LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT HEADPHONES? HERE’S 7 ESSENTIALS TO CONSIDER
We are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to different headphone options – Where do we even start when looking for the perfect pair?
Headphones are one of those must-have gadgets that we simply can’t live without. Whether we’re jamming out at home, powering through our commute or breaking a sweat at the gym, let’s face it: not all headphones are created equal. A good pair can stick with you through any- thing life throws at you, but bad pair can make listening to even your favourite songs a frustrating experience. With all the choices available, how do you pick the perfect pair for your lifestyle? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’re here to help break down the essentials to find your perfect audio match!
1. Choosing the right fit: Exploring In-ear, On-ear and Over-ear headphones
One of the first features you’ll want to consider is how they fit, depending on what you plan to use them for. You’ll come across three popular types to choose from:
• In-Ear Headphones are also referred to as “earbuds” and sit snugly in your ears, directly delivering sound awhile staying securely in place. Due to their size, in-ear headphones’ exceptional portability makes them an excellent choice for those who are always on the go. Within the Mixx product range, we offer three distinct in-ear fits:
• Capsule: A discreet and sleek choice with three pairs of ear cushions.
• Hybrid: Features a long stem earbud design that sits gently in the ear.
• Silicone: A long stem design that comes with a choice of 3 ear cushions for a personalised fit.
• On-Ear Headphones: Designed to fit on top of each ear without covering them entirely, these these provide a portable option and better audio quality than their in-ear counterparts. With on-ear headphones, you can still be aware of ambient noise in your surroundings, making them a perfect choice for the office or casual listening sessions at home.
• Over-Ear Headphones provide and gentle and comfortable fit that surrounds your ears providing plenty of space for airflow between the speaker and your ear. This design generates a more natural and immersive sound experience. While their larger size may sacrifice some portability, over-ear headphones prioritise superior audio quality, making them the preferred choice for musicians and sound engineers.
2. Wired, Wireless and True Wireless: Unravelling the Differences
Headphones have the flexibility to connect to audio devices either through a cable or via Blue- tooth. The choice between these options primarily relies on the supported input of the device you wish to connect them to, while also potentially influencing the overall audio quality.
Wired headphones may not be as trendy as wireless ones because many devices are phasing out the aux connection, they still have some great advantages worth considering, assuming your audio device supports them. With wired headphones, you get a direct and reliable audio connection, so you won’t have to deal with frustrating dropouts. Plus, there’s no need to worry about charging them, which adds to their convenience. Just be mindful of handling them carefully to avoid tangling and remember to stay within the range of your audio device for the best listening experience.
Wireless headphones connect to your audio device using Bluetooth, which slightly de- creases the audio quality. For many of us, convenience takes the lead over a small dip in audio quality. Unless you’re an audiophile who tends to obsess over every little audio detail, wireless headphones should work just fine. Just keep in mind that they do require regular charging.
A lot of people opt for wireless headphones as a popular choice for the gym because they’re portable and hassle-free. It’s worth noting that even though they’re called wireless, there’s still a wire involved. For over-ear or on-ear headphones, the wire runs through the headband, while in-ear headphones have a small wire that wraps around the back of your head.
- True Wireless: On the other hand, we have true wireless headphones, which take the wire- less experience a step further by eliminating the wire between the two speakers. These headphones are typically in-ear and operate by connecting one earbud to the audio device via Bluetooth, which then transmits the signal to the other earbud. It’s important to note that the battery life on true wireless headphones tends to deplete relatively quickly. That’s why they usually come with a charging case, which not only stores the earbuds but also charges them. The major advantage of true wireless headphones is their complete freedom from wires. You can use them with just one earbud in at a time, offering a lot more flexibility and convenience.
3. Decoding Audio Quality: What to Look For
Audio quality can sometimes be daunting to understand, but don’t worry, it’s not as technical or confusing as it may initially seem. When we talk about audio quality, we typically use three main terms:
Frequency Range (or Response) refers to the range of audio frequencies that headphones can reproduce. Most headphones advertise a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz, which corresponds to the range of human hearing. To enhance the listening experience, many headphones boost lower frequencies and reduce higher ones, compensating for the speaker proximity to your ears. Lower frequencies represent bass notes, like deep guitar tones or kick drum thumps, while higher frequencies are associated with treble, such as crisp cymbal sounds or sharp vocals. If you prefer more emphasis on the higher frequencies, you may want to consider headphones that offer EQ (equalisation) features. These allow you to adjust specific frequency ranges according to your personal preference.
Impedance is measured in ohms (Ω) and indicates how much your headphones resist the flow of electrical current from your amplifier. For smartphones or computers, low impedance (under 25Ω) headphones work perfectly fine as they receive sufficient power. High-impedance headphones are used in professional audio setups for accurate sound reproduction (High-Fidelity performance) and require dedicated equipment or amplifiers for optimal performance. For home use, headphones with an impedance range between 8Ω and 25Ω is ideal.
- Sensitivity describes how loud headphones can get in relation to their power. Sensitivity is typically measured per 1 milliwatt (mW) of power. It tells you how many decibels (dB), which is a unit for volume, a pair of headphones can produce with just 1mW of power. For a good balance between enjoying your music and protecting your ears, an ideal sensitivity range is typically between 90dB and 120dB per 1mW. This range allows you to enjoy your music at a comfortable volume level without risking damage to your ears.
4. Noise Isolation and Cancelling: Staying Immersed
To block out unwanted noise, there are two main options: Noise Isolating and Noise Cancelling.
- Noise Isolating is also called Passive Noise Cancellation, works by using sound-proof materials to create a seal around your ears. It helps muffle outside sounds and lets you enjoy your music without distractions.
- Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) is a bit more high-tech. It uses microphones to detect external noise and plays a counteracting sound to cancel it out in your ears. It actively reduces background noise and creates a quieter listening experience. However, it’s worth noting that ANC can slightly affect the audio quality by tweaking the frequency range and may introduce a faint hissing sound. But don’t worry, modern ANC technology has improved to minimise these issues.
5. Battery Life and Play Time: Keeping the Music Going
While understanding the technical aspects of wireless headphones is crucial, their real value lies in how long you can actually use them. When you’re constantly on the go, battery life be- comes a make-or-break factor. This is especially true if you’re considering headphones with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). Over-ear and on-ear headphones usually outperform their in-ear counterparts in terms of battery life. So, if you’re frequently on the go, it’s essential to prioritise headphones that can keep up with your travels without running out of juice.
6. Comfort and Style: Feeling Good and Looking Great
Comfort is crucial when it comes to headphones. Consider how long you’ll wear them and their intended purpose. Wireless sports headphones with ear hooks are great for active use, while memory foam ear pads and padded headbands offer comfort for over-ear and on-ear head- phones. Don’t forget to choose a style that matches your personal taste, as many brands offer a variety of colours. Remember, it’s all about finding headphones that sound great and feel great on your ears. Explore the wide range of options out there and choose the ones that truly appeal to your unique style.
7. Price: Finding the Perfect Match for Your Budget
When it comes to choosing headphones, your budget plays a significant role. Different price points offer varying levels of performance and features.
- Under £50: These budget-friendly headphones offer basic features like a microphone and Bluetooth if you’re planning on going wireless. They’re great for everyday use, lasting around 4-8 hours for in-ear fit, on-ear and over-ear styles. Perfect for casual gaming or regular listening.
- £50 to £100: Stepping up, you’ll find headphones with cool extras like active noise cancellation and EQ presets. You might even spot wireless gaming headsets in this range. Fast-charging capabilities are often included, making life easier for you. Say goodbye to distractions and immerse yourself in your music or games.
- £100 to £300: Now we’re talking about more specialised headphones. With higher-quality drivers, they’re suitable for amateur studio recording and tracking. Some models even come with extra goodies like extended warranties and spare parts. Enjoy enhanced noise cancellation and extended battery life up to 30 hours.
- £300 Upwards: Audiophiles, this is where the magic happens. In this premium range, you’ll discover top-of-the-line headphones for gaming, movies, and music production. Prepare for a significant leap in audio quality compared to lower-priced options. Plus, you get more EQ options to fine-tune your audio to perfection.
Remember, these are general price ranges and trends, but specific products may offer variations. It’s always a good idea to research and read reviews to find the perfect pair of head- phones that fit your budget and meet your specific needs.
Other Features to Consider:
• Integrated Controls: Easy Access at Your Fingertips
If you find interruptions or having to search for your phone incredibly frustrating, integrated controls are certainly a feature to look for. Easily managing your music playback and volume directly from your headphones is an improvement that’ll make your listening experience smooth and hassle-free.
• Digital Assistant Support: Voice Controls
If you’re a fan of the convenience provided by Siri or Google Assistant, it’s worth considering headphones that offer support for digital assistants. You can enjoy a seamless and convenient audio experience with digital assistant-supported headphones.
• Travel Friendly: Audio on the Go
In-ear headphones are a no-brainer, but don’t worry if you prefer on-ear or over-ear styles. There are plenty of brands that sport foldable travel-friendly models. They’re compact, easy to pack, and cater to your preferences so you can enjoy your adventures with headphones that fit your style and suitcase!
• Water Resistance: Built to Withstand the Elements
For those who sweat it out at the gym or want to be prepared for unexpected downpours, water resistance is a key feature to consider when choosing headphones. To determine water resistance, look for the IP rating. For gym and outdoor use, a minimum IPX4 rating is recommended. This ensures your headphones can withstand splashes and light rain so you can stay in the zone and worry-free no matter the weather.
Now that you’re armed with the essential knowledge on how to find the perfect headphones for you, why not check out our amazing range at Mixx? Take a look and find the pair that will bring your music to life!
Written by Asha Kalsi