In today’s era, we all need them. Whether you like listening to the radio while commuting or you have a favorite “work”, “relaxing” and “workout” playlist, headphones are one of the things that are pretty necessary. Yeah, sure, sometimes we like to dance around the house with the music playing loud, using our hairbrush as a microphone – but most of the time neighbors will complain. So, headphones are our best friend, but it happens too often that we buy a pair and then realize after a couple of days or weeks that for some reason they’re just not quite the right fit. That’s why we offer you some tips and advice on how to pick the best headphones according to your needs.
Earbuds, Ear Pads or Full-Size Headphones?
This is the first thing to consider when getting a new headset: what is it that you need it for. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a look at them.
You probably use earbuds for your iPad or another music player. They go inside your ear and are relatively unnoticeable. They’re great to use on the go and are usually affordable. They are also really comfortable and your ears won’t hurt after using them. On the downside, their quality isn’t so great most of the time – you know, the cables get broken too easily; the sound isn’t as good as over-the-ear headphones can provide. Not so good for exercise either – they may fall out if you jump too much. And, you may not like them if you hate putting stuff in your ears – in this case, try one of the following two types.
Somewhere between earbuds and full-size headphones, we have the middle option. They are, like the name says, small pads that go over your ears but don’t cover all of them. On the plus side, we have comfort – these are probably the most comfortable of all three types. They’ll just sit on top of your ears, without burning them or pinning them back. They also provide pretty good sound quality and they’re good for exercising. On the other side, they usually come as “open” models, which means that the sound leaks a bit – both from you to the outside and the other way round. And, if you like good bass, you’d better try the full-size headphones.
They cover the entire ear and are usually larger. They come both in open and closed forms, but both are really good at blocking out outside noise. Great bass response, awesome clarity and really comfy – just not so great on the go because of their size. They are great for inside use though, but keep in mind that they may make your ears feel real hot.
So, what you need to do is think wisely about what it is that you will use these earphones for – and buy accordingly. Now that you know which size you need, here are some other things to consider…
Again, depending on what you need them for, there are some features that may or may not be important to you when getting new headphones. When it comes to noise, we’ll tell you about the difference between noise cancellation and noise isolation. Also, let’s talk a little about wireless headphones and their pros and cons.
Noise Isolation – When headphones have noise isolation capability, it means they physically block out the noise from the outside by creating a seal in or around your ears. They keep the music in and the outside sounds out by making sure it can’t go through the headphones physically. They are the cheaper and less effective version of removing outside noise from your music surrounding.
Noise Cancellation – Often confused with noise isolation, this one is a much more effective way to block out any outside sounds. What these headphones do is they sample outside noise and they play an inverted version into your ears, thus cancelling it out. Yeah, it does sound a bit confusing, but you don’t have to know all the theoretical facts to understand that these are a better choice if you really want no outside sounds interrupting your experience. The thing is – they are better, but also much more expensive, and unlike the noise isolating ones, require batteries. So think twice how bad you really need this feature before spending tons of money on it when all you use the headphones for is listen to music while commuting.
Wireless – Obviously, these headphones don’t have wires. Yeah, this is a kind of a Sherlock-Holmes-discovery, we know. So how do you connect them to your device? Usually Bluetooth – and they will not only allow you to play music, but also to do stuff like skip songs, go back, play, pause etc. They are pretty comfy when you think of roaming the world wire-free, but the truth is they don’t have as good quality – nor are they as durable – as wired ones. They need recharging often, and are pretty bad at blocking out outside noises, and can get interferences from other wireless devices you may have in your house. On the other hand, they’re probably the best possible choice for workouts.
How to test headphones?
Ok, so you have decided on the type of headphones you want – now it’s time to go out and get some. It can be pretty difficult finding the right pair. You know, they may seem perfect but then you realize after some time that your ears hurt like hell when you use them, or the sound is just too weird for you. So, what you should do before rushing to the first store and picking the “cutest” headphones is research. Go online, read reviews, go to tech forums, there’s plenty of them out there. You could even post your own questions and ask for people’s opinions on a particular set or just for suggestions.
When a headset seems like the right fit, it’s time to try them out – literally. Ask the store salesperson to take them out of the box and put them on, wear them for a few minutes. Sore ears are not as trivial as they may sound – and you don’t want that feeling to follow you around for a long time – or force you to get a new pair only a couple of weeks after spending a small fortune on your “perfect” headphones.
Think of what you need them for – we’ve already mentioned this. Every type is good for something and you should find the right balance between the form and the features in order to be completely satisfied. And, last but not least – check if they have a warranty. Even after all the research, sometimes what seems like an absolute win turns out not to be. Or, they can break for an unknown reason – you need to be sure you’ll be able to get your money (or new headphones) back.
That’s pretty much what we have to offer when it comes to headphones advice. In the end, let us just suggest some that we found match our criteria and could be a good fit for you.
Shure S-215 Ear-buds
When it comes to earbuds, this is the best thing we can offer. Great for travelling, great when listening to music before going to bed – Shure S-215. They’re special because they have detachable cables so you can carry them anywhere in their case without getting them all tangled up. They, of course, have great sound quality and you can bet you won’t hear any outside noise when using them. Also, these earbuds are made to rest super-comfortably in your ear, so they pretty much don’t have a downside.
BUY | $89
Bose SoundTrue Headphones On-Ear Style
When we combine the affordability, the sound quality and the comfort, these headphones are the best Ear Pads we can offer. Bose SoundTrue Headphones have a softly padded headband and their cushions are made of memory foam – like we mentioned, they’re all about being comfy and you can be sure your ears will feel great with them on – no matter how long you use them. They’re not great as cancelling noise, but they offer awesome, natural and full sound that you’ll enjoy immensely.
BUY | $90
V-MODA Crossfade M-100
These award-winning headphones are a great choice and they come at an amazing price for the quality. They are full of innovative concepts such as dual headphone inputs that allow real-time mixing, which means you can listen to multiple sources simultaneously, a specially tuned SpeakEasy cable with mic for universal compatibility and an additional SharePlay cable to allow you to share your sound with your friends… and much more. They are definitely worth checking out.
BUY | $150