Music is an essential part of everyone’s life. Some like heavy metal, while some enjoy rock and others prefer soulful renditions. No matter what kind of music you enjoy, headphones and earphones have become an essential accessory that can be teamed with not only your music players but also your smartphones, laptops and televisions. Headphones have the ability to cancel out the noise of the world and let you enjoy every soulful rhythm and beat tapping music when you plug them in!
Buying earphones can be quite a task and here are a few things you need to look out for when you plan on buying yourself a brand new pair of earphones or headphones:
The first thing to watch out for a headphone is to know which type of headphones would you want to buy and which ones would serve your purpose most. Here are a few types of headphones and earphones you could consider:
i. Over the Head
These are also called circumcircular headphones as well as closed back headphones. Technically, these headphones are designed with ear cups big enough to completely cover your ears. These headphones are designed more for indoor use as they do not have high portability but now with the folding design this premise is changing.
Pros: With the large size, they have the capability to offer good quality sound with bass and treble effect. The headphones easily deliver a surround sound effect allowing you to enjoy your music.
Cons: The large size of the headphones might sometimes interfere with jewellery such as earrings or other accessories including headbands and sunglasses. It might mess up your hair do and wearing them for large durations can cause them to heat up.
These earphones have ear buds which can easily be inserted in the ear and are easy to carry around. They are often preferred over large headphones by people who want something potable and easy to carry around. They may vary in design with some offering ear buds which can rest on the outer ear rather than inserting them inside.
Pros: These earphones are easily portable as they are lightweight and compact. Certain models even have inbuilt microphones in them and do little to interfere with jewellery or your hairstyle.
Cons: The sound quality of the headphones cannot be compared to full sized headphones and sometimes they can become uncomfortable to wear for a longer duration of time causing the ear to ache.
iii. Wireless Headphones
Such headphones come without the added dangling cord making them even more portable especially when you go on the run and can’t afford to carry a 2 meter cord with you. However, in order to transmit music you must use Bluetooth which might result in you losing quality of sound.
Pros: There are no tangled, elongated wires to care for and they are reasonable as well and prove to be a great device for those who run or like listening to music while working out.
Cons: You have to depend on the battery and once the battery dies, so will your music. Also, playing compressed files through Bluetooth, the quality of the music will definitely suffer. They also might have certain hardware limitation not allowing you to fully capitalize on their worth.
iv. Noise Cancellation Headphones
These headphones have the ability to create antinoise which helps create a peaceful and calm environment. They may not be able to completely suppress sounds but they definitely work well to reduce the noise by fans, air conditioners etc. This headphone helps you enjoy music at good volume as you do not require increasing the volume to make up for the sound and is great for music lovers.
Pros: They are advanced headphones that really help you listen to every beat of your music making it much more enjoyable and are a great accessory to have if you use public transport.
Cons: As the actual and natural feel of music feels tampered with, not everyone is comfortable using these headphones.
v. Behind the Neck
This style of headphone is very similar to the over the head kind with the ear cups fully covering the ears, only the band runs behind the neck and is ideal for joggers. They are just another variety of the over the head headphones and have similar sound quality.
Pros: As they run behind the neck, they do not interfere with jewellery, earrings, sunglasses etc. and help you enjoy your music.
Cons: They have similar issues that they might be slightly uncomfortable to wear and prolonged use might lead to heating which causes the ears discomfort.
After selecting the type of headphones you’d be comfortable purchasing, you have to look at a few key features which will help you further shortlist your search and be able to find the ones that suit you most:
Sometimes, no matter how much money you might spend, bass will be one feature that will be the most tricky to achieve. While the more expensive models have a good bass and treble, the lower end models might require external software to adjust the bass level of the earphones. The bass level of most portable earphones is pretty low and next to negligible and mostly over the head headphones are preferred by those who want good bass.
Comfort is quite a subjective feature and varies from person to person. Some might prefer ear buds while others might prefer over the head kind of headphones. You have to at least keep the headphones or earphones on for 10-15 minutes to be able to assess how comfortable you feel with them. Another factor which decides the comfort level is the weight. If the head band or the ear pads are too heavy, you might feel uncomfortable after a little while making it difficult for you to enjoy your music. Try finding lighter headphones as they are always more comfortable and if you just can’t handle the headband variety, you can always opt for earphones instead.
Headphones are the kind of product you like to invest in once and hope it lasts you over just a few months. You wouldn’t want to dispose of them every few weeks and months which is why it is important for you to check the build quality of the headphones. Make sure they are sturdy and the parts of the headphone are easily foldable which won’t crack or break too easily. Check the cushion of the ear pads to see they’re of good quality and are soft so as to not provide any kind of discomfort to your ears.
Check for the cable- make sure it’s not a flimsy cable that will give way with the slightest of use. You can also look out for the length of the cord as if you would be travelling with your headphones you’d need a wire that’s not too long. Cables generally range from 1 meter to about 3 meters and you can check which one would meet your requirement most.
One of the foremost things to make up your mind on is the kind of money you want to spend on your headphones. They can range anywhere from a few hundred bucks and go over to a few thousand but all this depends on what you want. Once you have decided the type and what features you’re looking for, make yourself a budget bracket and try to find one that matches your requirements in the set budget. It depends how you want to use your headphones- whether you’re looking for daily on the go kind of headphones or if you’re a music buff and need something expensive to truly bring out the sound quality. Remember you’ll get what you pay for, hence try to find maximum features in your budget and try sticking to the budget you’ve made.
Another important consideration is the brand. You might notice that established companies in the headphone business such as Bose and Sennheiser might be a little out of your budget range. For those who want to only opt for a good quality branded headphone then Bose, Beats and Sennheiser are obvious choices. However if you do not have a very large budget, feel free to experiment with other companies such as Sony, Philips, Panasonic which have established themselves in the market for providing budget friendly yet good quality headphones. If you’re not too much of a music nut, be open to trying other brands as well.
Style is another factor you need to consider before going in for headphones. Some people might prefer black headphones without much fuss while others use it as an opportunity to show their inner fashionista by going in for loud, funky colors. Go in for a color you feel comfortable with and even if it’s a little out of the blue, but it reflects your personality, then go for it!
Impedance is a bit of a technical term but something you should look out for. Headphones with low impedance (between 8-25 ohms ) mean they require less power to deliver high audio levels and can be connected to portable players and mobiles and give good results. Headphones with higher impedance (above 25 ohms) require more power to deliver good sound quality and you might need to crank up the volume if you connect them to mobiles and music players. However, watch out that if a low impedance earphone is plugged in to higher amplifiers have higher chances to “blow out” which is why you should go in for a headphone that has impedance levels close to the gadget you’d be using it with.
This is another deciding factor that helps you decide what kind of headphones you should invest in. If you just need them for daily use to help pass time on your office commute while using the public transport, you can go in for in ear or over the head kind of headphones which need not be too costly. If you require a good pair for jogging and working out, you can try out wireless headphones or behind the neck headphones.
If you’re really serious about your music and want to listen to every beat with crystal clear sound clarity, you can opt for noise cancellation headphones but as this would cost more you need to check whether you really require this feature or not.
Additionally, you need to keep in mind the kind of devices you would use your headphones with. If they are heavy amplifiers, you require headphones with high impedance as using earphones with lower impedance can lead to a blow out. Hence the kind of usage you have for your headphones would also go a long way in deciding what kind of headphones you should invest in.
How to Take Proper Care of your Headphones
Most people are surprised that they invested in good quality and expensive headphones but they hardly lasted a couple of months. A lot has to do with the way you care for your headphones. In order to extend the life span of your headphones, be sure to follow these procedures:
When using headphones, be sure to plug them in devices they are compatible with. Do not plug in earphones with low impedance to high end amplifiers. Also, be gentle when removing the pin from the audio jack rather than yanking it out. Make sure the earphones you invest in comfortably stay in your ear so you don’t have to push and squeeze them around as this will not only harm the earphones but can also cause ear damage. Try using your headphones with utmost care to get them to last longer.
You need to clean your earphones and headphones regularly as they remain in close contact to your ears and can become a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. In order to wipe the headband, a soft cloth dipped in warm soapy water should do the trick. Make sure no water makes contact with the ear cups. You can use a toothbrush to remove grime that has been lodged. You can also opt for baby wipes and be sure to clean your cable as well.
It is important to take care as to how you store your headphones. Try not throwing them in a bag if it is extremely hot outside as the heat trapped inside the bag can be damaging. Similarly, don’t store them in moist and damp places. Always fold the ear cups if they are flexible so that they do not crack or break. If you continuously keep tangling the wires, buy a case or take some time out to wrap them in the shape of figure 8 around your fingers and store them neatly.
These tips will surely help you expand the life of your headphones.
Be sure to check out the types, features and the budget when you’re looking to find a headphone. With so much variety today it is not hard to find a headphone that suits your pocket but you must be sure how much you’re willing to spend. At the end of the day it’s all about the sound quality and comfort so be sure to give due credence to these factors!