Buying new headphones can be challenging. There are so many factors that you should consider when making you purchase it can be overwhelming. Just one trip to the store and you will quickly be overrun by dozens and dozens of pairs of headphones. How can you possibly make the right decision?
Today, let’s take a more detailed look into what you should be looking for in a good pair of headphones. My hope is that when you have finished with this article, you will know exactly what you need to look for when shopping for a new pair of headphones.
1. Consider How You Will Use Them
First things first, you need to decide exactly how you plan on using your headphones. Are you looking for headphones for your smartphone or maybe your laptop? Maybe you are looking for headphones to use in a studio setup or on a high end stereo system in your home. How you will use your new headphones will go a long way toward determining the type you need to buy. After all, a small pair that fit in your ear may not be the best choice for studio recording, but are perfect for on the go connected to your smartphone or iPod. At the same time, you don’t need huge bulky headphones for your smartphone as they just don’t transport very well.
2. Choose Your Style
Once you have determined how you plan on using your new headphones, it is time to pick the style. There are four main styles to choose from. They are:
- In the Ear
- On the Ear
- Over the Ear
Let’s take a look at each of these styles a little closer so you understand a little about each of them before we continue.
Earbuds were popularized with the release of MP3 players such as the iPod. They offer great sound and are very small, lightweight and portable. However, compared to the other headphones out there, they are often more uncomfortable and their sound quality won’t stand up against the other types of headphones.
2. In the Ear
Think of these as a step up from earbuds. In many ways they are just like earbuds, but these offer a little bit better sound quality over the basic earbuds. They are often more comfortable also, although they still fit down inside your ear which could cause some discomfort over long periods of listening enjoyment. They do have the same portability features of the earbuds, however, so they are perfect if you are looking for a little bit more comfort and sound quality over basic earbuds but still need that portability to take them with you wherever you go.
3. On the Ear
Now these are a true classic. These headphones were popularized years ago when the Walkman was released. These headphones have larger speakers that rest on your ear covering your ear canal but not your entire ear. They offer much more comfort over other headphones out there and often have better sound quality, as the speakers are better equipped for bass ranges than the small earbuds. Still, they do leak sound and don’t do that great of a job at filtering out ambient sound. They aren’t quite as portable either. Still, if you need a step up in the sound quality department and don’t want something too bulky and huge, these could be the choice for you.
4. Over the Ear
The over the ear headphones are where headphones got their start. These large headphones fit over your entire ear and there was a time when these were all there were when you were looking for headphones. Times have changed, of course, but these still rule supreme when it comes to sound quality. All ranges sound the best on these hands down. There simply is no contest. They also tend to be more comfortable as they fit over your ear. However, they aren’t so good at travel and are better suited for home stereo systems, Djs and recording studios. If you are looking for the best sound quality, then these are the way to go. Just don’t expect to carry them with you wherever you go.
3. Wireless or Wired
Once you have settled on the style that will fit best with how you plan on using them, it is time to consider whether or not you need headphones with wires or wireless headphones. Now often how you use them will determine this for you, but it is still worth considering. Remember, wireless headphones often suffer from sound quality issues compared to their wired counterparts. That means that if perfect sound quality is going to be a major factor, then you may want to go with a wired set of headphones. On the other hand, if you need freedom of movement while you listen, wireless headphones could be the best choice for you.
4. Sound Quality
Now it is time to take a closer look at sound quality. Every different pair of headphones has different sound quality. Some will provide more accurate treble and mid ranges while others will really pump out a booming bass. Some are, well let’s just face it, crappy. You need to be careful here, you want to make sure you pick up a pair of headphones that pump out accurate and quality sound otherwise you will hate using them. You will also need to make sure they reach the volume levels you need as well.
It’s important that you revisit how you plan on using your new headphones and then decide what kind of audio quality you are going to need. Remember, pay attention to the sound quality when purchasing your new headphones and look for something that will reproduce a wide range of sounds accurately when making your selection.
5. Consider Comfort
This is one that many people forget when shopping for headphones. They get wrapped up in looking at the different styles and examining the audio quality of the headphones and forget that they will be wearing them. I don’t care how good a pair of headphones are, if they aren’t comfortable you aren’t going to enjoy wearing them. Plain and simple. Take a closer look at how they are made and what they use for comfort. If they are in the ear headphones, for example, have a look at their size to make sure they will fit. Comfort is, at the end of the day, every bit as important as how they sound. If you choose something that hurts your ears, you just won’t want to use them so make sure you find something that is sized for your ear and is comfortable to ear, especially if you plan on wearing them for long periods of time.
6. A Word on Style
I talk a lot about headphone style and how you are going to use your headphones, but let’s stop for a moment and look at something a little more, well, superficial. Most headphones today are designed to look good, but just because they are made that way doesn’t mean you are going to like them. In fact, you may hate the way some headphones look. That’s okay. While this one is by no means the most important aspect of choosing headphones on this list, it can be important.
Remember, you are going to have to walk around wearing your headphones and people will see you wearing them. So, you may as well pick a set of headphones that look good to you so you are comfortable wearing them around town. After all, if you aren’t comfortable with what you have chosen, will you really use them? I didn’t think so. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice the other aspects of this search just to get something that looks cool.
7. Read Reviews
Before you make your decision, make sure you take to the Internet to read reviews about your headphones. A simple Google search will do the trick. Look for things like the discussion of comfort and their sound quality. If you are going wireless, pay attention to charging times and battery life. In the end, you want to find out what other people think about the headphones you have chosen. If there is a ton of negative feedback, then you may want to look at other options. We can also help you with that if you browse our products and buying guides.
8. Make Your Final Decision
Once you have narrowed down what you are going to buy, make your final decision and buy your headphones. Remember, you don’t have to be limited these days by the headphones at your local shop, unless you just have to have instant gratification. In fact, I recommend you order right here through our buying guides or at least somewhere online. At the end of the day I think you will find that you get a much better deal if you order online than you will get if you buy it locally.
There you have it. I know it seems like a lot of information, but if you take it section by section, you can easily make the right buying decision for your next pair of headphones. I would encourage you to be thorough when making this decision and don’t just impulse buy a pair that looks really good after one reviews.
In the end, if you take your time and go through the different types carefully, you will be able to make the right decision for your headphone needs. When you do, I guarantee that you will end up with a pair of headphones that you love and sound great. They will be comfortable to wear and they will look great on your ears while you use them.
So what are your favorite kinds of headphones and how did you make your decision? Let me know in the comments below.