Purchasing Headphones

Demetre Williams-Martin
Staff Writer

We all use headphones. Whether it be for a plane ride, taking a bus, or just for the sake of listening to music. Eventually you will have to go out and buy a new pair and for those wondering what kind of headphone they should get, it all comes down to intent.

Key terms
Drivers
These are what convert the electrical signal into what the headphone is trying to do such as producing a frequency or applying direction to the sound. Driver size does not always indicate a higher quality of sound but it is a large contributor to quality specifically around the bass range.

In-Ear
In-Ear Monitors (IEM) which, despite their fancy name, are probably what most of us are familiar with. IEM is a fancy term for what literally translates to you stick it in your ear. These are primarily used by people intending to wear them for extended periods of time because they’re not resting on your head when in use. In-Ear headphones use smaller drivers so the produce a smaller range of sound frequencies due to the drivers not being able to take in or convert enough energy to produce a wider range; these drivers tend to be in the 8mm-10mm range.

Pros
-Very portable
Comfortable for long duration use
-Cheaper

Cons
-Less variency in sound waves
-Lower quality of listening
-One size fits all design

Affordable: JBL TUNE 210 $19.99
Top end: Etymotic ER3 XR $169.00

On-Ear
On-Ear headphones hold a larger range of frequencies due to using 30-40mm drivers for short term use are less invasive than In-Ear devices. However, the downside of on ear headphones is when you use them for extended periods of time. The casting around the speakers, the headband, and the foam cuffs stack a lot of pressure on the ear making them extremely uncomfortable or agitating when in prolonged use. Portability wise they can usually be folded into smaller shapes and can be hung from a backpack or just carried. They’re not as versatile as the In-Ear but not too imposing to cause an issue.

Pros
-Decent sound quality
-Portable
-Reasonable pricing

Cons
-Uncomfortable for long use
-Banding breaks easily

Affordable: Tascam TH-O3 $25.00
Top end: Philips Noise Canceling Headphone Fidelio Series Sealed $282.00

Over-Ear
Over-Ear headphones offer the most detailed sound and range of frequencies using 45mm and larger drivers. They tend to be the most comfortable of all 3 options due to enclosing your whole ear and resting on your head instead of on the ear itself. Most noise canceling headphones are over ear. On a plane ride these would be your best bet. The only real issue with these is that they have to be very bulky in order to fit the driver size so there not too portable.

Pros
Best sound quality
-Sound isolating
-Comfortable for long use
-Strong banding

Cons
-Not very portable
-Expensive

Affordable: AKG K72  $39.00
Top end:NURA NURAPHONE I00B $449.99

Wireless
Wireless headphones will fall under one of the previous categories but they have one crucial trade off, the replacing the need to be concerned about wires with the concern to charge them. These tend to be the way to go if you have the extra cash because on wired headphones the plastic mold around the wires can chip and fall apart, leaving the wires exposed to getting tangled, separating and eventually breaking.

Pros
-Less cords
-Will not tangle
-harder to break
-Portable

Cons
-Have to charge them
-Needs internet connection

Affordable: MEE N1 $49.99
Top End Under Armour Project Rock $249.00

Gaming Headsets
When focusing on gaming alone a good headset will be focused on two things, enhancing present audio, assigning direction to the audio. This allows players a distinct advantage through non visual imaging of what there player and overall allow for more awareness. These headphones are too focused on surround sound that you won’t get as good quality music because there just not going to be producing nearly as many frequencies.

Pros
-Surround sound
-Sound isolation
-Enhances audio

Cons
-Low frequency range
-No portability
-Low music quality

Affordable: Recon 50P $39.99

Top end” SteelSeries Arctic Pro $329.99

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