For many of us, headphones and earphones are the most important personal devices we have, at least after our smartphones. Many people would be lost if they couldn’t listen to music on the move. Whether it’s on the daily commute, hitting the track for a run, or just chilling out on the sofa, headphones and earphones are a part of our daily lives. Different headphones make a huge difference in our listening experiences, so what are the best types of headphones for each situation?
If you’re looking for a new personal audio experience, it’s essential to know the best types of headphones to find the pair that best suits your needs. Below we will look at the diverse types on the market and discuss the pros and cons of each common design.
On Ear Headphones
The on-ear headphone design is perhaps the best-known one, as it’s been popular for decades. As the name suggests, this style literally sits on the ear, covering most of it but not all. These headphones are a little smaller than over ear headphones and features a band that goes across the top of the head.
Because these headphones don’t cover all of the ear, some environmental noise can creep in and the audio you are listening to can creep out. With that in mind, if you want a completely immersive listening experience, these may not be for you.
However, runners may appreciate the ability to still hear outside noises while having a comfortable headphone that is still relatively lightweight.
Speaking of comfort, because this design sits on the ear, a bad set of on ear headphones can be extremely uncomfortable because they create a clamp of sorts on your head. Check for a set that cushions well and does not put too much pressure on the ears.
Over Ear Headphones
For the audiophile, over ear headphones perhaps create the ultimate listening experience. These fit over the head with a band and cover the entire ear, essentially cupping your ear inside the phones.
Noise reduction is the name of the game here. Because over ear sets cover the whole ear, they don’t let much noise in or out.
That’s why over-ear headphones are favored as one the best types of headphones for professional recording settings. They’re perfect for sitting at home and delving into your music collection.
They’re also ideal if you are in a noisy environment and need to close out sound, such as for a meeting. Over ear phones are also notable for their extreme comfort.
That said, they are the heaviest type of headphone so some fatigue can happen on lesser quality sets. If you need headphones for activity, such as exercise, over ear products are not the best choice. They are bulky and heavy and can also fall off more easily.
In Ear Headphones
In many ways, in-ear headphones are the do-it-all product in the personal audio space. They provide a quality listening experience alongside portability and convenience, making them one of the best types of headphones for versatility alone.
Probably the most bought headphone, they are a perfect choice for people who want headphones for exercise.
We’ll get to why this style is different to earbuds below, but the important thing to know is the in-ear headphone sits more deeply in the ear canal. They can be frustrating to fit properly, but once in place they are secure and deliver good audio quality because the sound is moving directly into your ear canal.
In-ear buds are the style most tech companies have adopted, such as Apple with its AirPods and Samsung with its Galaxy Buds. Sound accuracy and sound isolation are a big draw for this type of headphone, but admittedly they are not the most comfortable and fatigue can happen quickly.
It turns out it does not always feel great having something jammed into your ear for long periods.
Still, for activity these are the best type of headphone, especially if you can get ones with ear hooks. With a simple hook, the earbud can sit comfortably on the ear. No more fiddling to get the perfect fit!
Didn’t we just cover these? Earbuds are different to in-ear headphones, even though the design may look remarkably similar.
Earbuds rest on the outer ear, pressing against more parts of the ear. In terms of fit and staying on, earbuds are by far the most frustrating type of headphone.
They fall out easily and you will need to get creative to keep them in, especially during exercise. Earbuds are also arguably the poorest type of headphone for sound quality.
They famously allow sound to seep in and out. If you don’t want to bother someone with your music, or don’t want to be bothered by the outside environment, this design is not for you.
Admittedly, manufacturers have got better at isolating sound on this style of headphone, but earbuds are still not for the audiophile.
Bluetooth technology is a wonderful thing that lets us connect devices wirelessly and seamlessly. In terms of headphones, Bluetooth tech has perhaps its coolest application.
Removing the wire from headphones takes away one of the biggest problems. Think about it, how many times has your headphones wire caught on something? How often does it disconnect when putting your phone in your pocket?
There is a sense of freedom when using headphones without a wire. Bluetooth headphones are available in all the styles listed above. That said, there are some important things to know:
Different audio quality – There’s no doubt that a wired connection creates the best audio experience. Although, Bluetooth headphones have come a long way and most casual listeners will not notice a difference in sound quality.
There is still a wire or a headband – While the headphones are wireless from the device, they still need a connection to manage the left and right. That means a band or wire remains between the left and right years. This is not a problem at all, but worth remembering.
Higher price – Bluetooth headphones cost more than wired devices. Some brands do the same model headphones, one with Bluetooth connectivity and a variant without. In these cases, the Bluetooth variant always costs more money.
Selecting yours from the Best Types of Headphones
So, now you know about the different kinds of headphones and other personal listening devices available on the market. The best one for you depends on your unique needs and preferences.
Use the information we’ve provided here to make your decision. Like any other purchase, you’ve got to know what you’re getting before you buy your device.
Do you use earbuds? Check out my article on how to prevent bacteria getting into your ear.