Headphones are an integral part of many people’s everyday lives, whether it’s used as a tool for listening to music or as a device for communicating with others. With such a wide range of headphones available on the market today, making the right choice can be tough. There are so many different types and styles that finding the perfect pair can seem like a daunting task. To make things easier for you, we’ve put together this headphone buying guide detailing everything you need to consider when looking for your ideal pair:
How Often Do You Plan On Using Them?
Another important thing to consider is how often you plan on using your new headphones. If they’re only meant to be used occasionally or as a secondary device, it’s recommended that you go for an affordable pair with decent sound quality (e.g., Skullcandy). However, if they’re going to be the only headphones that you use and you plan on using them often, then you should invest in something that has high-end components and is built specifically for extended periods of listening. According to manufacturers from Sennheiser, arguably the No 1 headphone brand in the world, build specifically for frequent use, if you use your headphones for at least 2 hours per day, you need to be looking for over-ear headphones with an impedance of at least 32 Ohm. Also, headphones with a high sensitivity of at least 100 dB SPL/mW are ideal for frequent use. Otherwise, you’ll be going through a lot of pairs that may cost you more in the long run.
Consider Sound Quality
The first and most important thing to consider when looking for headphones is the sound quality. If you’re just looking for a casual listening device to use with your phone or tablet, then budget earphones should do the trick. However, if you’re planning on using them with higher-end devices such as mp3 players and laptops, it’s important to make sure that they can handle high bitrates (320kbps+). Some headphones only support 96kbps while some go up to 192kbps – these are what we call lossy formats. If you want your music in its original form (lossless), buy a pair that supports ALAC/FLAC formats (usually found at 256kbps and above) and take advantage of high-quality earphones.
Wearing Comfort Should Be High Priority
Comfort is another very important factor to consider when looking for a pair of headphones. It’s pretty useless if you spend all that money on your perfect sound quality only to find out that they make your ears feel like they’ve been stuffed with cotton or are too heavy on the head (causing constant headaches). Look for something lightweight and with soft ear pads – these can be achieved via downsizing, which means having smaller speakers rather than oversized ones. Alternatively, buy headphones that have memory foam or gel-infused ear cups; these provide increased comfort and block outside noise (ideal if you’re using them in the subway). Just make sure you test them out to see if they fit your head nicely before you make the purchase.
Mic Or No Mic?
Another thing to consider when buying a pair of headphones is whether or not they have a built-in mic. This feature is great for gamers and people who travel a lot because it allows them to answer calls without having to let go of their controller/luggage handle. It is also ideal for people who work with video conferencing software such as Skype and Google Hangouts because it allows them to communicate with their co-workers without having to hold onto their smartphones. Ideally, you should be looking for headphones that have a built-in microphone with noise cancellation as this provides the best possible sound quality, especially if you’re working in a crowded environment. However, if you are not planning on using your new headphones for calls, you should prioritize the sound quality over a mic and avoid spending extra money on this feature.
Wired or Wireless?
Another major consideration when buying headphones is whether or not you want them to be wireless. While this may sound like it’s the way to go, there are some major downsides that you should know about before making your decision. For one thing, most – wireless headphones require batteries to function, unless they come with an AC adaptor (which limits mobility), their battery life tends to be very short (around 5-6 hours at best). Keeping your headphones constantly charged can be an inconvenience for people who travel often and don’t always have access to power outlets. On the other hand, wired headphones are ideal for people who spend time on their feet because normally they allow more freedom of movement compared to wireless ones. They also tend to have a better sound quality and are cheaper to boot, so they’re the way to go if you plan on being mobile.
Passive Noise Cancellation vs Active Noise Cancellation
In terms of sound isolation, you have two main options: passive noise cancellation and active noise cancellation. Passive noise cancellation prevents outside sounds from entering your ear by creating a physical barrier between the noise and your eardrums. This means that you will have to listen to whatever is playing on your headphones at a slightly lower volume but it allows for better clarity. Active noise cancellation, on the other hand, uses special circuitry to actively monitor incoming noises and produce an equal-and-opposite sound wave that drowns out outside distractions. While it may sound like magic, there are some downsides to this process as well. ANC headphones tend to be heavier because they need to house the aforementioned circuitry. They also tend to be more expensive than passive noise cancellation headphones and usually need battery power to function properly.
While there are many more things you can consider when buying headphones, these are considered the most important for both gamers and casual listeners alike. With all of that said, the headphones you choose should depend on your specific needs and preferences. So before buying a pair, take the time to consider all of these factors and weigh them against each other so you can easily determine which one offers you the best value for money.