Like all personal devices and gadgets, your choice of headphones is deeply personal and dependent on what you’re using them for. But, it’s good to know different options and trends before you spend money on them.
So, we’ve created a list of things that we think are the most important to consider before purchasing one of the most-used tech accessories in the market. The list also includes some headphone features that are newer trends that you should know about!
Keep reading to learn more before you buy your next pair of headphones…
There are three main headphone styles that you can buy, and they all have various pros and cons. The style you choose has a lot to do with personal preference and use. These three main styles are:
These are your typical earbud-style headphones, probably the most popular due to cost efficiency. Earbuds are also the most portable style, since they’re so small. You can easily wrap up earbuds and throw them in a bag for your daily commute, for exercise, or for any other day-to-day use.
The cons? Earbuds typically don’t have as great sound quality as over-ear or on-ear headphones. They also don’t cancel noise as well since they don’t cover your whole ear. Although, Apple is rumoured to be working on noise-cancelling AirPods… we’re curious to see how well these will work!
Over-ear headphones cover your entire ear, and are known for having the best sound quality. This is because of their large surface size. They also have the best noise-cancelling capabilities, since they cover your entire ear. You can have a truly immersive experience with over-ear headphones. Great for travel or for working in noisy environments. And if you’re a gamer, you’ll probably want to invest in the over-ear style so you can immerse yourself in the game.
The cons? Over-ear headphones are big and more difficult to carry around day-to-day. This could limit how often you use them. They are also generally more expensive than the other styles. For a good pair, you’re probably looking at spending a few hundred dollars, minimum.
On-ear headphones sit on top of your ear, so they’re larger than earbuds but smaller than over-ear styles. This style is very middle ground in many ways. On-ear are generally more compact than over-ear headphones, so easier to travel with. They also give you a better sound quality than earbuds, but don’t completely block you from the outside world – some people like this and some people don’t.
The cons? If you’re looking for noise-cancelling, these probably aren’t your best option. Over-ear headphones will almost always have better noise-cancelling capabilities. On-ear can also be uncomfortable, since they’re pressing against your ears.
2. Wired vs. Wireless
Just like with headphone style, wired vs. wireless headphones has a lot to do with personal preference and what you’re used to. Here are some pros and cons for both styles:
With more and more devices losing the headphone jacks, a lot of people feel forced to choose wireless headphones. But, there are still pros to wired, as well as tricks to continue using them. Wired headphones typically have the best sound quality, because they’re directly connected to the device. And, you can still use them on a jack-less device with a headphone dongle or with Lightning/USB-C connected headphones.
The cons? Wires can get in the way, especially if you’re exercising with them. They also tangle easily, which can be problematic if you’re throwing them in a bag everyday. And, as much as Lightning/USB-C headphones are an option, the market for them is small so you don’t have a lot of good options.
As much as audiophiles and headphone enthusiasts are pushing wired, the mass market will likely continue transitioning to wireless. So, in the near future, you’re going to have more variety if you’re looking to buy wireless headphones. They’re also great because you don’t have to worry about tangled, inconvenient wires.
The cons? You have to charge your wireless headphones, which can be a nuisance… especially if you forget or don’t have your charger on hand. Their sound quality (for now) also isn’t quite as good as wired. Although, this may change as tech companies invest more in their wireless headphones.
3. Smart Assistant Feature
This may or may not be a surprise, but you can now get headphones that trigger your device’s smart assistant without you interacting with your device.
For example, if you double tap your AirPods, the gesture triggers Siri. Then you can ask her to turn up or down the volume or skip, pause or play a track. It’s rumoured that Apple is working on having Siri always on in the next generation AirPods. This means you can give her commands anytime, even if your hands are full simply by saying “Hey Siri”.
Google’s Pixel Buds have similar capabilities with Google Assistant. As voice commands become more popular, it will probably become hard to find headphones without this feature. But for now, it’s just a consideration if easy access to your smart assistant is important to you.
Brand-Specific to Your Device
There are lots of headphone brands out there, at differing price ranges and capabilities. Because of this, you don’t need to stick with Apple EarPods if you have an iPhone, or with Pixel Buds if you have a Pixel.
there are definitely benefits to using the headphones created by your device’s brand