If you’re a fan of your music then headphones will be something you are accustom to using. But if you’re still trying to figure out which headphones you should invest in, then this buyers guide should be able to help you out!
What are the different types of headphones?
There are three core styles of headphones which most people will recognise, with each having its own distinct advantages, below you can find a description of each type.
In-Ear Headphones (Earbud Headphones)
The most common type of headphone in the UK, in-ear headphones are designed to fit inside your ear canal effectively blocking out any noise from elsewhere to offer an immersive audio experience.
Most versions offer rubber ear tips of different sizes; however, these can be lost fairly easily. Replacements can be bought at a very cheap price though, and some stockists even offer moulded earbuds for precise fits.
Often better for exercise, in-ear headphones vary in price and quality, with some of the best costing upwards of £150. Wireless in-ear headphones are also readily available to help deal with wires, although their lifespan is typically shorter than other larger headphone styles.
Over-Ear Headphones (Circumaural/Full-Size Headphones)
More of a fashion statement than ever before, over ear headphones are now more and more common on UK streets. Fitting over the ear, as their name would suggest, they’re often louder and offer better quality than most other types of headphone.
Music is often sealed in, so that others can’t hear your music, and it’s also hard to be disturbed by external sound as well. However, there are some issues with using over-ear headphones on a day to day basis.
Firstly, whilst they’re great at home or at work, they’re not quite as portable as other styles, and if worn for too long can become uncomfortable. Also, they can be troublesome for certain hair styles and won’t be as useful when exercising compared to in-ear set-ups.
Over-ear headphones are typically the most expensive as well, although they do offer the best quality. Expect to pay upward of £200 for a great pair of them.
On-Ear Headphones (Earpad Headphones/Supra-Aural Headphones)
Similar to over-ear headphones, on-ear headphones don’t fully enclose the ear, instead sitting on your ears for a lighter and less bulky feel. This makes them more portable than over-ear efforts but also allows them to pack more of a punch than in-ear headphones in the same beat.
Due to them not fully enclosing the ear, sound often leaks in and out of these kinds of headphones -especially at higher volumes. Of course, the upside is that they’re less likely to make your ears too hot and uncomfortable and that they’re lighter than over-ear cans as well.
However, they have proved the least popular style of headphones of the three due to their lack of purpose. Ask yourself why you really want a pair of on-ear headphones over in-ear or over-ear ones, and it’s quite hard to fathom a reasonable response which relates to quality, ease of use or price.
What’s the deal with Wireless Headphones?
One of the bigger developments, helped most recently by the iPhone 7’s lack of a headphone jack is wireless headphones.
Working the same way as wired models, music quality isn’t affected by the lack of wires. However, if you venture too far from the device you’re using to play music you can lose connection. This is because Bluetooth (the standard way wireless headphones connect) has a fairly limited range.
One issue which regularly needs tackling is that of recharging headphones, as wireless devices run via lithium ion batteries. Lifespans can vary, but few last over more than 7-8 hours of solid listening, requiring users to use an Aux cable after their battery dies.
Of course, with batteries being developed constantly, they’re likely to improve as the years go by. Plus, with the added portability and lack of wires, it seems that wireless headphones could prove to be the future.
Headphones for different Tasks
If you’re on the lookout for a new pair of headphones, it’s likely that you’ve got a certain task in mind for them. But what should you be on the lookout for when looking to fit the bill for each task?
If gaming is your forte, then a strong pair of over-ear headphones are probably your best bet. Keys include surround sound, good noise reduction and general audio quality. For longer gaming sessions added comfort may be required, but in terms of portability and size you shouldn’t have to worry too much.
The key for headphones during exercise is their ability to stay put, and that’s also why in-ear headphones should be used in almost all circumstances. Fitting into your ear canal and refusing to budge, everything else is a bit of a sideshow.
Of course, volume, audio quality and noise reduction are handy additions, but for those weekly 5km runs on a treadmill, anything that sticks should do the job. Let’s face it, you’re not going to be judging clarity when you’re panting across the finish line are you?
If travel is your biggest aspect worth considering with your headphones, then it’s portability which will likely sway your decision. This means that in-ear headphones are once again the best option, although some on-ear and over-ear cans may also handle the job well.
Like always, audio quality will be useful, as will wireless capabilities. Simply put, you can go for almost any of the three options in this case, it just depends on your preference.
Day to Day:
Day to day headphones rely on a good all-round level of performance, with portability, quality and fashion all important. For many, in-ear headphones are often preferred – whilst others stick with larger on or over-ear efforts instead.
If you’re a big time audio fan, then it’s really just the over-ear headphones which you should be considering. Thanks to their larger size and build, their quality is hard to surpass, with bass, noise reduction and everything else all a bit better than other headphones.
Headphone Jargon Buster
Even though you might think you know everything about headphones, there can still be the odd bit of jargon that might knock you off kilter – this jargon buster should stop that happening.
- Aux Cable: The cable which connects your music playing device to your headphones. They often come included with wireless headphones as an alternative means of playing music if the battery dies.
- Bluetooth: The wireless connectivity feature which allows devices to play audio through wireless headphones.
- Driver: A technical component found within headphones which are cone shaped. They vibrate to create sound waves and can vary in quality.
- 5mm Jack: The slot within your device in which the standard headphone cable connector fits. Recently removed from the iPhone 7, it’s still industry standards to this day.
- NFC: Similar to Bluetooth, it works by sending information from an audio device to a speaker or headphone. It lacks the same range as Bluetooth but offers a more secure connection.
- Surround Sound: A feature often found in audio devices, it gives the effect that the user is in the middle of an area with sound coming from all directions as opposed to the speaker or headphones themselves.