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How and where you plan on using your headphone will have a huge impact on determining the right headphone for you.
Where will you use your headphone?
At home, on-the-go, in the car, on a plane, at the gym? These are just a few examples where you'll spot people plugging into their favorite recordings, games, performances and broadcasts. And the list goes on. After you have determined how you'll use your headphones, you need to select the type of headphone that is right for you.
Types of Headphones
FULL SIZE HEADPHONES
Full Size headphones are just that...full size. They tend to be larger and used in a single place. Whether that place is your home, office or studio, these headphones are generally required to deliver impressive sound performance and isolation.
On-ear, portable headphones are compact and lightweight. But lightweight does not mean they are light on sound. Many on-ear headphones feature elements that deliver impressive sound reproduction just like their full size counterparts.
Ear-clip headphones eliminate the conventional headband that goes over or behind-the-head. Ear-clips fit snugly and securely around the ear for maximum mobility without sacrificing sound. Ear-clip headphones travel light and will not interfere with your hair or hat.
EARBUDS & IN-EAR HEADPHONES
Earbuds and in-ear headphones eliminate the headband for ultra-lightweight comfort. Earbuds rest in your ear and are free from any sort of headband. Earbuds or in-ear headphones great for workouts or any time that traveling light is critical.
BEHIND THE HEAD HEADPHONES
A behind the head headphone turns the element to rest directly over the ear. The result can mean a better fit, and definitely better bass performance. Unlike conventional over-the-head headbands, the behind the head headphones allow you to comfortably wear your headphones with hats or helmets.
Wireless headphones eliminate the cord altogether. They can require a transmitter that must be connected to your source. Wireless headphones are available in different technological platforms. Including: Radio Frequency (RF) - transmits an RF signal through walls and ceilings. Infrared (IR) - transmits an IR signal within line sight of transmitter.
NOISE CANCELLATION HEADPHONES
Noise cancellation headphones reduce surrounding, or ambient noise. There are two types of noise cancellation; active and passive. Active noise cancellation utilizes a powered circuit and miniature microphones to create "anti-wave" that cancels the noise at the ear. Passive noise cancellation utilizes the mechanical design and fit of the headphone to eliminate the ambient noise.
Common measurements of headphone performance will help you to compare models and eventually decide on the right headphone for you.
While it's beneficial to understand these measurements and how they affect stereophone performance, it is also very important to recognize that comparing specifications can be misleading. There are other factors, such as ear cushion type or headband pressure that can make a difference in how the headphone actually sounds.
This is why it is always important to listen to a headphone before finalizing your decision.
Refers to a headphone's ability to reproduce a range of frequencies. A wider response results in better overall sound performance.
Refers to a headphone's ability to respond in volume level to an electrical signal. The higher the sensitivity, the higher the sound level produced by the headphone.
Refers to any deviations from the original electrical
signal fed through the headphone.
Refers to the electrical load that is presented by the headphone to the amplifier driving the headphone. Impedance measures the number of headphones that could operate off an amplified source.
SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO (SNR)
Refers to the measurement of the amount of noise added by the electrical circuit reproducing the music signal.
SOUND PRESSURE LEVEL (SPL)
Refers to the measurement of volume being outputed by the headphone.
Stereo headphones come with an array of features that affect fit and performance. And ultimately your satisfaction.
Here are just a few:
Titanium -Titanium is an extermely light, yet stiff material.
Layered on the element, it improves high frequency.
Neodymium Iron Boron -Is the strongest magnetic material and delivers improved sensitivity.
Oxygen-free copper voice coil - Improves signal tranmission and conduction for
clear, clean sound reproduction.
Open cushion -Open ear cushions can be made from cloth or foam. They rest on the ear and provide an open, airy sound that allows you to stay in touch with your environment.
Closed cushion -Closed ear cushions can be made of leather, vinyl or plastic. They create a seal around the ear and isolate the listner and may improve bass.
Slow Memory -Slow memory ear cushions are made of a special material that after compressed, slowly re-expand. Used on an earbud, they deliver a customized
fit that reduces ambient sound and improves bass.
Pivoting earplate - A pivoting earplate allows for flexible movement at the ear and improves comfort.
Pressure -Headband pressure can increase isolation and improve the bass of a headphone.
Adjustable -Adjustable headbands allow you to maximize your wearing comfort.
Metal -Metal headbands can improve the durability of a headphone.
Plastic -Plastic headbands are more lightweight and may be more comfortable to wear during extended wearing periods.
Collapsible -Collapsible headbands provide improved portability and storage.
Padded -Padded headbands can improve comfort.
Sling -Usually in conjunction with a plastic headband, slings improve comfort.
Volume Control -A volume control allows for easy level adjustment. This is particularly beneficial when access to the sound is limited or restricted.
Mute button -A mute button will reduce the sound output by a pre-determined level. A "kill" button will reduce the sound completely. Both of these features are effective
when you want to re-connect with your environment, without removing your headphone.
Bass Boost -A bass boost will increase the bass output of an element. This may be preferably for sound recordings that emphasize the bass.