Know These Terms to Simplify Your Headphone Purchase Process

Making a long journey memorable, or just tripping on your favorite artist’s number, getting over a heartbreak or breaking into a run, headphones have become an inevitable part of our lives and buying the right one can make all the difference between music and melody versus noise and cacophony.

So how do you know what’s the right headphone for you? Should you be going for an established brand, or just a simple, non-tangle hassle-free one, or should you try and understand terms like impedance, the length of cables, before you pick your favorite pair of headphones?

We think an informed buyer is the best kind of buyer! Here are ten things that you must know about headphones before you zero down on one.

1. In-Ear Headphones

In-Ears also known as in-ear monitors are the most common types of headphones that we use. They sit directly inside the ear canal, close to the ear drum. For this reason, they are believed to deliver the best sound quality and eliminate external noise. If you are someone constantly on the go, these work wonderfully well for youth. You can wear them for long hours without experiencing discomfort. When opting for these, you need to make sure though that you pick the right size that fits your ear canal. Using a wrong sized tip will affect audio isolation (we will come to that in a minute) and the earphones will have a tendency to fall out of your ears. The quality of the tips is a factor you need to be paying attention to. It should be of a higher quality material that does not irritate the ear drum or lead to itchiness and allergies in the ear. If, however, you don’t like the proximity and invasive nature of the earphones, you should consider the on-ear or over-the-ear headphones.

2. On-Ear Headphones

What are on-ear headphones? As the name suggests, these are headphones that pretty much sits on your ears. They are bigger than the in-ear headphones and are also known as supra-aural headphones. While these also send the sound straight down the ear canal, they are not inherently noise canceling, and hence may allow external noises within your hearing spectrum, and also leak noises out to those sitting nearby. The biggest advantage that on-ear headphones offer is they are more comfortable than the in-ear headphones, for a shorter duration. For longer duration’s however, these are not recommended. The headbands help to keep these ear cups in place and on-ear headsets typically use 30-40 mm drivers. A higher quality on-ear headphone can offer superior sound quality and are fairly portable too!

3. Over-Ear Headphones

These are definitely the most sophisticated pair of headphones you can own. Also known as circumaural headphones, these are immensely comfortable and provide the best sound quality. Over-ears have large driver casings and a headband. The ear cups wrap completely around your ears, and because of the large size of the casing, allows for a detailed and refined sound signature. It would not be wrong to say that these are the headphones that can give you the ultimate audio experience complete with surround sound and the best kind of comfort. Why should you not splurge on them immediately then?

Over-ears are not suitable to be carried around. Portability is a drawback with these headphones and that’s why they are best suited for home and office purposes.

4. What are Drivers?

So, we have been using the term drivers a lot. For those uninitiated to headphone jargon, drivers are what enables the sound transmission from headphones to your ear in the most seamless way. In technical language, drivers convert the electrical signal received by the headphones into an audible signal that can be detected by the human ear.

The most frequently used drivers are the moving coil or dynamic drivers. These are used in all kinds of headphones. Then there are specific headphones like balanced armature drivers for in-ear headphones, and planar and electrostatic drivers for over-ear headphones. The quality of sound the driver emits is directly proportional to its size, and that’s why over-the-ear headphones produce the best quality sound. Choosing the right driver is the key to picking up a good pair of headphones.

5. Frequency Response

Frequency response is the range of frequency a headphone can produce. So when you say bass, you are actually talking about frequency response. The lower limit of the frequency is called bass, whereas the upper limit is called treble. The human range of hearing includes 20-20,000 Hz, so most headphones are within this range. However, if you are looking for deep resonance which in simple language means more bass, opt for headphones with frequency range above and beyond the usual. While this is not going to increase your audibility levels, it will provide added advantages of better tone, responses, and handling of lows, highs and mid range.

6. Impedance

In your search for the right pair of headphones, you will encounter this term often, impedance. Impedance is power needed to pump up and start the headphones. Most mobiles have enough impedance to start the headphones and transmit good quality sound. 16 Ohms is considered a good enough impedance unit for headphones. There are certain headphones however that require higher impedance to deliver their best output. Such headphones need to be plugged into a constant source of power.

To Conclude: Buying Rules for Headphones

Though there is no rule of thumb as such regarding purchase of headphones, you need to keep in mind the device you will plugging it in maximum times, whether you want to carry it around , or just want it for stationery purpose, what are the best options you have in your price range and other relevant headphone information. While we have done the jargon busting for you, it’s advised that you do your own research, check out the latest trends and models in the headphone world, browse through a reliable price comparison website and then make an informed choice. Happy listening and humming along!


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