How Do People With Glasses Use Headphones Comfortably [Detailed Guide]
- 21 Nov, 2018
Having headphones on your head for a prolonged period of time can be quite a bother, especially if your headphones are uncomfortable, overly large, or if the pressure on your earlobes is too strong. I use headphones a lot as well, and as much as I love to lean back and relax while listening to my favorite songs, overly tight or heavy headphones can really ruin the mood after a couple of hours.
Wearing glasses while wearing headphones, however, is both uncomfortable and irritating, which is something I am sure that all of you bespectacled folks are intimately familiar with.
Discomfort, headache, and the resulting frustration are only some of the possible consequences. Yet still, there are ways for us to mitigate these issues, so wearing headphones and glasses at the same time does not need to be so problematic.
Let us see how we can solve this headphones-glasses conundrum.
Main Types Of Discomfort
Before we begin discussing the possible solutions to our big little problem, let us first consider what sort of discomfort we may encounter while wearing headphones and glasses for long periods of time. Some of them I already mentioned above, but those are not the only ones. Others include:
- Headaches – headaches arise as consequence of the overly strong pressure the headphones exert over the temporal bone of the skull;
Anatomy of the skull and temporal bone
- Sore ear cartilage/Auricular chondritis – this happens in case of wearing both headphones and glasses,which makes your earlobes sore because of the joint pressure of the headphones and the glasses;
- Overall discomfort and pain
Why Does It Hurt So Much?
Now we come to a very important question: “Why do I feel pain and discomfort while wearing headphones and glasses for hours and hours on end?” Let’s try and answer that, shall we?
Believe it or not, just like finger prints, human ears are also unique. The shape and size of an ear varies from person to person. But on the market (for now at least), the type of headphones that can suit everybody perfectly without any issues simply does not exist. That means that if two people buy the same headphones, they won’t necessarily be able to fit equally good on either of them.
Just like we can’t make gloves and shoes that fit every single person in the world, neither can we make “one pair of headphones to fit them all, and all the comfort provide them.”
The Causes Of Discomfort
1. The Shape and Size of the Glasses
The specific type of glasses can influence the overall sense of comfort. Today, their frames can be made out of different materials such as plastics, rubber and metal. If you use headphones extensively, but also need to wear glasses, take into consideration the material and the thickness of the stems.
Some types of glasses with varying thickness of the stems
2. The Strength of Headphones’ Pressure: Clamping Force
When I say clamping force, I’m referring to the strength of the pressure you feel on your ears or skull when you put the headphones on. The tighter the headphones, the stronger the pressure exerted. Clamping force also plays a role in the overall sound quality.
If the clamping force is too weak, then chances are the headphones will fall off every time you move yoru head suddenly. The quality of sound suffers as well: if the headphones are not clasping your skull properly, you will hear too much outer noise that could easily drown the sounds coming from the headphones, so won’t be able to properly use them.
But if the clamping force is too strong, then the pressure on your ears and temporal bone can cause painful headaches and make your ears sore. This counts double for the bespectacled people. Strong clamping force exerts pressure on the stems of your glasses, which turns them into an additional burden for your ears and an additional source of pressure for your temporal bone.
3. Types of Headphones
When it comes to problems with comfort, there are two types of headphones we need to pay attention to. Those are:
- Supra-aural headphones, commonly known as “on-ear” headphones;
- Circumaural headphones, also known as “over-ear” headphones.
Usually, on-ear headphones are smaller in size when compared to their over-ear cousins. The padding of the on-ear headphones rests directly on your ears, while the padding of the over-ear headphones surrounds them.
The smaller size of on-ear headphones makes them lighter, which means that their clamping force is weaker than that of the over-ear ones. Over-ear headphones have to be made so as to distribute their weight over your head as evenly a possible.
The strength of the clamping force and the point of pressure, as we can see, depend on the type of headphones we use.
4. Ear Padding
The material used to make pads on your headphones, and their quality of workmanship have a direct impact on your overall experience of wearing headphones. The pads play the role of a buffer zone, protecting your ears and/or scalp from the overly strong pressure induced by the clamping force.
As for the materials used to make headphone padding, four types of materials are commonly used. Those are:
In terms of hardness, velur and foam are much softer materials than pleather and leather. The thickness of the material, however, is very important for the overall sound quality, but also for the overall comfort you feel while having your headphones on.
For example: you have just bought your new headphones, but the material used to make the padding does not suit you properly, or the padding is simply too thin. In that case, the cartilage of your ear and the temporal bone of your skull will suffer for it, since there would be less padding to properly mitigate the clamping force effect, so do bear all this in mind when buying your new headphones.
Methods Of Reducing Discomfort
So far we have discussed the types and causes of discomfort we feel while wearing headphones and glasses. Now we will observe some of method of dealing with these issues, and thus making this experience at least a bit more enjoyable.
1. Buying Glasses with Thinner Stems
As we have mentioned above, the thickness of the stem influences the amount of pressure your earlobe and temporal bone suffer while wearing headphones and glasses simultaneously. The wider the stem, the greater the pressure. In order to prevent this, I advise buying glasses with thin metal stems. That way the pressure will lessen significantly, and you will be able to wear your headphones with minimal amount of discomfort.
2. Stretching the Headphones
Another way of making your headphones easier to wear is to lessen the strength of the clamping force by simply – stretching them! But do this with care: you do not want to stretch the headband too much and make them unable to clasp your skull properly, and you especially don’t want to break the headband!
Another important thing regarding the headband is the padding. If your headphones are heavy and the headband has no padding, then it won’t be long before you start feeling discomfort and pain due to the pressure exerted upon your scalp. When buying headphones, pay attention to this detail, and choose headphones with comfortable and effective padding.
3. Over-ear Headphones
Over-ear headphones’ padding encompasses the circumference of your ears, so the pressure on your cartilage and temporal bone is much lesser. They may be a bit bulkier than the on-ear ones, but their wider padding is a big plus. Consider these features carefully before purchase.
4. Choosing Headphones with Thicker Ear Padding
When choosing headphones, pay attention on the thickness of the ear padding. The greater the thickness, the weaker the pressure exerted by the clamping force.
Here, you will find the answers to some of the most asked questions regarding wearing headphones and glasses:
1. What headphones are the most comfortable while wearing glasses?
Here are some that may be useful to you:
- Beyerdynamic Dt770 PRO 32 Ohm closed Studio Headphone – reliable and versatile over-ear headphones with soft padding, comfortable to wear, and lightweight;
- Samson SR850 Semi-Open Back Studio Reference Headphones – these headphones have adjustable headband, and offer great sound quality. They are also open-ear, meaning that they do not have to completely clasp around your ear for you to hear the sound optimally;
- Senheiser HD 201 – another over-ear yet lightweight headphones.
I can also suggest you buy memory foam padding. They can adapt to a lot of different types of headphones put there, and provide a lot comfort.
2. Which are the best noise cancelling headphones for people wearing glasses?
The aforementioned Samson SR850 are pretty good for these purposes, and you may want to check out Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones. They’re over ear, come with built-in Alexa, but they may be a bit pricy for some. Sennheiser HD280PRO are also a good choice, with ergonomic design and replaceable (although soft) padding.
3. Are there any other ways of using headphones and glasses simultaneously?
There are actually some other ways which allow you to wear headphones with glasses, but some of them are pretty risky.
For example, you can use scissors to cut the padding of the headphones and thus make some space for the glasses frame. That way you’ll gain comfort (if you do it right), but the sound quality might suffer for it. If you want to try this method out, I advise you not to do it unless you have some extra padding.
Another option to try out would be to either use earbuds (unless you specifically need to use headphones), or use stemless reading glasses when you don’t need to move around too much.
A type of stemless reading glasses
As we have seen, wearing glasses and headphones is a serious issue, especially in cases of wearing them for prolonged periods of time. The pressure we feel on our skull and ears feels like we put our head in some kind of vice which clamps on us harder and harder the more we wear them! The solutions offered in this article cannot completely cancel the negative effects, but at least they should help you feel even a little bit more comfortable.
Remember: wear glasses with thin metal stems; mind the thickness and material of the padding, choose over-ear headbands whenever you can, and please, please don’t overstretch the headband! Take all this into account, and you should be alright.