Headphones are one of the greatest innovations today. As our love for music has grown, so have gadgets that allow us to enjoy that music. But it’s not just music anymore – the uses for headphones have grown along with our technological capabilities.
Headphones have become an essential part of our daily lives, and many types of these devices are available worldwide – both online and in shops. Whether you’re looking for noise-cancelling, wireless, over-ear, in-ear headphones, or an integrated AI smart assistant, there’s a perfect pair of headphones for you, regardless of your desired use and budget.
Headphones have emerged with various features and designs that fulfil different purposes. Some are functional, some are aesthetic, and all allow you to stamp your personality and sound preferences on this fantastic gadget.
Even while optimising the listening experience, headphone manufacturers have continued to improve sound quality, battery life, and comfort. Some of the top brands in the market, including Bose, Sony, and Apple, have introduced advanced noise-cancelling technology that can block out even the loudest of noises, making them perfect for use on planes, trains, or even in noisy offices.
There is also a developing range of uses of headphones for health, safety, and comfort purposes, including safety headphones to wear in high-noise workplaces, noise-cancelling headphones used by people with autism, and headphones that reduce ambient noise and help those with acquired brain injuries or hearing problems.
Whether you’re an audiophile looking for the best sound quality, need a reliable pair of headphones for daily use and comfort, or have specific requirements for your headphones, there’s never been a better time to invest in a pair of headphones (or two!) that will enhance your listening experience.
And if you are wondering which is the best headphone color for you, check out our post on choosing the right headphone color for your style and personality!
Check out our Posts on Gaming Headphones and Music Headphones
What are headphones?
Headphones are a pair of small speaker drivers worn over or around the user’s ears. They are electroacoustic transducers that convert electrical signals into corresponding sounds.
Headphones allow users to listen to an audio source personally instead of speakers that make sound outdoors and can be heard by everyone nearby. Headphones “around the ears” and “above the ears” use straps or metal/plastic bands on the head to hold the speakers in place around your ears.
Another type, known as earphones or earplugs, consists of individual units inserted into the user’s ear canals.
The third type is Bone Conduction Headphones. These usually wraps around the back of the head and sit in front of each ear canal so that the ear canal remains open.
In telecommunications, a headset is a combination of headphones and a microphone.
Headphones are also known colloquially as:
- Ear cans
- Sound goggles
- Ear goggles
- Ear helmets
- Head boppers
- Ear candy
- Brain buds
- Melody phones.
Brief History Of Headphones
In 1910, Nathaniel Baldwin developed the first headset that could amplify sound. Initially designed for the US Navy during World War I, it facilitated the purpose of telecommunications. The headphones were made of copper wire and leather.
In early radios with their own power supplies, headphones were part of the tube plate circuit, carrying dangerous voltages. It was usually directly connected to a high-voltage positive battery post, and the other battery post was safely grounded.
Using the bare electrical connector, you may get an electric shock if you touch the bare headphone connector while setting an uncomfortable headset. In 1958, Milwaukee-born audiophile and jazz musician John C. Koss made the first stereo headphones.
Until then, headphones had only been used by the US Navy, telephone and radio operators, and people in similar industries. The small earphones that plug into the user’s ear canal were initially designed for hearing aids.
Earphones were widely used in transistor radios that were commercially sold with the introduction of the Regency TR1 in 1954. Transistor radio, the most famous audio device in history, has changed the way people listen to the radio everywhere.
Earphones use a movable iron screwdriver or piezo crystal to make a sound. The most commonly used 3.5 mm radio and telephone connectors in today’s portable applications were used in 1979 from the Sony EFM117J transistor radio, launched in 1964 at the latest.
Headphones are much more advanced these days, and some don’t even require a cable to work.
Use of Headphones
Headphones are worn today by almost everyone, from infants on the bus in the morning to adults who go to the gym on their way home from work.
Headphones are used for portable listening, whether you’re locking out playlists or listening to new podcasts.
You can wear headphones in many locations or occasions, including the following:
2. Motivation and Mood Improvement
The BBC’s 2020 report shows that work music makes us smarter and generally makes us feel better.
As well as music, you can also make the performance of many tasks easier by listening to good audiobooks and podcasts.
Runner’s World Magazine has discovered that exercising with headphones can help you move and maintain a stable pace. Ultimately, being active is more fun if you hear something interesting.
Wearing headphones during a learning session can improve cognitive ability, especially when listening to classical music.
Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven are said to be the best for focusing. Are you a college student? It can also help you save money by purchasing the audio version of the textbook.
Commuting can be one (or two!) of the most challenging parts of the day.
However, research shows that listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks can relieve the stress, boredom, and anxiety of moving from one place to another.
Keep in mind – it’s illegal to use headphones when you are driving a car!
6. Housekeeping and Lawnmowing
Dishwashing, vacuuming, gardening, and laundry – as well as all other types of housework – become more enjoyable when listening to music and other audio. It helps you enter the zone and encourages you to clean more often.
7. Games and Gaming
Players can wear headphones or headsets while playing against others online. Headphones are also used to immerse yourself in games and trash-talk competitors.
Check out our best Gaming Headsets in our guide here.
7. Talking on the Phone
Some headphones have a built-in microphone. Talking to your grandma or best friend is more comfortable if you don’t need to answer your phone for a long time. If you can’t put it on speaker, holding your smartphone for long periods can cause significant pain and stiffness in your neck and shoulders.
Types Of Headphones
Good headphones are a worthwhile investment. You will use them often, so find a pair that suits your lifestyle.
Which type of headphones are best for me? What kind of headphones should I buy?
We know these questions get very tricky to answer while purchasing, which is why our experts have brought a highly researched answer for all of you.
Searching for “headphones” on search engines or online shopping sites can make this process even more difficult than it was originally, as the method of narrowing down your headphone search can be very complicated and ultimately confusing. I understand. As we saw in the Headphones Guide for helping with recommendations and choosing the “best pair,” we simply emphasized the “type.”
Today, we have taken a closer look to help you understand what all these superlative “ears,” “middle,” and “top” mean in terms of headphone functionality and fit.
Let us get into this even more closely!
Like other technologies, headphones come in a wide variety. It depends on the fit you are looking for and how you intend to use it.
The different types of headphone styles include Wireless-Bluetooth Headphones, Earbuds (In-ear), Circumaural, Supra-aural, Noise-cancelling, Bone conduction, Closed-back, Open-back, Semi-open, Waterproof, DJ.
In the professional audio sector, headphones are usually used by disc jockeys and sound engineers with DJ mixers to listen to the signal source in live situations. In a radio studio, DJs use headphones when speaking into a microphone with speakers turned off to monitor their voice and avoid howling.
Musicians and singers use headphones to play or sing along to backing tracks and bands when recording in the studio. In military applications, many types of audio signals are monitored by headphones.
All these different use patterns result in the existence of the following types of headphones that we know so far.
Popular closed-back headphones are the perfect type of headphones for anyone who wants to block background noise while using them, regardless of application. This style removes ambient noise, frees music from external interference irrespective of the environment, creates an isolated audio experience, and allows only you to hear the sound you need.
These features make closed-back headphones perfect for anyone who wants to hear every minute of the music they’re listening to and be completely immersed in the experience. This type of headphone is very popular with musicians and often used in recording environments such as offices.
Also, there is little or no noise loss. In other words, there is almost no sound leaking into the environment (the sound coming into the microphone will hurt this track, I think the singer is singing instrumentals with headphones).
I don’t want that quiet noise, even on the track). Even if you’re away from musicians, closed headphones are perfect for those who prefer a private listening experience or don’t want to disturb others.
Here come the popular open-back headphones. As the name implies, open-back headphones aren’t “closed” but instead have “open” ear cups, allowing sound to escape to the environment intentionally.
This style produces a much more “open and airy sound” that is more like listening to room speakers rather than listening to sound completely separated from closed headphones (choose a decent analogy if you need to). So why does everyone want an open and airy sound accompanied by a bit of audio coming from outside the ear cups? What do you get?
This style is the first choice for those who mix and master in a studio environment. Due to its open design, this leak is preferred by sound engineers because it keeps the mix accurate and allows you to build specific frequencies that are common in closed headphones.
Those involved in mixing and mastering need a “flat sound” that is accurate and unadorned, giving them the confidence and leeway to trust what they listen to. Closed-back headphones are fabulous for soundproofing, but the ear cup frequencies drop (some people like it when listening leisurely).
Different Types of Headphones (Over-Ear, On-Ear, In-Ear)
Over-ear headphones, also known as circumaural headphones, encase the entire ear. They provide excellent sound quality and are great for long listening sessions. However, they can be bulky and less portable than other types.
On-ear headphones, or supra-aural headphones, sit directly on the ear. They offer a good balance between sound quality and portability. However, they can be less comfortable for extended use due to pressure on the ears.
In-ear headphones, often referred to as earbuds, are small and highly portable. They fit directly into the ear canal, providing good noise isolation. However, sound quality can vary, and some people find them uncomfortable for long periods.
As the name implies, On-ear Headphones go over your head and rest on your ears. When it comes to on-ear and over-ear headphones, everyone gets a little confused at first, so to summarize what I found, I think of over-ear headphones as a bit smaller (closer to the actual ear size).
On-ear headphones are slightly larger, so you can wrap your ears with a cushion that the cup wraps around your ears. Why is there a difference between these two? On ear’s design, also known as super-auditory headphones, is somewhat like open-back headphones. This allows some sound to leave and enter the environment instead of the over-the-ear style, which produces external noise.
If an individual is interested in the commonly used term “soundproofing,” it fades out much better. These headphones are usually very comfortable and don’t sweat as much as some over-ear models.
It is essential to buy a comfortable pair that doesn’t put too much strain on your ears, as they rest on your ears (or at least as much as closed over-ear headphones).
As you can observe when you have a look at the over-ear headphones (or technically, sometimes called “full”) fit on the top of the head and are “over” and above and around the cartilage of the ear, so the entire ear is “arched.”
Over-Ear headphones are excellent noise reduction models because they create an intimate environment between you and the sound you are listening to. They are very capable of limiting noise.
You can get an over-ear model that allows you to open your back to breathe and make noise. However, this style is usually closed due to the potential for noise-cancelling, isolation, and high-quality sound features. They are very comfortable (some cups are made of velvet or leather, especially when you get taller) and are not as chewy as some ear models.
There is little air in and out, and you may sweat. These are also the bulkiest headphones on the market. Therefore, these may not be appropriate if you want to save space. However, others prefer these bulky headphones and demand a tight, heavy, wrap-around fit (like a pillow pressed against the side of the head).
Wired vs. Wireless Headphones
Wired headphones offer reliable, high-quality sound without worrying about battery life. They’re a great choice for audiophiles and professionals who prioritize sound quality. However, the wire can be inconvenient, especially during physical activities.
Wireless headphones offer freedom of movement and convenience. They’re great for workouts, commutes, and any situation where you don’t want to deal with wires. However, they rely on battery power and may not offer the same sound quality as wired models.
Some headphones offer both wired and wireless modes for flexibility. This can be a great option if you want the convenience of wireless but also want the option for wired listening.
Wireless Headphones and Bluetooth Headphones
Wireless electronics are now a staple in the world.
Initially, headphones used wireless transmission (RF) technology to provide wireless connectivity to various devices. Sound waves were sent from the air to the receiver. But at this point, this approach is as good as extinct.
Queue Bluetooth technology allows devices to connect wirelessly and use radio waves. However, instead of connecting to a certain number of available frequencies, it has its own channel (which can interfere with the “old-style” radio). Bluetooth headphones have a tiny computer chip that can be paired with a device playing music.
This technology has made rapid progress, especially in the music industry (where so many Bluetooth electronics are found).
Connecting the headphones with Bluetooth will make you hear the same sound as regular headphones, but there is no wiring hassle. Whether in the gym, on the go, at home, or in a real-life use where you don’t want to worry about these annoyances, the benefits are huge.
Noise Cancelling Headphones
Looking for high-quality headphones that can block out surrounding noise? You might have come across the term “sound insulation” in marketing for premium headphone models. But what does it actually mean?
Noise-cancelling headphones are designed with unique built-in technology that actively reduces ambient noise, creating a quiet environment for your listening pleasure. A small internal motor measures low frequencies using a microphone attached to the outside of the ear cup, then creates the opposite frequency to cancel out the sound before it reaches your ears. This means you can enjoy your music or other audio content without any external noise interfering with your experience.
Most noise-cancelling headphones use a combination of soundproofing and frequency cancellation to block out higher-frequency sounds. These headphones are particularly useful in noisy environments like trains or planes, as they can isolate you and your audio content from external noise.
However, noise-canceling headphones require power for the noise-canceling function. This means they’ll have a battery that needs to be charged, and they may be heavier than other types of headphones.
If you want to learn more about noise-cancelling headphones, check out our pillar page for in-depth information and product recommendations.
AI Smart Assistant Technology
The latest trend in headphone technology is the integration of smart assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, directly into the headphones.
This feature allows users to control their music, receive notifications, and make hands-free calls without ever reaching for their phones. Undoubtedly, the technology behind these AI Smart Assistants will continue to develop.
For example, it’s likely that chat bots such as ChatGPT will soon be incorporated into headphones, allowing the user to speak with and ask questions directly of the chat bot while they are listening to music, carrying out other tasks, or using noise-cancelling technology.
What Are Headphones Made Of?
Headphones are made from a combination of aluminum, synthetic leather, ceramic, copper, memory foam, plastic, rubber, silicone, textile (fabric), and vinyl.
Companies use soft materials such as silicone, memory foam, fabric, and vinyl to make cups and buds on or inside your ears.
The shell is made of rubber, plastic, ceramic, and aluminum, and the sounding wiring contains copper.
Understanding Headphone Specifications
Frequency response refers to the range of frequencies a headphone can reproduce. A wider range doesn’t necessarily mean better sound quality, but it does mean the headphones can produce more low (bass) and high (treble) sounds.
Impedance is a measure of how much power is needed to drive the headphones. Lower impedance headphones (less than 50 ohms) are suitable for use with portable devices, while higher impedance headphones require more power, like a dedicated headphone amplifier.
Sensitivity measures how loud the headphones can get for a given input power. Higher sensitivity headphones can achieve louder volumes but can also be more prone to distortion at high volumes.
What Are The Most Popular Brands Of Headphones Worldwide?
You can buy regular headphones or get your brand name at a supermarket, big box store or online. From AirPods to Beats, there are plenty of stylish options! The most famous headphone brands on the market today are:
Thanks to AKG for introducing us to both super-auditory headphones and open-back headphones. The brand’s popularity soared when the K240 model was used in Eddie Murphy’s music video “Party All the Time!”.
Apple has completely changed the earphone market with the release of AirPods. These In-ear headphones are entirely wireless and insanely popular. Nearly 60 million pairs of AirPods were sold in 2019, and the number continues to grow.
Legendary hip-hop artist Dr. Dre founded Beats in 2006 and sold it to Apple for an astonishing $3.2 billion eight years later. Beats were developed for music lovers, and according to the website, “You can incorporate the energy, emotions, and tensions of playing in a recording studio into your listening experience.
When looking for new headphones, it is vital to have a choice. Bose is proud to offer a variety of styles, including wireless, noise-canceling, headsets, speakers, earphones, and even Bluetooth sunglasses with a built-in microphone.
Woodstock 69 was one of the most iconic music festivals and is currently attended by JBL speakers. Since then, the brand has produced high-quality headphones and speakers in various styles.
Panasonic is a technology giant that can do anything, including lights, appliances, TVs, laptops, phones, cameras, projectors, and more. Their headphones are known for being soft, durable, and providing rich bass.
Visit the Philips website, and you’ll see that we’re determined to deliver “lifestyle-friendly” headphones. You can filter different options such as noise-canceling, over-ear, sports, kids, gaming headphones, and more.
Raycon was launched by R&B superstar Ray J. His goal was simple — to provide premium wireless headphones at no ridiculous price. Many celebrities love the brand, with 2019 sales of $10 million.
Save money, as Sennheiser headphones are a bit more expensive than other brands. It is worth the investment if you are interested in games or travel a lot. They even offer professional air traffic control headphones and headsets!
Fortune Magazine has named Skullcandy “the coolest earphones in the world.” The reason is no wonder. The brand offers many eye-catching colors, clever packaging, and affordable prices. You can also earn additional “cool” points to interact with JayZ, Snoop Dogg, and Metallica.
Like Panasonic, Sony is another giant in the world of technology. Knowing that you bought something from a trusted brand, you can buy the headphones you like. Sony models are often listed on the “Best Headphones” list yearly.
How to Choose the Right Headphones for You
Consider your primary use for the headphones. If you’re a music professional or audiophile, you might prioritize sound quality. If you’re a frequent traveler, noise cancellation and portability might be key.
Think about your comfort preferences. Some people prefer the enveloping feel of over-ear headphones, while others prefer the lightness of in-ear models. Try on different types to see what feels best.
Finally, consider your budget. While there are excellent headphones at every price point, higher-end models often offer superior sound quality and additional features like wireless connectivity and active noise cancellation.
Pros of Headphones
Headphones have revolutionized the way we hear sounds. It has become the most essential accessory of any gadget that provides sound—widely used as headphones worldwide. Therefore, it has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some advantages are disadvantageous to others and vice versa. Still, there are some strengths and weaknesses that both have in common.
In this article section, you’ll discover some benefits of headphones. The benefits of these headphones are based on several key points, such as comfort, connectivity, and design.
This segment focuses on the positive side of headphones.
Control and Accessibility
The most significant advantage of the control and accessibility headphones is that they are hands-free. Other tasks are easy. Some headphones have controls such as a volume button, a forward button, and a back button. Still, you can easily select a call with just one click.
The Role of Comfort and Fit in Choosing Headphones
Comfort and fit are crucial factors in choosing headphones. If your headphones aren’t comfortable, you’re less likely to use them, no matter how good they sound. Over-ear and on-ear headphones should have comfortable padding and shouldn’t squeeze your head too tightly.
In-ear headphones should come with a variety of ear tips so you can find the perfect fit. A good fit is also essential for sound quality in in-ear headphones. If they’re not properly inserted, you won’t get the best sound.
Finally, consider the weight of the headphones. Heavier headphones can be uncomfortable over long periods, so if you plan to wear them for hours at a time, lighter may be better.
Headphones come in a variety of designs. If you go to the market or shopping sites, you will find many fashionable headphones. Classic, trendy, modern, and more headphones are on the market. You can match the color of the headphones to the dress.
Headphones connect to any device with a 3.5 mm jack. They can be used on smartphones and music systems such as PCs, cars, and game consoles — which is the greatest advantage of headphones. It’s like a device that is universally compatible with any gadget.
The Best Headphones for Different Genres of Music
Different genres of music can benefit from different types of headphones. For example, bass-heavy genres like hip-hop and EDM can sound great on headphones with enhanced bass response.
On the other hand, genres that rely on detailed, accurate sound reproduction, like classical and jazz, might sound better on headphones with a balanced, neutral sound profile.
Remember, though, that personal preference plays a big role. The best headphones for you are the ones that make your favorite music sound the best.
The Best Headphones for Gaming, Traveling, Working Out, etc.
For gaming, look for headphones with a wide soundstage and accurate positional audio. A built-in microphone can also be a big plus for multiplayer games.
For traveling, noise-canceling headphones can be a lifesaver. They can block out engine noise on a plane or chatter on a train, letting you relax with your music or movie.
For working out, look for wireless headphones with a secure fit and water resistance. You don’t want to be worrying about your headphones falling out or getting damaged by sweat while you’re trying to focus on your workout.
Cons of Headphones
Everyone knows that if anything has its advantages, it certainly has some drawbacks. The same is true for headphones. Headphones also have some disadvantages.
This part of the article focuses only on the shortcomings of headphones or the adverse effects of wearing them.
Caution While Using
The headphone jack may become damaged. If you are using wired headphones, do not stretch the cable. It’s also the reason why headphones don’t work.
If you go to the price market or online shopping sites, you will find some high-quality headphones are available at very high prices. Why? Cheap headphones don’t give you the sound quality they should provide. Branded headphones are costly.
Excessive use of headphones can damage your ears and affect some parts of your body (like your hair). It also affects your brain. Therefore, be careful not to overuse your headphones. Remember that something is overly dangerous.
It is known that listening to music alone using battery-specific accessories consumes a certain amount of battery power. It’s simple. Headphones wear out your smartphone and other devices faster. Also, the battery will be limited if you use wireless headphones.
The Impact of Sound Quality in Headphones
Sound quality in headphones is influenced by several factors, including the type of headphones, the quality of the audio source, and the listener’s personal preferences. High-quality headphones can provide a detailed, balanced sound that enhances the listening experience.
However, even the best headphones can’tmake up for a poor-quality audio source. If you’re streaming music, make sure you’re using a service that offers high-quality streaming. If you’re listening to MP3s, make sure they’re a high bitrate.
Finally, remember that everyone’s ears are different. What sounds good to one person might not sound good to another. It’s always a good idea to try headphones before you buy, if possible. Or check reviews to find out information about the person who posted the review, to see if it matches your own situation.
The Future of Headphones: What to Expect
The future of headphones is likely to involve more advancements in wireless technology. As Bluetooth technology improves, we can expect to see even better sound quality and longer battery life from wireless headphones.
We’re also likely to see more integration with smart assistants and other smart devices. This could mean more voice-activated features, more customization options, and more ways to use your headphones to control your other devices.
Finally, as virtual reality and augmented reality continue to develop, we may see headphones with advanced spatial audio features, designed to create a more immersive audio experience.
I also think we’ll see a lot more integration of noise-cancelling technology into headphones as a standard feature, with the ability to switch it off when outside noise is invited in certain situations such as gaming.
The bottom line is that, without headphones, life would be more boring.
Enjoy all sorts of catchy songs, including energetic playlists, engaging podcasts, and great audiobooks.
You can choose from various headphone styles, so choose the one that suits you best.
Here are a few frequently asked questions answered by our experts about headphones.
Why is the left ear cup of my headphones bigger than the right?
There’s nothing worse than tackling the uneven sound of headphones. If the left earphone is larger than the right, there is a problem with the plug, cable, or connection. If one headphone is larger than the other, do not throw them away. Dirt, wax, or debris can affect the sound, so try cleaning them first. You can also verify that the cables are flawless and the device is connected properly.
Are headphones harmful?
Headphones may be harmful if you listen to excessively loud noises. It is also important to make sure you do not get the cord of headphones around your neck.
Does sharing headphones make me sick?
Sharing headphones may not make you sick, but it does bring new bacteria to your ears, increasing the risk of ear pain, fungal infections, or infections of the ear canal that cause redness, inflammation and pain.
Is it okay to sleep with my headphones on?
Experts are wondering if it’s safe to fall asleep with headphones on. Some say it’s a great way to relax and block out noise. Others have warned that headphones can damage the tissue of your ears and can pose a risk of strangulation if the headphones are wired.
Do you need sound to fall asleep? We recommend listening to music, podcasts, or other sounds from Bluetooth speakers. Turn down the volume and get the rest you need.
About the Author
Rach Wellard is the driving force behind Sound & Solitude. Her mission is to help you discover the profound impact of sound in your daily life and to explore the beauty of solitude. With a deep passion for the connection between soundscapes and emotions, she brings a unique blend of expertise and personal dedication to our platform.
Rach understands that every individual's auditory journey is unique, and she’s here to guide you every step of the way. As a devoted audiophile, Rach’s discerning ear carefully selects the most exceptional products that align with your desires for Sound or Solitude. In a world filled with noise and chaos, Sound & Solitude serves as your sanctuary.
Rach’s journey as an autistic individual with a heightened sensitivity to sound fuels our commitment to creating an inclusive space where everyone can find solace while enjoying the meaningful sounds in their lives. Her understanding of diverse sensory needs enables us to offer personalized recommendations and insights, ensuring that your chosen audio equipment not only meets technical criteria but also resonates with your unique sensory preferences. And if you simply seek the best sound possible, Rach has you covered.
At Sound & Solitude, authenticity is our foundation. We provide unbiased reviews and comparisons because you deserve nothing but the truth. Our reviews are meticulously crafted, drawing upon Rach’s deep understanding of audio technology and the human experience in the Sound and Solitude realms. Whether you're searching for noise-cancelling headphones to immerse yourself in music or seeking a gaming headset that transports you to virtual worlds, you can rely on our reviews and personally tested comparisons to find the best equipment for your specific needs. Explore our carefully curated content, from the latest wireless audio advancements to tips for creating your ideal auditory retreat.
Let Sound & Solitude be your companion in your quest for perfect sound, rich experiences, and beautiful serenity. Join Rach as she redefines the way you listen, connecting you to the power of Sound and the Solitude it brings. Together, we'll evolve into your trusted platform for all things related to Sound & Solitude.