Our phones are not just communication devices anymore – they’re our entertainment center. And to hear our entertainment – music, videos, games – we need a set of headphones. You can use the set that came with your phone, but if you want to wear something comfortable and not be a barbarian, you need a new pair.
Dependent on the purpose of your headphones, you’re going to want one of three headphone styles: earbuds, on-ear, and full-size. The uses of all three are blending more and more, but there are still specific reasons for going one headphone style over another: how do you plan to use your headphones (music, gaming, work), where do you intend to use them (at home or on the go), and how much are you willing to spend? To help you narrow down the decision, we’ve created a Headphone Styles Guide with a few of our favorite selections to choose from.
This headphone style – a.k.a. the little guys started out as the pair that came with your phone or were given in “Thank You” packages from friends and in stores. No longer! With increased technology in sound and smaller electronics, earbuds are gaining in popularity.
They’re compact, light, and can often be used with your phone as a microphone and receiver. High-end models have quality speakers in the buds and fitted ear canal pieces. They are perfect for working out, listening to music on the go, and traveling with. Recent options include wireless models and mobile apps for workout regimens.
While the sound quality has improved dramatically in recent years, they don’t stand up to full size and over-ear headphones. They can become uncomfortable over extended periods of time. And they’re harder to remove for conversation than other options.
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This headphone style rests on the edge of your ear and offers anything from high to middle end quality of sound. It might not offer the same noise isolation as earbuds and full-sized headphones, but it’s still a great option for the work environment.
On-Ear phones are comfortable and don’t fatigue your ears from usage. They offer decent quality of sound and can be easily folded up for transportation. Great for work and travel if you want a light set to carry on flights.
Noise isolation isn’t as quality as earbuds and full-sized headphones, so your neighbors will hear your music. They are not ideal for working out as they will slip off your ears easily.
These headphones are the top of the line option and have earcups that fully encircle your ear, offering maximum sound quality and isolation.
If you’re looking for top-of-the-line sound with high-end bass and treble, this style is for you. The fully enclosed earcup means you can listen to high-volume sound without disturbing your neighbor. Many new models are wireless and have options for folding up and controls on the earcup and wire.
With size comes weight and heat issues. Many styles can be heavy and cumbersome for travel, while others will heat your ears to a point of discomfort. Their size can also interfere with earrings, glasses, necklaces, and hair.
Headphones have come a long way in the past few years. Dependent on your budget, what you’re trying to spend, and the purpose of the headphones, you have three headphone styles available to you.