Headphones provide a great way to enjoy your music, radio, or TV without causing a nuisance to others in the vicinity. And if you go for wireless or Bluetooth headphones, you get the bonus of freedom for wires holding you hostage.
Whether its high tunes to juice up your workout, adrenaline-pumping gaming experience, private listening in the office or at home, or just a great-looking accessory to express your style and personality, you can be sure to find a wireless headphone that meets your needs. However, with the wide variety of options to choose from, be sure to understand the different types of headphones available out there to make the right choice. There are numerous benefits of wireless headphones, including lack of wires and increased flexibility since you’re not tethered to your MP3 player, TV, radio, or phone.
The first step when choosing the right wireless headphone is to determine where and how they’re going to be used.
Types of Wireless Headphones
Before we get to the benefits and what to look for, let’s take a minute to discuss the different types of wireless headphones.
- Earbuds (aka In-Ear Headphones) – Wireless earbuds come with small drivers that fit on the ridge of the outer ear. Unless you go for high performance models, these designs offer lower fidelity and isolation as compared to other headphone types but are highly affordable. These headphones come with the majority of portable music devices. When we say wireless for these, we are referring to the fact that there is no wire that connects to your device, because in most cases, there is a wire that connects the two earbuds together.
- In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) – In-ear monitors (IEMs) are headphones designed to fit snugly inside your ear canals on either side, with an attachment of some type that clips over your ear. The majority of models incorporate soft foam or rubber tips that come in custom sizes, and high-end models allow for precisely-molded designs to fit your ear canals. These gadgets are perfect for passive noise isolation and you can achieve sound qualities that rival larger headphones if you go for high-performance models.
- Over-Ear Headphones – These designs are also referred to as “full-size” or “around-ear” headphones and come with cushioned ear cups that cover your ears. There are generally regarded as the best headphones for sound quality and also perform well in isolating the external sounds (passive noise reduction).
- On-Ear Headphones – Similar to over-ear headphones in design, the on-ear headphone has a cushion that sits on the outer ear as opposed to covering the entire ear. They deliver good quality sounds but with a reduced bass response as compared to over-ear models. With this design, you can still hear outside sounds and anybody sitting nearby can hear the music. It’s, therefore, a common design for car headsets.
What To Look for When Choosing Wireless Headphones
Unlike the traditional headphones that you have to connect to your MP3 player, streaming video, phone, or any other audio device, wireless headphones are great for outdoor uses and sports since you don’t need the wires that add extra baggage and entanglement as you participate in an active sport. Wireless technology, particularly Bluetooth, connects the headphone to the music device without wires, providing free movements. Bluetooth is a popular technology format due to its high reliability and almost every new Smartphone, laptop, or audio player comes with built-in Bluetooth capability. So, syncing with your Bluetooth headphone is quick and easy. There are other wireless technologies like UHF and Infrared as well.
Here are some of the special features to consider in a wireless headphone:
- Sound Isolation and Noise Cancellation – Sound-isolating headphones utilize special material to build a barrier between your ears and the external sounds around you. Since in-ear wireless headphones fit snugly in your ear canals, they provide a perfect sound isolation. Noise-canceling headphones, on the other hand, incorporate one or two microphones to capture external ambient sounds which are then electronically phase-reversed and fed into the speaker output. This effectively cancels out the original sound from ever getting to your ears.
- Volume Limiting – The ability to manage the volume of headphone at safe limits is critical if you’re purchasing the headphone for your child. These headphones are designed to keep the volume limit to below 85dB. Not all models are designed for children, but adults who are concerned about protecting their hearing can as well consider them.
- Bone Conduction – Bone-conducting headphones are designed to sit on your cheekbones, just in front of the ears. These models work by bypassing the eardrum to deliver sound straight to your inner ear through bone vibrations. They’re useful if you need to hear your music clearly but don’t want to completely drown the outside noise. Some models offer underwater usage and you can listen to your favorite music while swimming.
- Biometric Design – Biometric headphones have capabilities to monitor your heart rate by collecting information straight from your ears as you listen to your music. Some advanced models feed you with audio cues to help with your workout. If you’re a fitness enthusiast, this is a perfect model to keep tabs on your heart rate without a need for extra devices.
- Surround Sound – Most surround sound headphones take advantage of electronic sound processing technologies to emulate the directional cues associated with surround sounds using just two speakers. However, high-end models for home theater and gaming use multiple drivers to accurately reproduce multichannel surround sound systems like Dolby Digital.
- Microphones and Controls – Much like office and car headsets designed for phone usage, gaming headsets are designed with a boom-mounted microphone to allow you to communicate with other players during multiple player games. There are also portable headphones and In-Ear Monitors designed for use with MP3 players and smartphones that include a tiny microphone with volume controls which allow you to talk on the phone, as well as listen to music. Wireless models incorporate these features on the earpiece and each model is optimized to work best with a particular operating system.
In the end, every headphone is designed for a particular lifestyle in mind, so you will need to choose both the features that are most important for you, as well as the type that will work best for your intended use.
For instance, a headphone designed for sports and fitness are lightweight and are generally in-ear designs to ensure that your headphone stays in place during an active exercise. Most designs are also water resistant, so you can comfortably sweat on them without worries of damage, but if you need one for underwater sports you need to ensure that you get ones that are completely waterproof, such as a pair of swimmer’s ear buds (which of course by design are wireless). Other designs are built for home entertainment, DJS/live music, work, travel, as well as fashion. Look at your application and choose a wireless headphone that suits your needs.
With this information in mind, it’s time to enjoy your favorite music, radio or TV programs on the go (or in the comfort of your home without having to carry your device around). Visit TopProducts.com, read our reviews and guides so you can pick a great wireless headphone that will bring your entertainment to a whole new level!
Judith Akoyi, TopProducts Staff Writer