Headphones are not as big of an investment as speakers. Still, picking a perfect pair is not as simple as it seems. Subtle differences make a big impact and profoundly affect your listening experience. You have to take into account both the subjective preferences and objective technical characteristics. But, don’t fret if you are not exactly a tech guru or a seasoned DJ. Here is how to get the most bang for your buck and ensure countless hours of musical bliss.
Dissecting different categories
First of all, we need to get acquainted with three main categories of headphones.
Circumaural headphones have ear pads that cover the whole ear. Due to their comfortable padding, they are a perfect choice for prolonged sessions in home settings, and what’s more, they tend to possess exceptional bass response. The major drawback, however, is that they are quite large and bulky, so they aren’t the most stylish and portable choice there is.
On the other hand, on-ear (supra-aural) headphones come with smaller pads that don’t cover your ears completely. One of their main selling points is their ability to block off unwanted external noise, which is why so many professional DJs use them. That and the fact that they are highly comfortable, except when they are designed with tight fit in mind.
Finally, we have in-ear headphones. They are lightweight and compact, and tailored to everyday on-the-go use. They’re less pricey than the two other types of products and should fit any budget. The only problem is that you cannot expect the same level of quality as with on-ear and over-ear headphones.
This actually brings us to an important point—setting a budget, the maximum limit you cannot afford to go over. Know that it’s not overly realistic to get top-notch headphones for $20, as they cost considerably more (usually in the range of $200+). Over-ear and on-earn pieces are substantially more expensive because they produce juicer and clearer audio.
For better or worse, you always get what you pay for.
Sound and comfort are paramount
Browsing various types of headphones, we actually learned some important stuff. First off, the sound quality is always a top priority.
In general, headphones are superior to earphones in this regard. Nevertheless, to evaluate sound quality and performance, you should rely on more than just your gut instinct. Headphone driver, a component that creates sound plays a major part here. The bigger the driver is, the better your sound quality gets, and this is particularly true for the bass layer of audio. Drivers that are 40mm or more are a safe bet (for earphones the sweet spot is 15mm).
Also, it’s never ideal to compromise on comfort, especially if you are a heavy user. In fact, going for a padded headband is a good idea because having naked plastic and metal on your head for hours can get really annoying and it‘s even worse when using pieces that are heavy. So, trying headphones on is preferable, although it’s not always possible (this is the case when shopping online).
Last but not least, you need to make sure the headphones suit your daily habits and routines. Here, it pays off to factor in special features.
For instance, those with an active lifestyle should consider quality wireless headphones. They make gym routine or outdoor activities much more enjoyable because you can avoid pesky cable hassle or having your headphones fall off during an intense workout. On top of that, you are able to playback, pause, and switch songs from the headphones. One thing to keep in mind is that they require battery power.
As for daily commuters, they may want to stick to noise-canceling models (with Active Noise Cancelation tech built in) that preserve the integrity of music experience. Quality integrated microphones are a must-have for those utilizing video communication and conferencing platforms and tools. In-line remote control is great for skipping songs fuss-free.
These bells and whistles can be a life-saver, but do remember that they have their price. Check your finances once more before taking the plunge.
To make an educated decision, get familiar with different categories of headphones. Bear in mind that it all depends on your budget, preferences, and intended use. So, get your priorities straight and weigh your options carefully. Take your time shopping around and look at the product specifications. Regardless of your taste, comfort and sound quality are never to be overlooked. These qualities allow you to really shut down the noise of the world and get fully immersed in your musical refuge.