Headphones allow you to listen to your favorite tracks, wherever you want and there is no disturbance to anyone around you. Now while travelling you might have observed that even though some people are wearing earphones, you hear which song they are listening to. This is the best example of a lousy headphone choice. In this article, we’ll arm you with information that’ll help make the perfect headphone choice.
In this article you'll learn about
Parameters to consider while buying headphones
Like every product or service or anything that you buy, there are some parameters that you should keep in mind. These are Budget, Comfort, Sound Quality, Noise Cancelation, Sound Leaking, and Portability. Let us have a look at these in detail:
I guess has to be the first parameter that we keep in consideration when thinking about buying something.
There are a lot of earphones starting at Rs. 300/- and can be as expensive as Rs. 25,000/-. That’s why fixing on a budget is really important while buying them. Otherwise, you might end up spending a lot more on a piece of technology you don’t really need.
All of our organs are really sensitive. Ears being one of the most ones, damaging them by getting earphones that aren’t that comfortable is not the best idea.
Comfort should be your the next thing on your priority after you have allocated your budget. Wearing an uncomfortable pair of earphones for a prolonged period can seriously damage your ear and hearing.
3. Sound Quality
Another really important factor you should consider while buying earphones is the sound quality. I mean, the whole point of having an earphone is that you get good quality sound and extreme portability. Though some earphones are not really portable, like these Over-ear headphones from Audio-Technica.
Another point you should know about is, Humans can hear frequencies from 20hz to 20,000hz. This is a huge spectrum. There are some earphones on the market that cover frequencies from 5hz to 40,000hz. Frequencies beyond our hearing capacity are called infrared frequencies. Even though we cannot hear them, studies have shown that having those extra frequencies definitely improves the overall hearing experience.
So, if you find earphones in your budget that has the extra frequency coverage, consider them.
4. Noise Cancellation
Well, as the name suggests noise cancellation is the ability of headphones or earphones to cancel out the background and outside noise so that you can hear only the music and nothing else.
The noise cancellation available in market is of two types, Passive Noise Cancellation and Active Noise Cancellation.
- Passive Noise Cancellation: Passive Noise cancellation headphones create a seal between your ear and the padding or earbud, to block out the surrounding noise. The extent of this depends on how good the seal is created.
- Active Noise Cancellation: Active noise cancellation is a really fun piece of technology. Earphones that have active noise cancellation, have a microphone on the outside which picks up the surrounding noise. The earphones then produce frequencies to cancel out this noise.
Passive noise cancellation is available in most headphones nowadays. If you wish to go for active noise cancellation, these might cost a bit more than the regular ones.
5. Sound Leaking
Sound leaking or the bleeding effect, is the music from your earphones escaping into the surroundings. This can be irritating because even if you listen to music at full volume, you might not enjoy it as the majority of sound is not reaching your ears.
The problem of sound leaking can be mostly observed in cheap earbuds and most of the On-ear-headphones. The bleeding effect is least observed in over-the-ear headphones, as they cover your ear completely.
Portability as per the dictionary means, the ability to be easily carried or moved. As I have mentioned above, earphones were invented as carrying around a boombox might have been cool back in the day, but it was a task. Not to mention the fact that it could be irritating for the people around you.
Portability in earphones is a factor that depends on the persons use. If you are a music producer, you might not really need a pair which is extremely portable. If you just want to listen to music on your commute then a pair of earphones are extremely portable.
Alright, now you guys know what are the parameters or factors that you should look for while buying a new pair of headphones. But now the next question comes up, that is which pair you should buy.
There are 3 types of headphones that we have on the market, In-ear headphones, On-ear headphones and Over-ear headphones. Each of these has the same use but completely different functions.
All the comparison points in the above image are explained below.
1. In-ear Headphones
These are probably the most popular type of headphones on the planet. Everyone who has a smartphone has a pair of these for sure. If you remember, there was a time when cell phone manufacturers would provide a pair of In-ear headphones.
Now let us see how these earphones fit in the parameters we have laid down.
In-ear headphones can fit into any budget. But there is no point in buying a cheap set of earphones that’ll damage your ears in the longer run.
These headphones generally come with a silicone tip which goes inside our ear canal. A lot of the newer and expensive ones have memory foam tips which are more comfortable and provide a better listening experience.
Since these earphones are very close to the eardrum, they provide a decent sound output. Some of the expensive ones are also called as “IEMs” or “In-ear Monitors”. It basically means that these, produce true sound frequencies. You’ll hear the sounds and instruments as they are.
Noise cancellation is not the forte of such headphones unless you go for a really expensive pair, like Bose. Most of the In-ear headphones provide a passive noise cancellation. The Sennheiser CX 275 S would be a really great buy if you are looking for good noise-cancelling earphones on a budget.
Sound leaking is also a bit of an issue with In-ear headphones, especially the cheaper ones. As you move up the price the products get better.
Hands down the most portable headphone type that exists. You can keep them in your pocket, a small pouch, you can carry them anywhere.
Here are a few great In-ear headphones under Rs. 2000/-.
- The Sennheiser CX 275 S.
- JBL Endurance Run Sweat-Proof Sports In-Ear Headphones.
- boAt Rockerz 255 Sports Bluetooth Wireless Earphone.
- boAt BassHeads 225 In-Ear Super Extra Bass Headphones.
- Sennheiser CX 180 Street II
2. On-ear Headphones
Have you all heard or seen the new compact SUVs that are available in the market? Yeah, these headphones are something like that, they are somewhere in the middle.
On-ear headphones sit right on your ear. They don’t go in or cover your whole ear, they sit on your ear. These heads are great for people who want something portable as well want that heavy bass like you get in Over-ear headphones.
Let us now see how it ranks in our parameters.
On-ear headphones can be a bit more expensive than the in-ear headphones. Since these are bigger, they have better audio drivers, and hence they are more expensive.
On-ear headphones are more comfortable than In-ear headphones, but after wearing them for prolonged periods you might experience some ear pain. These do have sponge padding, but since they don’t really fit over your ear, they become uncomfortable after a while.
If you switch from an average quality in-ear to an average quality On-ear headphones, you will notice the difference right away.
On-ear headphones have bigger sound drivers that allow it to pump out richer sounds that are more appealing to us. Because of these bigger sound drivers, it can pump out more bass which makes the music sound more fuller.
Noise Cancellation in On-ear headphones is not the best. The ones that have passive noise cancellation fail a bit, as they fail to cover the whole ear for most people. On-ear headphones that have active noise cancellation are your best choice.
Sound leaking or the bleeding effect is most observed in On-ear headphones. As you already know these don’t really cover your whole ear or go inside your ear, they just sit on your ears. This allows the sound to escape at times.
On-ear headphones are a compromise on the Over-ear headphones. Most On-ear headphones are compact and give out great sound at the same time. These are really portable and most manufacturers also provide a case in which you can carry then. They can easily fit in your purse, or a fanny pack or take up a small space in your bag.
Here are a few On-ear headphones that you might be interested in:
- Boat Rockerz 400 On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones.
- Sony WH-XB700 Wireless Extra Bass Headphones.
- Audio-Technica ATH-S200BTGBL Bluetooth Wireless On-Ear Headphones.
- boAt Rockerz 510 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones.
- JBL C300SI On-Ear Dynamic Wired Headphones.
3. Over-ear Headphones
These are the high range kind of headphones, but there is a reason why they are expensive. You’ll know why when i explain it in the parameters.
Yes, you need to have a high budget for a good pair of over the ear headphones. You will definitely find cheap ones in the market, but buying them would be pointless.
These are the most comfortable type of headphones that are available. Over-ear headphones cover your whole ear with very soft padding on the trim. You can wear these headphones for 6-8hrs without any issue. You might have observed, music producers, musicians, filmmakers all use Over-ear headphones.
These headphones have bigger and better sound drivers. The better the sound driver, the better is the output. A lot of expensive headphones need an amplifier to use it to its full extent. Over-ear headphones have the best bass output. A good amount of these headphones can also cover frequencies from 5hz to 40,000hz.
Noise cancellation is another plus point for Over-ear headphones. These are best at both; Passive noise cancellation and active noise cancellation.
Since they cover the ear completely, the are really great at passive noise cancellation. The only problem is that most of them have a closed shell. This causes a small reverb effect of the lower frequencies, i.e. you might hear the bass in the song for a slightly longer period than usual.
For active noise cancellation, these have microphones on the outside which pick up the sounds and then headphones produces counter frequencies to cancel out this noise. Active noise cancellation is best observed in studio quality headphones like the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x.
There is practically no sound leaking or the bleeding effect out of Over-ear headphones. As already discussed above, Over-ear headphones cover your whole ear, so there is no chance of any sound escaping outside.
The biggest downside to these earphones is portability. Since they offer so much, they are big and bulky. To carry it around you might have to carry a separate bag for it. A lot of the newer ones are foldable, but still, there are bulky and will take up a lot of space in your bag. These are best used when connected and kept in one place.
Here are some Over-ear Headphones that you shouldn’t miss out on.
- Audio-Technica ATH-M20x.
- Sennheiser HD 206.
- Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BTBK.
- ANIVIA 3.5mm Gaming Headset.
- Sennheiser HD 205 II.
- Skullcandy Hesh 3
Now, I cannot tell you ‘this headphone is best for you or that one’. Each of us have different ear shapes and different things that push us towards buying something. The earphones you buy completely depends on how you want to use them.
I hope you are now armed with the knowledge that will help you make the best decision.