Headphones

Headphone Buying Guide- How to Find the Perfect Headphones?

Last Updated on 19 August, 2021 by Sourav Roy

There is no denying the fact that headphones have come a really long way. From the simple-looking dedicated wired ones to chic looking Bluetooth wireless headphones, there are a plethora of options available. So many choices can certainly baffle you. If you are puzzled about how to find the perfect headphones, you are in for a true treat on my headphone buying guide page.

Headphone Buying Guide

When you start browsing through the specifications of the headphones, some of them may be too hard to decode. To be honest, they may not even impact the sound effect and should not influence your buying decision.

I have come across a lot of millennials being sold on celebrity-endorsed headphones. And this comes across as an immature buy to me. Headphones have become an experience in itself now. This wearable device has overwhelmed our lives with convenience and enjoyment like no other gadget. So, why not respect the utility and give it more than just a thought? Well, I am here to take away the feeling of analysis paralysis completely.

Leave the hard work of all the research to me. Your time is precious. Dedicate it only to recreation. Let’s get you the best Bluetooth earphones.

 

Headphone Buying Guide

Before I get to discuss all the must-have Bluetooth features, there is something more that deserves attention. Types of Headphones! Yes, what’s your type?

 

Types of Headphones

1. Ear Buds

Ear Buds

These tiny little wireless earbuds have taken over the market by storm. They provide maximum convenience by eliminating the frustration of unknotting the cables and wires. Unlike the in-ear ones, these earbuds rest at the entrance and do not really go inside the ear. This means there will be no in-ear canal irritation. These classic earbuds are ultra-portable and can be a great choice for working out or just tuning on to your favourite music.

Advantages of earbuds

  • Earbuds provide maximum freedom of movement.
  • They offer cheaper options as well.
  • Earbuds have an excellent quality of sound.
  • There is no struggle of adjusting the cable.
  • They are sweatproof and water-resistant.
  • Earbuds are remarkably portable.
  • They are available in super cool colours.

Disadvantages of earbuds

  • Since the earbuds are placed at the entrance of the ears, they provide an inferior filter of external noise. There is no sound isolation.
  • They can be uncomfortable to some. Earbuds are easy to fall out.
  • Earbuds are less hygienic because they have a high chance of accumulating ear wax.
  • They have a poor bass response and cannot provide detailed highs.
  • Due to the absence of noise isolation, users crank up the volume at the highest. This may give birth to hearing loss.

 

2. On-ear headphones

On-ear headphones

Also known as the supra-aural headphones, the look and feel of the on-ear headphones somehow take us back to the 80s and 90s, isn’t it? These headphones sit exactly on top of the ears but do not exceed beyond them at all. This type of headphones has a very mixed opinion. Not everyone is fascinated about trying their hands on it, but they start to grow on you once you start using it.

You will commonly find them being used in the gym on a runners ear or being worn by people while commuting. These headphones direct sound straight into the ear canal. However, they can leak noise to people sitting close by and may not be successful at sealing the external noise.

Advantages of on-ear headphones

  • The on-ear headphones are exceptionally comfortable while running.
  • Unlike earbuds, these provide a great level of stability.
  • They assure a good level of portability.
  • On-ear headphones provide accurate audio and bass responses.
  • The right model delivers high-quality sound.
  • These headphones have compact ear cups.

Disadvantages of on-ear headphones

  • There is leakage of sound.
  • They are not pocketable like the earbuds.
  • You might experience some pressure on the earlobes.
  • It can be uncomfortable to wear for extended periods.
  • You may find them bulky.
  • They are not sweatproof.

 

3. Over-ear headphones

Over-ear headphones are the biggest size you will ever find. They look very similar to the on-ear headphones, but there is a thin line of difference. The over-ear ones have a thick headband and substantially large ear cups. They encompass the ears completely. They are also called as around the ear headphones. A top-end model over the ear headphones provides sound quality like no other. They deliver a more immersive sound experience.

Over the ear headphones are known to have the largest drivers. Due to this mechanism, these headphones can produce the widest range of frequencies. Since these headphones enclose the earcups completely, they provide exceptional noise isolation. You will find them commonly amongst studio professional use and gamers. They are an ideal companion for music enthusiasts who wish to have an authentic experience while jamming out.

Advantages of over-ear headphones

  • These headphones are super comfortable to use for an extended period of time.
  • They deliver a more realistic and authentic sound.
  • The sound of these headphones eliminates all the unwanted noise in the background.
  • They provide a significant deep bass.
  • They have impeccable audio quality.

Disadvantages of on-ear headphones

  • The over-ear headphones are large and bulky.
  • These headphones are the least portable.
  • They weigh the most.
  • They are not easily foldable and pocketable.
  • These headphones are high on pricing.
  • They are not sweatproof.

 

4. In-ear headphones

In-ear headphones

The in-ear headphones are as tiny and portable as the earbuds. The major difference between the two is the ear placement. The in-ear ones sit directly inside the ear canal. They are closest to the eardrum and hence can provide exceptional sound quality. These headphones are designed in such a way that they fill the entrance of the ear completely. Therefore, they can effectively seal all the external sounds. The in-ear ones come in different sizes, so you can select the one that fits you right. The wrong-sized ones will affect the sound quality and be prone to falling out.

Just like the earbuds, these are also highly recommended for someone looking for a mesmerizing sound experience with the topmost portability.

Advantages of in-ear headphones

  • Outstanding passive noise isolation.
  • The petite design provides enhanced portability.
  • They are waterproof and sweatproof.
  • Delivers an alluring quality of sound.
  • They are less obtrusive.
  • The high-end brands provide custom ear fitting.

Disadvantages of in-ear headphones

  • The in-ear headphones can provide irritation to the ear.
  • The sound stage is less than that of over the ear headphones.
  • Some find it uncomfortable to use for an extended period of time.
  • The in-ear headphones are prone to ear wax accumulation.

 

Ear Buds vs On-Ear vs Over-Ear vs In-Ear: Quick Comparision

Let’s compare the four types of headphones based on their functionality. So, you get a brief idea about each one.

ParametersEar BudsOn-EarOver-EarIn-Ear
Passive noise isolationLessLessMoreMore
Suitable for RunningNoLessNoYes
GamingLess bassRecommendedRecommendedLess bass
Work out Can fall off easilyNot recommendedNot recommendedHighly recommended
Kids usageRecommendedCan damage their earsHighly recommendedRecommended
Seniors usageMay not find it comfortableRecommendedRecommendedMay not find it comfortable

 

Headphone Buying Guide- 9 Must-Have Features of headphone

I am amazed to see how most people do not prioritize Bluetooth earphone features. This is exactly what leaves you unsatisfied. Finding the right companion can be a true gift to any music lover. Sure, everyone’s racing to get themselves a pair from the best earphone brand. But there’s more to this process. Music is life in itself. You need to see beyond the brand, colour and look. So, here I am listing the important features of good headphones.

 

1. Noise Isolation

Who wants to be intruded on by any unwanted external sound like – traffic, people talking at a high pitch or any other kind of noise? Well, the feeling of listening to your favourite music without any disturbance is so blissful. Hence, noise isolation is an important aspect to look into. The noise-cancelling headphones let you trim down all the ambient sound from seeping into your audio. So, you can pay complete attention to what you want to hear.

Which earphone type has the best noise isolation? In-ear headphones.

Which earphone type has the least noise isolation? Earbuds.

 

2. Sound quality

This may be the first thing you all already look into. It’s probably topping on all the music lovers ‘must have bluetooth feature.’ The sound quality has no relation with the type of earphone you use. What I mean is the best earbud will always have a better sound quality than in-ear headphones. However, factors like the soundstage, rich base and frequency response certainly enhance the sound quality of a headphone.

 

3. Total Harmonic Distortion

Commonly known as THD, this attribute indicates the distortion level you may experience while using the headphones at the highest volume. High volumes can result in distortion that can affect the audible range. The lower the distortion, the better it is. The best earphones have a TDH of less than 1%. This is not a problem at all. Anything beyond 1% can be problematic for the listeners.

 

4. Noise Leakage

Noise leakage, also known as sound bleed, happens when what’s being played on the headphone leaks and is audible to the person besides. Noise leakage causes the sound to escape the seal of the ear cups and distract the people around you. This issue may arise due to the headphones incapability of containing all the air vibrations. When it comes to noise leakage, you can certainly differentiate between the types of earphones.

Which earphone type has the least noise leakage? In-ear headphones.

Which earphone type has the most noise leakage? On-ear headphones.

 

5. Drivers

Drivers are the most important integrant of earphones. They are solely responsible for producing sound. Drivers are capable of transforming an electrical signal to sound pressure. They come in various sizes, and that signifies the performance of the bass. The large-sized drivers in over-ear headphones make the bass deep and rich. Earbuds and in-ear headphones cannot fit a large driver. However, the dual-driver strategy present in them helps deliver good bass and high frequency.

 

6. Impedance

Certainly, impedance is a ‘techie term’ you may get baffled hearing about. But to put in layman’s language, it signifies the amount of power required by a headphone. High impedance earphones require more power to drive. Therefore, they require dedicated high amplification. These headphones also deliver powerful results and are less susceptible to blowouts. The same is not the case with low impedance earphones. They need less power and weak amplification and are more prone to blowouts if high amplification is delivered. The impedance of 500 ohms and more is considered to be high. And impedance of 150 ohms and less is considered to be low.

 

7. Sensitivity

While you are figuring out how to find the best headphones, you cannot go unnoticed on the sensitivity. If I have to explain to you what it means in fewer words, I will term it as the efficiency of the headphones. The sensitivity of the headphones indicates how smoothly and coherently they can convert an electrical signal to an unembellished soundwave. Sensitivity is measure in dB (decibel level) and should be in the range of 80- 110 dB. Anything beyond that can invite hearing loss.

 

8. Frequency response

Here’s another term you must definitely get familiarized with to find yourself the best headphones. Frequence response denotes the range in which the headphones can produce sound. The human ear is comfortable with the frequency response range of 20 – 20,000 Hz. Any noise below or above that range is not detectable. Most headphones fall in the suitable range. This range is usually expressed with the minimum and maximum values. The wider the range, the better it is.

That was a curated list of some technicalities you must look into while getting yourself the best headphones. Barring the ones mentioned above, there are some more important features of good headphones like – Comfort, battery life, compatibility, controls, portability and more. For more details, check my blog on the 11 Best Bluetooth Earphones- Reviews & Buyer’s Guide and 11 Best Earbuds in India (2021) – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide.

 

One Last Thought

Did I manage to narrow down your choices? I know the excess availability of options has spoilt us for choice. Choosing the best headphone can be so intimidating. But the process is really not as gruelling as it seems. How about going step by step? First, choose your style. I have reviewed all the types of headphones; take a pick. Second, compare the technical and convenience features. Easy-peasy right?

Get going now and get yourself the most suitable pair. You know what they say, right ‘Music is a piece of art that goes in the ears and straight to the heart.’ When our heart is concerned, we have no room for regret!

Is there anything more I can help you with?

 

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