– Headphone Buying Guide –
How to choose the perfect headphones
When you’re looking for a pair of headphones or earphones you shouldn’t just rush out and buy the first pair you see or opt for the cheapest headphone option. Buying a pair of headphones that are right for you requires a little more thought and consideration to ensure you end up with a product that does all you require and is right for your needs. A few things to consider are form factor, size, special feature such as AptX or and noise cancellation, Wired or wireless, comfort, sound quality and of course price, We will cover all of these considerations to help you navigate the plethora of headphones out there and find the perfect pair for your needs.
Headphones or Earbuds?
Earphones / Ear-buds
This is perhaps the most important question after price. This will affect both your style and listing experience and is determined in large by looks and what you want to use the headphones or earphones for.
Earbuds or earphones are best suited to those looking for a more discreet listing style and being considerably smaller and lighter than headphones offer a great listening solution to those with limited space who value a light accessory.
You can easily carry earphone or earbuds around in your pocket or wear them around your neck. If you want to listen to music while doing sports then earphones are not only lighter but also more likely to remain in place, especially if doing some vigorous exercise such as running. There are also a number of waterproof earphones that are better able to deal with sweat and some with higher IP ratings will allow you to enjoy music while swimming or in the shower.
Earphones, being smaller and lighter than headphones will are unable to house the larger audio drivers of their larger cousins and as such can’t offer the same sound quality. Some in-ear variants sit in the ear which some people find less comfortable so it’s worth trying some on before you buy. While some in-ear headphones can block out the surrounding noise they are not as effective at that as over-ear headphones.
Headphones are definitely bulkier than earphones but generally offer a better level of comfort. You can easily ear them around your head when not in use but generally, even the smaller folding on-ear headphones won’t fit in your pants pockets. With earpads that sit on or over your ear, adjustable and padded headband headphones offer a comfortable way to enjoy music.
Over-ear or on-ear headphones
The main difference between over ear and on ear headphones is the comfort. This all comes down to how well individual models fit the shape and size of your ear and head. Look for headphones that have a wide range of adjustment and also check how large the headbands are and how tight they clamp the head, especially if you have a larger head or intend to exercise with them on. Some tighter fitting on-ear headphones can feel uncomfortable if they are too tight and may feel like they are pinning your ears back. With full-size headphones that sit over your ears, you will be able to enjoy a better listening experience as they can house larger audio drivers which provide a fuller sound with better bass and range. They are also good for blocking out noisy environments such as on an airplay or on the morning commute. However the larger size tends to make them heavier and less portable, so they are probably not very good for wearing at the gym.
Wired or Wireless Headphones and Earphones
Audiophiles will tell you that despite the advances with wireless technology you can’t beat wired headphones. Of course, this is also situational, if you’re sat on the sofa chilling to your favorite tracks or playing computer games then wired works perfectly, however, the minutes you want to walk around answer the door or do the housework being tethered to another device, even your smartphone can be a headache. Cables get twisted and tangled in your bag, threaten to trip you up or topple your drink from the table. This is where the advantages of wireless truly shine. With aptX and the modern Bluetooth connectivity that allows for wireless connection of 30 feet or more, wireless is a good solution for listening while on the move. However, it’s not without its fault, if you wander out of range of the paired device the signals will break up. Wireless headphones also need their own power supply, typically a small built-in battery and while headphones can now last over a day on one charge you still need to recharge them up at some point.
AptX is a technology that allows for better audio quality over Bluetooth. It powers some of the best wireless headphones and speakers. As Bluetooth becomes more popular and widely used aptX is appearing on more and more gadgets.
Audio over Bluetooth is compressed before it is transmitted. The audio being transmitted is sampled at a number of intervals which gives a snapshot of the sound pattern, so when you listen to audio over Bluetooth you are not listing to the full sound wave but to lots of small snapshots taken from each second of audio. Because Bluetooth wasn’t designed for audio it has a sample rate of 200kbps or at best 345kbps.
AptX aims to deliver CD-like audio quality over Bluetooth connections. This will sample the audio at 44100 snapshots per seconds and at 16 bit that means each sample can have a value of 0 to 65535. So the audio quality is by far improved with aptX. However, whether you will notice the difference is all down to how you listen to music. If you stream music online with your phone you’re probably playing compressed audio files such as MP3s. If you’re listening to uncompressed audio at home then you would probably want to make sure you have aptX or better yet keep to a wired connection.
So the question to go wireless or not depends a lot on how and where you listen to music. Fortunately to accommodate this many of the iDeaPlay wireless headphones also offer a wired 3.5mm audio jack so you can get the best audio quality where ever you are and whatever you’re listening to.
Sound isolation & Noise Cancelling Headphones
Noise Cancelling Headphones are able to filter out the unwanted ambient background noises using a method known as active noise control or ANC. They do this by using a microphone to monitor the background noises around you. They then make a negative form of this background waveform and mix it with the audio signals of your music to remove the unwanted background noise. This works really well with noise such as road diggers, airplane engines or other low-frequency sounds. ANC won’t be able to cut out sudden loud noises such as fireworks or the high pitch sound of a baby crying.
Sound isolation refers to how well the headphones can seal out the background noises. All headphones and earbuds are able to offer some level of sound isolation. Earbuds tend to double as earplugs, and by doing so preventing outside noise from getting in. Headphones, on the other hand, will seal the sound around the outside of your ear using large pads and earcups. Headphones tend to do a better job when you’re listening to bass and lower frequency sounds or instrumental music.
How much are headphones and earphones?
The price of Earphones and headphones can vary drastically. If you’re a serious audiophile and have the money you can spend thousands of dollars on a pair of headphones. Or if you just need something cheap on your daily commute then you can pick up some earbuds under $10, obviously the more you pay the better quality you will get. However, there is a limit where paying more sees drastically diminishing returns, normally when you reach a few hundred dollars.
With a good range of headphones to choose from iDeaPlay prove you can get a quality audio experiment from under $100 and enjoy the best features such as active noise canceling and aptX without having to break the bank. Check out the V207 ANC headphones and read some of the many online reviews on these leading headphones to see for yourself.
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