In today’s world, headphones are undoubtedly more than mere accessories—they are an extension of who you are. With your set, you can listen to music even in a crowded coffee shop or when indulging in your favourite late-night movie without disturbing those around you.
Whether you’re looking for sleek AirPods or big over-ear models, we’ve got advice for finding just the right pair for you.
What Kind of Headphones Do You Want?
Selecting the right type of headphones is a personal decision.Many are comfortable with in-ear models that slip into the ear canal or earbuds that rest in the ear bowl. But then, there are people who find these models irritating to the ears and prefer over-ear or on-ear headphones. Others object to the size of on-ear and over-ear headphones, saying they interfere with eyeglasses or some earrings. Some consumers prefer wired models, while others prefer wireless and noise-cancelling models. Whatever your preference, this guide will help you purchase the kind of headphones that suit your specific needs.
Wireless Headphones Form Factors
Wireless headphones are very popular today. Wireless headsets use a Bluetooth device to connect to smartphones, laptops, portable media players like iPods, and some televisions. The Bluetooth device can reach other electronic devices within a range of up to 30 feet. In recent years, true wireless headphone models have been developed. True wireless headphones have no cable or headband connecting the earpieces. They are portable, but the downside is that their battery life is shorter.
1. Over-ear headphones
Over-ear headphones, also called around-ears or circum-aural headphones, are the largest and, in most cases, the most comfortable. They have large driver casings and a headband, and their ear cups wrap completely around the ears rather than resting on them. The drivers can be up to 45 mm or more, making their sound signature loud and detailed. There are two types of over-ear headphones—closed-back and open-back models.
Closed-back models have sealed ear cups that keep in more sound and muffle ambient noise, but they may block sound you need to hear, like the doorbell or a ringing phone. Open-back headphones have openings in the ear cups. These are meant to make the audio clearer and add a more natural feel, but they also allow some external sounds in. The trade-off is that they also let some sound out, which can be heard by anyone near you.
2. On-ear headphones
On-ear headphones are lighter than over-ear types. They are also called supra-aural headphones as they press on the ears, not on the sides of your head. They use larger driver casings and a headband that helps keep the ear cups securely in place. In comparison to over-ear headphones, they use 30 to 40 mm drivers.
In Canada, there are users who find these headphones more comfortable than the over-ear models, because they are less likely to make their ears hot when using them. Like the over-ear model, on-ear headphones can also be open- or closed-back. All the same, both models often allow some external sound since, by design, they do not form a tight seal with the ear. Some can be folded for storage and come with carrying pouches.
3. In-ear headphones
In-ear headphones, also called earbuds or in-ear monitors (IEMs), rest in the ear’s bowl outside the ear canal, although a portion may extend into the canal. Since they come with smartphones and portable audio players, earbuds are common in Canada. They are the tiniest and most portable of all headphones, usually measuring between 8 and 10 mm, a size that many people prefer for convenience.
The vast majority of earbud models are designed to be inserted into the ear canal, forming a seal that helps keep external noise out. Also, most earbuds come with changeable earpieces called canal tips in varying sizes to ensure a secure fit. Due to their small size, these headphones can be worn for hours on end. However, many users find their use invasive and prefer on-ear or over-ear sets.
What Features Should You Consider Before Buying Wireless Headphones?
Whether with a cheap plastic pair to access their smartphones or big costly cans with a humongous ‘B’ on the side, many Canadians have used headphones. The experience is what will be different. Getting the right sound makes the difference between a boring and an interesting headphone experience. Obviously, there is a great deal more to headphones than what can be seen with the naked eye.
Behind your pair of headphones is a lot of science and engineering to give it that characteristic sound quality. The sound can be fine-tuned in many ways, and for you to enjoy the desired audio experience, you need to match your headphones to your kind of music. Therefore, before purchasing wireless headphones, the experts at WirelessWizard.ca recommend that you evaluate some crucial features.
To get maximum value for your money, consider the following features:
Many modern headphones have incorporated an isolation structure that physically muffles ambient noise through a process called ‘passive noise-cancelling’. Other models go beyond passive noise-cancelling into the next level up called ‘active noise-cancelling’. The active noise-cancelling models are battery-powered headphones that use tiny microphones to monitor the external noise frequencies and then replicate those frequencies out of phase to cancel both.
Noise-canceling headphones require a battery to power their electronics. Noise-isolating headphones, which do not require electronics and therefore can be far cheaper, work by creating a seal in your ear canal to block noise. Basically they are like earplugs, but with earbuds inside. If you can get a good seal, these work reasonably well.
2. Water-resistant and Waterproof
Water-resistant or waterproof headphones are practical for many reasons. The advantage of such headphones is that you can listen to your favourite music in the pool. In addition, waterproof headphones are also sweatproof, making them practical at the gym or out jogging.
With earbuds or headphones, the most important number in the IP rating is the water-resistance rating. IPX4 means that the electronic is splashproof.
But if you sweat considerably, or run in the rain you would do well to consider IPX5 and IPX6. An IPX5 rating means that the wireless earbuds are resistant enough to withstand a sustained low-pressure water spray, while IPX6-rated earbuds can withstand a sustained high-pressure spray.
IPX7 is the highest rating bestowed upong wireless earbuds—it means that they’re essentially waterproof, as the earbuds can be submerged in up to three feet (or one meter) in water for 30 minutes.
Waterproof headphones also come in handy if you love listening to music in the shower. With these headsets, you can grab your waterproof iPod and enjoy your music without being a nuisance to others in the house. Also, when you are out, you never know when it may rain. With waterproof headphones, you can jog in the rain, and the quality of your music will be just fine. Above all, waterproof headphones last longer than regular ones. This makes them cost-effective in the long run.
3. Microphones and Controls
Before you purchase your headphones, try them on to assess the performance of their microphones. If you do not wear them, you will not be able to hear the problems you want to avoid. A quality set of headphones will pack dual drivers for better sound and an additional microphone one each side to help with external noise reduction while making calls. Good headphones will pick up details like fades, breaths, and weaknesses such as plosives. In opting for wired headphones, you will need control components (volume, play, or pause) with physical buttons.
Wireless headphones, on the other hand, have inbuilt controls on the earpieces. Some controls protrude, but in most cases, there are touch controls. A few can be controlled by voice or external apps. These controls and the style are critical depending on your specific needs. For instance, some controls may not be suitable for you if the gym is one of your favorite places, while others may prefer this function. Your taste, preference, and needs will determine the model that you invest in.
4. Battery Life
If you have used headphones before, you are probably aware that the battery life of wireless headphones is limited. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Therefore, this is an important consideration when buying wireless headphones. Most wireless headphones will afford you a few hours of uninterrupted listening every day. If you’re often on the move and do not have a lot of opportunities to charge your active headphones, then a long-lasting battery may be more suitable. Likewise, if you use your headphones sparingly or rarely find yourself in need of additional noise cancellation, then a short battery life may not be much of an issue.
5. Ambient Mode
Wireless headphones’ ambient-sound mode must be switched on manually. The ambient-sound mode is good when you need to hear ambient noise while wearing your headphones. This clever technology is available in both wired and wireless headphones. It allows you to hear useful background sounds as you listen to your music. If hearing ambient noise is important for you, this is an important feature to consider in buying headphones.
6. Voice Control via Digital Assistant
You may wish to consider purchasing headphones that are compatible with voice assistants, because headphones that are integrated with Google Assistant facilitate a variety of actrions. For example, you can have incoming messages read to you and respond with voice commands. This feature can be terrific for athletes keen on keeping track of their messages without interrupting their workout.
How Much Do Wireless Headphones Cost?
As expected, good things come at a price, and headphones are no exception. Modern wireless headphones are generally affordable. In Canada, a good set of premium wireless headphones comes at a premium cost. If you want headphones with quality noise-cancellation, advanced features, admirable design, and excellent sound quality, you might have to hand over a little more cash for the privilege. According to current market averages, a good set of wireless headphones will cost you between $150 and $350.
Wireless headphones are great when it comes to portability, but they reduce the quality of the audio as they transfer a file from the source to the headphones. Even today, some users think that wired headphones are preferable because they are very affordable. For others, however, the experience comes first, so their preference is wireless headphones despite the extra aspects that need to be managed.
Like most things in life, when it comes to choosing the right headphones, earphones, or earbuds, you get what you pay for. Although some specs can be helpful, things like frequency response numbers can be deceptive. There is no substitute for listening critically and carefully. Considering how you plan to use your new headphones is also critical in pinpointing the right model. Your choice should be influenced by a host of factors, among them size, shape, and definitely, style. A good set of wireless headphones should enable you to pick out common recording and editing problems. It should also allow you flexibility in decisions about your desired audio quality. If you are going for cans for professional use, consider their quality, isolation capability, portability, and how easily you can replace their parts, as they are subject to wear and tear. Also, remember that noise-cancelling and wireless headphones require power to function, whether rechargeable or powered with replaceable batteries. This means that you will need a power supply at all times, which might be an inconvenience. If you’re still unsure what headphones or earphones to buy, we invite you to comment below—and we’ll be happy to help!