There was a time when a cellphone did not double as a music player. Nowadays, most cellphones are also used not just for playing music but also for watching videos. This has led to the proliferation of the use of headphones. Wherever you go, you would see people wearing headphones of every kind, as they walk talking on their phones, or listening to music oblivious of the distractions around them. This year there has been an explosion of the types of headphones for different kinds of cellphones. It has also become more common that users would buy their headphones instead of using those who came bundled with their cellphone.
If you plan on buying a headphone this year, the following are some things to consider when buying a new headphone.
- In Ear, On-Ear or Full-Size Headphones.
There are several types of headphones and users usually have a specific preference for one or the other. In some instances, the choice also depends on the conditions when the headphone is used. In-ear headphones are usually used when jogging or working out. There are those who commute wearing full-size headphones. Those who work with audio or music usually have full-size headphones at their desk, which are different from the ones they bring along with them everywhere else.
In-ear headphones have to fit properly to be appreciated. They also eliminate ambient noise, locking in the sound and helping with the bass. On-ear headphones rest on the ear without a cup or foam. These usually have less noise isolation properties, but these can be more comfortable than full-size headphones. On-ear headphones are lighter, and they are also usually foldable for ease of transport.
Full-size headphones have great noise isolation properties. Noise canceling headphones are usually full-size as well. These are the type of headphones you would use in a noisy environment, like the office, or even at home, but not while you’re out walking on the streets.
There are different considerations here. The single cable full-size headphones have only one wire connected to one earphone, and this connects to the other earphone via the headband. Others use a Y-cable which has two wires connecting to each of the two sides. Wireless headphones are also of two types, the single-ear earphone, and the two-eared variety. Both use Bluetooth to connect to the phone itself. Users usually choose the type the like, early on and stick to it through most of the succeeding generations of headphone purchases. Wired headphones nowadays also come in several flavors. There are those who connect via an audio port, while others now use the USB-C port. There was a time when headphones also connected via the USB mini port. You have to check your phone regarding what connector it uses. When in doubt, you should ask your nearest cellphone repair shop for assistance.
There is a wide range of prices for headphones. Yourself can get one for as low as $4. There are also expensive models which are worth upwards of $3,000. Everyone has a budget, and you should determine your budget early on even before you start comparison shopping. Price is not a determinant of quality. There are some inexpensive brands and models which deliver a better sound quality than the most expensive brands. These expensive brands are usually sold as up-market items because they are more of fashion accessories rather than audio equipment.
You have to try out the headphones to choose which one is comfortable. Headphones can get hot and uncomfortable after wearing them for a few hours. This is especially true for full-size headphones. For in-ear headphones, this is less of a problem. However, not everyone likes the feeling of using in-ear phones. Again, this is a matter of preference. If you are used to wearing headphones for extended amounts of time, you should try to find one which is comfortable.
Another factor which contributes to comfort is the weight. Lighter headphones are more comfortable over a longer duration of continuous use. This is true of full-size headphones as well as in-ear models.
- Sound Quality.
Sound quality can be quantified by reading the specifications of the headphone. To simplify, you need a headphone with a frequency response in the range of 10-20K Hz, preferably with an impedance of 32 ohms or less. One term which is commonly used in specifications is sensitivity. A headphone with high sensitivity will play louder, given the same settings on the phone or preamp, than another which has low sensitivity.
Although not usually included in specifications, there is another quality which a user should pay attention to. This is whether the headphone produces “flat” sound or has been “sweetened.” The term “profile” has been used to describe this quality. A flat profile means that the headphone has not been tuned with an equalizer. On the other hand, a “tuned” or “sweetened” headphone will also be described as having “Extra Bass”. The sounds for low and high frequency have been enhanced for a better listening experience. This is done because small speakers in headphones typically do not deliver as much bass as full-sized speakers.
Sound quality for active noise canceling headphones is also a factor for sound quality. Some listeners can hear a distinct humming sound like muffled waves. Not barely can this be distracting, but it can also cause nausea in some people.
Although the above are more like characteristics than criteria for buying a cellphone, note that a lot of them are based on personal preference. If you consider that few people bother with the technical specifications, it is fair to say that purchasing a headphone is a personal choice. When in doubt, you should head on to a cell phone repair shop for assistance with headphones. A person’s preference can still be swayed by the information about the myriad choices in the market today.