Headphones are one of the most popular tech gadgets out there and there are a wide range of models on the market that are made for a variety of different purposes. They might be specially made for listening to music, for playing video games, or for sports. In each case, different headphones come with many different sonic capabilities and qualities.

However, when it comes time to purchase your new headphones, a number of other factors should be considered as well, such as comfort and design. If you don’t feel comfortable with the headphones you buy, it won’t be long before you stop using them altogether. To help make your decision easier, consult the below buyer’s guide.

Key facts

  • The most important thing to keep in mind when buying your headphones is what you are going to use them for. You aren’t going to want the same kind of headphones for playing sports as you are for listening to music at home, or gaming.
  • One of the most important decisions that you have to make when buying your headphones is whether you prefer wired or wireless ones. Those with wires offer better sound quality, while wireless ones are usually more comfortable.
  • You are likely going to be using your headphones to listen to music, as well as movies and television series, and perhaps even for video games. Therefore, the sound quality they offer is one of the main factors to consider when buying them. Ideally you should try them out before buying, however this isn’t always possible. In that case, you really only have the technical specifications to go by.

Ranking: The best headphones on the market

Below you will find the list that has been put together of the five best headphones on the market today. Included are ones that offer great quality-price compromises. Of course, all of them offer great sound quality and are made by recognized brands.

No. 1: Jecoo, IPX7 Waterproof CVC Noise Cancellation Wireless Sport Headphones

These Bluetooth sport headphones by Jecoo quickly pair with your smartphone to provide you with easy listening while on the go. The working range allows you to be be anywhere within 33 feet. They are quick charging and have a durable battery life.

The ergonomic design and soft earplugs make these especially easy on the ears. The waterproof and sweat proof design means you can go about your day, or exercise routine, confident that these are not going to be constantly falling out.

No. 2: Bose, QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 35 II are some of the most popular and well recognized headphones on the market, especially for those who expect excellence. They are specially designed to cancel out noise, and come with three different noise reduction settings. These popular, high quality headphones come in black, white, and pink.

These are made with high quality components and are made to withstand shocks and impact. When connected to your smartphone, they allow you to connect to Siri or Google Assistant. On top of all that, you get the Bose guarantee, from one of the most prestigious brands on the planet.

No. 3: Sony WH1000XM2

Sony’s WH-1000XM2 are a great option for listening to music at home, for work, or in noisy areas in general. These are closed bluetooth headphones that offer high resolution sound and active noise cancellation. The battery lasts for around thirty hours and charges quickly.

Furthermore, they are compatible with the Headphones Connect app so that you can hear the essential and necessary ambient noise. You can lower the volume before, or while speaking by placing your hand on the case, thanks to these headphone’s easy-to-use tactile control. You really get what you pay for with these top tier headphones.

No. 4: Anker, SoundBuds Curve Wireless Headphones

These Bluetooth headphones offer loud and resonant sound with their Qualcomm aptX audio and cVc noise cancellation capabilities, great for both music and phone calls. The ear tips are customizable, allowing you to fit them to your particular ear shape and comfort requirements. The battery allows for 14 hours of talk time, and 12 hours of music time, meaning you can rely on these headphones for long journeys.

They also come with a water resistant casing and an impermeable nano-coating to ensure the device and its components are always well protected. They come in black, green, blue, and red, and are designed to go well with any style.

No. 5: HyperX, Cloud II Gaming Headset

These headphones come with a USB audio sound card that provide 7.1 virtual surround sound for the optimal gaming experience. The noise cancelling microphone contained in the inline sound card means gaming without distractions and interruptions. Both the sound you hear, and your voice comes through and is heard loud and clear with HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset.

These are the kind of gaming headphones that take the experience to a whole new level. You will hear things crystal clear and communicate with your teammates with complete sonic precision when you use these headphones.

Shopping guide: Everything you should know about headphones

In order to make the right purchase, it is important that you have a series of considerations in mind. Don’t forget that there are distinct models of headphone, each one with features that make them better suited for certain activities. In the below section you will find some of the most frequently asked questions from people interested in a new pair of headphones.

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There are headphones for every activity (Source: Antonio Guillem: 50531751/ 123rf.com)

What are headphones exactly?

Headphones are electronics which connect to devices that emit sound and convert the electric signal into a sonic one. That sound signal can be heard by placing speakers next to, or in your ears. In general they are equipment that is lightweight and easy to carry.

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Some headphones come with an active noise cancellation system (Source: Antonio Guillem: 82408242/ 123rf.com)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of headphones and earbuds?

Headphones allow you to listen to music much more freely, and with greater intimacy. You can use them anywhere, at any time. With a good pair of headphones, you don’t have to worry about bothering those around you with your music. Furthermore, over the last few years they have also become a complement to one’s wardrobe and sense of style.

Advantages Disadvantages
They allow you to listen to music without worrying you are bothering the people around you Prolonged use of headphones can affect your hearing and bother your ears
You can use them anywhere. They are light and easy to carry, and are ideal for travelling Using headphones while driving or biking carries certain risks
No one will hear what you’re listening to. They let you listen privately and intimately
Nowadays headphones are also part of people’s wardrobe and style

What activities might require headphones?

The reasons for buying headphones are many and varied. You might need them for listening to music in the street, on public transportation, or on your way to class or work. Or maybe you want them for playing video games. In that case you should for opt for specific gaming headphones. Maybe you even want headphones for producing music, or for watching movies while you travel.

Another common use for headphones is while playing sports, especially for running. If that is the case, you will want headphones that are water and sweat resistant. Furthermore, there also headphones that are designed to be used for swimming and work underwater. There are also people who choose headphones purely as an element of their style.

Ellen Petry LeanseEx executive of Apple and Google

“When fans see athletes at the World Cup using Beats in their free time, by choice, that has as much of an impact as seeing them put on Adidas shoes, or drink a drink that is sponsoring the event”.

What type of headphones are there?

One of the most common ways of classifying headphones is in relation to their shape. In that sense, there are generally two types: outer ear, and inner ear. The first are divided into supra aural and circumaural. The following table will summarize their main features.

Outer ear headphones In-ear headphones
Placement They go around the head completely using a type of crown They fit directly in the ear, sealing the earhole using small pieces of rubber
Weight They have bigger dimensions and, therefore, are less lightweight They are lighter and smaller, making them easy to transport
Design and use The majority of gaming headphones use this design They are the best design for sport headphones

What type of outer ear headphones are there?

As you have already seen, crown headphones can be either supra aural or circumaural. The first are fairly light and easy to carry. The dimensions of circumaural headphones are a bit bigger, since the cushions completely cover the ear. In so doing, however, they offer a much more natural sound experience.

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The human ear drum can only handle up to 100 decibels.(Source: Stepan Popov: 39631142/123rf.com)

Open or closed headphones?

Related to the external finish of the cup, crown headphones can be open or closed. The former don’t completely isolate external noise, and allow some of the emitted sound to escape. The latter, on the other hand, are designed for noise isolation, both inside and out.

Wired or wireless headphones?

You have probably wondered whether wired or wireless headphones make more sense for you. Wired headphones, in general, are going to give you better sound quality. However, over the last few years, bluetooth connections have improved dramatically, thanks to aptX HD codecs.

Wireless headphones are much more comfortable, allowing you a greater freedom of movement. In this way, they are ideal for playing sports, or using them with your phone. Their connection range is typically anywhere within 10 metres. You should also be aware that the battery life is limited.

Advantages of wireless headphones Disadvantages of wireless headphones
It is more comfortable not using cables The sound quality is inferior to wired headphones. They are also susceptible to interference
They offer a much greater range of movement, up to 10 metres They usually come with a significantly higher price tag
You don’t have to worry about broken cables or that the connection port will start to fail The battery life is limited, meaning you will have to frequently recharge them
You can connect them to another device without having to change the cable They are not compatible with all devices

What is active noise cancellation in headphones?

Some headphones incorporate an active noise cancellation system. It was originally a technology that was created to reduce the aural stress on aviators. Noise cancellation allows you to block out ambient noise and just hear the noise emitted by the headphones.

It is an ideal system for long plane or train rides, to cancel out the considerable noise. However, they are not recommended for walking in the street, or riding a bicycle, because it can be dangerous. That is why some headphones allow you to control the active noise cancellation settings.

 

Purchase criteria

It is now time to purchase your headphones, and it is important that you keep certain criteria in mind. To help you make your choice, the following list includes the most essential considerations to keep in mind. This has been done in order to help you make the best quality-price decision possible:

  • Desired use
  • Sensitivity
  • Impedance
  • Equalization
  • Comfort
  • Connectivity
  • Battery

Desired use

You don’t need the same type of headphones for casually listening to music at home as you do for playing video games, nor for travelling or listening to music on the way to work or school. In this way, if you are going to use your headphones outside, you might want ones that are more robust.

If you are going to use them to play videogames, it is best to opt for specific gaming ones. On the other hand, if the goal is headphones that look great, you should take a look at Beats, although these aren’t the only ones that look fashionable. Luckily, there are options for every taste.

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The variety and quality of headphones on the market meets a range of demands (Source: Elena Vagengeim: 41558417/ 123rf.com)

Sensitivity

Sensitivity is related to the sonic power of the headphones and is measured in decibels. In this sense, you should know that increases of 3dB in sensitivity reduce the power necessary to reach your desired volume by half. Keep in mind that the human ear drum can only handle up to 100 decibels.

Impedance

The impedance, measured in ohms (Ω), indicates the amount of resistance offered by the headphones when transferring electric current. The less it is, the higher the volume the headphones can emit at the same power level. In general, values between 16 and 80 ohms assure good performance.

Balance

In addition to sound quality, every headphone has a specific sound profile. This depends on the pre established equalization, or similarly, the increase or decrease of determined frequencies (serious, medium, or sharp). That is why, for example, Beats headphones are noted for enhancing the serious frequencies.

The most common equalizations are balanced or flat, the V equalization, and the ‘basshead’. In that sense, the one that best conserves the original sound is the flat or balanced equalization. The V equalization heightens serious and sharp frequencies, and is the best for listening to rock, hip-hop, or electronic. The ‘basehead’ is especially good for base.

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A headphone’s comfort level is going to depend on its design (Source: Suphaksorn Thongwongboot: 38937666/ 123rf.com)

Comfort

If the headphones you buy aren’t comfortable, it won’t be two weeks before you’ve stopped using them. In general, the comfort is going to depend mainly on the design, the materials, and the softness of the ear cushions, as well as, of course, the pressure they exert on your head.

In addition, in the specific case of crown headphones, a larger cup will generally result in greater comfort. Another aspect to keep in mind is whether they are wired or wireless. If they are wired, they might have an anti-retention system, or clamps for attaching them to clothing.

Connectivity

Nowadays, there are a range of options for connecting headphones to a device. From the traditional 3.5mm entrance jack, to Bluetooth connections or WiFi, as well as USB connections, headphones vary. In the last few cases, it is helpful to know what connection standard they support.

In the case of a Bluetooth connection, the most current version is 5.1, while for USB ports the most modern and fastest standard is USB 3.0 C-type. In general, the fact remains that cable connections offer better quality than wireless ones.

Amy WebbFounder of the Future of Today Institute

“The transition from smartphones to smart technology and invisible clothing interfaces – headphones with biometric sensors and speakers; rings and bracelets that detect movement; smart glasses that record and show information – they will forever change way in which we experience the physical world“.

Battery

Obviously this criteria only applies to wireless headphones. In this case, the battery life is one of the most important aspects to keep in mind when making your purchase. Nothing is worse than not having battery when you need it.

Luckily, to prevent this from happening, many manufacturers also allow you to connect the headphones via cable. In either case, nowadays it is possible to find devices that provide up to 30 hours of battery. Keep in mind, however, that as battery life increases, typically the price and weight does as well.

Summary

It is likely that, after mobile phones, headphones are the most common and most used technological device commonly seen. They are easy to use, very comfortable, and you can take them with you anywhere. Furthermore, for some time now, they have become part of people’s wardrobe and image. Headphones are, without a doubt, in style.

However, despite all that, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the main purpose of your headphones is to allow us to enjoy good quality sound. Sound quality should be one of, if not the most important criteria when it comes time to buy your headphones. As well as, of course, their intended use, and the type of connectivity they support.

Finally, if you have found this guide useful while making you choice, you can leave us a comment and/or share it on your social media.

(Featured image source: Sergey Galushko: 11000669/ 123rf.com)

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