A Guide to Choosing Headphones

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If you love music, having a great pair of headphones is a must. Not all headphones are created equally however, and some headphones may be better suited to your needs than others. With so many options on the market, how do you know where to begin, particularly when many of the top headphones come with a high price tag and represent a substantial investment?

The following article is a brief overview of some of the types of headphones on the market, and what to keep in mind when selecting a pair for yourself or as a gift.

Headphones vs. Earbuds

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There are many types of headphones and also earbuds available. In addition to these two broad and general categories, other types of headphones can fall into their own category. According to Best Hearing Health, bone conduction headphones “delivers the vibrations of your music directly through the bones of your skull with clarity and high quality.”

Bone conduction headphones offer some of the benefits of earbuds, but without the same level of potential hearing damage. This is because bone conduction headphones conduct sound through the skull bones, instead of doing so directly into the ear canal.

There is some evidence that bone conduction headphones can reduce the probability of a hearing loss, and they can be a good option for someone who enjoys exercising outside because they don’t block out the sounds around you, which can be a safety risk.

So beyond those specialized headphones, two main categories of these products are actual headphones and earphones. Earphones are also known as earbuds.

Headphones go over the ear, and if you are doing something involving professional-level audio work, you may require headphones and a high-end pair at that. If you want to enjoy and listen to great music in a lossless format, then definitely you will not go wrong with investing in some expensive pair of headphones you can find on MusicCritic.

Some of the highest-end headphones are known as studio headphones, but most people who just enjoy listening to music probably won’t need these.

Now, there are also earbuds, which are consumer-level, and there are pro-level in-ear headphones.

What to Know About Earbuds

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Earbuds can be anything from cheap, disposable models like what you might get on a plane, to high-performance options.

With earbuds, the earpiece rests on the outer ear, or it’s inserted into the ear canal.

There are some that are intended for specific purposes such as sport earbuds, which may have wings to help them fit more securely, particularly if you’re exercising.

The good thing about earbuds is that they usually are very lightweight and compact, and they don’t interfere with things like glasses or hats.

So what about the downsides? With earbuds, you aren’t going to get the same quality of sound with full-size headphones, and they can be uncomfortable for some people to wear.

What to Know About On-Ear Headphones

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On-ear headphones go over your outer ears, and these can range from inexpensive, simple models, up to very expensive and professional-level models. Most on-ear headphones are closed and cover the ears, but some are fully sealed, which offers more isolated sound.

As well as consumer on-ear headphones, also available are full-size headphones, which are called circumoral. These have earcups with full ear enclosures.

These are not a type of headphones you would typically use outside of your home or a professional environment because they are large, and they do also have a wide headband. Some models can fold and feature replaceable pads and other added features.

What to Know About Wireless Headphones

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Wireless headphones are used to transmit music using Bluetooth in most cases, and while this offers convenience, it does mean sacrificing some of the sound quality. Some wireless headphones have a feature called aptX Bluetooth codec, which can improve sound quality a bit.

Completely wireless headphones are options like Airpods, and they offer quite a bit of convenience and the utmost in portability but not a lot of advanced features. Some may also have somewhat short battery lives, so this can be a good feature to base your comparison shopping on.

What to Know About Noise-Cancelling Headphones

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Finally, another sub-genre of headphones are noise-canceling headphones.

Noise-canceling headphones work by creating what’s called anti-noise. They can eliminate some of those outside sounds—namely, people who live in big cities and want to block out traffic or people who fly on planes and want to eliminate those sounds while listening to movies or music might opt for noise-canceling headphones.

The big perk of these aside from the sound is that you don’t have to turn up the volume so much, so it protects your ears and reduces ear fatigue.


As you can see here, there are plenty of options to satisfy everyone’s needs. If you are looking for headphones at the moment, now you know all the differences between the major types.

The only thing you need to do right now is to decide which of these would suit your needs best. After that, you need to be more specific and find the model which is in your price range and which satisfies the characteristics you want. And this will not be that difficult.

Hopefully, you will find this article helpful and choose the perfect headphones/earbuds for you.