Which Type of Earphone is the Best for You? A Complete Buying Guide

which-type-of-earphone-is-the-best

If we consider all types of earphones together, they are the most sold consumer electronics item in the world. But it is also the highest replaced or returned item.

Since most of them do not have a return policy, you will be forced to go on with the unsatisfactory one or purchase a new earphone. Why does that happen?

People fail to purchase the best type for their requirement. Most probably, they take suggestions from the wrong guys and ended up losing money.

Earphone TypesAudioComfortNoise IsolationSound LeakagePortability
TWS Earbuds⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
In-ear⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
on-ear⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
over-ear⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Headset⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Here we help you find which type of earphone is the best for you whether you are a student, professional, or casual lister.

Which Type of Earphone is the Best for You

First, let’s analyse earphones with their specifications. If you ever visited any online shopping sites like Amazon or other offline shops, you might see a lot of specifications such as driver size, frequency response, impedance, etc.

First let’s see everything at a glance,

1.Driver Size
2.Frequency Response
3.Headphone Impedance
4.Based on Types
5.Connectivity
6.Water-Proof Rating

The real test starts from here itself.

1.Driver Size

driver-size

Driver size is the most critical factor that directly affects the performance of your earphones. Their size varies heavily between in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear types. 

Previously, there was a myth that “larger the size better the performance”. But that is not always true; the size and quality of drivers both matters in performance. 

Bigger drivers have an edge in producing better bass and loudness. If you are a bass lover, proceed with a larger driver. On the downside, they are not effective in reproducing higher frequencies.

In-ear earphones usually come with driver size from 6 to 14 mm. From our tests on nearly 50 earphones of various brands, we found drivers with 8 mm and above can offer you premium sound quality.

For wireless models, money rises considerably with driver size, especially above 10 mm. 

As you may know, on-ear headphones usually have driver size ranging from 20 to 30 mm. Even though sound quality and driver size is not related, they can produce better bass.

Over-ear is the king among all type of headphones. They are built with drivers of 40 to 60 mm. You will get the best experience with a bigger driver here. It is a bit costly but really worth it.

If your budget is not limiting, we always recommend you to go for bigger drivers.

2.Frequency Response

frequency-response

Frequency response is another factor deciding performance. As you may know, human ears can hear only sounds corresponding to 20 Hz and 20 kHz.

Headphones buyers are not at all worried about it, although they are also a critical factor in deciding performance. Even the brands limit describing it in a line or two.

It is actually the range of tones or notes a particular device can reproduce. Some times headphones with the above mentioned frequency response may fail to hear every tone of a song.

Cheap quality headphones focus only on the treble and base and completely neglect much-needed “midrange”. Regular users can go for a flat frequency response curve over the base, mid, and treble zones.

They can equally reproduce lows, mids, and highs in a better way.

For music professionals, before making the purchase have a look at the frequency response curve. If the base notes and mids are nearly flat and have some ups and downs in the treble region, they are better.

We recommend a wider frequency response for better sound reproduction and experience.

3.Headphone Impedance

Impedance is a measure of efficiency. “Higher the impedance, better will be the performance”.

If you are a normal headphone user and your only audio sources are smartphones and laptops not even think about buying a headphone with higher impedance. 

If you still want to purchase a high-impedance model, make sure you have a slot for an audio amplifier or a DAC amplifier. You need it to amplify the audio to reach it to the level of high impedance.

Headphones with higher impedance such as 250 or 600 ohms need more power to operate. Smartphones and laptops can’t supply such a huge power to operate them and end up in below-par audio and performance. They are exclusively for studio and mixing purposes.

They can offer more clarity and precision.

Note: it is critical to match your headphone’s impedance to the audio source.

4.Best Earphones for You based on Type

TWS Earbuds

tws-earbuds

True Wireless Stereo Earbuds or TWS Earbuds are the latest types of headphones. Even though it was first introduced by Apple (Airpod) later, other companies have also started produced it understanding its acceptance among the public.

They are highly recommended to professionals (not music professional) who use earphones for communication rather than listening to music or podcasts. It doesn’t mean that they are not good for music.

Since they are free from cables, they are highly convenient during jogging, cycling, and working out. Majority of them offer more than 24 hours of playback time with the help of casing. They are lightweight too.

If you are a continuously travelling person, they are convenient to carry and wear.

If you prefer the in-ear type and are ready to spend some extra money, we highly recommend you to go for TWS earbuds.

Note: Some of them are not good at noise isolation.

Neckband In-Ear Earphones.

They are the wireless version of standard in-ear earphones. 

neckband-earphones

They are recommended for those who don’t want to mess with tangling cable and wires. But they are a bit costly than conventional earphones.

If your primary aim is to wear during working out at the gym (especially in vests), we don’t recommend it. Because when you get sweat, the band/ wire through the back of your neck will disturb you.

Otherwise, while commuting, they are good. If possible, go for the one with the quick charging feature.

Note: Wire like neckband is better than band type.

Wired earphones

This is the most basic type of earphone.

wired-earphone

If your budget is highly limiting, we highly recommend this. You can find premium wired earphones even under 500. They are easy to keep in your pocket and lightweight compared to on-ear and over-ear types.

Here you need not worry about regular charging.

We don’t recommend this during outdoor activities like jogging, cycling, or at the gym. The messy wires may irritate you.

On-Ear Headphones

The size of them come in between in-ear and over-ear types.

From a survey conducted by us among nearly 500 people, only less than 2 % recommend this type.

They are the worst type, according to the public. They are not suitable for travelling or jogging or working out. 

Since their cup size is small, they are not good at noise cancellation. Even though they are quite big as over-ear, the audio quality is nowhere near to it.

So our verdict is if you have the money go for an over-ear type; otherwise, get satisfied with in-ear.

Over-ear Headphone

over-ear-headphone

They are the best type of headphones. They can offer you maximum comfort and audio quality. We highly recommend this indoors and outdoors. 

Whether you are a student or professional or anyone else, they can offer you the best experience.

If you continuously use public transport facilities like buses or trains, we highly recommend this because of its premium noise isolation.

On the downside, they are heavy and consumes a fair amount of space in your bag. But manufacturers started producing foldable design for easy shifting and convenience.

They are costly compared to others.

Headset

headset

Headsets are highly recommended for gaming. It should be your first preference if your job involves frequent and extended communication like call centre and customer care executive jobs.
You should avoid this if you want to carry it during your travelling. Because of their design (especially the separate mic portion), they are difficult to carry and keep in your rucksack.

Closed-back and Open-back Headphones

closed-back-and-open-back-headphones

Majority of headphones are closed-back type. Previously mentioned over-ear headphones come under this category.

Open-back types are exclusively for professionals. For those who want to enjoy natural and audiophile-quality audio in a peaceful environment, they are the best. 

It is highly recommended for those who work in studios and music professionals.

But don’t even dream about using it in a public place. Because even though music is on through them, you can hear everything happening around you and others sitting next to you also can hear what you are listening to.

Active Noise Cancelling and Passive Noise Cancelling Headphones

For casual headphone lovers, good passive noise-cancelling headphones are suitable. They are effective in external noise reduction and can use in public. It is available in the budget range.

If you are a health-conscious person and never want to disturb your ears even by a bit, Active Noise Cancelling headphones are best. They are the best in attenuating ambient noise. As you may imagine, they are high priced.

They are spectacular in eliminating continuous and constant noise like humming inside planes and city trains.

You can enjoy the music at a lower comfortable level even if the external noise is too loud. This is brilliant in the safe hearing view.

So we highly recommend ANC headphones if money is not a limiting factor.

But it is not a good selection for those who want to enjoy the natural sound.

Note: ANC headphones manipulate the audio slightly for some frequency ranges.

5.Connectivity

Wireless Earphones and Bluetooth Version

wireless-earphones

Headphones have been shifting from the conventional wired type to wireless types. Most of the wireless headphones are running on Bluetooth. 

The first thing you have to consider is the version and not the range offered. All the latest headphones are run on version 4 and 5, and both are good in delivering drop-free communication, quick pairing and better coverage.

Lower Bluetooth versions cause poor connection and consume more power. The connectivity will be highly affected by small disturbances like partitions between rooms and wind.

Another factor you must consider is the playback time. Try to choose models with a minimum of 15 hours of playback to ensure a full day usage (I know one day is 24 hours. But we have deducted time for sleeping and other basic needs) and a quick charging feature.

Note: Recommended headphones enabled with dual connectivity, wired and wireless.

6.Water Proof or Splash Proof

water-proof-earphones

Even though you are not planning to wear your headphones in water, good water resistivity is necessary. Sometimes, sweat penetrates your earphone internals and damages it if it does not have a proper splash resistance feature.

For normal uses, an IPX4 rating is enough. But you have to wear it in deep water; you may need IPX5 or 7 based on the requirement. You can check the water-resistance table to find the best splash resistance you need.

Final Comments

We hope this will help you to find which type of earphone is the best for your needs. You have to consider many factors while making the deal, and we have detailed each of them.

Our personal recommendations for regular users are over-ear headphones with passive noise cancellation and TWS earbuds.

If we miss any of them, let us know in the comment box. 

  1. What should I look for when buying headphones?

    Whether you are a regular user of headphone or not, buying a new headphone always needs some preparation. We have many types and which makes it more complicated.
    If you are “real” music lover and wants to hear unmanipulated audiophile sound, open-back over-ear headphones are the best.
    We have delivered a detailed description of every type above, read it and find your perfect match.

  2. Which brand headphone is best?

    Whatever products you, buy brand value is an important factor. Some brands have a unique audio performance. For example, Sennheiser and Sony are the best in the business but they are a bit costly compared to others.
    We have the best headphone brands in 2021 to purchase from. But, selecting a headphone is just the beginning. You have to consider a lot more factors which you will get from above.

  3. Which type of headphones are good for ears?

    This is the most important factor you have to consider while selecting an earphone. Since they are too close to your ears, make sure they are safe.
    Effective noise cancelling headphones (Active or passive) are the best in that aspect. They let you enjoy the songs or podcasts or whatever, it is at lower-safer volume even though the external noise are high.

Sanil VS is a Chemical Engineer by Profession and he loves to write and review gadgets on his free times.

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