How to Choose Your Next Pair of Headphones
By: Kaitlyn Hackett
The free headphones that come with our very expensive phones, or the cheap pair the airline gives out sometimes are only good for an hour or so before our ears begin to hurt or the sound quality has completely left the building. There are so many choices of headphones in today’s age that it can get slightly overwhelming to choose the right pair for you. The technical terms that are eagerly spoken by the sales associates can make the process a little more difficult. But do not fear, here is an easy to understand guide on how to buy the right headphones for you!
First: What Do You Really Want?
Before buying consider a few things about the quality, style, shape, and use of the headphones.
What do you use your headphones for? Are they for exercise? Long plane rides? Work phone calls on the go? Some headphones are specifically made for exercise junkies or for comfortable mobile calls, other are universal and can be interchanged between daily activities.
What style do you like? There are hundreds of styles to choose from but what do you really like? Do you like colorful headphones or muted ones? Do you like bigger noise-cancelling or small ones that can be hidden? Before looking at all the brands just think about your personal preference or the style you think you would like.
What is your ear shape? Strange, but a true factor in the headphone buying business. Like headphones, our ears come in different shapes and sizes, some headphones may not be perfect if you have smaller or bigger ears. So, consider how your current headphones fit now and let that guide you on what you find comfortable or uncomfortable!
Do you like wired or wire-less? My friend refuses to buy wire-less because they think our world has too much Bluetooth waves. If this is the case for you there is still plenty of wired options for you in this progressively wire-free world.
What is your budget? Headphones are one of those purchases where the more expensive the more likely they will last. It may be better to invest in a pair of more expensive headphones rather than buying three pairs of inexpensive ones every year. However, don’t buy $500 music producer quality headphones if you are only needing them for a run around the block.
The Big Three
Between all the headphones in market it boils down to three big styles of headphones. Over-ear, meaning that the entire headphones cover the entire ear, these are a more classic and large style of headphones. On-ear, is a smaller and more compact version of over-ear headphones. Whereas over-ear headphones usually block all outer noises on-ear allows more outside sound to penetrate the device. In-ear, are the smallest and most portable of the three, the sound quality varies on the brand as they can be made very cheaply.
Best Use: This style is often preferred by sound engineers, music and film producers, DJ’s, or anyone who really enjoys hearing sounds as it would be projected in a large area through speakers.
Pros: Sound quality can be amazing, great noise-cancelling properties.
Cons: These types can be bulky and hard to store. Also, not the perfect headphone for running errands and exercising. A common complaint or note is that these styles can cause too much pressure on one’s head due to the bulkiness
Higher Price: $299.99 – Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II
Budget Price: $99.95 – JBL E55BT
Best Use: On-ear headphones are perfect for long working calls, movie watching, casual music listeners.
Pros: Light-weight, easy to travel with, and wireless. Cons: Can be easier to ‘slide-off’ one’s head, can still cause some too much pressure on head.
Higher Price: $199.99 – Beats Solo3 Wireless
Budget Price: $79.99 - Sony WH-XB700 Wireless
Best Use: In-ear headphones are the best for exercising, running errands, listening to o music while working, and traveling.
Pros: Light-weight, easy to travel with, long battery life, quick to charge. Cons: Easy to tangle is wired, easier to lose or misplace, sound quality can be compromised depending on brand and pricing.
Higher Price: $249.95 - Powerbeats Pro
Budget Price: $49.99 - Sony - XB50BS Extra Bass Sports Wireless
These are some extra tips that will help get your money’s worth when buying new headphones. Especially is you’re looking for a more expensive brand of headphone!
Try it on: If you have the time, or if it is convenient for your schedule stop by a store that carries the headphones you have your eyes on! You may like the look and the specs of a pair but they may fit completely wrong, hurt your ears, or just don’t work with your lifestyle.
Borrow a friend’s: Before I bought my new pair, I asked a friend who owned Air Pods and wore them to the gym. I found that I didn’t love love the fit and decided for a different pair.
Buy during the holidays: Back-to-school sales, Labor Tax Free, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday are great times to buy a pair of headphones. Normally you can get a small discount or pay no taxes on your purchase!