How to choose headphones: 8 steps (with pictures)

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How to choose headphones: 8 steps (with pictures)
How to choose headphones: 8 steps (with pictures)

Forget those cheap earbuds and in-ear headphones that came with your MP3 player. With the right pair of headphones, you can take your music to a whole new level. Whether you're listening to music at home or on the go, get quality headphones (or earbuds) to enjoy quality sound.


Choose Headphones Step 1
Choose Headphones Step 1

Step 1. Decide what you need

headphones or in-ear headphones (also called "droplets", "vacuum tubes", "earplugs").

  • Earbuds are best for those who value compactness but still want to listen to their favorite music. High quality earbuds (like Sennheiser or Ultimate Ears) come with small cases so they won't break or get dirty on the bottom of your bag. If you have a very small bag and want to store your iPod Nano and headphones in it, or have a limited number of pockets, in-ear headphones are perfect for you. Since they are less expensive, they are best if you are on a budget.

    More affordable earbuds have a number of disadvantages - they fall out of the ears, they can be uncomfortable, or they are simply made of cheap plastic that is very scratched. For the higher price (but still of mediocre quality) - $ 25 to $ 50, you get more comfortable earbuds that are well worth the money. However, if you are an audiophile, then there are other options to consider. Better to opt for a pair of in-ear headphones from Sennheiser (e.g. CX 500, $ 130), Shure (SE 115, $ 120), EtyMotic Research (HF5, $ 150), or even Ultimate Ears ( 4 minimum)

  • Headphones are fine for you if you don't mind wearing them around your neck or will only use them in one place. You may also need more powerful wires and additional options, such as wireless or bluetooth headphones. The downside, of course, is that it's hard to find good headphones that fit within your budget. They take up more space than earbuds and require a large bag to carry. They also get dirty faster, since a cover is not provided with them.

    • DJ style headphones are what you need. Big, massive, great looking headphones that resemble, as you saw some Double D in such at his jam session. Their design provides good sound insulation, but requires a large size. Most music lovers prefer them because of the higher sound quality. They also have less impact on the eardrum, which allows them to be used for longer.
    • A nape headphone is a headphone that is connected behind the back of your head, not over your head. They are suitable for runners, people who often wear a cap or sunglasses. Therefore, if you are a girl (or a guy) with long hair and cannot tolerate headphones pressing on your hair or clinging to your ear piercings, this type is a great choice. Other than that, they have very little difference from regular or DJ-style headphones.
Choose Headphones Step 2
Choose Headphones Step 2

Step 2. Remember that you will get what you paid for

In general, the more expensive headphones are made from better materials and have better construction, which has a good effect on the sound quality. A $ 30 headphone will sound good, but not as good as a $ 60 headphone. For $ 80-90, you'll hear details of music you've never heard before. Earphones or earbuds purchased at a sale will last a maximum of a year and will no longer sound the same. So by spending at least $ 20 on headphones, you get at least basic sound quality. One way to get good sound is to spend $ 50 on portable headphones and $ 250 on headphones for your home audio system. Along with sound quality, you get reliability. Some people probably still wear headphones made in the 70s and 80s, which still work great because they are made with high quality and last for many years. When you buy headphones from a well-known brand, you pay not only for the name, but also for the sound quality proven over the years.

Choose Headphones Step 3
Choose Headphones Step 3

Step 3. Assess the sound insulation of the headphones

This parameter affects how well the music is isolated from external noise. There is nothing more annoying than turning up the volume to drown out the noise of the bus. Or if you have a hard hearing and listen to music loudly and / or turn up the volume to drown out extraneous noises, and the headphones are open, everyone around you will whisper about you. Good sound insulation will help conserve battery power as you don't need to turn up the volume to hear music well.

Earbuds and in-ear headphones are better soundproofed due to the isolation they provide inside the ear; the same can be said for the (large) DJ-style headphones that provide insulation around the ear

Choose Headphones Step 4
Choose Headphones Step 4

Step 4. Examine the frequency response of the headphones

A wider frequency range allows you to hear more detail in your music; recommended values are from 10 Hz to 25,000 Hz. Anything in this range will sound good.

Choose Headphones Step 5
Choose Headphones Step 5

Step 5. Don't look for noise canceling headphones unless you're willing to shell out a lot of money for it

Anything less than $ 200-250 is not worth the money spent. Even if you travel a lot, noise cancellation 90% of the time isn't worth the money. Some of your music can also be suppressed, which forces you to turn up the volume. If you really want noise cancellation, look to Etymotic or Bose, which have foam earbuds that fill your ear canal.

A cheap way to cancel noise is to wear ear muffs (from a hardware store) on top of the earbuds to suppress most of the ambient noise. On the other hand, if you're not overly demanding, you can find earbuds or noise canceling headphones at a more affordable price, which have the significant advantage of reducing background noise in planes, cars, and public transportation. Panasonic (one in many) makes affordable ($ 50) noise canceling earbuds

Choose Headphones Step 6
Choose Headphones Step 6

Step 6. Listen to them

The best way to find out if headphones are right for you is to listen to them. Try a friend's headphones (if they fit your needs) or go to a good electronics store to listen to headphones on sale. With two hundred dollars in your pocket and in a store with a 30-day return option, you won't leave until you figure out exactly which headphones you want. However, always clean your ears before trying on headphones or earbuds!

Choose Headphones Step 7
Choose Headphones Step 7

Step 7. Pay attention to the impedance of the headphones

To get the most out of your headphones, you must match them (impedance setting) to the audio equipment you are using. This parameter is measured in ohms. In fact, if you haven't, you'll have to turn the volume up over a matched pair of headphones.

Choose Headphones Step 8
Choose Headphones Step 8

Step 8. Finally, use your ears

You will use these headphones every day. If the $ 50 headphones sound exactly the same to you as the $ 1,000 headphones, buy the cheaper ones. Sound quality will not change just because they are more expensive! One thing to keep in mind is overall build quality; how long will they last you? Does it matter that they are much cheaper?


  • Typically, you get what you pay for. But it is not always the case. Some manufacturers inflate the price of their headphones because they look cool or popular. But their sound can be terrible. Always try it yourself and listen to the headphones before purchasing.
  • Be careful with earbuds. They break very easily, and if you buy cheap ones, the headphones will lose their sound after about a year.
  • One of the toughest challenges is finding the right headphones for your gym use. Gyms are known for very loud, poorly chosen music, which is very annoying. The earbuds are too big and clumsy, and the earbuds don't provide enough sound isolation. Before buying headphones, do your research by looking at the owner's reviews. In some stores, you can listen to how the headphones sound, but you can choose earbuds only by reading information on the Internet and reviews of real owners. Electronics operating nearby can create interference and noise for the headphone active noise cancellation system. Passive noise canceling (snug fit) earbuds don't have this problem, but not everyone likes earplugs, and it can be very strange to hear your heartbeat or breathing amplified by it.
  • Study. Do not use services that do not specialize in audio (for example, Consumer Reports). To find out which headphones people recommend, look for audiophile forums and stores (AVSForum, Head-Fi, etc.) instead of going to your regular electronics store.
  • When you put your headphones on for the first time, be sure to turn the volume down to the minimum.
  • Noise canceling headphones block out background noise, but this feature also reduces sound quality. Noise canceling headphones may not sound as good as other headphones in most listening environments.
  • Once you buy quality earbuds, you can no longer go back to your $ 20 earbuds. You will be disappointed in both the sound and the feel.
  • If you buy quality headphones, you don't have to buy an extended warranty. The one provided by the manufacturer is enough for you. Some headphone manufacturers, like Skullcandy, offer a lifetime warranty on their products. Although, if you know you'll be using them every day, a guarantee doesn't seem like a bad idea.
  • Wireless headphones can be extremely comfortable, but they can hear background noise and / or dynamic range compression can occur, which in some way smoothes the sound, and there is a good chance that the headphones will be affected by interference from other devices. If you decide to purchase wireless headphones, look for digital models with maximum hertz and multiple channels so you can switch to another channel if any interference occurs.
  • If you usually use an mp3 player that you have in your breast pocket, you don't need the 2m wire. Conversely, if you listen to music on your home stereo, you will not be satisfied with a 50 cm wire. There is a way to make the wire shorter so that it does not dangle or cling to things, and headphones with a really long wire come with a winding device that you can use make at home. In general, it is better to have the wire a little longer than to buy an extension cord later.
  • If you usually listen to 192 kbps mp3s, buying high quality headphones is a waste of money, as you'll want to hear details that aren't there. mp3 compresses music into a smaller lossy file.


  • Take extra care with noise canceling headphones (headphones in general) when driving, cycling, or even walking. Apart from the "desired distraction" that comes from listening to music, you can skip early warnings about the impending danger.
  • It is generally unsafe to use headphones for long periods of time, as pressure waves strike directly on the eardrum, causing long-term hearing loss.

    We recommend using reasonable volume limits and taking frequent breaks.

  • Some people get headaches from heavy headphones. This could be caused by improper headphone shape / design, or simply by high volume levels.

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