Headphones Buying Guide

If you want to listen to music or other audio without disturbing others, you will need a pair of headphones. However, there are many types of headphones and it can be quite difficult to determine the best one for your needs. Consider the way you want the headphones to sit and the features they have before buying a pair of headphones.

Types of Headphones


Earbuds, also called in-ear headphones, were a revolutionary change in headphones in their time. Originally created as smaller and easier-to-carry counterparts to other headphones, these remain popular to this day. They are a portable and less expensive alternative to other headphones. Many smartphone manufacturers offer in-ear headphones as a standard in the box with their products. They are lightweight and offer great quality for the price.


These sit right over your outer ear and cover your ear canal. They do not cover your entire ear. They have a closed back, but do not provide a proper seal. Thus, they are not a very popular choice for headphones. However, they are lightweight and often come with a foldable design for easy storage.


Over-the-ear headphones cover the entire ear with a cuff. These are large headphones compared to other types of headphones, and provide the best noise-cancelation. Over-the-ear headphones are intended only for home use, as they will strain the neck after long uses and are not very portable. They come in two styles, open back and closed back. Closed-back headphones block ambience noise because the back of the cuff is closed, whereas with open-back headphones, the entire back of the cuff is open. It is covered with a grill and shows the circuitry. These allow ambient noise to enter, so someone can have a conversation with the headphones on.


There are three types of wireless headphones: infrared, radio frequency, and Bluetooth. The most popular today are the Bluetooth wireless headphones. They offer greater portability than any of the abovementioned types because there is no wire to get tangled. Watch out, though, because these headphones run on a battery and may run down in the middle of your travels. They are also not quite on par with wired headphones' sound quality.

Pay Attention to

Closed- or open-back

Headphones can have either an open or closed back. Closed-back headphones keep the sound in and block out ambient noise. Open-back headphones let the sound escape into the surroundings and let ambient noise enter the headphones. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, and which you pick is entirely based on your personal choice.


Do you plan to keep the headphones at home or do you need them while you are traveling? In-ear headphones offer the most portability, but if you are not taking them anywhere, over-the-ear headphones offer the best sound. If you want the most portable headphones available, look for folding wireless headphones.

Frequency response

The frequency response range is the range of frequencies that a pair of headphones can achieve. While we can only hear from 20 hertz to 20,000 hertz, some headphones extend that range to get deeper responses. While we cannot hear these responses, sometimes people can feel them and they can add to the bass of a music track.


Impedance represents the power required to run the headphones. For wired headphones, this is how much power it will take from the device it is plugged into, and for wireless headphones, this is how much battery power it will take. Low impedance headphones need less power, and are good for devices like smartphones and mp3 players that have lower amplification. Higher impedance headphones require their own amplifier or increased amplification to deliver the sound. Look out for the impedance on the box to make sure your device can give the proper amplification for the headphones.

Top Brands and Product Lines


Almost seventy years old, Sony Corporation started making headphones in 1979 with the in-ear style headphones that sold with the Sony Walkman. Since then, Sony has manufactured a lot of different headphones, including the MDRZX33BT bluettoth stereo headphones.


First shipped with the first generation iPod, Apple headphones are in-ear headphones that started without the built-in remote that it has now. This built-in remote allows a user to play and pause audio, skip tracks, and rewind or fast-forward. The play/pause button also acts as a button to accept incoming calls. The Apple earpods with the built-in remote were first introduced with the iPhone 5 in 2012. They also have a built-in microphone. Highly popular among Apple device owners, these headphones once were controversial because of the lack of rubber ear tips.

Beats by Dr. Dre

Beats is a leading brand for headphones. Founded in 2006 by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, Beats produces premium quality headphones at a hefty price. The bestselling headphones are called the Beats Solo 2.0 On-ear Headphones. These headphones are engineered for comfort and high sound quality. Expect to feel the sound with these headphones, as they have a heavy bass. Durable and compact, they can go with you anywhere and are lightweight and streamlined for the best comfort.


Very different from other headphones are the Aftershocks bone-conduction headphones. These headphones rest on your cheekbones instead of on or in your ear and transmit sound through vibrations that travel through your bones to your inner ear. They leave your ears free to listen to your environment, making them good for pedestrian walking and can be worn while driving, though there is no guarantee you will not be cited for wearing headphones if your state bans the use of headphones while driving altogether. The Aftershocks Bluetooth open-ear wireless headphones are top-of-the-line headphones that can also be worn with hearing aids, allowing hearing impaired persons to listen to audio with ease.