Different Types of Headphones: The Definitive Buying Guide (2019)
- 21 Nov, 2018
Table Of Contents:
One of the greatest escapes in the world is music. In fact, researches show that music can drastically change moods and even enhance performance throughout the day. Different types of headphones are one of the greatest inventions in relation to music. They allow users to listen to their favorite songs without having to disturb others. Headphones are also used for other reasons like gaming.
There are several types of headphones on the market. Technology has done fair justice to them by making sure that they get better and better.
Wireless Headphones Vs. Wired Headphones
The two basic types of headphones are the wireless ones and the ones that have wires.
The following is a short guide to both of them.
✔ Infrared: The infrared technology in headphones allows the headphones to be connected to a device using infrared signal.
✔ Radio frequency: Radio frequencies are a much wider range that connects the headphones to the nearest signals. There are several overlapping chances in this wireless network.
✔ Bluetooth: Bluetooth signals have a wider range and can connect the headphones to any device paired with the headphones.
- Common wireless headphones: The most common ones are the Bluetooth ones as they do not cross connect and are easier to handle.
- True wireless headphones: True wireless headphones have two units for each ear that are not connected at all. They run on battery and have no hassle of being tangled or broken
- No chance of wire tangling
- You can connect the device to almost any system
- They give a wider range of usage
- Allows you to enjoy the wireless lifestyle as the maximum as possible
- They tend to run on battery and it may die fast
- The music can easily get out of bounds when the headphones are away from the system
- Bluetooth headphones
- Bluetooth headphones are gaining immense popularity as they are easier to connect to the smartphones and even laptops and give you ease.
✔ Traditional wired: Traditional wired headphones have a connected set of units to fit on the head. There is one wire that connects to the Mp3 device. In some occasions, there can be two wires; you can use one for the microphone connection.
• The sound is generally more clear
• There is not a hassle of losing frequencies or overlapping
• You can run them for as long as you want as they do not require charging
• Tangled and problematic
• The wires can be very fragile
Open Back Headphones Vs. Closed-Back Headphones
Another common type in headphones is the open back and closed back headphones. They are explained below.
I. Open back headphones
What are open back headphones?
- Open back headphones are headphones that are not completely sealed from the ear unit. They are slightly open for ventilation and balance of sound.
- They keep you aware of external surrounding
- Smaller to carry around
- They do not overheat your air
- Can affect sound quality at times
- Not suitable for flights and trains
Shop sample products:
II. Closed back headphones
What are closed back headphones?
- Closed back headphones are sealed units on the earpiece of the headphones. They are made to ensure that all air and external noise is canceled out.
- Good for noisy travel
- Designed to be more comfortable
- Can overheat the ears
- You cannot use them at home
Shop sample products:
- Arkartech V-1 Stereo Over-Ear Gaming Headset with Mic and Inline control
- Arkartech V-3 Portable Headset with With Adjustable Noise Cancelling MIC
Types of Headphone Fit
One of the greatest versatility in headphones is the various styles of wearing it. The following are the details.
I. In-ear headphones or earphones
What are in-ear headphones?
- In-ear headphones or ‘earphones’ are small units of headphones that are fit into the ear canal. These can wire or wireless and can come with a microphone system as well. They are gaining immense popularity as they are small and easy to carry around.
History and current status: About 50 years ago, Ray Bradbury had the idea of a future radio that could be camouflaged inside the ear. However, earphones are also said to date back to the 1850’s when the stethoscope was invented and there were ear tubes. With time these came into being and now there are several brands that create them in newer technologies as they become more popular than headphones.
- Easy to carry around as they are small
- They do not overheat the ear
- You can use them for almost any purpose
- Have a fragile system so they can be broken easily
- The sound quality is not as great as headphones
Shop sample products:
Beats by Dr. Dre
Apple air pods
II. Canal earphones
What are canal earphones?
- Canal earphones are like noise closed back headphones but in earphone form. They go into the ear canal and create a vacuum and seal the ear so that the sound is evident and external sound is blocked entirely. They usually come at a non-adjustable size which is why you will need to look for the right ones very carefully.
History and current status: The first set of earphones was made by Nathaniel Baldwin in 1910. Over the time they have been modified to make them better. Canal earphones have been as popular as the noise canceling headphones. They are not only used for listening to songs, they also play an important part in sleeping aid for many people.
- Eliminate external noises entirely
- Perform exceptionally well as compared to other earphones
- Highly portable
- The sizes are very hard to pick
- They might cause ear infections faster
Shop sample products:
UiiSii C100 Bass Earphones
What are Earbuds?
- Earbuds are the smallest form of earphones. They have a smaller ear unit and they are more likely to fit in all kinds of ears easily. Earbuds usually have a silicone or rubber cover to fit into the ear with ease.
History and current status: Earphones have officially been around since 1910. They have been modified in the years to follow to help in making them better. Earbuds are a relatively newer form of earphones. They are one of the greatest and most popular forms of earphones in the modern times.
- Can fit any ear
- Partially noise canceling even without their seal
- They are much more comfortable
- They are more prone to ear infections
- More likely to damage hearing if used for a long time
Shop sample products
Arkartech T6 Earphones
oBeats by Dr. Dre
IV. On ear
What are on-ear headphones?
- On-ear headphones are the most traditional style of headphones. They are a C shaped structure with ear units on each side and are worn like a headband. These have the best sound quality and with time they have emerged into various other features. They are the most modified sound of all the different kinds of headphones and are considered the first ever design.
History and current status: Nathaniel Baldwin has the credit of first making them for the US Navy. They were used to transmit radio signals and with time became more approachable to the public. Today many leading companies make them in various forms for the best quality of sound.
- Comfortable and easy to wear
- Have a great quality sound
- They are light in weight as well
- They can give headaches if too tight
- Very large in size
Shop sample products:
Motion each b3505
Kotion each b3506
V. Over-ear (around ear)
What are over ear headphones?
- Over-ear or around ear headphones is a small earpiece that has a bracket to fit around the year without a problem. The bracket allows the small earphone type to be incorporated without them falling off every few minutes. They can be wireless as well and are a very popular option.
History and current status: The over-ear headphones was probably the second best thing after headphones. The size decreased but the sound and features went greater. The over-ear headphone is currently partially common but they are certainly much loved.
- They do not have the size problem
- Lightweight and portable
- They can be wireless
- Can cause earaches after a while
- They are not noised canceling at all
Shop sample products
oSkull candy Chops
Special Features of Headphones
Since headphones have been invented, there have constantly been developments and modifications to them.
The following are a few special features of the headphones.
Noise Canceling Headphones:
- Active noise canceling headphones: Active noise canceling headphones seal the eardrum entirely. They do not let any external noises reach the ears as soon as they are worn regardless of whether there is sound or not.
- Passive noise canceling headphones: Passive noise canceling headphones allow you to focus on your sound without being cut off from the external sounds completely. They usually start working when you play the sound.
- Sample product for active noise canceling headphones : Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless (A full-size Bluetooth headphone with active noise canceling )
- Sample product for passive noise canceling headphones : Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones for Samsung and Android devices
Water Resistant Headphones:
Water resistant headphones are more in demand for people that spend a lot of time near the water. They are not only necessary for luxury while playing in the water, they are also important for people who are in submarines, ships, and for people who live near water and might get their headphones ruins with a drop of water.
Sample product for water resistant headphones:
- Bose - SoundSport Free wireless headphones - Black
- Jabra - Elite Active 65t True Wireless Earbud Headphones - Titanium Black
Waterproof headphones are a much better approach to saving headphones from the water. They can be under the water entirely and work perfectly. These are more suited to people that need headphones for their water activities.
Sample product for waterproof headphones:
- Arkartech Wireless Bluetooth Magnetic In-Ear Headphones, Portable Stereo Sport Earphone With Microphone
- Arkartech T6 Dual Dynamic Drivers Wired In-Ear Headphone with Microphone
Voice Assistants Headphones
With the emergence of smartphones, voice assistants have been a great new piece of technology. Moreover, headphones that have inbuilt microphones have this feature. You can give all sorts of commands to the headphone or the device that it is connected to, through the voice assistant technology.
Sample product for voice assistant headphones:
- Apple - AirPods - White
- Google - Pixel Buds - Just Black
- Bose - QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II - Black
A great feature that was added to the headphones was to enable the audio to travel through the jaw bones of the human and be heard. Furthermore, this feature makes the headphones much safer to use while increasing the quality of the sound.
Sample product for bone-conducting headphones:
Biometric headphones are designed to keep fitness in mind. They are set according to the person and often play music for as long as their exercising time is set. They are also suitable for people that do not like to share as they work only for the person who has their information fed in the headphones.
Sample product for bone-conducting headphones:
- Jabra - Elite Sport True Wireless Earbud Headphones - Black
- Bose - SoundSport Pulse wireless headphones - Power Red
- Jabra - Elite Sport True Wireless Earbud Headphones - Lime Green / Gray
- Bragi - The Dash Pro True Wireless Intelligent Earphones - Black
Inline Microphones and Controls - Especially for Gaming Headphones
Gamers need all their senses in one direction and they need to have the most convenience in their headphones. The microphone which usually sticks out is set in a way that the voice is caught along with the controls being in line and very easy to access.
Sample product for inline microphone and controls headphones:
- Beats by Dr. Dre - BeatsX Earphones - Black
- Sony - 1000XM2 Premium Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones - Black
- MG-2 Stereo Detachable MIC In-Ear Gaming Headset 3D Vibration Sound
- Wireless Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones, Portable Stereo Sport Earphone With Microphone
Volume Limiting Headphones
Volume limiting headphones are perhaps the safest features that have been added to headphones. They are usually best for children. Moreover, these headphones are set to never go higher than 85 decibels makes them very safe.
Sample product for volume limiting headphones:
- Skullcandy - Uproar Wireless On-Ear Headphones
- Skullcandy - Uproar On-Ear Wireless Headphones
- eKids - Hello Kitty Stereo Headphones
Sound Amplification Headphones
Headphones are mini speakers which mean that it matters a lot what the sound quality is like. For people like Dj and professional mixers, it is important that they be able to set the sound according to the requirements. A mini amplification system allows them to do so easily.
Sample product for sound amplification headphones:
- Bose - Hearphones Conversation-Enhancing Headphones
- Nuheara - IQbuds True Wireless Earbud Headphones
Folding Design Headphones
One of the most convenient features that headphones have gotten over the years is the ability to fold. Furthermore, the hefty and bulky headphones got a much more portable look with the foldable features.
Sample product for folding design headphones:
- Retractable Bluetooth Headset, Wireless Headphones with Neckband& Foldable Design
- Logitech G430 7.1 DTS Headphone: X and Dolby Surround Sound Gaming Headset for PC, Playstation 4 – On-Cable Controls – Sports-Performance Ear Pads – Rotating Ear Cups – Light Weight Design
Clip-on headphones usually have separate earpieces that are like the headphones. They are over the ear and then clipped in a way that they are attached to the ears without the headband or the neck resting system.
Sample product for clip-on headphones:
- Koss KSC75 Portable Stereophone Headphones
- Panasonic Slim Clip On Earphone - Black
- Sony MDR-Q55SL Lightweight, Open-Air, Clip-On Earhook Earclip SportClip Stereo with Deep-Bass Turbo Duct Headphones
Behind-The-Neck Headphones (neck-sitting)
The behind the neck headphones do not sit on the head like a headband, but they are a stiff structure that rests on the neck. The mini speakers on these headphones are usually in the ear or even over the ear.
Sample product for neck sitting headphones:
- Arkartech Wireless Neck-Sitting Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones
- Bluetooth Headphones Wireless Neckband Headset, Built-in Mic, for Cell Phone/Tablets/TV- Black
Broadcast headphones are made keeping the radio and other transmissions in mind. The sound is very clear and usually, they are noise cancellation. They have an inbuilt microphone which does not let external sound to get recorded.
Sample product for broadcast headphones:
Some headphones are designed with a small almost invisible antenna that can catch radio frequencies. You do not need to connect them and users can enjoy listening to the local radio.
Sample product for radio headphones:
Headphones that are used with smartphones and professional cameras also have a special button to begin and end recordings or take pictures. This button is designed to add convenience to the photographer.
SD card slot
A growingly popular style of headphones includes them being wireless while being a complete mp3 player. Users can transfer songs into the system and can also insert SD cards to play the songs of their choice. Moreover, the headphones have all basic controls to make this the most convenient and stylish design.
Sample product for headphones with SD card slot:
Noise-Isolating Vs. Noise-Cancelling Headphones
There is a slight difference between noise canceling and noise isolating headphones.
- The noise canceling headphones use seals and other physical methods to ensure that the external noises do not enter the eardrum once these headphones are worn. They are a great sleeping aid for many people and doctors actually prescribe them.
- The noise isolating headphones use sound waves to ensure that the external noise is blended in, almost like white noise. The sounds are not eliminated just by wearing them, but you need to play real time music in order to cancel the sounds that are external.
Tech Specs of Headphones
There are many small things that make up a great set of headphones.
- Drivers: Drivers in the headphones are one of the most important parts of the headphones. The driver is responsible to covert the electrical signal into the sound that we can listen and understand. It is made of a magnet, a voice coil, and a membrane-like structure called the diaphragm.
- Frequency response: The frequency response of the headphones are the ranges of the bases, the mid, and the treble. The most common frequency and the safest is between 20 to 20,000 Hz. The former being the base while the latter being the treble.
- Sensitivity: The sensitivity of the headphones determines how high the sound will be at the given level. The measurement of sensitivity is in decibels of sound pressure level per mill watt. There are calculations that show how much time can a certain unit of sensitivity can the human ear bear before starting to damage the eardrum.
- Impedance: Impedance in headphones determines how much power is required to deliver audio levels. Headphones that have lower than 25 ohms impedance will produce bad quality sound and may be very radiating as well.
- High-resolution audio: High resolution or high definition audio is achieved by producing an upper frequency. They are not very popular but they are growing with time. They are on the line of the human hearing and are safe.
- Stereo Vs Mono: The stereo headphones use more than two signals that all produce one sound on the speaker. This helps in making the sound quality much better and also helps in canceling out the external sounds. Mono signals produce the comparatively lower quality of sound with one signal only.
Choosing the Headphones for Your Lifestyle
- For Sports
Since music can help you increase your energy, during sports it’s an absolute must. Headphones that are light in weight and are stuck to your ear are the best option. Noise-canceling ones may not be the right choice for this purpose.
Shop headphones for sports: Arkartech Sports Wireless Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones with Mic and Inline Control
- For Work
Over the head headphones that are noise canceling can be the best option for work. The idea is to isolate the noise surrounding you but you need to let everybody know that you are wearing headphones and not ignoring them.
- For Travel
Acquiring comfort during travel is very difficult. When it comes to headphones, you will need lightweight and high-frequency headphones. The sound of the vehicle can bother you which are why it is important to get noise canceling ones.
- For Home
At home, if you are using headphones as a luxury, then you have the ability to go for anything. The main thing is to go for something wireless so that you can easily work while listening to music.
- For Audiophiles
For audiophiles, you will need the best sound quality which is why HD headphones are important. You need to close back to cancel out the noise and be distraction free.
- For Gaming
Gamer have their hands full so as much convenience they can get they take it. Headphones that have in-line microphones and controls are a great option for gamers. Gamers may not have a problem with something bulky but wireless.
- For Kids
Volume Limiting headphones are purposefully designed for children. Headphones that go over the head and are small in size can do the trick. Foldable or other fragile options can be very bad here since children may be able to break them easily.
- For the Podcaster
Podcasters will find headphones with inbuilt speakers the most convenient to them. Podcasting that involves videos may need a neater effect which is why wireless in-ear headphones or wireless earphones will be the best option for them.
- For the Picky People
For people that want their headphones to be perfect, they will need half open half closed back headphones so that they can cancel the noise out while also being able to hear the externals. Earbuds with the most comfortable silicone lining can be perfect for their picky choices.
- For the DJ
A Dj will need headphones that have HD sound and options for amplifying the sound. Amplifying allows them to mix music of their choice and understanding. The closed back needs to be there to cancel out the external noises and completely focus on the sound.
- For the student
Students usually listen to music to focus better. They will find earphones most suitable that have volume limitations.
- For schizophrenics
People that go through mental problems like schizophrenia sometimes need to listen to very loud music. Headphones that reach the limit of the sound are perfect for them. They need to be high definition and over the ear, so the ear is not damaged.
- For voiceover artists
Voice over artists will need an entirely closed back headphone set that will help listen to only what they are talking about.
Tips for Choosing Headphones
It might get very confusing to choose the right headphones out of the many designs on the market. The following are ten tips to help you choose the best headphones for you.
- Decide the fit:
Take a look at this article and decide for what purpose you will need the headphones. When you have the purpose you will automatically find the perfect fit. This is the first step to getting the right headphones for you.
- Do not go cheap:
If you think that the cheaper headphones that look strong will do the trick then you are wrong, if you care about the health of your hearing then keep an open mind and a heavy budget. Make sure to inspect the quality and then look at the price of the headphones.
- Inquire about the impedance:
You will find details about impedance in this article. Make sure you use that to enquire and inspect the impedance. Keep in mind that anything lower than 25 ohms may be seriously damaging to your ear and they may also not very durable.
- Decide additional features:
There are several different additional features in headphones. You need to make a choice on which ones are important to you and if you are willing to spend on the features
- Decide whether you would like noise canceling or noise isolating:
There is a slight difference in noise canceling and noise isolating. Make sure you know enough about the difference and find out which one you need.
- Decide if you want a brand:
Of course, branded things always are the best quality and they will give you more than you want. However, their prices may not be very reasonable. Decide whether you are willing to spend on a brand or not.
- Choose a style/color:
Most people think that they have to compromise on the style and the color but you do not have to. If your headphones are going to be an important part of your lifestyle, then flaunt it by taking the stylish one.
- Test them:
The worst thing you can do is take your headphones without testing them on your device. There might not be a problem with the headphones; they just might not be compatible with your device.
- Enquire about the padding:
The padding in headphones can be silicone, rubber, leather, or any other material. Make sure to inquire about that so that there is no material used that you are allergic to.
Good quality headphones will always come with a warranty. Try to get the ones with a warranty so you will have a satisfactory purchase.
Now that you know everything about that there is to know about headphones, you can enjoy getting the pair that is perfect for you. Keep in mind all the things that you have learned from this article when you go to purchase your favorite headphones for the best possible purchase.
It can be tricky to get the tech stuff if you do not know about it so make sure to take professional advice and read the manual as thoroughly as you can to know most about the product that you are buying. You can always take someone with you for the right decision.