Want to play music from your phone while at the gym? Need to watch movies via your tablet and want to drown out any background noise? Plan to record your podcast demo that will catapult you to international fame and need a set of headphones to hear guests? Figure out exactly what you need your headphones to do, the various environments they need to work in and then move on to point 2.
In-ear? Over ear? On ear? Those are all styles of headphones and you need to figure out which one suits you best. In ear is obviously your ear bud headphones. You’re probably wondering if there really is a big difference when it comes to on or over ‘phones: there is. On-ear pads rest on your outer ear while over-ear encircle your ear. The sound is different because over the ear headphones allow the sound to reflect off the folds of the outer ear, which gives you a more “stereo” sound. On ear is sending sound directly into your ear canal. There’s no one is better than the other approach here. It comes down to personal taste as well as what you plan to use the headphones for. For example, over-ear headphones can be uncomfortable in the gym while earbuds are far better suited. Figure out exactly what you want before you start browsing.
Used headphones are gross. However, the only way to appreciate the sound quality and determine if they’re worth the damage to your wallet is to give a pair of headphones a test run. This one’s difficult because most physical stores don’t have test units set up and if you don’t have a friend with a pair you can test out, you may be stuck purchasing off reviews. There’s one major problem with that – reviews are always open to bias.
You’ve also got to consider what the reviewer was listening to when they tried out headphones. Different ‘phones can be designed for different musical styles and if the reviewer tends to favour a style of music not suited to the ‘phones their comments will be vastly different to someone who’s music tastes are more in line with what the headphones were designed for. If you’re going to be forking out more than a grand insist the store lets you try them first. Choose one song and test your chosen sets with the same song at the highest volume you can handle. You’ll quickly hear murky sound quality or slight issues you may not like.
Top tip: Use Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody to test headphones. The track is ideal because it has instrumental and vocal highs and lows. You’ll get sick of the song but it will never lead you wrong.
Shop your new set of headphones here.
Article by Sam Wright | Tech Girl