How Headphones Work? 4 Facts Everybody Should Know

how headphones work

Headphones and earphones are the most sold electronic items in the world. Have you ever wondered about how headphones work, Especially about the strength and quality of the sound produced by the small device? Sound is vibrations; if you could vibrate anything in a particular manner; it produces music!

Understanding the working of headphones helps you in several ways, such as avoiding mistakes while selecting headphones, selecting the best headphones for your ears, and also to understand the health threats.

Headphones are nothing but speakers designed to connect to our ears, and the difference is only in size. The working principle behind both wire headphone and wireless headphone are the same except for connectivity. In a headphone, electrical energy to sound energy conversion is taking place with the help of coils and a magnet.

1.How Headphones work?

How do headphones work Physics? Before penetrating into the science behind working first, let us discuss the essential parts of a headphone. 

Parts and Function of Earphone or Headphone

  • Driver Assembly
  • Diaphragm
  • Voice Coil and Magnet

Even though there are some other components, we have included only the important parts. Now let us see, how does earpiece work?

Driver Assembly

If you ever checked a headphone or speaker, you may have seen that 40 mm or 50 mm Driver Size. It is actually the driver assembly size, which acts as a housing for components like diaphragm, magnet, and coil.

As the size of the driver increases, the quality and bass of the audio also increase. The main challenge among the audio engineers is to produce fantastic quality sound through small drivers. Because in in-ear type earphones they can not use a bigger driver, they would be forced to limit driver size between 06 mm to 11 mm. 

The driver casing has an inbuilt filter material made with fabric or plastic to prevent the ear wax and dust from entering the headphone’s internal components. 

Voice Coil and Magnet

Voice coil and Magnet can be regarded as the heart and brain of headphones. The parts which produce vibrations that later converted into audio. Voice coil, technically concentrated voice coil is made of thin threaded copper wires. Headphone jack receives the current that carries audio signal from the mobile phone enters into voice coil through the cable. Then the voice coil produces an electromagnetic field just as we have studied in the high school classes. The peculiarity of this magnetic field is that it get polarised only when electricity passes through it.

Then the voice coil starts vibrating, precisely saying starts moving up and down depending on the audio signal. But the coil is placed inside the magnet, just inside the circumference. 

The diaphragm is placed above it.

Diaphragm

The quality of the diaphragm decides the performance of the headphone. This is the part of the headphone which produces sound. All other components are supposed to support the diaphragm. 

As we said in the earlier section, the diaphragm is placed above the magnet-coil assembly. The up and down movement of the coil generates vibrations in the diaphragm. This vibration would be exactly according to the sound signal. And we hear it as music or audio.  

2.How do Headphone Jack Works?

Have you ever observed the rings in the wire headphone jack? Then you can see the number of rings change from one to three depending on the function which is supposed to perform. 

Single Ring

Audio jacks with only one ring are called the mono microphone, are used for recording mono sound. But if we try to play audio recorded through a mono ring, the sound will be audible only at one earbud. Such devices are recommended for music recording.

Two Rings

Two ring headphones produce stereo sound; it means sound from such headphones is audible both earpieces. The tip portion of the jack is responsible for producing sound in the left earpiece, and the portion between both the rings produces sound in the right ear. The last portion is dedicated to earthing.

Three Rings

Three-ring headphones ensure mic function in addition to stereo sound. The metallic portion at the tip provides sound for the left earbud, next portion reserved for sound in right earbud, and immediate to that you can find earthing region; then the last part is responsible for microphone function.

3.What is the right way to wear headphones?

Suppose you are wearing the best headphone and you failed to wear properly, then the audio experience would be inferior. 

First of all, you have to select headphones with perfect size and comfort to your ears. If you have an earphone, select the correct size of the earbuds. Now, most of the earphone pack contain earbuds of different sizes. But this consideration is not available with headphones, so you have to give extra caution while selecting them.

Then you have to wear the earpiece marked as “R” in the right ear and “L” in the left ear. Also, make sure that the headphone band is exactly at the centre of the head. 

When you start playing you must feel that the music is coming through the centre of the head. If you feel otherwise repeat the procedure. If the headphone fails to deliver a “centre” feel, most probably the headphone is not suitable to wear. Replace it with a new one without hesitation. Otherwise, it may harm your ears.

4.Why are my headphones not working when I plug them in?

There are a number of situations when headphones do not work even though they are plugged in. Most times, we can sort it ourselves. 

  • For wired headphones and earphones, Make sure that you inserted the jack on the right port. Usually, the port is represented by a small symbol of headphone. 
  • For wireless headphones and earphones, confirm it has enough charge. Turn on Bluetooth on both the mobile phone and headphone then pair them, just like you pair mobile phones using Bluetooth for sending files. If this is not working turn off and then on Bluetooth and repeat the procedure.
  • Clean the port using soft cotton. Remember, never use pointed tools like a needle for cleaning port. You can also use a cotton swab for cleaning the jack. Cotton dipped in spirit can improve the result but never use water. 

These are some simple methods to tackle headphones not working issues. I recommend the same procedure for the issue, what do I do if my headphones don’t work. If you could not make it, consult a technician, it is a “serious injury”.

Advantages of Headphones

  • Privacy
  • Rather than just hearing you can feel the music
  • You can listen to your favourite music even in a noisy street with the help of a good headphone with noise cancellation feature

Disadvantages of headphones

  • Using headphones with very high volume causes health issues.

I believe this article help you understand how headphones work. Even though the parts and working of headphones are simple at a glance, precise engineering is required to manufacture a perfect headphone. 

  1. How to start headphones or how to use the earphone?

    For wired headphones, just insert the jack into the port. It is as simple as that. Most of the headphone ports are of 3.5 mm. Nowadays, you also find a USB type port. Whatever it is, plugin.
    For wireless or Bluetooth headphones, a long press of power button marked with symbol activates your device and Bluetooth simultaneously. Turn on Bluetooth on your mobile. Then pair both the devices. That's all.

  2. Which brand is best for earphones?

    From my experience, I believe nothing can compete with Sennheiser in terms of sound quality and performance. The 02 years warranty is another advantage.
    The best brands in the world like Sennheiser provide not only high-quality sound but also ensures safety and comfort.

  3. Is it OK to wear headphones all day?

    Two important factors you have to consider while wearing headphones are duration and volume level.  High volume for long hours can make you deaf.
    Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is preventable by following a simple rule called the 60/60 rule proposed by audio experts. According to them, you are safe to use headphones at 60% of the maximum volume for 60 minutes, that is one hour, and then you have to relax ear. 
    You have to remove your headphones immediately if you feel any pain or humming in the ears.

  4. What do headphones do?

    Headphones are devices that convert electrical energy from mobile phones or laptops into sound energy. 
    The current received by the copper coil which is placed in a permanent magnet moves up and down. This causes vibration in the diaphragm, and these vibrations will be delivered as sound.

Sanil VS

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

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