Walking in to an audio store and buying your first pair of headphones is a daunting experience. I mean, there are just so many different kinds of headphones!
There are in-ear headphones, on-ear headphones, over-ear headphones, noise-cancelling headphones, cordless headphones available from Superfi; with so many different types of headphone, it can be easy to get confused and buy a pair which do not suit your needs.
If you’ve felt this way, or indeed bought a pair of headphones which have underwhelmed, here’s a handy guide for you to work against on your next shop.
Also simply called ‘earphones’, these are the type of headphone you’ll likely be most familiar with as media player manufacturers often include them with a new purchase. This has slightly tarred the reputation of in-ear headphones, with Apple a key culprit, by shipping those terrible white in-ears with every iPod. You have to remember, though, that not all in-ears are created equal.
The best kind of in-ear headphones will offer good isolation, fine detail, impressive clarity, good styling and build quality, and perhaps most important of all be comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time. The SoundMagic E10′s are a fine budget earphone retailing at around £35, with impressive build quality and sound. At around £95, the Beyerdynamic MMX 101iE offer greater clarity, noise isolation and comfort than many earphones.
If you commute to work or regularly catch the bus or train, you’ll have noticed a rise in the number of people rocking a pair of on-ear headphones. These headphones sit on top of the ear secured by a headband, and most commonly, are bought for fashion rather than sound quality. Beats by Dre and House of Marley headphones available at Superfi are an example of headphones made for the fashion conscious.
On-ears usually provide a high level of base and detailed treble, but for those who like their music neutral, you’d be better with over-ear headphones.
It is easy to confuse over-ear headphones with on-ear headphones. The former completely cover the entire ear area, thus offering the highest level of noise cancellation of any type of headphone. Worn by not only the public but also by professional musicians and DJ’s, over-ear headphones feature larger components than in-ear or on-ear headphones and thus can produce a higher level of detail and clarity.
These headphones are the best type to buy, so long as portability and style isn’t an issue for you, as they tend to be quite large and in cases bulky. Good over-ear headphones will offer a lightweight design, sealed ear cups for isolation, and extra features such as a foldable design. For the ultimate music experience, check out the £999.99 Denon AH-D7100′s.