Choosing which headphones to buy can be a surprisingly difficult task. There are more options than ever before to choose from, each designed for specific purposes and users.
Although this means that you can choose from a larger range of products and find one that fulfils your exact needs, it does make it harder to narrow down the search. Here, we will explore the factors you should consider when choosing headphones, and the different categories available.
Factors to consider
These are the main questions to ask yourself when deciding which headphones to buy:
What will you use them for?
You may want headphones for a very specific purpose, such as catching up on your favorite podcast, hearing loved ones or colleagues on audio and video calls, or even producing music. The intended purpose can affect high quality the audio needs to be.
Being competitive in online gaming is a popular reason to upgrade headphones. For example, if you’re playing Live Casino Games, you want to hear the dealer clearly.
Portable, noise-canceling headphones with high audio quality can help you stay competitive while playing blackjack or poker on your mobile, even in a noisy environment. Many people will want general-purpose headphones that work well for online gaming as well as listening to music, watching YouTube videos, and calling friends.
Where will you be using them?
If you want to listen to music or stream videos on a busy commute, portability will be important. On the other hand, if you’re an audio editor using headphones in the studio, sound quality will be more important. If you’re working in an office, it may be important that you can also hear noise around you so you can respond to queries from coworkers — or you may want to block them out entirely!
Wired or wireless?
Although wireless headphones are steadily improving in sound quality and good enough for most purposes, those looking for the absolute highest sound quality are likely to get this from a wired connection. If you want to listen to your running playlist while working out, wires are likely to get in the way.
What is your budget?
Of course, your budget will hugely affect the choices of products available to you. Headphones can range from a few dollars for the simplest, low-quality pair to many thousands for professionals in the music and audio editing industries.
Categories of headphones available
These are the main categories of headphones available:
Large headphones that cover the entire ear and provide excellent sound quality and comfort.
Rest on the outer ear and offer a balance of sound quality and portability.
In-ear headphones (or earbuds)
Small, highly portable headphones that fit directly inside the ear canal.
Wireless headphones that connect to devices via Bluetooth technology, offering freedom of movement.
High-fidelity headphones used by audio professionals for accurate sound monitoring and mixing.
Reduce or cancel out external noise, either through “active” noise-cancelling technology or a “passive” design (often described as “noise-isolating”) that creates a seal.
Bone conduction headphones
Headphones that transmit sound through bone vibrations, leaving the ears open to hear the surroundings.
Headphones designed for professional DJs, emphasizing durability, swiveling earcups, and high-volume capabilities.
Choosing the right headphones
There is often a crossover between categories — for example, over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear headphones all come in wired and Bluetooth products. It’s worth researching the different categories to see which suit you best. You may want noise-cancelling, wireless in-ear headphones, for instance. Once you have narrowed down the specific categories, you can research and explore reviews of products in that category and in your price range.