic headphones work and what makes them different from regular headphones. Similarly, you will get to know in what situations you can use headphones.

How Do MRI Safe Headphones Work?

MRI headphones have no drivers and wires connected to the machine stereo system outside the room. Headphones consist of ear cups and a headband connected with rubber tubes.

MRI headphones work with the help of a twin modular plug tied at the end of the tubes. The plug is connected with two vinyl tubes, thus sending the music up to the ears.

Material Breakdown Of The Non-Magnetic Headphones

As soon as I wore the SIEMENS MRI HEADPHONES – 4757238, I realized they did not contain any magnetic equipment. In addition, these were also noise-canceling to mask the outer sounds. So the basic appearance of these headphones was like regular ones, but the ear cups were embodied by foam and made of thick plastic.

  • The ear cups are coated with plastic material with no wires
  • The cups are protected with an extra layer of protective ear muffs.
  • MRI headphones absorb extra noise with foam in the ear cups.

Are Headphones Allowed In MRI? 3 Basic Types Of MRI Headphones

MRI machines work with strong magnets, a radio transmitter, and a receiver. When you turn on the machines, magnets create the force due to the expansion of the coil and, as a result, create loud noises. Thus, the use of compatible headphones is allowed in MRI. 

The technicians offer over-ear headphones or in-ear plugs so that you can listen to whatever you want and remain still during scanning. 3 types of headphones can be used.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

Do you want to stop the outside noise from reaching your ears? For this, you can wear noise-canceling non-magnetic headphones during MRI. These are specially designed with plastic from the outside. In addition, there are acoustic ear cups that allow the air to send the audio within the headphones.

Electrostatic Headphones

Electrostatic headphones are the invention of modern technology to be used in MRI. There is a thin film of a diaphragm that is embedded with carbon nanotubes in each earpiece. These tubes create an electrostatic charge and produce an opposite sound compared to the MRI machine. Thus canceling the sounds in the headphones.

Pad Headphones

The primary purpose of using headphones is to cut the whirring sounds of machines. Pad headphones with the extra covering of foam in the ear cups are best. It also provides comfort to the ears and prevents noise from entering the ears.

Stethoscope Headphones

In older times, airplanes used this type of headphones. The headsets are connected with hollow tubes and a speaker outside the room. Stethoscope headphones deliver the audio sounds through the air via rubber tubes. 

One downside of using these headphones is that they are devoid of magnets, so you feel some distortion in the audio.

Can You Listen To Headphones During MRI?

Do you think it is necessary to wear headphones during scanning? MRI scanner has many magnets; when you turn on the machine, it creates a lot of clicking sound, which may be unpleasant to hear and increase patient anxiety. I also asked my technician and listened to the music during the entire scan.

This machine can produce noise up to 118 decibels which is easily audible. Therefore, I recommend using noise-canceling headphones. In addition, you can carry your CD, USB, or mobile phone connected to the machine, and you can listen to the music of your choice. 

Warning: you cannot carry your magnetic headphones in the MRI room. Otherwise, you may end up getting blurred images of the scan. Or likely to be in the scanning tube again.

Benefits Of Using Headphones In MRI

MRI scanner is made by using magnetic materials, so non-magnetic headphones are used for patients that are helpful in three ways:

  • Avoid loud sounds due to the electromagnets that create a force within the machine
  • Effective in making patients relax before scanning
  • Not cause damage to the hearing 
  • Obtaining clear pictures while the patient remains still listening to the music


I had my MRI and used non-magnetic headphones, making it easier for me to focus. I just closed my eyes and listened to the calming music, and everything went smoothly. If you also fear the MRI, you need to relax because technicians try to calm you down. In this post, I have mentioned how MRI headphones work, along with the benefits of using them.

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