Headphones are arguably the most popular and numerous audio playback device today. Few people do not use at least one pair of headphones, if not with their music player, at least with their smartphone. Modern headphones are available in a wide variety of products that can be divided into several categories: by construction, by acoustic design, by type of transducer, by additional features, by usage, etc. We do not intend to cover all these details and types of headphones in a single introduction, but in this 7700-words article will try to describe the types of headphones, common terms and features commonly associated with headphones.
1. Types of Headphones
Based on the design, the headphones are divided into various types. For example, earphones, earmuffs, earbuds headphones, monitor headphones, over-ear headphones, on-ear headphones, neckband headphones, TWS headphones and many other types. Earphones and True Wireless headphones are headphones that come under one category, named in-ear headphones. These headphones are used directly in the ears. This class of headphones’ main features is compactness, low price, discreetness, and ease of use. But these headphones also have low sound quality in comparison with other headphones.
1.1 One-way headset
The one-way headset is equipped with only one audio driver to transmit sound to one ear. This kind of device will enable you to receive information from the headphones and the environment simultaneously. Commonly, employees of different customer support centers and emergency services officials are the primary user of one-way headsets.
Earbuds are the most common type of headphones because numerous portable players are equipped with these headphones. This type of headphones involves no soundproofing, and they reproduce the low frequencies in an exceedingly unappealing quality because the membrane is tiny. Additionally, all earphones are not equally suitable for everyone because different people have different physiologies. This type of headphone can quickly come out of the ear when on exposure to the wire. But the earbuds have one unquestionable benefit – a low price that makes them affordable for almost all community classes, even for the people with less income.
These headphones are smaller than the earbuds in terms of diameter and are commonly used for compact, portable players or smartphones. They have ear cushions made of pure soft silicone material which you can quickly and firmly attach the in-ear headphones for an adequate level of sound insulation. It is also beneficial in listening to music comfortably in noisy places and save others from listening to music through your headphones.
1.4 In-ear headphones
The in-ear headphones have a slightly better sound quality than earphones because of their acoustic and soundproofing characteristics. However, the diaphragm is still tiny, which is a hurdle in reproducing extreme frequencies like bass and treble in the right quality. In such type of sound reproducing system, in-ear headphones are dynamic and reinforced. The fittings will enable you to get a sufficiently high sound quality whereas the silicone ear tips offer good noise insulation. Professional in-ear headphones with multiple Balanced Armature drivers may be more adequate for the enjoyment of sophisticated audio tracks; the addition of foam ear tips is also more common among premium in-ear headphones which variably improve the sound insulation and sound response. Nevertheless, for the best listening experience, you will generally require a pair of regular over-ear audiophile headphones or studio monitor headphones to enjoy the outstanding sound quality.
1.5 Over-ear headphones
These headphones are also known as around-ear headphones. They are equipped with a hoop for their attachment. This hoop enables them to press tightly against the ears. However, some models have a direct attachment with the ears and do not disturb the most graceful hairstyle, and have no interference with hats. You will get a higher sound reproduction due to the large diaphragm size of the earpieces and in-ear headphones. Commonly, in-ear headphones are robust and have a light construction. For this reason, they are used with portable players.
1.6 Monitor Headphones
Monitor Headphones are the most revolutionized and most advanced type of headphones. A quietly large headband is present in most of the monitor headphones. The ear cushions are available in the form of a cup and encompass your ears entirely. This feature considerably improves sound insulation in comparison to any other type of headphones.
Simultaneously, the monitor headphones are equipped with a large membrane diameter, which offers high-quality sound reproduction for the overall frequency range. Monitor Headphones are not suitable for mobile use because of their size and weight. Monitor headphones are suitable for home listening to music and professional for studio and concert work.
It is imperative to keep in mind that the term “monitor headphones” can be used for another type of headphones widely used in radio and recording studios for sound monitoring.
2. Mounting Type
The headphones’ design is a significant feature that determines the headphones’ attachment with the listener’s head. Commonly, it is the head mount or headband, ear mount, or different varieties with a headband.
The headband is the most familiar type of mount. The vertical arch acts as a bridge between both ear cups, which provides a proper weight distribution throughout the head. However, if you are wearing a hat, the headband can be a considerable hurdle or an uncomfortable solution. The design of the ear hook is on the headband principle at first but sits around the ear. The device’s weight shifts to the ears, but this time you can wear almost any kind of hats without any difficulty.
Earbuds headphones are not equipped with mounting systems, apart from the ear tips that sit inside the ears. Earbuds headphones and in-ear headphones provide complete freedom to wear hats or hoodies.
Headphones equipped with a microphone, also known as headsets, enable you to play sound and perform transmission of the sound in electrical signals to your phone or computer. Headphones with mics can be used for music listening, voice recording, talking on the phone, and internet communication. It is essential to keep in mind that there are only a few models of headphones with a microphone that provide good quality sound. For this reason, if you need headphones for music listening only, you should choose a headphone without a microphone – they will provide you with immersive and rich sound.
3.1 Number of Microphones
A headset of good quality, having a built-in microphones, will commonly have at least 2 microphones. You can get a better voice transmission with a large number of microphones and an even better noise-canceling experience.
3.2 Microphone Type
Condenser microphones and dynamic microphones are the two main types of headset microphones.
- The Dynamic microphone involves the sound catching by a membrane connected with a wire positioned in a magnetic field. It is one of the most usual configuration types, having many benefits like simplicity, inexpensiveness, and reliability.
- The Condenser microphone involves the vibration production in the condenser by the sound, which influences one of its plates. The sound waves trapped by the microphone produce sound vibrations in the condenser microphone. When these condenser microphones are used in headsets, they are known as electret microphones. They have a much thicker membrane in comparison with the capacitor microphone. For this reason, you will get frequency response and sensitivity of slightly low quality.
3.3 Noise Cancelling Microphone
An active noise-canceling system is integrated into the headphones to reduce the external noise level during music listening. The external noise is suppressed with the help of a built-in microphone. This built-in microphone’s main function is to convert all the environment’s captured sounds into an electrical signal and mix this electrical signal into the main signal but in anti-phase.
The external noise is reduced thanks to the external waves’ damping by sound waves produced by the Active noise cancellation system. You can hear the major audio signal as the result of this mechanism. The noise-canceling system’s main requirement to function is the power source in the form of a battery or batteries. The weight of the battery or batteries can influence the size and weight of headphones. Meanwhile, the power sources (battery or batteries) need charging or renewal to work properly. These headphones are the best product for those users who spend much of their time in a noisy environment.
3.4 Microphone mounting
Built-in, mobile, fixed, and on the wire are four different mounting microphones in the headset.
Compactness and discreetness are the two main features of a built-in microphone.
- A built-in microphone can capture a major part of the external noise so that you can get unnatural sounds in your speakers’ voice.
- In the case of an inline microphone, the headsets include installing a microphone on the wire. Sometimes, the inline microphone is plugged or inserted into the headsets. The most significant features of this type of microphone are simplicity, compactness, and inexpensiveness.
- The fixed microphones are integrated directly into the ear cup. You cannot change its position during use.
- The mobile microphones are equipped with a movable mount by using which you can adjust its position to increase the quality of voice. The microphone’s mounting is flexible or swivels with this type of design.
3.5 Minimum microphone frequency
The minimum microphone frequency can be defined as the lowest frequency that a microphone can record.
3.6 Maximum microphone frequency
Maximum microphone frequency is the maximum recordable frequency of a microphone.
3.7 Microphone Impedance
The electrical resistance of the headset microphone to alternating current is defined as microphone impedance. The microphone signal passes without losing quality through a longer cable in the presence of a low impedance. This characteristic is not very significant in professional recording from a practical perspective because professional recording involves a hundred meters more signal transmission than microphone requirement.
3.7 Microphone Sensitivity
The microphone’s sensitivity can be described as the microphone’s electrical signal level at the given level of sound. If a microphone has a high sensitivity, you can use it at more distance from the sound source without any quality reduction during recording. Decibel is the measuring unit of Sensitivity, and it is always shown as a negative value. The sensitivity value starts moving towards 0 dB with every increment in the sensitivity of the microphone. The manufacturers choose the optimal sensitivity to ensure the human recording’s high quality in headsets with built-in microphones.
3.8 Microphone Features
- Turn off button – The temporary switching-off option is available in some microphones, mostly found in gaming headsets.
- Microphone directionality – Another important parameter of the microphone is its ability to perceive sound depending on its direction. Based on this property, microphones are divided into two categories, directional and non-directional. Directional microphones find their best use in headsets. Their work depends on the user’s choice and is very much less sensitive to the sounds present in their surroundings. Versatility is one of the most significant features of non-directional microphones. You can bring changes in their placement relative to the speaker’s voice without disturbing the sound quality.
- Removable microphone – Removeable microphones can be easily disconnected from the headset when they are not needed. You can use a removable microphone as a normal microphone also.
4. Type of Connection
It is very important to keep in mind that if you choose a wireless type of headphone, you repeatedly recharge built-in batteries. It might have increased weight also. Also, the range of signals of these headphones will differ depending on the type of wireless interface. Usually, the quality of transmitted sound is also depending on the wireless interface.
4.1 Bluetooth headphones
Bluetooth headphones offer good signal transmission quality in a large radius of its reception; hence you will get optimal sound transmission without losing sound details. Any kind of proprietary base and adapter does not need this type of connection in headphones. This type of headphones is compatible with almost all types of portable devices. But, this type of connection can increase your buying cost of the device also. Headphones having an infrared channel will offer low cost, but they can work only in direct line of sight and do not provide flawless audio transmission.
Batteries for wireless headphones are divided into two categories: standard batteries (Like AA and AAA), and headphones that have their own built-in Li-Ion cell batteries.
The first category provides more convenience because you can replace the batteries in emergency battery failure situations. Additionally, it is very important to keep in mind that you should always have a spare pair of batteries for this type of headphones because these they die easily.
You can get a long working of your headset without any interruption if your wireless headphone battery capacity is high (2500-5000 mAh)
A wireless headphone’s battery life represents the number of operable hours without changing batteries or recharging. The battery life of headphones is more significant if there is no overcharging option or you want to listen to music for a long time.
The Charging time feature has a very strong relationship with wireless headphones equipped (with or without an active noise cancellation system). It is the time taken by the battery to charge completely.
Almost all wireless audio devices come with removable batteries. Some models even offer the option of replacing batteries by using which you can use a new battery as an alternative to a worn-out battery to enhance the life of the headset.
4.2 Data transmission
Data transmission channel ascertains the process of information transmission in wireless headphones. Commonly, wireless headphones are divided into: radio signal transmission and transmission via infrared channels.
Infrared headphones operate just about in the same way as a remote control: the range of action is from 6 to 8 m; the signal transmission is in the line of sight.
The radio headphones permit data transmission via a radio signal, the transmitter for which is located in the main unit, connected to the electrical network (AC/DC adapter) and the playing device’s output. The headphone’s range is broader and about 100 meters, but if you move away from the playing device, there are likely chances of transmission breakdown and interference.
Bluetooth headphones stand out as a special subclass among the RF headphones. This type of device is manufactured for personal music listening and connecting to computers, laptops, PDAs, and MP3 players with no adapters.
Digital signal transmission
Data signal transmission is the entitlement of wireless headphones. However, even wireless devices do not include the digital transmission method and prefer the analog. Digital Signal Transmission comes up with better audio transmission precision, lower interference levels, and removes sound “gaps” when moving around. Yet, headphones with the likelihood of digital transmission are more costly than analog ones.
4.3 Bluetooth Version
The vast majority of Bluetooth headphones and headsets support the following Bluetooth versions: 2.0, 2.1, 3.0, 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, 5.
- Version 2.0 permits the transformation of the data at the rate of up to 3 Mbps, low power utilization, and increased life. The version is featured with a QoS system – a particular mechanism that guarantees the device’s interaction with very few delays.
- Bluetooth 2.1 version offers nearly ten times lower power utilization in contrast to previous versions. This version works with all devices and despite a fresher version, commonly used in mice, keyboards and headsets, etc.
- Bluetooth 3.0 – features high-speed (HS) data transmission, which offers speeds up to 24Mbit/s. The characteristic of the version is the inclusion of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page technology). In this condition, version 3.0 has high power utilization in comparison with previous versions.
- Bluetooth 4.0 – Successfully removed HS’s major limitation – larger power utilization and incorporates Bluetooth protocol with least power utilization. Transmission distance has been extended to 100m. Thanks to this, the main application is found in miniature electronic sensors. It offers a data transfer at the rate of 1 Mbit/s at a packet size of 8-27 bytes.
- Bluetooth 4.1 – Several enhancements have been made in this version to improve the combined functioning of Bluetooth and mobile communication of the LTE’s fourth generation. It offers better coordination of packet transmission, interference protection.
- Bluetooth 4.2 – The user’s transmitted data size has enlarged up to 10 times, and the speed has boosted up to 2.5 times. Additionally, the version offers high data privacy in comparison with previous versions.
- Bluetooth 5 is equipped with a 4X high data transfer speed in comparison with version 4.2. It offers a large range in addition to decreased power utilization.
5. Headphone types based on drivers
On the basis of driver’s design, headphones have different categories including, balanced armature, dynamic drivers, bone conduction drivers, planar magnetic drivers, and electrostatic.
The major and familiar types of headphones are equipped with dynamic drivers. Such type of headphones is featured with the electrodynamic principle of transformation. Dynamic headphones are typical diaphragms that have an attachment for a coil with a wire. This coil is constantly under the impact magnetic field. When alternating current conducts through it, the coil’s magnetic field starts interacting with the magnet’s permanent magnetic field. As a result of this interaction, the diaphragm starts moving in the shape of the electrical signal. Despite all the limitations imposed on this sound reproduction method’s uniqueness, dynamic headphones have quite good quality.
5.1 Balanced Armature Headphones
According to designing, Balanced Armature (BA) headphones or headphones equipped with balanced armature drivers are based on a U-shaped plate. This U-shaped plate is actually a cast from ferromagnetic alloy and indeed is the same reinforcement.
BA headphones enable you to reduce the extent of distortion in sound reproduction while maintaining high sensitivity. For this reason, they find their use in stage performances and studio recording.
5.2 High-end balanced-armature headphones
These headphones are commonly known as in-ear monitors. Most users are not familiar with this type of headphones because of their critically high price and for the disadvantage that you these headphones are unusable for ears of all shapes. Aside from that, most high-end balanced armature headphones perform impeccably and reproduce music vividly thanks to multiple unique drivers responsible for the reproduction of different frequency bands.
5.3 Electrostatic Headphones
Electrostatic Headphones work on a thin membrane principle between two electrodes, while a constant voltage is applied across these electrodes. On the other hand, the audio system provides the signals to these electrodes in an amplified form. The membrane’s shape repetition with the signal being transmitted results from the membrane oscillations from one electrode to another. Electrostatic headphones offer Hi-End and Hi-Fi sound of high-quality. A high-voltage amplifier is necessarily required in parallel with these headphones for their normal working. For this reason, this type of model has an extremely high price.
6. Headphones Types based on Enclosure
The type of acoustic design is another important factor that separates different types of headphones. Different types of headphones are separated into open, semi-open, and closed type headphones in this type of categorization.
6.1 Open-back headphones
The open-back headphones offer a slight mixing of external sounds with music. This type of mixing makes the sound more immersive, natural, and transparent. Apart from this, open-type headphones will surely enable you to listen to the surrounding world’s sound even at low volumes. However, there is a limitation of this kind of headphones – open-back headphones can cause interference with people in your surrounding at high volumes. It is because of the low level of sound insulation. Visually, the open model can be easily identified by the perforations or grilles outside the speaker. These headphones are suitable for music lovers who like melodious or classical tunes and prefer high and mid frequencies.
6.2 Closed-back headphones
The closed model is a noise-isolating headphone. Total isolation is a characteristic of studio monitoring headphones. If you look at this model, you will notice that the ear cups are sealed, and no holes or perforations that allow sound to leak or get in. With these headphones, the bass and clear, easy-to-listen sound make them more suitable for “heavy” music lovers.
Closed-back or sealed headphones are designed to cover your ears or sit onto them (as is the case with on-ear headphones). For those who want clear sound and reliable sound protection, closed headphones will suffice. Their special design will protect them from outside noise.
The advantage of closed headphones is that the outside sound is not disturbed. They are designed so that the sound goes directly into your ears, making it easier to hear music and speech in noisy places, for example, on public transportation or while traveling. The closed model is often used in recording studios (studio monitor headphones), and on the road, but also at home.
This model’s limitations are the lack of ventilation. The earpads stick to the ears, and your skin might be prone to sweat.
6.3 Semi-open headphones
This type of headphones enables you to get a more open and transparent sound, keep you in contact with the environment. In addition, their sound insulation level is higher than that of open headphones, although it cannot challenge closed-back headphones. Semi-open headphones share some characteristics from fully enclosed and open-back headphones. They allow you to listen to a song while its noise-isolation properties muffle the surrounding a tad. You can hear the ambient noise, but it’s not as noticeable as with open-back headphones.
6.4 In-ear headphones
These headphones are acoustically enclosed and offer quite a high level of sound insulation. For this reason, the in-ear type of headphones is a very portable audio device that keeps up with even the noisiest environments. At the same time, there is a certain disadvantage. Because of this highly increased need for sound insulation, closed-type headphones create the maximum value of pressure. After all, a tight fit provides good sound insulation, but is also the cause of high pressure.
In-ear headphones can also be categorized as follows:
- Neckband headphones
- True Wireless Headphones
- Over-the-ear headphones
7.1 Maximum power – 1 to 15,000 mW
The maximum headphone input power is measured in W, and this power provides the determination of both loudness and mechanical reliability of the headphones. The maximum headphone power value is specifically defined by the developer. In the specifications, this value means the maximum amount of power of the signal at which the system works perfectly without breakdown. You could face a problem if the headphones’ power value is different from the device you are using. The maximum power of the headphones could approach 3.500 mW.
7.2 Minimum reproducible frequency – 2 to 500 Hz
Min. reproducible frequency is the minimum frequency that a headphone system can play. The Min. reproducible frequency might not increase from the limit of frequency range available for humans. Although technique and technology allow for maximum use of this characteristic – from 25 to 110,000 Hz, there is no practical sense in expanding the range. The human ear is capable of perceiving frequencies range from 20 to 20,000 Hz. So, if the headphones work in a wider range of frequencies, they are more capable of wider frequency reproductions.
However, it is important to note that different manufacturers use different conditions for maximum reproducible frequency measurements. For this reason, sometimes the real maximum reproducible frequency does not match according to the manufacturer’s performance, for example, in the case of home.
7.3 Maximum Reproducible Frequency – 120000 Hz
Here is self-explanatory, maximum reproducible frequency is the maximum frequency that the headphones can reproduce. The maximum reproducible frequency can exceed the limit of the human hearing frequency range and although we don’t hear all the frequencies the headphones can play, the overall composition is more refined.
The human ear is capable of perceiving the frequency in the range of 20 to 20,000 Hz. However, the greater is the working range of the headphones, the greater the reproduction capability will be. it is also worthy to note that many manufacturers obtain the maximum reproducible frequency through different measurements and in different conditions. For this reason, the real maximum reproducible frequency might not fully match the manufacturer’s performance.
7.4 Impedance – 4 to 2200 ohms
The impedance (which is also described as the resistance in an electrical circuit) is the resistance over the AC (Alternating Current) voltage. The impedance enables you to bring changes in headphone’s resistance while playing music or other sounds. Ohm is the measuring unit of the Impedance.
The Manufacturer specifies this value on the headphone manual, so you can compare the impedance of your playback equipment with the impedance of your headphones. In ideal cases, these values should be the same or match. The mismatching of these values could lead to a reduction in sound quality and distortion in the sound. For example, if the impedance of your headphones is higher than that of your playback device, the sound reproduced, in this case, will have a considerably lower maximum volume due to the distortion and noise in the sound.
If you want to use headphones with portable player devices, you should choose headphones with minimal impedance. If you want to deal with sound cards and without using any amplifiers, you should choose such headphone models with an impedance in the range of 120-150 ohms. Ideally, you should use a special amplifier with headphone models having an impedance of 150 ohms. However, while using an amplifier, it is very important to keep in mind that many amplifiers like tube amplifiers work only with those headphones with an impedance of at least 100 ohms. High-end headphones usually have an impedance of 300 ohms, which plays a vital role in minimizing distortion and noise. Still, in this condition, a high-level signal is required from the amplifier.
Sensitivity is a measurement of the potential signal volume at a given incoming signal strength. Sensitivity is commonly measured by the reproduced sound’s force based on a signal with 1 mW power.
Decibels are the measuring units of sensitivity and sound pressure of the headphones. It should be noted in the designations that the zero designation in dB indicates the human ear’s initial level of sensitivity. Simultaneously, the boundary is a signal of 140 dB – this is a pain threshold.
The headphones for portable devices – earphones or earbuds – must have a sensitivity of at least 90 dB. Else, the volume level may be insufficient.
- dB/V (decibel volts, amplitude ratio) – absolute voltage in decibels relative to 1 V, independent of impedance.
- dB/mW (decibel mill watt, power ratio) – absolute power in decibels relative to the reference power level of 1 mW.
7.6 Harmonic Factor – 0.01% and 15%
The harmonic factor of an amplifier is an estimation or measurement of nonlinear distortion.
Method of signal amplification and electrical signal to sound conversions is the main difference between electronic devices and analog devices. This method differentiation can lead to numerous distortion types, such as reduced “transparency” of the sound, the appearance of hiss, wheezing, or distortion of the sound’s timbre.
The ratio of the additional signal-distortion (or harmonics) to the primary signal’s output. In simple words, the harmonic factor can be described as the number of noises appearing during a sound signal transformation. The ratio of a sound signal to the harmonic factor is described as a percentage. You will get higher sound quality and a lower number of extraneous sounds if the percentage ratio is less than 0.1-0.5%.
7.7 Isolation from external noise
The headphones offer isolation against external sounds. External noises (like sounds from switched on TV, speech, radio, or traffic, etc.) can produce interruption and interference in the hearing process while using headphones. High-Quality headphones enable you to avoid such noises. Closed-type headphones are the best example of this type of headphones. However, not all types of models can offer such high-quality insulation against external noise.
Manufacturers mention the data in the level of noise insulation in the specifications of headphones. This data is shown in decibels units. The value of noise insulation is purely dependent on the type of headphones models. Commonly this value ranges from 3 to 37 dB. The 20 dB value of noise insulation or above is the indication of good soundproofing.
7.8 The diameter of the membrane – 3.8 to 111 mm
The diaphragm diameter is one of the major factors that directly affect the headphone’s sound quality. The Diaphragm diameter is directly proportional to sound quality (means larger diaphragm produces high-quality, high-quality sound). The larger diaphragm can reproduce high and medium frequencies. For example, the headphone has a 9-12mm diameter diaphragm, can reproduce low-frequency sounds. 30mm is the optimal starting point of the size of the headphone diaphragm for a quality sound. Monitor headphones are the best representation of such types of headphones.
7.9 Number of drivers in standard headphones
The number of drivers has a direct impact on sound quality. Multiple drivers (1-12 drivers), depending on the models, can considerably increase the sound quality. With multiple headphones, the distortion level can be decreased because each driver is designed to transmit a specific frequency. The number of drivers in a headphone is often equal to three. These three drivers are responsible for the transmission of low, medium, and high frequencies. By using more drivers, you can create surround sound with more impressiveness.
7.10 Number of drivers in balanced armature headphones
he number of installed drivers in the armature headphones directly impacts the potential sensitivity and sound quality. If you increase the number of installed drivers, you will get clearer and louder without any distortion from your headphones.
- Almost all budget headphone models are equipped with a single driver. This kind of design offers good sound, but with such kind of headphones, you will always feel a lack of bass depth.
- By using two drivers, you can not only increase the bass response but also increase the high-frequency bar: instead of 16 kHz, which serves as a barrier for most single-band models, dual-band headphones can easily reach 20 kHz. You will get much more temperamental play with two armatures in the headphones. However, these headphones provide perfect sound quality at low or medium volume but can produce certain rattling when overloaded.
- Three balanced armature drivers: the tweeter armature operates in the upper band, whereas two paired driver-woofers are aimed at the bass and midrange.
- Four drivers provide distribution of playback into 4 different streams, respectively. You will get transparency and airiness with this type of arrangement with distinct whiplash and physical perceptible bass characteristic of large speakers.
- The latest models of headphones can have up to 6-8 drivers, which offers sound distribution to a larger number of streams/frequency bands. This type of configuration is usually found in IEMs (in-ear monitors) and ensures the best precise reproduction of the entire sound range, providing the most accurate and life-like sound reproduction among in-ear headphones.
8. Headphones by Connections
8.1 Wireless Headphones
Wireless headphones can operate without the need for a wired cable. As with wired headphones, you’re still limited by a range of transmission. In this case, the range of wireless headphones is the distance between your headphones and the connected device without losing sound quality and signals. Wireless range is different in different models, but people who use wireless headphones with portable devices have an optimal range of 1-8 meters, meaning means you walk in your room easily without losing connection or sound quality. You should try to choose headphones with an 80-100 meters range.
Wired headphones use whether digital or analog cables to connect with playing devices, depending on their connectors. The most often used connectors are 5-pin, jack 6.3mm, mini-jack 3.5mm, and mini-jack 2.5mm, USC Type-C, Lightning, USB 3.0, USB-mini. The mini-jack 3.5mm is often used with portable devices, while the 6.3mm jack is used in music centers and home theaters. Both these mini-jacks are equipped with mutual adapters. As you can see, headphones can connect in a variety of ways. For this reason, it’s important to know your headphones connector type that matches your audio device.
The previous existing headphones are divided into two main categories up till now. One category includes those headphones supporting one-way cable connection, while the second category includes such headphones that use two-way cable connection.
A two-way connection consists of the connection of cable with each earcup individually. On the other hand, the one-sided connection consists of the direct connection with one earcup – although the wire is placed inside the bell and not exposed. Many headphones follow the principle of one-way connection, which helps decrease the number of wires in the face front.
Some headphones don’t come with fixed cables; thus, you can disconnect the cable and replace it with a higher quality cable. This feature is most common in monitor headphones, but it also appears in plenty of travel noise-canceling headphones, gaming headsets, and hi-fi headphones. Most headphones that have removable cables commonly belong to the Hi-Fi class. However, this option can increase the headphones’ cost. This type of design characteristic is more charming for such people interested in getting the highest sound quality that want to select their cables.
The cable’s length is another important feature of conventional wired headphones. The standard length of cable is 1 to 3 meters, generally. But you can also find such headphones which have 7-8 meters cable’s length.
You don’t require a long cable if you wanted to opt for the headphones for working with portable devices. A cable of 0.1-5-meter length is enough for this purpose. A number of these models support direct connection with the playback device like an audio player, while some involve the use of remote control. A cable length of 50 cm is more than sufficient for the second type of model to avoid tangling the cable.
8.3 Jack Shape
The headphone’s jack’s shape enables you to divide the connectors into two different configurations: min jack straight and mini-jack L-shaped. The mini-jack L-shaped will be perfect if you want to use headphones for portable devices. This type of connector does not contribute to the player’s size; instead, it enables you to tightly connect the headphones to the sound source.
8.4 Gold plated connectors
The gold-plated connectors have a small amount of gold (or nickel) applied in a thin layer to the connector’s contact pads, depending on the sound’s quality produced by the headphones. The use of gold-plated connectors enhances the quality of connection because gold is strongly resistant against oxidation and corrosions while it offers very low resistance to AC Voltage.
8.5 Silver Plated Connector
NFC is the modern technology that allows your headphones to connect effortlessly within a small radius (up to 10 cm). NFC offers a maximum speed of 400 Kbit/s for information exchange. It also has compatibility for full-duplex data exchange, featuring an operating frequency of 13.56 MHz. It requires a time of less than 0.1 s to establish a connection.
9.1 Technological Features
- DSP – Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is the technology that allows you to make significant enhancements in sound transmission quality.
- Active Noise Reduction System – The modern design of the Active Noise Reduction/Cancellation System reduces the external sound during music listening. This system works on a simple principle – the built-in microphone emits antiphase sounds during recording outside noises. This principle results in a considerable decrease in noise level to the mutual cancellation frequencies. An active noise reduction system allows you to use your headphone at subway or buses and trains or airplanes.
- Surround Sound – Surround Sound is an analog special spatial playback mode that allows you to create multi-channel surrounding sound. You require headphones with this spatial playback mode to get a sufficient impression of multi-channel sound in large areas like watching a movie in your home theater.
- 5.1 Surround Sound – A special multi-channel sound input 5.1 (mostly analog) is present in headphones with the surround sound mode.
- Change of voice – Several headphones allow the users to change their voices. This option is prevalent among video gamers to imitate a variety of voices.
- FM-radio – Some headsets come with a built-in FM tuner where you can listen to FM radio. The connected headphones can be used in place of the antenna in mobile devices.
- Multipoint connection – This technology offers the headset or headphone’s joint functioning with multiple Bluetooth devices at the same time.
- Automatic channel conversion – This technology has made the changing of channels very easy for the headset. In case of interference on the current channel, the headset can switch to another cleaner channel to enhance the speech transmission quality.
- Automatic pairing – By using an automatic pairing, you can connect your headset to different devices via automatic connection.
- Voice Dial – You can dial any number through your voice without entering data manually, thanks to the Voice dialing function. This function will offer you convenience in using your device, particularly when your hands are in busy condition. But it is very important to keep in mind that you can use this function in only that condition in which your device is compatible with the voice set.
- Call waiting/holding – This feature is highly helpful if you want to put a conversation on hold in busy conditions or when you’re not ready to answer. This feature will only work in case the connected cell phone is compatible with “Hands-Free Profile” and “Headset Profile.”
- Repeat the last number – Using this option, you can dial the last dialed number if you are busy or want to make a call quickly. Your connected cell phone must be compatible with “Hands-Free Profile” and “Headset Profile.”
- aptX – With aptX Bluetooth codec, you can achieve an almost CD-quality wireless signal with a frequency range of 10 to 22000 Hz. High Power utilization is the major limitation of this technology. For this reason, this technology is present in only a few models of Bluetooth headphones and headsets.
- aptX HD – A sample rate of 48 kHz is utilized in the aptX HD standard. This sample provides a throughput of 576 kbps at 24 bits. You can get better quality of signal than a CD by using the aptX HD standard properties. The codec must be compatible with a smartphone or player (on which you want to play the sound) for the device’s correct functioning.
- AAC – AAC is the abbreviation of Advanced Audio Coding, which is a multi-channel algorithm that has support for streaming. The sampling rate of AAC is from 8 to 96 kHz, and the number of channels is from 1 to 48. The encoding efficiency of AAC is very high at both variable and constant bitrates.
- A2DP Profile – You can considerably expand the device’s functions by using support for A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile). It is very much capable of output sound from the stereo system to the headset. The user can listen to music through their headset from the memory of any such devices (cell phone or car radios), which has support for A2DP profile and Bluetooth in the presence of a stereo system.
- AVRCP Profile – The AVRCP profile remotely controls the main functions of the multimedia devices. It is very important to keep in mind that the AVRCP profile should have support for headset and phone for correct working.
- Headset Profile – All the Bluetooth devices should be compatible with a common profile for their together working. You can get the output to the headset all the audio signals of phone operations, mp3-music from the player, ringtones, and audio series of videos by using headset profile in the presence of Bluetooth 1.2 version. You can change the sound volume by using the headset profile, which is an extra benefit. You can even make calls and reject them by using the headset profile.
- LED Indicator – A built-in LED signal will make you aware of the battery status, missed phone calls, whether the ANC is turned on or off, etc. Depending on the function, the indicator will have a certain color or interval of indication.
- Screen – The Built-in displays are present in some headsets integrated into the headset’s housing or are inline units on the cable with a display. With a display, one can view phone information like numbers or contacts through this display. You can visualize the device’s present status like missed calls, battery charge, etc.
- Automatic Volume Adjustment – By using the automatic volume adjustment option, you can amplify the sound coming from the headset in a matter of a split second. You don’t even need to interact to use automatic volume adjustment physically. You can enjoy an interrupted conversation with your friends by using this option.
9.2 Design Features
- Folding Design – You can conveniently fold your headphones when you do not need them, thanks to the folding and collapsible design. The headphones will occupy much less space in your bag due to the folding design. This type of headphone design is particularly best for travelers.
- Waterproof/water-resistance – Sport headphones—and not only—have a waterproof housing that plays a key role in securing headphones from splashes of water and moisture. The headphones with waterproof housing are highly suitable for sports and rainy season activities.
- Volume Control – Not all headphones are equipped with a volume control option. The volume control option is located on the playback device commonly. But the volume control is located on the headphones or on wires in wired headphone models. You can change the sound volume by using the volume control option located on the headphone without tuning the playback device. If you are using a player as a playback device, you can use the volume control option by using the switch on the headphones by keeping it in your bag.
- Neodymium Magnets – The use of Neodymium Magnets is involved in the manufacturing of dynamic headphones. The main properties of Neodymium headphones include low weight, a high magnetic energy level, which plays a vital role in making headphones highly sensitive.
- Twisted Cord – The twisted cord has the same structure as the telephone cord. It is very important to note that the twisted cord has some disadvantages. For example, you cannot stretch the cord for more than 2.5 meters. However, a common straight cord is also supplied with this twisted cord which acts as a secondary cable. The length of the straight cord is 3 or more meters.
- Oxygen-free copper cord – If you want to get high sound quality, An Oxygen-free copper cord will be best in place of classic copper wires. The conductivity is the main difference between oxygen-free and conventional copper cords. The conductivity is high in the case of an Oxygen-free copper cord because there are no “collision points” with oxygen elements. The copper crystal structure is a good conductor of signals but its oxides (The chemical elements that result in the interaction of copper with oxygen) will have a much lower conductivity. The conductivity of Oxygen-free copper is hundreds of times more than conventional copper. The oxygen-free copper does not produce any signal distortion at all, and for this reason, it is used in the manufacturing of Hi-End and Hi-Fi cables.
- Fabric Braiding – Braided cables have a strong ability to increase the lifespan of headphones considerably. The main purpose of fabric protection is to save the cable from kinks and breaks. You can use the headphones in even winter conditions thanks to their frost-resistant nature. You also don’t have to worry about the wires’ tangling.
- Number of transmitter channels – The main influence of the number of transmitter channels is only on wireless headphones. A large range of headphones involves the use of multiple frequency channels, while some headphones can work with only one channel. It is highly beneficial because you can easily migrate to another channel if there is interference on the current channel. The greater number of transmitter channels will allow you to select the working frequency in a condition where radio frequencies have a high level of interference.
- Adapter 2.5 mm – You will require a 2.5 mm adapter if you want to connect your headphones to a 2.5 mm jack. The 3.5 mm standard is the commonly used type of headphone jack because this audio output is used in most audio devices. However, a smaller jack of 2.5 mm is integrated into some players’ phones or other devices because of the decreased thickness of these models’ housing. You can connect your headphones with any device with the help of an adapter of 2.5 mm.
- Adapter 3.5 mm – You can connect your headphones with any portable device having a standard jack of 3.5mm by using a 3.5 mm adapter. For example, you require an adapter with a 3.5 mm input to connect to the player if your headphones are with a 6.3 mm jack.
- Adapter 6.3 mm – If you have headphones with a 6.3 mm adapter, you can connect them to almost any speaker system with a 6.3 mm standard jack. You will require an adapter of 6.3 mm to connect to the speaker system if your headphones have a jack of 3.5 mm.
- Airplane Adapter – You can connect your headphones to the cabin by using this special adapter. An internal audio system is integrated into almost all modern airliners, which provides you with the music or soundtrack listening of a video movie.
- Interchangeable panels – Some headphones, such as Beyerdynamic Custom Game, are equipped with colorful side panels, which you can change according to your mood, desire, and season.
- Replaceable ear cushions – As some earpads are replaceable, you can change them according to your likeness or buy new ones when they become too worn.