A Quick Look At the Different Types of Headphones

Last Edited: October 28, 2016 | Published: April 1, 2016 by


One of the first challenges when selecting headphones is choose exactly what type of headphones you will want, need and prefer.  So, I thought I would begin today by taking a quick look at each type of headphone that is available so you can better understand how they look and work.  Once you understand a little about the different types of headphones, you can start your selection process of choosing your next pair of headphones.

Main Types

There are three main categories of headphones available on the market today.  Each one is distinct in its shape and even sound reproduction so you must be careful to choose the right one for you.  Let’s examine each one quickly so you can understand what they look like and how they work.

Ear Buds


Ear buds have risen in popularity since the invention of the MP3 player.  They are small, light and easy to transport.  They work by fitting down just inside your ear.  Some even come with a microphone as well making them great for smartphone users who want a hands free experience.  However, their sound quality especially in the lower and bass ranges suffers simply because of their size.

On Ear Headphones


Think of these as a middle of the road between ear buds and full size headphones.  They rest on top of the ear meaning they are often more comfortable than ear buds and not as hot or heavy on your head as the full size headphones.  Their speakers are usually larger so they traditionally produce a much richer and more accurate range of tones from the lows to the mids and highs.  They don’t do a good job of cancelling out noise around you and if things are quiet people around you may even be able to hear them.

Full Size Headphones


Full size headphones are much larger than the other options and often completely cover the ear.  These usually have some of the best speakers inside them and provide some of the most accurate and vivid sound qualities that music lovers will love and appreciate.  You will often find these in use by studio engineers and the like but they do have their purpose at your home as well, especially if quality of music is very important to you.

Other Types

In addition to the main categories of headphones, there are couple of secondary categories that you must be aware of when choosing the right pair of headphones.

Wireless Headphones

As you probably guessed, these headphones don’t require any wires to connect to your devices.  Most work off of Bluetooth and pass the signals wirelessly from your device to your headphones.  You can find wireless versions of all of the main headphone categories, but their performance and sound reproduction may not quite equal that of a wired version.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

This type of headphone contains technology that helps filter out any noise around you.  In most cases these headphones are full size headphones so your ear isn’t exposed to surrounding noise.  If you have a lot of background noise, these are great.  However, some users find that they can also alter some of the more “natural” qualities of music.

Parting Thoughts

Now that you understand the many different options out there, you can now take your first steps toward selecting the perfect set of headphones for whatever your needs may be.  Remember, choose wisely, otherwise you could end up with a pair of headphones that you find uncomfortable or a pair that don’t give you the sound quality you had hoped.

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