Do you need help understanding what headphones to buy? Amara's headphone buying guide is full of information about the different types of headphones and earphones available, to help you decide on the perfect pair.
What to Think About Before Buying Headphones
What will you be using them for?
From headphones to earphones, there are a variety of different types to choose from. Depending on whether you will be using them for commuting, playing sports, or simply working from home, each activity will require a different kind.
How comfortable are they?
Each headphone style will fit each person differently, so you’ll need to find the most suitable pair for your needs. For example, if you are going to be wearing a pair of headphones or earphones for a long period of time, it’s important to invest in a comfortable pair.
What is the sound quality like?
Most people investing in headphones or earphones are specifically looking for brilliant sound quality. The majority of in-ear type earphones struggle to compete with the sound quality of headphones, so it is something to bear in mind whilst shopping around.
Do you require special features?
Earphones and headphones are available with a range of different features. From sound canceling technology, to wireless Bluetooth headphones, there is a pair designed for everyone.
Types of Headphone and Earphones
Wired headphones connect to your audio device with wires and normally feature a microphone and volume control.
Pros: They don’t require batteries, so there is no need to worry about the battery dying whilst listening to music. Wired headphones and earphones are great for using in any situation.
Cons: They must be properly stored or the wires can get twisted and tangled, resulting in faulty connection.
Wireless headphones connect to your audio device using wireless technology – normally through Bluetooth or, less commonly, infrared.
Pros: They are great for using when taking part in sports as they are not physically connected to the device, meaning there’s no wires to get in the way. Most wireless headphones can be charged via USB and have a battery life of 14 hours or more, so they are perfect for taking out on your travels.
Cons: Although battery can be excellent, if you don’t get a chance to charge them - or are out for a few days traveling - you might be better with wired.
Earbuds are normally supplied with music devices and smart phones and are the cheapest type on the market.
Pros: Very cheap and work fine for most applications.
Cons: They sit just inside the ear quite loosely, so can fall out and are susceptible to letting background noise in.
These earphones are inserted directly into the ear canal.
Pros: They are good at minimizing exterior noise and are often referred to as sound isolating, which means they create a tight seal to block sounds out.
Cons: Not everyone finds them comfortable as they sit inside the ear.
These earphones are designed in a loop shape that wrap around the back of the ear.
Pros: They secure in place and fit comfortably, which makes them ideal for running or taking part in sports.
Cons: The fitting behind the ear can be uncomfortable for some people.
On-ear headphones normally feature an adjustable headband and pillows that rest on the ear.
Pros: Often foldable, they represent a nice balance between portability and sound quality of larger over-ear headphones.
Cons: They are not normally noise canceling, and at high volumes, people may be able to hear your music too. Although padded for comfort, they can become uncomfortable when wearing for long periods of time.
Over-ear headphones feature a headband and large ear pads that enclose the full ear.
Pros: They are more comfortable when wearing for long periods of time than on-ear headphones, as there is minimal pressure on the actual ear. They are also good for canceling out background noise.
Cons: Not a great choice for traveling as they can be quite bulky.
Bluetooth earphones and headphones connect to devices within close proximity (normally less than 10m). The majority of new tech devices have Bluetooth connection, including smart phones, computers and notebooks.
Sound-isolating earphones (normally of the in-ear variety) do not completely block out noise, but manage to significantly reduce it with a seal positioned on the earbud itself.
Noise-canceling headphones allow you to listen to music at a safe, lower volume without external noise disturbance. They feature built-in microphones that produce anti-noise signals to reverse outside audio and cancel out surrounding noises.