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How to pick the right Headphones

When you start to look at buying a new set of headphones, the vast sea of options can be a bit overwhelming. Whether you’re looking for a set of earbuds for running or over the ear, noise canceling headphones for airplane flights, the options can seem endless. Today, we are going to breakdown what to look for and how to choose the right headphones for your scenario.


The first thing that you need to determine is how much are you willing to spend on your headphones. A simple set of ear buds can cost as little as $10 whereas Airpods can cost $250. You could spend as much as $1,000 on over-the-ear headphones if you really wanted to! The key here is to make sure that you stay within a budget that makes sense for you. If you know that you’re going to be using headphones as tools for work, it might be better to spend some money. But if you’re just a casual music listener, you don’t need to go all out.


Form and Function

The second thing you need to decide on is what you want your headphones to do or what you want to be able to do while wearing your headphones. For example, wired headphones are probably not the best where a lot of movement is involved. At the same time, wireless headphones might not be the best option in say a studio environment where zero latency is important.


The first big part of this is determining which style of headphone we want to go with: In-Ear, On- Ear, or Over-the-Ear. Each style brings its own sets of pros and cons.



Pros: In Ear headphones are arguably the best option if you want to be active while wearing your headphones. They can pack incredibly small and go right in your pocket, so you don’t need to carry a bag or case with you.

Another great perk of in ears is that there is nothing touching your head or your hair. So if you want to listen to some music but not mess up your hair, in ears are the perfect option.

Cons: In-Ears do have some drawbacks however. If you get wired earbuds, those wires can often tangle leaving a rat’s nest of cable in your pocket. It can be incredibly frustrating to unravel when you just want to listen to some music. That cable can get caught very easily as well. Personally, I had my earbud cable get caught on a door handle and it ripped the earbud right out of my ears. It was quite painful.

However, even the wireless ones have some downsides. For one, they can be lost easily. When things are tied together, they tend to “grow legs and walk” away from each other. And you also need to make sure they stay charged. Because of the small form factor, they don’t have large battery capacity and typically don’t have the low end response of larger headphones.





On-Ear headphones are what I consider the next step up in headphones. They are like a miniature version of their over-the-ear counterparts. They often have the perfect balance between size and sound quality. Most models can fold and pack small, making travel with them quite easy.
Because On-Ear headphones are larger, they are able to use larger drivers, giving a better quality sound over all.


On-Ear Headphones use pressure to stay on your ears. Over time, this can cause ear pain or fatigue, making the headphones unwearable. Because there is nothing holding them on your ears, they can slide down and off your ears very easily. One shake of your head and they can fall off.




Over-ear headphones are the only type of headphones that allow for an air-gap between your ear and the sound driver. On a good pair of headphones, that space will allow the sound to come more natural, like the inside of a concert hall. They are also better for your ears since the sound source is further away from your actual ear drum.

Most models have excellent bass response. It’s hard to beat the overall sound quality that an over the ear headphone can deliver. Also, because the ear cup is making contact with the flat surface around your ear, natural noise canceling and isolation is going to be at its peak.


Over-the-ear headphones can get expensive quickly. They can be as much as 4x or more the cost of earbuds. Also, because they seal around your ears, some users have mentioned that their ears get hot. They can also be quite heavy and cause ear fatigue.


Sound Quality

Sound quality, or how balanced the frequencies are, varies from brand to brand. Some brands tend to have a more pronounced low-end frequency. Some listeners enjoy that. Other brands have a more balanced and even sound. Most users tend to lean towards the second option as it allows for the most flexibility and customization. Most playback devices allow you to tune the frequencies of the music so you can dial it in just the way that you like.



Noise Cancelling

Noise canceling, sometimes referred to as Active Noise Canceling (ANC), is a pretty cool feature that a lot of higher end headphones have these days. But do you really need it?

ANC can add a whole new way to use your headphones. Sometimes, you may need to take a nap in a loud or noisy place, like on an airplane. With ANC-equipped headphones, you maybe able to just turn your ANC on and cancel out the world around you while you try and sleep. You don’t have to play music.

Another added benefit of noise cancelling is that is allows you to listen to music at lower volumes, so you don’t hurt your ear drums. Since the drivers aren’t competing with outside noise, you can lower the volume and reduce the pressure and strain on your ears. This can even help to extend listening times before ear fatigue as well!




One of the last things to look out for is what accessories will come with your headphones. Do they come with a case? Do the wireless headphones come with a wired backup? These are all important things to consider when choosing which brand to go with.




As you can tell, there’s a lot to consider when you purchase a set of headphones. Hopefully this article helps you decide which options you should go with based on your needs. This can be a tricky experience but with the right amount of research and patience, you’ll find the perfect headphones for you. 

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