Headphones Buying Guide


Headphones Buying Guide

Headphones Buying Guide

By Anne Ahira

Are you looking for a new set of headphones? If you do not buy headphones often then you may be amazed and confused by all the choices in headphones and not sure what the difference is.

Rather than buy headphones that do not meet your needs, or exceed your needs and your budget, then you should understand the difference in types, comfort and quality before buying headphones.

Of course, with headphones, as with any purchase you combine the requirements you have for them such  use, budget, and desired sound quality to create an equation you are happy with and help finalize a purchasing decision.

Headphone Style and Function Overview

Styles of headphones are important as they can influence how comfortable headphones are and how obvious.

Traditional full ear headphones are large, they cover the entire ear and most are engineered for comfort and sound quality. However, they are large and conspicuous and they are not the latest in fashion when out with your portable DVD player or iPod and most appropriate for home use.

Prices on this style vary according to their features but since a full ear headphone covers the entire ear it usually provides more external noise cancellation than other types however they also can be hot with extended use.

Supra-Aural headphones are smaller than the traditional full ear headphones. They provide less noise cancellation than the full over the ear headphone but they are also less obtrusive when using with portable devices and are less prone to overheating the ear when used for extended periods.

Ear bud headphones are popular and most mpg players, cell phones or other portable music devices come with an inexpensive set. The model that comes with these devices is usually of poorer quality than most people prefer and has little in the way of noise cancellation. However, higher products are available that give the ear bud headphones functionality, clarity in sound, and noise cancellation.

They are generally comfortable for short term but some people may find wearing them for extended periods uncomfortable. If the ear bud headphones are wired then tangling cords is a problem.

In general they are great for short term wear, sacrifice some in terms of sound quality and if they are wired they present a greater danger of tangled cords since the wires are usually much thinner than standard headphones.

Active Style headphones might be called by several other names but are generally lightweight and slide behind the neck. These headphone styles do not usually block external noise completely; they are lightweight for jogging or sports and generally are not very sturdy.

One other factor is because of the design of these headphones more pressure is exerted on the ears since the clip behind the neck puts the support of the headphones fully on the ear. This can be uncomfortable for extended wear.

Headphone Buying – Wired or Wireless Choices?

In today’s world, wireless technology is big and with headphones, there is usually a choice of wired or wireless technology in whatever style you choose.  In this case, a wireless transmitter will be plugged into the device you plan on using and signals are transmitted to the headphones. Distance is limited of course but it certainly frees the listener from wires and frees the hands.

This technology is very commonly used in cell phones but can also be used with almost any other entertainment device.  Things to remember if buying wireless headphones of any style are wireless headphones require batteries, which must be charged at intervals, and the wireless broadcast system will have an effective broadcast distance limit and may not transmit through walls.

Headphones Buying Guide – Putting It All Together

When you have decided on the style of headphone, and how great a sound accuracy you need as well as your comfort level with different styles and you have chosen wireless or wired headphones, you are probably ready to shop. It is time to look for the brand you want with the features you need at a price you can manage from a merchant you can trust.  Online or retail stores may vary on merchandise offered.

Online shopping is great and more common these days with a large variety and price ranges. However, whichever means you use to do your shopping for new headphones make sure the headphones include noise cancellation if you will be using them in a situation where outside noise can impair your experience.

Check the warranty on the headphones; is there any exclusion to the warranty? An expensive set of headphones that breaks immediately with no warranty is money wasted. If you are shopping online check as to the merchant’s, return policy and guarantee.

If you are buying headphones online, you should check the shipping costs and shipping times. Sometimes expedited shipping is available and may well be worth the extra cost if you are in a hurry, and other times standard shipping will do just fine.

Read the product descriptions carefully and if available check the customer reviews both positive and negative. They are both useful to the careful consumer and can point out things you have not considered in your headphones purchasing decision.

If it is too expensive and you just must have that particular set of headphones consider waiting for a sale. Sales do come up and the persistent shopper can often find a great deal and stretch their budget.

Some merchants offer used headphones and they can be an option for savings but you should consider these as personal items especially ear buds, and often sanitation should take priority over savings.

If you do choose to buy a set of headphones used, disinfect the pieces carefully and purchase new padding for the earpieces as a matter of sanitation. You should also consider used headphones normally would not come with the manufacturer’s warranty so if it breaks or does not work for any reason it is still yours and could be money wasted.

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