Important Things To Know Before Buying Headphones – Headphones Buying Guide

The headphone market has never been so good. With a wide range of products boasting amazing specifications and peculiarities, having to make a choice of headphone you’ll go with can be a very daunting task.

Almost everybody has used one type of headphone in the past. It might be the long plastic thing that came lumped together with the new phone you bought or those large ones with circular cups bearing the small letter b inscription on them.

The truth however is that there is a lot more to headphones than what we see. You will agree that a beautiful sound can be the only difference between a boring journey and an enjoyable one and in the same vein; a cool, soothing voice can make a whole lot of difference when you’re in certain situations.

Different headphones give out sound of different quality. So many technologies are involved in making a headphone sound in one particular and if you are looking to have an amazing and enjoyable listening experience, then you have to look past the brand. Thats why you need an headphones buying guide to help you.

This article is intended to be a guide to take you through the important things that you must bear in mind while shopping for a pair of headphone.

There are many things to consider and we will take the pain to go through it all from the different types of headphones that there are, to the price consideration, brand consideration as well as special function factor.

Different types of Headphones (Design)

The In-Ear Headphones

headphones buying guide

Popularly referred to as In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) in professional circles, the in-ear headphones are the smallest and the portable of all headphones


They usually come with earbuds (that is why people also refer to in-ears as ear buds) and each ear bud fits perfectly into your ear canal.

They are usually powered by drivers (drivers serve to convert electrical signal delivered to headphones into an audible sound for the ear to pick up) around 10mm in size.

These ear drivers hold them firmly in place within your ears. Here is a comprehensive article on the most durable earbuds in 2016.

The in-ear headphones are arguably the most ideal headphones to use when commuting because they can be easily wrapped up to be stored away. Their small size and light weight also make the in-ears very comfortable to wear for a long period of time.

However, before you decide to go for an in-ear headphone, you should know that many users complain about what they consider to be the invasive nature of in-ears and they often prefer to opt for headphones that stay out of their ear canal.

But if you don’t mind and you want something simple, in-ears are about the simplest headphones. You can check out best cheap earbuds to have in 2016.

On-Ear Headphones

on ear headphone

Just like their name, on-ear headphones stay away from your ear canal and sit directly on your ears, they are therefore way bigger than the in-ears.

On-ears also referred to as supra-aural by headphone experts employs a much larger and longer ear driver casings.

They also make use of headbands which usually looks like a semi-circle an sits across your head in order to hold the two ear cups in place, securely resting on your ears. On-ear headphones can also be folded up and stored when not in use.

On-ears are considered to be comfortable for use over a short period of time. so if you are the type of guy that just needs a headphone for your 30-minute workout routine in the gym, you might want to consider going for an on-ear headphone.

However, if you like your headphone to be small and simple, on-ears might not be for you because they are not exactly very portable. If you like having your headphone on for a long period of time, you might also want to think twice because the ear cups will be resting directly on your ears and this might be uncomfortable in the long run.

Over-Ear Headphones

headphones buying guide

These are often the largest sets of headphones. They are also referred to as circum-aural headphones or around-ears.

Over-ears are largely deemed to be the most comfortable headphone design and they look a lot like the on-ear headphones with their headband and large driver casings.

The ear cups in over-ear headphones are however wrapped completely over the ear in such a way to totally cover the ear or envelope it.

The drivers are usually larger in over-ear headphones and these larger drivers usually translate into the transmission of a louder and more detailed sound, and we have some best bass headphones reviewed here.

Because the ear cups in over-ear headphones completely cover your ears, over-ear headphones offers partial sound-isolation as it is very difficult for ambient sound to get into your canal.

This definitely results in a more enjoyable listening experience. They transmit a much louder sound and this allows you to listen at a low volume thereby reducing your risk of exposure to ear loss.

Over-ears are usually heavy and this can be a problem. They are not that portable. The over-ear design is very common in studio headphones.

Having decided what design of headphone will best suit you for your preferred use, you need to know that some headphones have special functions. If you are a gamer, there are specialized headphones for you as there are for some other special functions.

Specialized Headphones

Noise Cancelling Headphones


Noise cancelling headphones boast of having an active noise cancelling technology incorporated into them.

They are made in such a way that they can actually pick up ambient noises or background sound and then work on such sounds to completely neutralize them in order to present you with a peaceful and quiet listening environment.

Noise cancelling headphones use microphones incorporated into them to pick up background noise and then produce a sound with the same but opposite frequency to neutralize or cancel out the noise.

Noise cancelling headphones are very effective in drowning out low sounds like the droning sounds of engines, humming sounds, sounds from machineries and other uniform frequency sounds.

Sounds that vary too much pose a challenge. Noise cancelling headphones are perfect for busy workplaces, so if you work in places like a construction sites, factories and workshops, a pair will be good for you. They will help you maintain a kind of peace right in the midst of chaos.

If you are planning to buy a noise cancelling headphone, you should be prepared for charging or purchasing batteries because the noise cancellation technology needs power to function.

The headphones are not effective in cancelling out all kinds of noises; they work best with the category of noises stated above. So if you are exposed to noises different from those, you might want to reconsider.

Gaming Headphones


Gaming headphones are specifically designed for use when you are playing video games either on a computer, console or any other portable device.

They are designed in such a way that they give the in-game audio experience a great boost.

Some gaming headphones are made in such a way that they provide a simulated surround sound experience whereas others are made to provide a true channel surround experience.

What this means for gamers is that it helps them to be able to identify the direction of the audio. In a first person shooters game for instance, you will be able to pinpoint the direction from which the enemy is shooting at you with a gaming headphone.

Gaming headphones are designed to improve dialogue and sound effects and with their powerful microphones, they are perfect for multiplayer voice chat.

Gaming headphones boast of excellent sound effects however if you’re buying them, you should know that they are only good for gaming as they are not good enough for listening to music.

Wireless Headphones

Like their name implies, wireless headphones do not come with wires or cables, so if you’re particularly looking forward to a listening experience devoid of cable length and tangling worries, they are your best bet.

Wireless headphones employ one of three transmission technologies: infrared, Bluetooth and radio frequency.

Of the three, Bluetooth technology is the most commonly used as it provides a larger pairing possibility with a wide range of tablets, smartphones, and computers.

Bluetooth headphones mostly have a 30m range limit whereas infrared powered headphones depend on line-of-site while radio frequency powered headphones work over larger distance.

Wireless headphones are the most portable and comfortable headphones as they allow you some degree of freedom from your listening device. They are perfect for home use as you can be in the kitchen and be listening to music from the computer in your sitting room. Also very good when used as workout headphones.

You should however bear it in mind that the sound quality that you will get with wireless devices is usually not as good as with the wired devices. You should also be prepared to deal with issues relating to transmission range and battery life.

These are the basic types of headphones that you will be coming in contact with in the market. Throw in the different designs described above with different specialized functions and then factor in the different producers throwing a little something here and there to make their brand stand out and you have a whole lot of headphone options to choose from.

Let this article be your guide.

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