Headphones Vs. Earphones Explained

If you’re in the market for new headphones, knowing which option to go with can be hard. After all, the possibilities are vast, and each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. So, which one should you get? The answer will likely depend on your preferences and your lifestyle, but here are some points to consider if you’re trying to figure out the best option for you.

Comfort/Fit

When it comes to comfort, earbuds and earphones win hands down. Headphones can be bulky and uncomfortable over long periods, especially for anyone with a giant head. This is common with most headphones that aren’t explicitly designed for kids or tiny heads. In addition, headphones often have too much padding on either side of your ears, hindering their fit. If you’re going to wear your headphones for an extended period of time, it’s best to choose earbuds or earphones. Even better—choose one that folds up nicely so you can easily store them in your bag when not in use.

Portability

One of the biggest advantages earphones/earbuds have over headphones is portability. Because they aren’t attached to anything, they can easily be thrown in a bag or pocket. Headphones, on the other hand, are bulky and take up space. If you’re working out at home or traveling around town, you might want to choose earphones because they won’t occupy much space in your bag. However, if you plan to listen to music while working or do something else with your hands (driving), you’ll probably want to go with headphones so that your movement isn’t restricted.

Noise Isolation

Most of today’s earphone options come with a feature called noise isolation. Noise isolation is a technology that makes it possible to hear your music at lower volumes because you aren’t subjected to outside noise. While that might sound like a good thing, too much exposure to loud music can also cause hearing loss. Ideally, stick with earphones that provide maximum volume control and limit exposure time to lower levels for long periods of time. The best option is probably headphones—and if you go for earbuds, look for ones with large tips or flexible silicone. Those will do a better job at blocking out external sounds.

Sound Quality

When it comes to sound quality, there is no doubt that headphones generally win out over earphones. That’s because their size and shape offer more room for ample sound chambers, which means that you can expect deeper bass tones and crisper treble sounds. However, if you are looking for convenience or portability—or both—then earbuds are probably better. They’re easier to carry around (not getting tangled up in your bag), they’re smaller (so if you wear glasses like me, they won’t get in your way), and there’s also less risk of them falling out while running or working out.

Frequency Response

The human ear is capable of hearing frequencies between 20 hertz and 20,000 hertz. There are different frequency ranges; some within those ranges are more important than others to produce a sound that’s true to life and full-bodied. The frequency response of a pair of headphones tells you how much range it captures (and how much depth). For example, a team with a frequency response that runs from 12 hertz to 35,000 hertz will be able to reproduce all frequencies within that range without being too boomy or tinny. A big challenge for headphone manufacturers is packing their products with high-quality drivers into small enclosures, limiting how broad they can make their frequency responses.

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