Buying a good pair of headphones is like buying a hat. It’s very personal and a hard item to buy for someone else. Everyone has different taste when it comes to how they hear their music. That’s why you see so many different opinions on what are great headphones. It’s all about personal preference.
There are tons of options when it comes to headphones including Bluetooth or non-Bluetooth, in-ear or over-the-ear, inline microphone or no inline microphone. So the task can be quite daunting. That’s why I have put together this guide that I will help you sort through all the details and give you benefits and drawbacks of all areas. Hopefully, you can be more confident in your search for the perfect headphones with this guide.
Bluetooth vs non-Bluetooth
Once Bluetooth became mainstream, everyone flocked to it. Who can blame them, it’s a great piece of technology. The major advantage is being free from your device, by eliminating the standard 3.5mm cable. Not all Bluetooth headphones are created equally. Connecting to Bluetooth headphones gives you the freedom to move around away from the controller device. Now that wearables are a thing, you can even connect to a smartwatch and listen to music without your phone. This is huge for fitness fanatics.
Non-Bluetooth headphones, on the other hand have to rely on the cord attached to it. We all know how annoying that can be having to detangle them. To that end, even cord technology is getting better with the development of tangle free material.
One area Non-Bluetooth beats Bluetooth is the battery. With non-Bluetooth headphones you don’t have to depend on it being charged up. So it’s probably good to have a spare pair anyway.
In-ear vs Over-the-ear
This is one area that just seems to go back and forth depending on the times. Back when walkmans were big, you had those over-the-ear crap phones that broke easily. As mp3 players and smartphones entered, they came with in-ear headphones and everyone seemed to love them. In recent years, over-the-ear design and technology has gotten much better in durability and became more fashionable.
The biggest problem with in-ear headphones that I have experienced personally is the fit. It’s rare that I find a set that fits tight and stay in my ears. I know I’m not the only one with this problem. Since they don’t always fit we find ourselves turning up the volume to hear the music better. By doing that you run the risk of hearing damage.
The biggest draw for in-ear headphones is portability. You can wrap them up and tuck them in your pocket. Some Bluetooth in-ear headphones even hang around your neck, which is nice. Their counterparts, the over-the-ear headphones, are more bulky and harder to carry around.
Despite that, they do have some advantages.
Over-the-ear headphones have a fuller sound since they go without compression from transferring data over wireless. This depends on the quality of the headphones. Since they don’t go into your ear, they are usually more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. In recent years, it has even become more socially acceptable to walk around with them on.
Other things to consider
While the two things I just talked about are some of the major concerns when making a purchase, there are other things you may want to think about, such as microphones. You can get inline microphones with any style you choose. Depending on what you are using them for, you may save a couple dollars by not getting them.
In most headphones I’ve owned, there always seems to be a downgrade in the clearness of the sound when there is an inline microphone attached. Not sure if it’s just me, but that has been my experience. It may be a must have type situation. If that’s the case, you could consider buying a cheaper headset just for talking and a pair for listening, if sound quality is a major concern for you.
Then there is the price. A lot of people run to Walmart or the Dollar Store and grab the cheapest pair. This rarely works as it usually breaks within a week. That doesn’t mean that you should buy expensive ones either, they aren’t always the best. I have bought a pair of $10 headphones from Amazon that had an amazing sound.
The majority of the time, you’re going to want to spend around $30-$50 on a decent pair of headphones. Which brings me to my next point, buy from a reputable dealer like Amazon, Best Buy, and Target. Never buy from a Flea Market. Flea Market vendors usually carry sub-par versions of name brand headphones and market them as the name brand.
As I said, buying headphones is a personal experience that you really need to do your research on. Narrow down your options to what you think will be the best fit for all your needs. After you have a few options, read multiple reviews on the products. Remember all reviews are biased to that person’s experience, so the more experience you get, the better informed and more comfortable you will be with your purchase.
And finally don’t be afraid to send back headphones you don’t like. All reputable retailers have a return policy. Make sure you know what that is and use it if you need to. Don’t get stuck with a product you don’t like.
Here are a few Reviews to get you started: