Headphone Buying Guide (Best Way To Pick Which Headphones to Buy)
A good headphone can be your best buddy, especially If you listen to music a lot. You can just turn up the volume, close your eyes and let the music take over your soul.
Good music can calm your soul and take you to another place away from your problems. But to experience that awesome moment, you must have a high-quality headphone.
A headphone is a device having two pairs of earphones connected by a band placed over the head. It lets a person listen to their favorite audio song privately in contrast to a loudspeaker.
From their humble beginnings in the 1920s to today it has become a fashion statement.
Here in this article, I will tell you everything, you need to know to choose the best headphone that fuels your soul.
Step 1: Decide between headphones or earphones/earbuds
If you looking to buy a sound solution, you might get confused between earphones vs headphones.
Headphones and earphone, both have their own pros and cons. Size, convenience, comfort, features play an important role in choosing one over other. But when we talk about overall performance, headphones do provide a much richer experience.
Read this comparison table to clearly decide, which one is right to pick for you.
|Headphone provides much better audio performance & superior sound quality than earphones.||Earphones provide a decent sound experience.|
|Headphones provide better isolation from external noise and don’t need to be shaped to fit one’s head.||Earphones, on the other hand, comes with a variety of ear tips in different shapes and sizes. Still, it can be difficult to choose the one that fits perfectly.|
|The headphones are less portable and convenient as compared to earphones.||Earphones are light-weight, easy to carry and portable|
|Headphones can get all sweaty and make your ears hot while walking, running or even at the gym.||Earphones provide better sonic experience and are suitable for sweaty outdoor activities.|
|Headphones do not make much damage to ears as compared to earphones.||If you constantly use earphones, it may cause damage to ear such as Tinnitus.|
At this stage, you would have definitely decided which personal listening device is right for you.
If the headphone is your choice, let’s proceed on the journey of choosing good headphones for music.
Steps 2: Deciding your budget
It is better to decide how much money you want to spend in advance and than stick to your limits. This is one of the good spending habits.
In most cases, the more expensive a headset is the better is its inbuilt quality and engineering thus producing better sound quality. You should always ensure that you get what you pay for.
After you decide your budget, the next important thing is to decide what types of headphones should I get.
Steps 3: Deciding between different types of headphones
As the name suggests, wireless headphones are engineered without wires. Nothing comes between you and your music. These types of headphones best suit when you are commuting or working out and looking for the best comfort.
Most of the headphones use Bluetooth technology to encodes audio and transmit sound over a short distance. Devices with Bluetooth technology can connect and exchange data over very short distances using radio transmissions. The battery life of a Bluetooth headset differs for every brand and model. You should always check battery life before buying wireless headphones.
Wireless headsets are connected with each other with a wire or cable. True wireless earbuds are available in the market which comes in pairs of separate wireless units — one for each ear. Some of them come with a charging case that can be used for charging as well as storing your earbuds. While choosing this model, check their fitting and battery life. Battery life and connectivity loss are the only other disadvantages, which do not occur frequently.
The main advantage of choosing wired headphones is proper signal transmission over wires gives you a much richer sound experience. They don’t require any battery, hence the reason gamers often prefer wired headphones.
Neckband headphones have a thick but flexible band that connects the two earpieces. Unlike normal headphone which goes on the head, its bands rest on the neck. It has its own distinct advantages such as ease of use, wireless connectivity, and comfort. They also won’t mess your hairstyle. If you use headphones for a longer time, these can work great for you.
Based on the size and form factor, it can be further classified into the following categories.
Circumaural or Over-ear headphones:
A circumaural headset is also known as Over-ear headphones that have a circular shape design over the head. And the sound comes slightly under the ear. It would be a good choice for those people who want to record sounds like- DJ’s. It has the property of sound separation. Circumaural headphones are full-sized headphones having large size headphones that provide the extra bass and noise cancellation effects.
A supra-aural headset is not large compatible as the circumaural headphones. You can purchase these headsets at very cheap prices. It has a round shape. Its quality and shape are better from the circumaural headphones. There size, shape and noise cancellation properties make them relatively better than other headphones.
Open-air headphones are also referred to as Open-back headphones. These are not closed from outside and having open ear-cup that allow some sound to escape into the environment.
The backside of these types of headphones is open and covered with a net. The noise cancellation effect is low.
A semi-open headset is the type of headphones in which you can hear the outside noise or voice and the outside people can hear your headset sound. These types of headphones are not good enough for that time you don’t want any interference when you deeply enjoy your music or something. But for the sportsperson, headset with waterproof quality is the best.
Closed or sealed headphones:
Closed-back headphones cover your entire ear. These earpieces are a great type of headphones for those who want to block out any noise when using these, regards to your intended application.
This style of headset dumbs the noise surrounding you to keep the music free of any outside activity. And at the same time creates an isolated audio experience so only you can hear that sound. Closed-back headphones are good for those people who want every minute lost in the music.
These types of headphones are used when you want to edit and monitoring the videos and the music. It also called monitoring headphones. The studio recorder always prefers two types of headphones, open back, and closed-back headphones.
Earbuds’ headphones are less painful because of the silicone earbud. It can be uncomfortable if the earbud size doesn’t fit you right in your ear. It’s a size too large or small, it will slip out from your ear.
Most of the earbuds come in one set of each size. For some, just the stuffing of ear canals itself can be discomforting otherwise it is more comfortable for your ears and you also. More people want to buy these types of headphones as they are comfortable and easy to carry.
Buying a pair of flexible headphones is always a better choice due to its easy portability. These are preferred by those users who need smaller sized audio devices that are easy to carry and pack. Once you are finished using them you can safely pack them in their carrying bag or conveniently place them with your other things.
A portable headset is lightly weighted which makes them unique for active use, and the one thing is good for them they can sound fantastic. Because they allow you to hear external sounds such as you are in traffic and the other runaway garbage truck bearing down on you, in this situation they are suited for use when hearing what’s going on around you is important.
Dj guys use a circumaural headset. They also use a single-sided headset with just only one cup. Closed-back and circumaural is the best headphones for isolating the sound. People who work with DJ have some unique requirements like- mixing the song with the best sound and bass. This kind of customer wants headphones that can procreate deep bass and neat sound, crisp highs for dance music.
Step 4: Choosing your brand and model
When it comes to consumer choices, brands matter due to their best quality compared to the local brand headphones.
Here is a list of some of the best headphones brand.
Depending upon your following, select a few brands. It is always better to have a few options to compare between them. Then after you can select some best performing models based upon their popularity, review, features and market price.
Step 5: what to look for in headphones
If you want to play audio files from other devices without a wired connection, you should look for Bluetooth feature. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of having wireless Bluetooth headphones.
- You don’t need to mess with wires and cables anymore.
- Play any audio files from any Bluetooth supporting device and can adjust the volume level as well.
- Bluetooth is widely popular and simple to use.
- While using Bluetooth internet, the connection can sometimes run very slow.
- They are costlier as compared to a decent pair of wired earbuds.
- You need to charge them regularly. Batteries last 4-8 hours per charge.
- They are less durable as compared to wired headset due to the batteries, connectors, etc.
Headphone on. World off. The best headphones are those when putting in, you are in your own little world. To get that feeling, your headphone must keep music in and block outside noise.
Some people want a unique design. Where the decision is all yours. basically, in the market different types of headphones are available like- Circumaural Headphones, Supra-aural Headphones, Wired Headphones, Wireless headphones, etc.
Sound frequency(Noise cancellation)
Sound frequency in a normal headset is between 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Every person looks headphones with the best sound quality with noise cancellation feature. For some people, big bass is the most important thing.
Other factors include isolation, comfort, weight, portability, and fit in a device. Getting the sound right can make all the difference between a boring bus ride and an emotional journey. So, sound quality must be excellent.
Fit and comfort
When you try a headphone, you should put them in your ear for at least 5 to 8 min approx. Because sometimes you don’t check the headset properly while buying, later on, you realize it’s cons & discomfort. Hence, it’s better to use it for a while to ensure everything is fine.
Product quality & durability
Everyone prefers a good quality product. When you think for a brand name you are not just paying for the name sometimes. You are paying for the trusted quality. Getting the sound right can make all the difference between a boring place to make it enjoyable.
Everyone wishes their headphones to last for a longer time. To make this happen, always go for a trusted brand and products. Look for a warranty and if replacement parts are available.
While buying a headphone, people get excited by all the features and forget to check that they’re suitable or not with their existing system and need. So check the connectivity and portability with your device first. Always check the connectivity before purchasing headphones. If you buy wireless headphones, check the Bluetooth connectivity. If it is better then you should compare other things.
These are best suited to those who are athletes or those people who need to hear the environment while listening to music. It sits on your cheekbones, bypassing your eardrum to send the sound signal directly to the inner ear using the vibration in the head.
If you are a jogger, then these pairs of headphones are a great fit for you as you can enjoy listening to music while also paying attention to the traffic. Some manufacturing company claims that it produces less strain to your ear as compared to the normal headset. Bone conduction technology works great for people who suffer from hearing loss.
Step 6: Choose the one which best suits your lifestyle
Now we have arrived at the most important steps – considering your lifestyle to best choose any headphone. Every top-quality headphone is designed to meet the requirements of any specific lifestyle. If you are a homebody, you should not consider buying a headphone ideal for those who travel a lot.
Hence it is really important to know your lifestyle and choose the gadgets which are designed keeping in mind your lifestyle. You will just love using them while doing your favorite work.
Homebody – one who likes to spend most of their time at home
If you are a serious music listener and spend most of your time inside the home, you need something which is big and provides superior sound quality. Over-ear headphones are perfect choice keeping in mind their oversized drivers which deliver robust bass and high-frequency response for home entertainment.
Those earcups encircle, over-ear headphones deliver surround sound features. It enhances your audio experience to the next level and makes you feel as you are actually in the movie or inside the game.
If you don’t like overweight and big headphones, you can consider buying high-end on-ear and in-ear models. They are second best to over-ear keeping in mind your lifestyle.
Massive size over-ear headphone needs plenty of space to carry and time to put them on. Hence the reason, they are not ideal for commuters and leisure travelers. Although they deliver unparalleled sound quality but don’t fit for this purpose.
While traveling, you want something which is lightweight and portable. In-ear models are small, portable and convenient which makes them an ideal choice for such a lifestyle.
Those headphones which are easy to fold is also a great fit. You can also opt for a wireless headphone as there would be no cable to annoy you.
If you travel a lot in a busy place such as a bus or plane, noise-canceling or sound-isolating headphones allow you to enjoy your best track without being distracted from the background noise.
For sports and fitness
Fitness needs motivation, mood, and encouragement. Music helps you gain that. If you are a fitness enthusiast, the regular headphone will not work for you. Earbuds, IEMs, and over-neck models suit well as they fit in the ear and remain in the place while you are active. Some of them come with ear clips that hold the driver so that they don’t fall down while running.
Water-resistant feature is an important feature to look for as they protect against sweats. You can wear them while swimming or doing any exercise.
These headphones also come with useful features that allow you to receive a phone call, adjust the volume or playlist.
You can also look for an extra feature such as a heart rate monitor, real-time feedback about focus, stress, sleep patterns and relaxation.
On-ear and over-ear headphones are considered best for those who listen to music while at work. They are best in reducing background noise yet providing superior sound quality.
While picking the best headphones for this lifestyle, comfort should be your first priority. Depending upon your work, you may have to wear it continuously 6-8 hours. Soft ear cups are good for your ear and make them feel pleasant.
Professional headphones for audiophiles
Looking for the best sound quality possible? You should look into some professional-level headphones.
Audiophile headphones are costly, but cost should not be taken as a single factor to determine how good the headphone will sound. There are lots of highly-priced headphone available in the market with poor audio quality, but with online branding and marketing, they easily influence customers.
While choosing such headphones, take a look at their promotional stuff, whether they are emphasizing on audio quality or representing as how good it will look on you.
Check for features such as higher the impedance the better will be audio quality. Total harmonic distortion is another thing which describes how much the sound distorts when the volume is increased. It should be very close to zero (less than 1% ).
If you play games for many hours, do ensure that the headphone is non-intrusive and comfortable.
You should always look for a headset with a built-in microphone. So that you will be able to communicate with other players while playing.
While choosing a gaming headset, people get confused about what to purchase – open or closed headphones.
The rule is pretty simple. Go for an open gaming headset if you want to hear the surroundings outside the game sound without disturbing too much.
If you don’t want to get distracted from your surroundings as well as don’t want them to be disturbed, choose a closed gaming headset.
At last check other features such as in-built quality for durability, sound performance, and spare parts availability.
Headphones for children are designed keeping in mind their special needs, care and requirements.
These headphones need to be kid-proof, designed to fit smaller heads and ears and option to limit the volume levels.
Go for over-the-ear headphones rather than earbuds. They are more durable and can easily survive your child daily activities. One more important thing to consider is volume, it should not cross limit volume to a max of 85 decibels.
I hope, this guide would have helped you to choose the best headphone. At last, I will only say that you are the one who will be using the headphone. So, if you feel no difference in the sound quality between $50 pair of headphones and $200 headphones; go for the cheaper one. Check the overall built quality, comfort and lifestyle to decide which one is best suitable for you.
Suggested Read: Best Headset Stand To Keep Headphone in Place & Safe