Headphone Buying Guide

The world of technology is advancing at an incredible rate and as a result, more and more connections are being introduced to the personal audio market. With the removal of the well-known 3.5mm headphone jack from many new smartphones, the number of headphones connections has increased – the possible connections (both wired and wireless) are 3.5mm, lightning, USB-C and Bluetooth.

Sound Quality

Sound quality is a key are for comparison and most of the time is down to personal preference. Do you prefer deeper bass or a clear, crisp sound? We recommend looking through the specifications and having a read of customer reviews before purchasing.

Types of Headphones

In-Ear

Comfort and style – Compact and ultra-light, these are the most common type of headphones. The wires run straight from your device to your ears. There are many different ear bud types available in the market too. Generally, these are split into size; small, medium and large and almost all brands provide you with a set of each size on purchase. Some users find in-ear buds uncomfortable after long periods of use.

Sound quality and noise isolation – As the sound goes directly into your ears rather than sitting on top, the sound quality is very noticeable and allows for noise isolation. Some ear-buds allow you to rest the on your ears, allowing more outside noise in, keeping you aware of your surroundings which is particularly useful if, for example, jogging or cycling on a road.

Durability – Dependent of level of use, the ear buds may need replacing after a number of months and can also come loose, and as a result, get lost. Luckily, they are neither expensive or difficult to come by. Generally, the wires are durable (subject to brand) and often there are options of flat, or braided and tangle free wires.

On & Over Ear

Comfort and style – This style has recently become very popular. On-ear headphones are used for both indoor and outdoor activities and are even ideal for travelling. On-ear headphones tend to be larger in size, but are often foldable. They are usually wired or wireless, with many wireless models coming with an additional 3.5mm cable to connect in the event of your headphones running out of battery. Often the ear cups are generously padded and as a result are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

Sound quality and noise isolation – Over-ear headphones give you the most immersive experience as your entire ear is covered. They provide a good level of sound isolation but are more likely to let some sound escape when compare to in-ear and over-ear models. On-ear models still provide good sound isolation but are more likely than over-ear models to let some sound escape. Both types offer a range of models engineered for different types of music.

Durability – Headbands generally last for a respectable amount of time, but as with anything, the more you spend the better the quality of headband you will get. Similarly, ear cups are usually good quality but after extensive use, they may become worn and need replacing. Some higher end models even come with a carry case, offering a level of protection when on the go.

Wired or Wireless?

Wired – Generally, wired headphones have a 3.5mm aux connector and can connect to the majority of personal audio devices. Some of the latest smartphones are eliminating this port due to the depth of the latest device design. A number of said devices do come with an adapter that converts their new connection (say, lightning) to the old connection (3.5mm). With a wired pair of headphones, there is never the worry of them not being charged or being in range of a connected device.

Wireless – Almost all wireless headphones connect via Bluetooth. All smartphones have the ability to connect to headphones via Bluetooth, however certain media or MP3 players may not be Bluetooth enabled. The majority of wireless headphones have an internal rechargeable battery which can be charged via a micro-USB cable. You may notice a drop in volume or a cut-off in music as battery levels drop or when you go out of range of the connected device. Typical wireless range is generally 3m (assuming a clear line of sight)

Headphones by use

Sports & Fitness

  • Designed for comfort while exercising, be that indoors or outdoors
  • Generally lightweight and slim in design
  • The majority of models have ear support to prevent slipping
  • Certain models have additional features such as voice control
  • Sweatproof and waterproof

TV & Entertainment

  • Designed for extreme comfort around the headband and ear pieces
  • High quality surround sound for an immersive cinematic experience
  • Available in wired or wireless. Wireless models work by using an RF-signal receiver connected to the headphone jack on the TV.
  • Wired options would come with a standard 3.5mm jack complete with an extra-long cable to be able to sit back from the TV without having to stretch the cable.

Headphones for Children

  • Designed with children in mind
  • Controlled volume to protect little ears
  • Padded for comfort
  • Foldable design for easy portability

Gaming

  • Heavy duty and durable
  • Large ear pieces for a truly immersive gaming experience
  • Generally available with microphones for communication during online gaming
  • Durable connectors and cables to cope with harsh, repetitive handling
  • Not designed for portability or use on the go