Headphones are one of the most popular tech devices these days. There are so many models that have been adapted for different uses. Whether listening to music, playing video games or practicing sport, today’s headphones allow us to enjoy amazing sound quality.

However, other factors such as comfort and design also come into play when buying new headphones. If you don’t feel comfortable with a new pair of headphones, it won’t be long before you stop using them. So, to help you in the selection process, we have produced this complete shopping guide just for you.

Key Facts

  • The first thing you need to think about when buying a new headset is how you’re going to use it. You’ll require different headphones for playing sports as opposed to listening to music at home or playing video games.
  • One very important decision you have to make when buying headphones is whether you want them to be wireless or not. Wired headphones offer better sound quality, whilst wireless headphones are much more comfortable.
  • You’ll use the headphones to listen to music, watch movies or series, or even to play video games. Therefore, the quality of the sound is one of the key factors in the purchase decision and preferably you’ll want to try them out first. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. In this case, you will have no choice but to be guided by a series of technical criteria.

Ranking: The best headphones in the market

Here’s the list we’ve prepared with the top five headphones currently available on the market. We’ve made sure to include great value for money items. Of course, they all offer excellent sound quality and are from well-known brands.

No. 1: Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) 

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The Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones are one of the most popular and most recognised headphones out there. The noise cancellation system offers exceptional sound quality. They come in a closed circumaural design, with a choice of two colours: black and silver.

They are made with high-quality components and are designed to be resistant to shocks and impacts. When connected to a mobile phone, they allow the use of the Siri voice assistants from Apple, or the Google Assistant if using an Android device. With the brand reputation of Bose, there’s no better set of headphones in the market.

No. 2: SoundPEATS True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

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The SoundPEATS earbuds are part of a new style of wireless headphones, called earbuds, that allow the headphones to be inserted directly into the ear without a cord joining the two speakers. These headphones come with a powerful and compact charging case that allows for fast charging.

SoundPEATS offer this fantastic product that will meet your needs and provide you with an excellent listening experience. It’s also worth noting that SoundPEATS offers a 12 month guarantee on your purchase.

No. 3: TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

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For a more affordable option, we present to you the TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones from electronics company TaoTronics. The noise cancelation feature will provide you with a distraction-free sound experience and the sleek design has the ability to complement any fashion style.

With a wireless battery-life of up to 30 hours, the TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones will allow you the freedom to roam around the house or outdoors without annoying cord’s getting in the way. These headphones are also foldable and come with a small case.

No. 4: Sony Over-Ear Headphones

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Sony is a brand synonymous with quality and value. These flagship noise cancelling headphones from Sony off you a great sound experience at a reasonable price. They are conveniently available in a choice of two colours: black and silver.

With a comfortable headpiece and soft ear pads, you’ll be able to wear these headphones all day with total comfort. Even more, with the wireless feature, you’ll have no issues completing your day to day tasks such as working, reading, studying or cooking.

No. 5: Bluetooth Headphones Wireless Bluetooth 4.1 IPX7 Waterproof Sport Earphones

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Looking for a cost effective set of headphones for working out at the gym or going for a run? Look no further than the IPX7 Bluetooth headphones from HBUDS. These comfortable little headphones are perfect for exercising and they come in at a very affordable price.

With a 9 hour battery life and only 1.5 hour charge time, these handy headphones are a great addition to your work-out look and will give you great sound quality whilst burning those calories. With over the ear hooks, these headphones will stay stuck in your ears even during the most intense physical training.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about headphones

When buying headphones, it’s important to consider a number of things. Don’t forget that there are so many different models of headphones, each with specific characteristics that make them more suitable for one use than another. Therefore, in the following section we try to answer the most common questions of consumers.

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There are headphones available for many types of activities. (Source: Antonio Guillem: 50531751/ 123rf.com)

What are headphones exactly?

Headphones are electronic devices that connect to sound players and allow an electrical signal to be converted into a sound signal. This sound signal can be heard with speakers that sit in or around your ears. In general, they are fairly lightweight and easy to carry.

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Some headphones incorporate a noise cancellation system.(Source: Antonio Guillem: 82408242/ 123rf.com)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of headphones?

Headphones give you the possibility to listen to music with much more freedom and privacy. You can use them anywhere and at any time. You don’t have to worry about bothering anyone with the music you’re listening to. In addition, headphones have started to become a nice complement to your fashion style in recent years.

Advantages Disadvantages
They allow you to listen to music without worrying about disturbing others Intensive use may cause hearing discomfort
You can use them anywhere. They are lightweight and easy to transport. They are perfect for travelling Using while driving or riding a bicycle can carry certain risks
Other people won’t know the music you’re listening to. With headphones you’ll have complete privacy
They’re also an attractive fashion accessory

What do you need headphones for?

The reasons for buying headphones can be varied. You may need them to listen to music on the street or on public transport on your way to class or work. Or perhaps you want them to play video games. Or maybe you want them to listen to music or watch movies when you travel.

Another perfect use for headphones is for practising sport, especially running. That’s why you’d be interested in headphones that are resistant to water and sweat. In addition, there are also waterproof models available that can be used for swimming. There are even models designed to be worn as fashion accessories.

Ellen Petry LeanseFormer Apple and Google executive

“When fans see World Cup athletes wearing Beats in their downtime, by choice, it has as much impact as seeing them lace their Adidas (boots) or sip a sponsored beverage”.

What types of headphones are there?

One of the most common ways to categorise headphones is by their shape. They can be split into two distinct types: over-ear headphones and in-ear headphones. However, the over-ear headphones, can be split further into two categories; supra-aurals (headphones with pads that sit on the ears) and circumaurals (headphones designed to completely enclose the ears). In the following table, we summarise the main characteristics of over-ear and in-ear headphones.

Over-ear headphones In-ear headphones
Placement They surround the head completely They are inserted directly into the ear, sealing the hole with rubber bands
Weight Their dimensions are larger, therefore they are also heavier They are much lighter and smaller in size. They are easier to transport
Design and use Most video game headphones use this design The most suitable design for sports headphones

What type of over-ear headphones are there?

As mentioned above, over-ear headphones can be divided into supra-aural and circumaural. The former are quite light and easy to carry meanwhile circumaurals are much larger in size, as their earpads completely surround the ear. In this way, circumaurals offer a much more immersive sound experience.

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The human ear can only withstand up to 100 decibels.(Source: Stepan Popov: 39631142/123rf.com)

Open or closed over-ear headphones?

The cups of over-ear headphones can either be opened or closed. Open style are those that do not completely isolate the noise from the outside, allowing a part of the emitted sound to come out. The latter, closed style, are designed to isolate noise, both inwards and outwards.

Wired or wireless headphones?

You’re probably wondering which option is best for you, wired or wireless headphones. Wired, in general, will allow you to enjoy better sound quality. However in recent years, Bluetooth connections have improved enormously, thanks mainly to the aptX HD codecs.

Wireless headphones are much more comfortable, allowing you more freedom of movement. This makes them ideal for sports and for use with your mobile phone. Their connection range is usually around 10 meters. Keep in mind, however, that the battery life can be limiting factor.

Advantages of wireless headphones Disadvantages of wireless headphones
They are much more comfortable as they do not depend on cables The sound quality is inferior to that of the cable connection. In addition, interference may occur
They allow free movement, up to 10 meters from the source The price is usually significantly higher
You don’t have to worry about the cable breaking or the connection port failing The battery life is limited, so it is necessary to recharge them frequently
You can connect to another device without having to change the cable They are not compatible with all devices

What is active headphone noise cancellation?

Some headphones incorporate active noise cancellation. This is a technology that was originally created to reduce the noise pollution to workers in the air force. Noise cancellation allows you to isolate yourself from the environment and only hear the sound coming from the headphones.

It is an ideal system for long journeys by train or airplane and to isolate you from noisy environments. However, it is not recommended to use it while walking down the street or riding a bicycle, as it can be dangerous. For this reason, some headphones allow you to turn active noise cancellation on and off.

Shopping Criteria

When it comes time to purchase your headphones, it’s important that you consider some key areas. To help you in the selection process, we have selected the criteria that we think are most important. We have done this in order to serve as a guide for you, to help you find the headphones that suit your needs and budget.

  • What will you use them for?
  • Sensitivity
  • Impedance
  • Equalisation
  • Comfort
  • Connectivity
  • Battery

What will you use them for?

You don’t need the same type of headphones to listen to music at home in a relaxed way as you do to play video games or as you do when you’re travelling and listening to music on the way to class or work. So if you’re going to use them outside the house, whether it’s travelling or in your day-to-day life, you’re interested in more durable headphones.

If you’re going to use them to play video games, it’s a good idea to choose ones with a gaming profile. On the other hand, if you want to wear headphones with an attractive design, you should take a look at the Beats headphones, although they’re not the only ones that stand out for their design. Luckily, there are options for all tastes.

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The variety and quality of headphones available on the market, fits all requirements.(Source: Elena Vagengeim: 41558417/ 123rf.com)

Sensitivity

Sensitivity is related to the sound power offered by the headphones and is measured in decibels (dB). In that sense, you should know that 3 dB increases in sensitivity halves the power needed to reach a given volume. Keep in mind that the human ear can only support up to 100 dB.

Impedance

Impedance, measured in ohms (Ω), indicates the resistance of the headphones to the passage of electric current. The lower the impedance, the louder the headphones can sound for the same power. In general, headphones with between 16 and 80 ohms of impedance ensure good performance.

Equalisation

In addition to sound quality, all headphones are characterised by a particular sound profile. This depends on their pre-set equalisation, or in other words, the reinforcement or reduction of certain frequencies (low, medium or high). For example, Beats headphones stand out for boosting bass.

The most common equalisers are balanced or flat, V equalisation and basshead. In this sense, the one that respects the original sound the most is the flat or balanced. V equaliser powers bass or treble and is the most recommended for listening to rock, hip-hop or electronics. Basshead specifically focuses on reinforcing the bass.

Headphones5

The comfort of the headphones will depend on their design.(Source: Suphaksorn Thongwongboot: 38937666/ 123rf.com)

Comfort

If the headphones you buy aren’t comfortable, it won’t be two weeks before you stop using them. In general, comfort will depend mainly on the design, materials, softness and padding of the earpads and, importantly, the pressure they put on the head.

Additionally, in the specific case of over-ear headphones, a larger cup will generally result in greater comfort. Another thing to consider is whether or not they are connected by a cable. If they have a cable, is it has an anti-tangle system, or does it have practical clips to attach it to clothing.

Connectivity

Today, there are a variety of options for connecting headphones to your music player. From the traditional 3.5 mm jack socket of a lifetime to Bluetooth or WiFi connections, not forgetting USB port connections. In each case, you want to know which connection standard they support.

In the case of Bluetooth connections, the most current version is 5.1, while for USB ports, the modern standard and therefore the fastest, is USB 3.0 Type-C. However the fact is, the wired connection usually offers a higher level of quality than wireless connections.

Amy WebbFounder of Future Today Institute

“The transition from smartphones to smart wearables–earbuds that have biometric sensors and speakers; rings and bracelets that can sense our motion; glasses that record and display information–will forever change how we experience the world”.

Battery

Logically, this criterion only applies to wireless headphones. In this case, battery life is one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing which purchases to make. Nothing is more annoying than running out of battery at the most inconvenient time.

Fortunately, to prevent this, many manufacturers also offer the ability to connect headphones via a cable. In any case, it is possible to find devices that offer up to 30 hours of battery life. However, keep in mind, that a longer battery life is going to mean an increase in weight and price.

Summary

After mobile phones, headsets are probably the most widely used electronic device. They are easy to use, very comfortable and can be taken anywhere. In addition, for some time now, they have been an important fashionable accessory. There is no doubt that they are in vogue.

However, we shouldn’t forget that the main purpose of headphones is to enjoy good quality sound. Thus, this is one of the main purchase criteria when purchasing a headset. Of course, along with the intended use and the connectivity options available.

Finally, if you found this guide useful in your selection process, you can leave us a comment or share it through your different social networks.

(Source of featured image: Sergey Galushko: 11000669/ 123rf.com)

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