Do you crave music to help your workout. Or enjoy private listening at home or work. Maybe even an adrenaline-pumping gaming experience. Or just a great-looking, great-sounding set of headphones to express your personal style. You can easily find headphones that fit your needs. With so much variety in headphone styles, including wired and wireless models, you may find it hard to choose. So you need to designed on what type you want, what style you want and what features they must have.
Wired vs. wireless.
Wireless headphones come in a range of styles from over-ear to on-ear to in-ear. They are great for sports and outdoor uses, since they don’t require you to connect to a music player using wires. Instead, wireless technology connects the headphones to your music player, giving you freer movement and fewer tangles.
Most wireless use Bluetooth. Bluetooth is a popular as most new smartphones and laptops have built-in Bluetooth functionality. So syncing with Bluetooth-enabled headphones is quick and easy. Some models even have noise-cancelling capability. Battery life varies across different models. So check battery life when comparing your choices.
Even wireless headphones usually have some sort of wire, such as earbud models in which individual earbuds are connected to each other with a wire.
True wireless earbuds come in pairs, one for each ear which means no tangles whatsoever. Low-profile models fit inside your ear canal, while other models stay in place by wrapping around the back of your ear. Again check battery life when comparing your choices.
Many true wireless earbuds come with charging cases that store and charge your earbuds at the same time. See product details for how many more hours the charging case can provide.
Wired phones connect to your audio device using a wire. Advantages include excellent sound quality, and the fact that they do not require any batteries. Gamers often prefer wired headphones so they never have to worry about batteries dying in the midst of a heated match.
Earbuds and neck-sitting In-ear monitors fit snugly inside each ear canal. The majority of sports headphones fall into this category. Most models include foam or rubber tips in multiple sizes to fit different ears. This enables a secure fit, so they stay put while moving. In-ear monitors are excellent for passive noise isolation. Some higher-end models deliver sound quality that rivals larger headphones.
Earbuds, on the other hand, feature small drivers that rest on the ridge of your outer ear. They usually deliver lesser fidelity and isolation than other types of headphones.
Lastly, some in-ear systems are connected with a band that rests on your neck. To many people, neck-sitting models are more comfortable than standard models. They are great for work or longer use and easily transition between using and not using.
Over-ear headphones have cushioned earcups that enclose the ears. These are often seen as the best headphones for sound quality. Most over-ear models also do a good job of isolating the user from outside sound called “passive noise reduction.”
On-ear phones are where the cushions sit on the outer ear rather than enclosing the ears. They deliver good sound quality, but with less bass response than over-ear models. Also when you wear on-ear headphones, you can still hear outside sounds.
Open-ear headphones have a wrap around headband that rests comfortably just outside your ear. They tend to use bone conduction technology. This system bypasses your eardrum and delivers sound straight to your inner ear via vibrations in the bones in your head. You can enjoy the music while your ears remain open to pick up environmental sounds. These are a great option for runners or cyclists who need to hear traffic over the sound of their music. Some open-ear headphones are specifically designed for underwater use so you can listen to music while swimming.
Special headphone features to look out for
Active noise-cancelling sets contain a microphone that measures the noise around you and then creates an opposite sound wave to eliminate that noise. You just hear your music.
Water-resistant and waterproof
These are great for working out, because they use water-resistant materials to keep out sweat and water. So you will be able to keep working out at the gym or walking in the rain without having to stop and wipe off your headphones.
Headphones labeled waterproof offer a better degree of water protection, typically indicated by a higher IP rating. So check the IP rating of your headphones before you buy
Sets with voice assistants
These headphones let you manage your music playback, check messages and get answers on the go using your voice.
There are two types:
Built-in voice assistants such as Apple Siri, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa,
Headphones designed to work with these services.
Bone conduction sets
Bone-conducting headphones work by bypassing your eardrum to deliver sound straight to your inner ear via vibrations in the bones in your head. This is particularly useful for people who want to hear their music clearly but don’t want to drown out background noise. For example joggers who need to hear traffic over the sound of their music. Some bone-conducting headphones are specifically designed for underwater use so you can listen to music while swimming.
Biometric headphones monitor your heart rate by gathering information directly from your ears while you listen to music. Fitness enthusiasts are able to keep tabs on their heart rate while liostening to music. Plus, many biometric headphones are compatible with popular fitness apps.
Sets with microphones and controls
A built-in microphone lets you take phone calls or use voice commands while wearing your headphones. Headsets designed for gaming often include a boom-mounted microphone for in-game conversations and taking phone calls. Wired headphones may include a small cord-mounted microphone. Plus controls for volume, mute and track advance.
With wireless headphones, these controls and mics can be found on the earpiece itself. Look for features to enhance your call experience, like headphones that seamlessly transition from your music to an incoming call. Or, if you take a lot of calls in noisy environments, some headphones are equipped with multiple microphone systems that filter external noise for a super clear conversation.
Volume limiting sets
The ability to keep the volume at safe levels is an excellent feature to have when your child wants to use headphones. These are designed to keep volume at 85dB or less. They are a good alternative for adults, as well as children who are concerned with protecting their hearing.
Sets with sound amplification
If you get distracted by background sounds when you try to have a conversation in a noisy environment? Then try a pair of headphones with sound amplification and control the sound around you. Built-in directional microphones zero in on the conversation while taking the edge off background noises.
Choosing the right set for your lifestyle.
Sets for sports and fitness
Lightweight in-ear and on-ear designs are available to ensure that your headphones stay put while you’re active. Some have ear clips to hold the drivers in place, while others use a band that circles the back of the head or neck. Comfort and fit is important. Some are water-resistant materials to protect against sweat and rain. Many feature cord-mounted microphones and controls that let you take phone calls, adjust volume, or change your playlist without slowing down. If you do not want a cord look for a wireless model that’s compatible with your smartphone or MP3 player.You could also look out for biometric capability to monitor heart rate. Some even give you motivational audio cues, and reflective cords to help you remain visible while exercising at night.
Sets for work
Headphones are a great way to distance yourself from the noise at work. Look for headphones with noise cancellation. These are designed to help you distance yourself from the noise around you.
You could go with in-ear headphones, with or without noise cancellation. These can also effectively isolate you from outside noise while keeping your music private. Also look for headphones with a built-in microphone so you can easily transition from listening to audio to taking phone calls.
Sets for travel
While traveling, you probably want to have lightweight headphones that are easy to move around in. Some headphones are foldable, making them easy to tuck away, and wireless headphones are exceptionally portable. If you’re going to spend time on a plane or bus, noise-cancelling or sound-isolating headphones are better.
Sets for home entertainment
I recommend over-ear headphones. Their oversized drivers combine deep, robust bass and a high-frequency response for unparalleled sound quality. These headphones also deliver an enhanced sense of space or “soundstage” compared to other styles. Models with surround-sound processing can further enhance the audio experience for home theater use.
If the weight of over-ear headphones bothers you, then there are high-end on-ear and in-ear models that are a good substitute.
If you want the highest, most accurate sound quality, you may want to look into some professional-level headphones. Many models at this level feature large earcups to fully surround your ears and keep them isolated from ambient sound and distractions.
Closed-back headphones have solid, acoustically isolating earcups. They are great at blocking out external noise and enhance the bass quality.
Open-back headphones, the rear of the speakers is covered by an acoustically transparent mesh or fabric. This de-emphasizes low-end thump and generally delivers a “flatter,” more even response.
Sets for gaming
Gaming benefits from a full enclosure with deep bass response and high volume without distortion. I recommend over-ear headphones. Look out for models with true or virtual multi-channel surround capability and boom-mounted microphones.
Sets for kids
Headphones for kids come in a range of colours and even designs that include familiar characters. Plus, they’re sized just right for kids. Some headphones designed for kids also feature built-in volume-limiting which is great for their ear protection
Tech specifications to look out for.
The best way to find your ideal set of headphones is to try as many pairs as you can. Check out the comfort and sound quality that you prefer.
This can range from less than 8 hours to more than 24 hours. So you need to check this if you are going to buy wireless headphones. Remember that many true wireless earbuds come with a charging case that stores and charges your earbuds.
Hi-resolution audio deliver audio with a dynamic range and bandwidth far greater than that of a standard CD. This means you’ll be able to enjoy pure music with outstanding sound quality. If this is important to you then make sure your headphones have hi-res.
Stereo vs. Mono:
With stereo you are hearing a different audio channel in each ear. Alternatively mono is a single audio channel, so with mono you are hearing identical sound in both ears. Again this is a personal choice as some people prefer mono to stereo
Headphones with higher sensitivity (about 100db or higher) are recommended for use with portable listening devices, which typically have less powerful amplifiers than home audio components.
That is it. Choose the style and type you want. My biggest recommendation is that listening is a personal experience and people prefer different types. You need to choose the style that is most comfortable, suits your requirements and provides the sound quality you want. Try out lots of options