Forget those cheaply made headphones or earbuds that came with your MP3 player. With the right pair of headphones, you can experience music on a whole other level. Whether you’re listening at home or on the go, consider investing in a high quality pair of headphones (or buds) for maximum enjoyment.
1. Decide between earbuds or headphones.
- Earbuds are best for people who are short on space, but still want a way to listen to their music. The higher-quality earbuds, like from Sennheiser or Ultimate Ears, usually come with little cases to put your earbuds in when you’re not using them, so they won’t get ruined or dirty at the bottom of your bag. If you keep a very small purse and want to keep your iPod Nano and earbuds together in it, or you’re a guy with limited pocket space, earbuds are probably a better choice. They’re also great if you are on a limited budget, because there’s a lot more to choose from and they tend to cost less. Cheaper earbuds often run into problems like falling out of ears, hurting ears, or simply making dents in them from the cheap plastic. With higher prices (but still low-end in terms of quality) ranging from $25-50, you’ll get more comfortable ‘buds, and they are well-worth the money you spend. However, if you’re an audiophile, you should consider other options. A pair of buds from Sennheiser (like the CX 500, $130), Shure (SE 115, $120), EtyMotic Research (HF5, $150), or even Ultimate Ears (minimum Super.fi 4) will be preferable.
- Headphones are great if you enjoy putting them around your neck while you’re walking from one place to another, or if you just carry your headphones that way. You also tend to get beefier cords and fun options like wireless/bluetooth headphones. The drawback is that good headphones within your budget might be hard to find. They take up more space than earbuds, and the DJ-style headphones take up a ridiculous amount of space if you don’t carry around a larger bag. They also are easy to get dirty because most don’t come with cases for them.
- DJ-style headphones are just that. Huge, bulky, awesome-looking headphones that are reminiscent of what you’d see someone named Double D mix his jamswith. The structure lends itself to good sound containment but bad size usage. And a lot of music buffs get them because of the better sound quality and less pressure exuded on the eardrum, resulting in longer listening time and less damage to the eardrum.
- Behind-the-neck headphones are exactly that as well, headphones with a connecting band that goes behind the neck instead of over the top of the head. Recommended for joggers or people who wear hats a lot. Also for sunglasses fanatics. So if you’re a girl (or guy) with long hair and you hate headphones that smush your hair down or dislike headphones that irritate your ear piercings, this type would be a good choice. Besides that, there are very few things that separate them from dj-style or “regular” headphones.
- If you get good quality headphones, you don’t have to get an extended warranty. Just stick with what’s given to you. Some headphone brands, such as Skullcandy, give out lifetime warranties for their products. Although if you know you’ll be using them all the time, a warranty wouldn’t be a terrible idea.
- Once you buy quality headphones, you’ll find that you can’t go back to your old $20 headphones. You’ll be disappointed by the sound and feel.
- If you’re always using your mp3 player in a pocket up near your chest, you won’t need a 10-foot cord. If you like to listen to music from your stereo using headphones you won’t want a 2-foot cord. There is a way to shorten the cord length by a little bit so you don’t have excess getting caught on things and some headphones with really long cords come with cord-winders or you can even make your own cord-winder. Generally, having it a bit too long is better than having to buy an extender.
- If you listen to mp3s below 192 kbps regularly, high quality headphones will be a waste of money as you’re trying to listen to detail that isn’t there. mp3s compress the music into a smaller file by getting rid of some of the track.
- Wireless headphones might be temptingly convenient, but you can get background hissing and/or dynamic range compression that flattens the sound to some extent, and you’re likely to run into interference from other devices. If you decide to get wireless headphones, though, look for digital models with maximum hertz and multiple channels so you can switch to another frequency if you encounter interference.
- Noise-canceling headphones do block out background noise, but they also reduce audio quality. Noise-canceling headphones may not sound as good as other headphones in most listening environments.
- One of the biggest challenges is to find right headphones for gym use. Gyms are notorious – and very annoying – about rather loud volume and poor music choices. Headphones are just too bulky and awkward, most earbuds do not do much to cancel outside music. Do a lot of research before you buy something, mainly through user reviews. Some stores will let you try headphones on, but only online reseach and real life users will let you know about earbuds. Active noise cancellation earbuds have reputation of creating interferences and noises from electronics operation. Passive(tight fit) earbuds do not, but not everyone likes “plugs” in the ear canals and, also, it can be quite strange experience to listen to ones heartbeat and breathing, amplified with those.
- Research. Don’t go to sources like Consumer Reports that aren’t specialized in audio. Go to audiophile forums (AVSForum, Head-Fi, etc.) and shops to find what’s good instead of going to general electronics stores.
- When you first put your headphones on don’t forget to turn the volume down.
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