In line with the predominant trend, most bidorbuy sellers refer to listening devices that fit into their ears as earphones and reserve the term headphones for devices designed to rest on top of the ears.
Now that terminology has been clarified, let’s focus on the advantages and the disadvantages of earphones and headphones in an attempt to determine which one is better.
Earphones became ubiquitous with the rise of mobile devices. Their surge to popularity can be linked to the debut of the iPod in 2001. That’s when it suddenly became fashionable and cool to walk around with wires hanging out of your ears.
Sound quality. High-end earphones can be almost as good as headphones… almost, because they still tend to perform poorly when it comes to bass tones.
Comfort. The two most popular types of earphones are the ones that are inserted into the ear canal and the ones that are fitted into the outer ear.
Although some high-end makes (often called in-ear headphones) can be pricey, earphones are as a rule cheaper than headphones. They are also lighter, less bulky and they do not interfere with your hairdo, your glasses or your earnings. However, some people complain that earphones hurt their ear canals, while others can’t wear them because they slip out of their ears.
Ambient noise. Some earphones can block outside noise, some are not so good at it. Both have pluses and minuses. If the blocking is poor, you will probably crank up the volume and damage your hearing. If it’s good and you’re wearing them outdoors, you won’t hear warning sounds (such as somebody shouting: Get out of the way!) and you may end up badly bruised or worse.
Oh, and if you find those wires more annoying than cool, take a look at wireless earphones. Some of them don’t even have the wire that connects the left earphone to the right earphone.
There two main types of headphones, on-ear and over-ear. The former just sit on your ears, while the latter encircle and snugly cover them.
Sound quality. The biggest advantage of headphones is that they deliver superior sound quality, especially when it comes to bass tones. The sound quality of both on-ear and (especially) over-ear headphones is potentially great. They are capable of full-range frequency response and hi-fidelity. Of course, in practice it all depends on the make and the model, so don’t expect too much from an inexpensive device.
Comfort. Many people find that on-ear headphones are more comfortable than their over-ear counterparts, because they don’t make their ears hot and sweaty. However, if you wear on-ear headphones for a long period of time, your ears will probably start to feel squashed.
Comfort is one of the most important considerations with over-ear headphones. They can be either extremely comfortable or extremely uncomfortable. Here are some features to look for: the headband should be thick and padded; the ear cups should fit snugly without making you sweat; and the device should feel flexible and reasonably light-weight.
All types of headphones are bulkier than earphones. They also mess up your hairdo and don’t go well with glasses or earrings.
Ambient noise. Over-ear headphones are excellent at blocking out and cancelling ambient noise. This is a clear advantage for some, while others prefer to have the open air feeling that on-ear headphones provide.
So, what to choose, earphones or headphones?
There’s only one answer to that question. Choose both.
You need earphones when you go to the gym or when you are commuting. But when you are watching a movie or listening to music at home, you will definitely want to reach for your headphones.