With the virtual and the physical world coming closer than ever, headphones have become an essential addition to our lives, and it is essential to choose an excellent and comfortable pair of headphones that suit your needs. With the prices ranging from high-quality headphones used by professional sound artists, to the ones that work with a decent tone and maintains a reasonable price, it has become really important to answer the question of how to choose the best headphones.
Though there is a lot of confusion when it comes to deciding the perfect pair for yourself, most people agree that the most crucial thing about deciding a good pair of headphones is their features, and forming a list of pros and cons according to your needs. With the market full of multiple audio brands selling various headphones with different features, making it extremely difficult to find the right pair of headphones for you.
Wait, before you feel overwhelmed with everything let us help you make a perfect itinerary that covers every aspect of this amazing market to help you choose the perfect pair for not only your ear but also your pocket. With our group of experts checking out the market for the best headphones, let us go through the list of the headphones.
- What to consider while buying a pair of headphones?
- 1. Types Of Headphones
- 2. Type of Wiring
- 3. Sensitivity
- 4. Drivers
- 5. Impedance
- 6. Comfort level and fit
- 7. Sound Profile
- 8. Active Noise Cancellation and Passive Noise Cancellation
What to consider while buying a pair of headphones?
While searching for an optimum pair of headphones, there are a lot of things that have to be kept in mind to ensure that you get the best headphones available in the market. To find one that suits your needs, it is really important to make sure that you have a thorough knowledge of all the different kinds of devices that you are dealing with.
Having explained the importance of knowledge before purchasing headphones, let us explore the various points that have to be kept in mind while deciding on a pair that is perfect for your ears.
1. Types Of Headphones
On-Ear headphones sometimes known as the ‘supra-aural’ headphones rest on the top of your outer ears but not completely envelope your ears. The on-ear headphones have a closed design which makes them less prone to over-heating ears. The headphone band in these headphones normally goes over or behind your head and are usually smaller and lighter than over-ear headphones.
These headphones come in closed–back and open–back variations and allow more noise to pass through as compared to the over-ear headphones. One thing to note here is that the earpads press on your ears so they might start hurting if you were them for a long duration at a stretch. One of the most common headphones, the on-Ear headphones are one of the most prominent for a low-cost high-performance design. With an often soundproof design, these headphones will make sure that there isn’t anything that can hinder your listening experience.
- Produce less heat on the ears as compared to over-ear headphones
- They are relatively compact
- Can cause discomfort because of too much pressure on ears
- Noise cancellation is not usually up to the mark ( except the very costly ones)
- The bass is less powerful as compared to the over-ear headphones
- The sound leaks sometimes
The over-ear headphones are also known as the ‘circumaural headphones’ provide you with the most immersive and high – quality experience. These headphones are used by professionals because they produce the richest audio quality and are large enough to contain more sound technology inside them. Not to mention, they fully encompass your ears and are the largest of the three types of headphones and even come in the closed–back and open–back versions. The over-ear headphones are considered to be the most comfortable in all three headphones and their closed-back version provides extraordinary natural acoustic noise isolation.
With comfort being the main selling point, these headphones play as the confluence point of virtuality and physicality of life with sound overlapping. This means that there is not one moment that you would miss in either of the worlds, making it a perfect device for a run in the busy city life!
- They are very comfortable and have good sound quality
- Great noise isolation
- Top-quality loudness and bass
- A large soundstage
- They are a bit pricey as compared to other headphones
- Least portable
- They produce heat on ears so can’t be worn for long durations
The in-ear headphones also known as the ‘earphones’ are preferred by a lot of people for various reasons. They are inserted in your ear canal and are the most portable of all the other headphones. They are preferred by a lot of musicians because they can hear themselves clearly with the in-ear monitors. This will enable the musicians to hear any mistakes faster and it is always easier to detect the precision problems if you can hear each other clearly without any other disturbances.
These headphones are even extremely beneficial for violinists who want to improve their skills and know their shortcomings. The in-ear headphones can vary from disposable models that are available on airplanes to earbuds that nearly match the full-sized models sonically. Some of the models, usually the sport ones are equipped with wings or fins to ensure a secured fit.
The device is made for people who want a more pronounced definition of sound that allows them to clearly listen. A famous among the professionals, these headphones offer one of the closest to life replication of sound and would make your movie watching more than just a visual experience.
- An excellent choice for musicians
- Very portable
- Great noise isolation
- The sound quality often suffers because of their size
- They can be misplaced easily because of their size
- Tangle very easily
2. Type of Wiring
In their quest to search for good quality headphones, people are often confused about the fact that should their headphones be wired or wireless, as it is an important aspect nowadays. Over the past few years, wireless headphones have gained popularity because the absence of wires in the headphones makes it very easy to increase one’s capability in using technology and even improves usability.
A lot of companies such as gaming companies, call centers, and mobile companies are using both wired and wireless headsets, which is highly beneficial for their businesses. Nowadays, people prefer the usage of wireless headphones as they are easily portable and you don’t have to worry much about them. On top of that, the release of the Apple Air pods in 2016, made wireless headphones the new choice of the people and all the audio brands have been manufacturing wireless headphones with multiple features.
The wired headphones receive an analog signal that has the capacity to handle more data than Bluetooth. Therefore, wired headphones offer great sound quality. The wired headphones can connect to any audio source as long as a 3.5 mm input is available.
The in-ears, on – ears and over-ears have wired variants that are considered a better choice in the audio world by a lot of audiophiles because they can handle the lossless formats such as FLAC, ALAC, or WAV, and these formats sound much better on wired headphones as compared to wireless headphones.
The wired headphones don’t have any lag and don’t require constant batteries like their wireless counterparts, and some of them are even coming in USB-C and other lighting variants because of the absence of the 3.5 mm jack on smartphones. One thing to note here is that the cable itself may cause problems to the user as it may tangle or break very easily. It is considered an older type of headphones with the emergence of new Bluetooth technology that will give you more free space to move. That been said, however, these are perfect for daily use and might be a better option for people who are comfortable with wires and are tired of charging all their devices. One definite advantage of these headphones is that it would never shut off in your time of need!
Wireless headphones are now becoming the go-to choice for people because they do not tangle and are easily portable. This rapid change has increased now even more than ever because of the expulsion of the 3.5 mm jack on smartphones. The wireless headphones are furnished with the latest and improved Bluetooth codecs such as the AptX, AptX HD, AAC, AptX low latency that takes the listening experience to a whole new level making it an optimum choice for a large audiophile community.
These headphones also eliminate the cables, except for the headband or the cable connecting to the two earbuds or ear cups, therefore allowing more mobility. The one problem with wireless headphones is that they are usually costlier than wired ones and they have to be put on charging consistently. This means that in the longer duration of time it becomes difficult to extract constant use for an extended period of time, making them an unlikely companion in the long journeys, and yet a best friend during your workout.
True Wireless Earphones
The true wireless earphones have started dominating the earphones market. They are basically in-ear headphones that are stored in a case that also acts as a charger for them. They are completely free of the cords and are very portable making them an excellent choice for an active lifestyle. Most of these headphones even have incredible battery life. The case itself solves the problem for an extended use giving up to 72 hours of playtime.
However, due to their extremely small built, it can be a little difficult to keep track of, making them easier to get lost. This, however, is a small price as compared to the host of advantages that come along with the True Wireless bandwagon. These also provide a completely free user space whether you have to attend a business call, or simply talk to a loved one, or running up your favorite track, becoming one of the most perfect choices for every use, taking up the market users.
If you are a true audiophile, you will understand the importance of the volume levels of a headphone and that depends on the sensitivity of those headphones. Sensitivity determines how loud a pair of headphones can get. Most of the headphones have a sensitivity of around 96–110 dB approximately. Headphones below 85 dB would be too soft and should be avoided by everyone, and above 110 dB could potentially damage your hearing abilities, so they should also be avoided.
The sensitivity requirement of your headphones would also depend on the kind of use you are looking to derive out of your headphones. It is really important to note that for a normal person, there is a guide to buy perfectly sensitive headphones in most brand stores.
The drivers present in headphones turn the electrical signals into sound pressure. There are basically two different driver technologies, balanced armature, and dynamic. In most cases, the sound quality of the headphone depends on the size of the driver. The drivers boost the bass, treble, and mids to allow for an unforgettable listening experience. The balanced Amateur drivers are meant to sound very good in a specific frequency range those drivers also provide better isolation due to the absence of a vent within.
However, the balanced amateur drivers lack the superior quality of bass made by the dynamic drivers. The dynamic drivers are cheaper as compared to amateur drivers and also are very durable.
It is important to match the impedance of the headphones to the source you will be using it with. Most of the headphones which come packing low impedance (16 to 32 ohms) require less power to drive high audio levels. So, low impedance headphones will basically work well with all the devices that have weak amplification abilities such as portable music players and smartphones. Meanwhile, headphones with high impedance will demand more power to deliver acceptable audio levels. So, studio headphones with an impedance of say 250 ohms, will require a great source of power (such as amplifiers) to drive them. So, you should extensively research this before purchasing any headphones as impedance is an important aspect to keep in mind while searching for good quality headphones. Headphones with low impedance are also susceptible to ‘blowouts’ when using powerful amplifiers, so be wary of that.
6. Comfort level and fit
One of the most important aspects to keep in mind while searching for an ideal pair of headphones is the comfort and fit. It is extremely necessary to find a pair of headphones that are best suited for you and provides you with hours of comfort.
All three different types of headphones have different comfort levels. The over-ear headphones are considered to be the most comfortable headphones, but while buying those headphones, you should keep a few things in mind such as ensure that the headband does not dig into your head or cause you any sort of discomfort. Normally, headbands that have memory foam or any other regular foam layer provides comfort, but you need to ensure that the ear cups are plushy and comfortable. The memory foam ear cups are considered to be the best as they conform to the unique shape of your ear.
Another thing that can provide comfort to you is leather but it becomes too hot after long periods of usage. So, if you are someone who enjoys long listening sessions, the mesh will be the optimum choice for you but one thing to keep in mind is that mesh negatively affects noise isolation and audio leakage. If you prefer in-ear headphones (earphones), then the gold standard is what you are looking for. They provide you with increased noise isolation and better bass output. If you find the right fit for your ears, then the regular rubber tips can also come in handy. Some audio manufacturers even provide a slew of ear tips of different shapes and sizes. In a nutshell, comfort level and fit are some of the most important things to keep in mind especially if you plan to buy headphones and don’t plan to change them very often. It in turn is very important to make sure that your ears can support the headphones for a longer duration, along with the wear and tear!
7. Sound Profile
While searching for a good pair of headphones, the sound profile is one of the important things that people don’t keep in mind and end up buying the wrong pair of headphones. We are here to help you decide which sound profile is best for you.
There are three primary sound types and those are warm, neutral, and bright. Neutral is considered the best choice for high-end audio listening and is often pursued by audiophiles wishing to listen to the purest audio. But the neutral headphones are extremely rare as they have to reproduce every sound frequency in equal measure and it very difficult to do so. The ‘neutral’ headphones are very costly because the lows, mids, and highs are all well balanced and the flat signature enables you to hear each and every single frequency in detail.
Most headphones claim to be neutral but they are not. If you are finding a balancing sound headphone you should start looking for headphones with a warm or bright sound profile. Bright sounding headphones are good at creating the trebles. They can easily reveal the imperfections in the recording which makes them an infamous choice among casual listeners but they are preferred by level musicians. However, headphones that are too bright can be fatiguing to listen to for long periods of time. High sounds easily become annoying, and if they’re too loud, you will start to become irritated and annoyed at your music without really understanding the reason behind your annoyance. The ‘bright’ headphones are less – forgiving of poorly mastered music than warm ones are.
The ‘Warm’ sound profile is the most popular of all the other profiles on the consumer market right now. The warm sounding headphones tilt towards the bass frequencies. They sound comfortable and have an appealing sound signature. These headphones make vocals and bass more prominent. One thing to note is that some of the warm headphones are extremely thumpy and bass-heavy, and the higher sounds are present but are quieter and subdued, and you should avoid these headphones as they often mess with the integrity of the sound. The warm headphones sound pleasant, comfy, and musical.
8. Active Noise Cancellation and Passive Noise Cancellation
Nowadays, Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), is what you are looking for in every pair of headphones. Even the in-ear headphones come with ANC enabled in them. Without ANC, you will not be able to enjoy a fully immersive experience. ANC allows the user to listen to music or play his/her favorite games without any distractions. However, some people don’t prefer ANC since they have been known for hurting some people’s ears and causing headaches due to heightened pressure. Not only that, ANC even quickly drains the battery of the wireless headphones as compared to passive noise cancellation. However, if you are always in busy and noisy environments or like traveling a lot, the ANC enabled headphones are what you are looking for. The ANC headphones allow you to hear your music with perfect clarity and prevent the need to turn your music up to a high volume.
Headphones with passive noise isolation are usually cheaper as compared to headphones with ANC and are pretty decent for their price rate. These headphones will not be able to block out external unwanted noises but are pretty good if you using them at home or if you are in less noisy environments.
With the privacy of the virtuality matching steps with the physicality of the world, it has now become more important than ever to make sure that you have the perfect device to mark up your bridge! Make sure that you consider the points above to find a device to fit in seamlessly with your life!