Best Headphones

Best Headphones for Music:

The best headphones are very important when it comes to listening to music. There are many different types of headphones available today. Some have a built-in microphone while others require external speakers or even a separate amplifier.

All these features can make your life easier, but they can also result in poor sound quality if not used properly.

There are several factors which affect the sound quality of headphones. These include the type of material (copper vs plastic), how well they isolate you from outside noise, how much bass they produce, and most importantly – how open or closed their ear cups are.

Copper Headphones:

A copper headphone is one that uses copper wire instead of aluminum or other metal materials. Copper wire is considered to be the gold standard of audio cables because it’s conductive enough to carry high amounts of current without causing any unwanted effects. However, it does have its drawbacks.

For example, there are times when you’ll need to use a higher volume than what a copper cable can handle. Another drawback is that it tends to pick up static electricity quite easily so keep that in mind before using them around electrical equipment such as computers and power tools.

Closed Headphones:

Closed headphones are the traditional, typically cheaper, style of over the ear headphones. These types of headphones use pads which completely cover your ears to block out ambient noise. The benefit of this is that you can listen to your music at a much higher volume than you normally would without disturbing others.

Some people like this type because it helps them focus on their work or helps them sleep on airplanes. The main drawbacks to this type is that they can make your ears quite hot and they tend to lack the overall sound quality of open headphones.

Open Headphones:

Best Headphones - Picture

Open headphones are the “trendy” type of headphone. They tend to be lighter, more stylish, and more expensive than traditional closed headphones. The tradeoff is that they don’t block out noise and let in ambient sounds, such as people talking or cars driving by.

However, open headphones produce much better sound than their closed cousins because they allow sound to pass through the ear cups in an unobstructed way. These types are the ones you see professionals and audiophiles use because of how clear the music sounds when using them.

Tips for getting the most out of your headphones

Sound quality is very important with headphones, however there are many other factors that you might want to take into consideration before making your purchase. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your new headphones.

Portability:

If you plan on using your headphones primarily on the go then make sure to take this into consideration before making your purchase. If you have an iPod then make sure your headphones have a 3.5mm plug so you can directly plug them in without having to carry around an adapter as well.

The same thing goes with your music playing device of choice. If you plan on moving around a lot or tend to travel a lot, then make sure to get a pair of headphones that are easy to transport and don’t have too many features (such as a carrying case or amplifier) otherwise you’ll just be wasting money getting something you won’t use.

Noise Canceling:

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Noise canceling is probably one of the most popular features with headphones today. It’s also one of the reasons why they tend to be more expensive. Noise canceling headphones contain small microphones on the outside of the ear cups that pick up ambient noise.

The mic then sends out the inverse sound wave that cancels out the background noise. This type of technology has been used for a very long time in the military and with pilots. The benefit of this type of headphone is that it can help block out loud noises such as sirens, screaming children, vacuums, and lawnmowers so you can enjoy whatever it is you’re listening to.

If you live in an apartment or somewhere else where noise tends to be a problem then this might be something worth looking into. The one thing to be careful about is that if the power goes out then so do your noise canceling headphones. Also, if the battery dies on you then you’ll be in for a bit of a surprise as well.

Noise Isolation:

Noise isolation is another method for blocking out outside noises by putting the headphones tightly on your head. The close fit creates a barrier so that you can hear only what is playing. This is a popular method among professional audio engineers and audiophiles because it allows them to hear every little detail of the music they are listening to.

The downside is that this method can sometimes be uncomfortable to some people depending on the size and shape of their head. Also, if you want to listen to something else or have someone talk to you, then you’ll have to take the headphones off which defeats the purpose of buying them in the first place.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what you should look for in a pair of headphones, here are some pros and cons to various types of headphones.

Circumaural headphones (On-Ear)

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These are the type of headphones that you usually see bundled with your music device or purchased separately at your favorite electronics store. They sit on the outer portion of your ear and completely cover them. The benefit of this type of headphone is that they are very portable and lightweight.

They also tend to be cheaper than other headphones which is a plus if you’re on a budget. The downsides are that they don’t block out as much noise as other types like we mentioned before and the sound quality tends to not be as good. If you really don’t care about hearing every last detail and just want to listen to your music in private then these are the type of headphones for you.

Supra-Aural headphones (On-Ear)

These are slightly more compact type of headphones than the ones mentioned above. Instead of covering your entire ear, the pads rest on the surface which allows you to still hear a little of what’s going on around you. The benefit of this is that not only are they cheaper than other types but they are also more comfortable for long listening sessions.

The downside is that because they don’t have as much noise cancellation you might still hear a little of what’s going on around you.

Circumaural headphones (Over-Ear)

These are the big daddy of headphones. They completely cover your entire ear like the on-ear versions except they are much more comfortable for long listening sessions due to their size and thickness. The benefit is obvious, you get superior noise isolation and the sound quality is excellent.

The downside is that because of their size and general shape, they are a bit bulkier and not as portable as on-ears or in-ears. If you travel a lot or tend to be very active when listening to your music, then these might not be the best option for you.

Supra-Aural headphones (Over-Ear)

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These are similar to on-ear versions except they cover the entire ear. Just like the on-ears, these will not offer as much noise isolation as their over-ear counterparts. The benefit is increased sound quality and they are more comfortable for long listening sessions.

The shape of these types of headphones also means that they are slightly less bulky and more portable. If you plan on using your headphones during travel or just prefer the feel of them, then these are a great option.

Wireless

Today many headphones are available in a wireless format which completely eliminates the need of being plugged into something. The benefit is obviously that you have more freedom of movement as you won’t have a clunky wire dangling from your head or device. The downside is that wired headphones tend to have less latency which means there is less delay between when something happens and when you hear it.

This can be very beneficial when listening to music or playing certain types of games.

Noise Cancellation

As we mentioned above, noise cancellation is when a device uses various methods to block out external sound. This allows you to listen to music at a lower volume and not be bothered by outside interference. Noise cancellation works very well in certain situations but is less effective in others.

It’s not going to do much to drown out the sound of a jet engine but if you’re sitting on a plane it can help to create a quieter space for you to enjoy your music or show. On top of that, noise cancellation drains battery life so if you’re always on the go and won’t have access to an outlet then this might not be the best feature for you.

FAQ

How do I store my headphones?

Most of the time headphones come with a case of some sort. If not, you can usually buy one separately. These hard-sided cases are great for protecting your investment and keeping them free of tangles. When putting them away, don’t just stuff them in your bag or they’ll get crushed and broken in no time.

How can I make my headphones louder?

If you’ve gotten your headphones to the max volume and still can’t hear anything turn to the EQ settings on your device. There might be a setting there to boost the volume. If not, look into getting a DAC or digital-to-analog converter for your headphones. These little devices plug into the headphone jack on your device and can boost the volume quite a bit. Just be careful though, they can introduce a lot of static and hum if the signal isn’t clean.

What is the difference between wireless and wired headphones?

Other than not being connected by wires, not much. Wireless headphones still have all the same parts as wired headphones (driver, receiver, etc). The only difference is that there is no wire connecting them. There are pros and cons to both types of course. One the one hand, wired headphones are cheaper and unlikely to suffer from interference. On the other hand, they can be limited by the length of the wire and might be slightly heavier. Wireless headphones on the other hand have no such limitations but are usually more expensive and can suffer from interference and audio drops if the signal isn’t strong enough.

What Bluetooth codec does this device use?

This question only applies to wireless headphones. When connecting wireless headphones to a device that supports Bluetooth such as a phone, laptop or tablet, there are different codecs that the two devices can use to transmit audio. These codecs have various levels of quality and compatibility. The main codecs are SBC, APT-X, and AAC. SBC is the worst of the three and is almost never supported on headphones. APT-X and AAC are moderate compression codecs that are becoming more popular since they are lossy (like MP3) but still retain much better sound quality than SBC or other low quality codecs. If you want to learn more about these codecs see here.

Sources & references used in this article:

Auditory spatial perception using bone conduction headphones along with fitted head related transfer functions by TM Voong, M Oehler – … IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and …, 2019 – ieeexplore.ieee.org

On the standardization of the frequency response of high-quality studio headphones by G Theile – Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, 1986 – aes.org

Adaptive feedforward control for active noise cancellation in-ear headphones by S Priese, C Bruhnken, D Voss, J Peissig… – … of Meetings on …, 2012 – asa.scitation.org

On the influence of headphones on localization of loudspeaker sources by D Satongar, C Pike, YW Lam, T Tew – Audio Engineering Society …, 2013 – aes.org

Transfer characteristics of headphones measured on human ears by H Møller, D Hammershøi, CB Jensen… – Journal of the Audio …, 1995 – mail.aes.org

Natural sound rendering for headphones: integration of signal processing techniques by HE Jianjun, EL Tan, WS Gan – IEEE Signal Processing …, 2015 – ieeexplore.ieee.org

The influence of headphones on the localization of external loudspeaker sources by D Satongar, C Pike, YW Lam, AI Tew – Journal of the Audio …, 2015 – usir.salford.ac.uk