Just how do you go about choosing the right set of headphones? Well, a good place to start is to think about how they are going to be used.
Are they for exercising, listening to the TV late at night, DJing…you get the idea?
You then need to get a grasp on all the different types (or form factors) available.
Here is a quick guide to the main types of headphones and the environments they might be better suited to.
What Are The Qualities Of A Good Set Of Headphones?
Comfortable To Wear
Comfort is paramount when selecting the best set. You can’t manage to regularly use a pair of headphones that you are not comfortable with. Some in-ear headphones are comfortable, but if you intend to use the headphones for long periods, then you might consider trying the on-and over-ear models.
Good Sound Quality
Great headphones should produce the full sound that is balanced across, midrange, treble, and bass frequencies. Some headphones struggle when it comes to providing bass, but some over the hear headphones produce deep sounds. Most headphones are either closed or open ear back ear cups. The open-back headphones offer more sound than the closed ones. The only problem is that they tend to leak more noise. Closed headphones are capable of preventing sound leakage and can thus block unwanted noise. The best way to test headphones is to try them out.
Types Of Headphones That You Can Buy
Noise-canceling headphones or ear-buds are designed to reduce the amount of outside noise or interference that you are exposed to.
The two main types of technology you are likely to encounter are `passive’ & `active’.
Passive technology is usually referred to as `noise isolation’ and is designed to block out noise as best it can by enclosing your ears with sound-deadening materials and creating a seal between you and the speaker. Depending on the headphone and manufacturer this can be quite effective.
There are no moving parts or technology that requires power in a noise isolation headphone.
Noise Cancellation, however, does require additional power to be used (usually supplied by an additional battery). In order to understand how these headphones work think of an absolutely smooth lake that has just had a pebble dropped into the middle of it – the ripples spreading out represent sound waves.
Now if we were to drop an identical pebble into the lake a bit further out but at exactly the same time as the first, the ripples would at some point meet each-other – when this happened they would in effect cancel each other out, You see, two opposing waves of exactly the same force meeting each other head-on count as a double KO! Each of our contestants (sound waves) gets knocked out.
So how do they do it? Well, noise cancelling headphones have 2 sets of speakers in each ear-cup as well as microphones. The headphones `listen’ to the outside noise and then attempt to re-create exactly the same noise as an opposing sound-wave… effectively neutralizing the sound before it reaches your ear. How each manufacture implements this may vary, but the science remains the same.
These are the largest of all types of headphones and because of this are usually best suited to home, studio or DJing.
This type of headphone is designed to fit completely over your ear giving you an effective isolation from outside noise.
Because of the size, this form factor also tends to also sport the largest speakers or drivers. The result of this is they are more likely to achieve a higher quality reproduction of audio as well as exuding less pressure on the eardrum. This means that if you are likely to be using headphones for an extended length of time, then this form factor should be a high consideration!
They are large and have cushioned pads that cover the entire ear. With the cushioned pads, you can wear them for long periods and they also produce good quality sound. Since they are bulky, they can best be used at home.
These types of headphones tend to be extremely comfortable and portable. In the pictures they may look very similar to their bigger brothers the `On-Ear Headphones’ but the difference is that these puppies just sit `on’ your ear – not over it.
This design has the advantage of keeping your ears cool (they can become quite warm in a closed design) and also giving you a bit of peripheral sound which can be useful if you are wearing them out in the public – hearing motor vehicles approaching can be a life saver!
On the flip side it’s worth remembering that equally as you can hear some of the outside world – the outside world can also hear you. This means that on-ear headphones can be a nuisance to others if used in the vicinity of others – i.e. on public transport.
They are common and are usually supplied with portable music players. They are lightweight and cheaper than the first two sets. They fit into the ear to provide a tight seal thus preventing a sound seal. However, they tend to have less sound quality than the first two.
These types of headphones are usually supplied with MP3 players and smartphones. They leak a lot of sounds. In addition to these, there are specialized headphones that can be used for specific purposes such as sports and gaming.
How much should you spend?
Depending on the type that you choose to purchase, they can cost anything around £5 to £250. It is therefore important to determine your budget. Price does not necessarily equal better sound because sound can be very subjective at times.
There are also wireless headphones that let you listen to music without being tethered to the audio source. You can choose to buy this type of headphones if you want to listen to your music in place such as gym.
You can also opt to invest in sound-isolating headphones if you can to enjoy your music at lower volumes without affecting people around you. Noise cancelling headphones fit tightly on the ear to eliminate ambient sounds.
What is Headphone Impedance? What is an Ohm?
For most purchasers, the ohmage or impedance of a pair of headphones is seldom considered in the research stage. Buying a pair of headphones with the incorrect level of impedance might not be the end of the world, but a little bit of knowledge here is all that is needed if you are looking to get the most out of your headphones.
When it comes to headphones, those with low impedance (less than 50 ohms) need less power to produce high volume levels. This means that lower ohmage headphones are well supported by mobile audio devices (including your phone). Most headphones are crafted for low impedance, so this won’t be an issue unless you are looking at a high end set of headphones.
Conversely, headphones that have a high ohmage (greater than 50 ohms) need more power to make high volume levels. This means that higher ohmage headphones can be connected to a wider range of audio devices, and by virtue of their ability to utilise higher power levels are protected from damage caused by overloading. If you hook a pair of high impedance headphones up to a typical mobile device you will get very low volume levels, in these instances you may require a portable amp – the FiiO E12 Mont Blanc Portable Headphone Amplifier is a price competitive unit that will supply enough power for most high impedance headphones.
Higher ohmage model headphones play well at home (or a studio) when you have the gear to make them do what they were made to do as the higher impedance levels make for a more level frequency response, leading to more accurate sound reproduction. Beyerdynamic and Sennheiser both make incredible high impedance headphones that are perfect for this purpose. Beyerdynamic in particular makes several headphones that feature three different ohmage models, 32, 250 and 600 ohms version.
So what determines the impedance of a pair of headphones? The headphones driver’s voice coil (found in dynamic drivers) is the primary factor in this equation, the voice coil is found coiled around the magnet in the ear cup, as electrical current is passed through the voice coil the electromagnetic field between the magnet and the coil forces the voice coil to rapidly move back and forward which moves the conal diaphragm the coil attaches to, which compresses and decompresses air – and voila – sound. The thinner the voice coils wiring is, the higher its impedance as it is harder to move current through thinner wiring.
So in summary, if you are buying a pair of headphones that you will be using on the go, unless you are willing to carry around a portable amplifier, don’t buy a high impedance set of headphones. If you want a quality pair of headphones for home use, consider your need for an amplifier. Finally, if you have a low ohmage pair of headphones, and hook them up to a powerful amp, you could be looking for a new pair in the very near future!
Audio Frequencies – Lows, Mids, and Highs, What Does It All Mean?
You will notice that throughout this website, references are made to lows, mids, and highs when referencing sound quality. What are lows, mids, and highs when it comes to headphones? Why should you care? You should care a great deal because at the end of the day you are the one paying for the sound quality, and you don’t want to shortchange yourself.
Sound is measured in Hertz. Humans are able to hear between 20Hz and 20,000Hz. Let’s briefly run through the sorts of sounds the human ear is capable of experiencing.
20 to 60Hz. You are less likely to hear this noise than you are to feel it. For reference a bass guitar typically sits between 60 to 1,000Hz.
60 to 250Hz. Bass signals found in music produced these days typically ranges from 90 to 200Hz. Sound’ thickness’ is determined by the bass range the lower the bass the thicker the sound. Bass is all well and good but if it is over-utilized or emphasized it will often lead to music becoming offensively boomy.
250 to 2,000Hz. In this range we find the lower stringed instruments. Here we find a significant portion of the audible sound spectrum including the fundamentals emitted by musical instruments and importantly, the human voice. Too much boosting in the mid-range can cause sound in this range to sound tinny.
2,000 to 4,000Hz. Higher mid-range mainly feature percussion instruments, increasing upper mid-range frequencies may cause listening fatigue as human hearing is quite sensitive to this frequency.
4,000 to 6,000Hz. This range is most responsible for sound clarity and definition. Boosting the presence may cause noticeable high pitched distortion in the sound.
6,000 to 20,000Hz. This range is composed of harmonics and gives a physical presence to sound. While some boosting of brilliance may serve to increase the fidelity of sound, over boosting may result in an audible hissing and lead to listening fatigue.
What you are looking for in a really good pair of headphones is a smooth audio response over a range of frequencies. This is no easy feat when you take into consideration the space that manufacturers have to deal with in making their products. Cheaper audio products utilize lesser quality materials and crafting techniques which ultimately carries over the quality of sound you are going to receive. Generally ‘you get what you pay for’ but this is not always the case, you pay a premium for looks and branding. Don’t rush the decision.
Things To Consider Before Buy Any Headphone
The budget is a vital factor for any product. The only factor budget helps you to choose your desirable earphone. Cheap budget to high budget, all types of headphones are available in the market, and only the thing is that you need to set your budget. After finalized of your budget, grab the best one.
If you are a heavy music lover who does not want to compromise with audio sound, we suggest you buy minimum 1000 rs budget headphones it gives you an excellent quality rather than cheap low budget headphones.
2. Comfort Zone
Comfort is on what type of material is used by the manufacturer to create those particular headphones. Now a day, many companies are using silicone and rubber based material that much that helps you to wear it on your ear without worried.
3. Battery Life
The battery is another major factor of headphones; most of the time, companies offer you 6 hours to 30 hours of non-stop playback music time. For basic headphones, 6 hours to 9 hours of battery capacity is enough, but if you pay strong budget to buy headphones, then it must have at least 20 hours of battery life.
Waterproof technology mostly denoted as IP Rating ( Ingress Protection Rating ). This technology helps you to protect your headphones from the water, sweat, and dust. This technology is capable of protecting your headphones under deep water 50 meters.
The IP rating technology started from IP00 to IP69k, Now a day most of the companies are using IP67 to IP68 technology. So before you buy any bluetooth headphones, make sure it comes with waterproofing technology.
Alert notification is the most useful feature, and this alert notification system helps you to give you time to time alert you about your such as a call and battery low and full.
6. Wireless Connectivity And NFC
The bluetooth headphones work on wireless technology, and you need to connect your device with a smartphone and other digital devices. This technology connects to your headphones via bluetooth equipped devices. If you want batter long-distance connectivity, you need to buy bluetooth 4.0 and upper level of inbuilt bluetooth technology.
NFC (Near Field Communication) is short-range wireless connectivity that uses magnetic field induction to enable communication between devices when they come into contact with each other.
7. Build Quality And Design
For any user, build quality is also a crucial factor, and the user always wants strong build headphones if he spends money to buy headphones then he must expect excellent quality. Most headphones are made from polished metal material with soft cushion for more comfortable and convenient. We also suggested here to buy headphones , which come with metal body structure and strong build wired, many companies using plastic material, but we will not advise you to purchase plastic build headphones.
When it comes to bluetooth headphones, the big question arises: which company brand gives superior quality audio technology along with strong build?
So we suggested you buy Sony, Samsung, Skullcandy, BoAt, Sound One, Philips, Leaf, Imore, JBL, MIVI, TAGG, Plantronics, Boult, MI, BackBeat companies headphones because these brands are making good quality wireless as well as wired headphones.
9. Noise Isolation And Noise Cancellation
Noise Isolation And Noise Cancellation both are the best inbuilt featured that helps you to reduce background noise and gives you clyster clear sound quality. The most branded company provides this feature as per budget.
Noise cancellation technology used microphones to listen to the incoming sound, then some fancy processing creates inverse waves that get fed back into the headphones. These inverse waves cancel out ambient sound.
Noise isolation works similar to noise cancellation, the noise isolations’ primary purpose of isolating your ear from extra ambient noise.
10. Quick Charging Support
Many companies now a day offer this incredible functionality. Usually, Bluetooth headphones get 2 and a half hours to 3 hours for charging, but this quick charging feature reduces time and charges your headphones within an hour.