A Quick Beginner’s Guide to Buying High-end Headphones

How to Choose the Right Headphones

If all you want is to listen to the melody of your favorite song, then you can probably survive using a cheap set of headphones. But if you really want to fully appreciate the entire musical production—to savor each note and feel each beat—then you might want to get a better pair.

However, the long list of specs and features for each headphone can sometimes confuse buyers more than inform them, especially those inexperienced shoppers. But don’t worry! Here’s a quick guide on how to find the one that’s best for you:

Form Factor

The form factor of a pair of headphones pertains to their shape and how they’re designed to be worn. But they differ from each other in more than just looks. Here are the three most common types:

In-Ear Headphones

Marshall Mode with EQ In-Ear Headphones

Pictured: Marshall Mode with EQ In-Ear Headphones

In-ear headphones are sometimes also called earbuds or earphones. They have the most portable and lightweight design. As the name implies, these are small earpieces that are designed to fit snugly in the ridges of your ear.

Because they’re usually included as freebies in mobile devices, many consider them as the cheapest, entry-level options. However, high-end variants perform just as well as the other headphone forms.

On-Ear Headphones

Urbanears Plattan

 

Pictured: Urbanears Plattan 

Though heavier than earbuds, on-ear headphones are considered more comfortable by most users. This is because they just sit on the outside of your ears freely, without totally covering your ears. This makes for a relaxing fit that keeps your ears cool. However, this means that they won’t be keeping noise out as effectively as the two other variants. In addition, whatever you’re listening to will be heard by the people around you.

Over-Ear Headphones

Skullcandy Crusher Over-the-Ear Headphones

Pictured: Skullcandy Crusher Over-the-Ear Headphones

The largest of these three, over-ear headphones feature large ear pieces that are meant to completely surround the ears. This, in turn, allows for exceptional noise isolation. Though the enclosed design provides better bass response and sound clarity, this also makes it uncomfortable to wear on hotter days.

Frequency Ranges

In simple terms, a pair of headphones’ frequency range dictates the range of sounds that it can create. This range can vary from model to model as well.

Earphones Frequency

Photo by photosteve101 on Flickr

20 to 20,000 Hertz

A great majority of headphones feature a standard range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz. It’s also more than enough for listening to most types of music. This is because it’s close to what’s considered as the range of human hearing. After all, sound waves exceeding 20,000 Hertz will be too high-pitched for the human ears to even detect.

5 to 33,000 Hertz

This frequency range features much higher trebles and lower basses, and is said to feature a more dynamic sound. But as we’ve discussed, most of the highs are just inaudible at this point. The biggest difference can be heard when listening to punchy and solid bass sounds, making this a must-have for bass-heavy music.

Headphone Cord and Plug Options

It’s not just the earpieces that you should be paying attention to. Try to find more information on the cord and the plug to see which one fits how you intend to listen to music. Here are things you should also consider:

Plug Type

Earphone Plug

Photo by Alejandro Mallea on Flickr

Headphone plugs come in quite a few sizes and shapes, so it’s best to make sure that what you’re purchasing is right for your device. Most mobile devices use the 3.5 mm standard size, which fits most phones, tablets, and computers. Hence, you have to make sure that you’re not buying monitoring headphones with a 6.35 mm jack by accident.

The plugs also come in different shapes, such as straight and L-shaped varieties. L-plugs have a harder end cap, which projects outward far less. This makes them less vulnerable to damage due to bending and twisting in your pockets. Meanwhile, straight plugs are best used if the jack insert is on the top or bottom of your device.

Single-Cord Headphones

Most high-quality on-ear and over-ear headphones now feature a single cord that connects into just one earpiece. This is in contrast to the older Y-connectors where the main cord splits into two separate connectors per ear. As an added bonus, a single cord is also less prone to snagging.

Cords with Audio Controls or an Attached Mic

Certain headphones feature a tab along the cord that conveniently acts as the remote control of your device. By using the tab, you won’t have to poke around your pockets or inside your bag every time you want to adjust the volume or play the next song. The tab could also include a microphone, which is useful if you want to use it for calls or for recording.

How well a pair of headphones performs is determined by its user’s needs. If you’ve been looking to step up your audiophile cred, then remember to keep an eye out for these basic considerations when getting a new pair.

And since getting high-quality headphones can be expensive, you can check out the YouPoundit Audio section to get great deals.


John Arzadon
John Arzadon

Author