Headphones are one of the most popular tech devices these days. There are so many models that have been adapted for different uses. Whether listening to music, playing video games or practicing sport, today’s headphones allow us to enjoy amazing sound quality.

However, other factors such as comfort and design also come into play when buying new headphones. If your new headphones don’t feel comfortable, it likely won’t be long before you decide to stop using them. So, to help you in the selection process, we have produced this complete shopping guide just for you.

Key Facts

  • The first thing you need to think about when buying a new headset is how you’re going to use it. You’ll require different headphones for playing sports as opposed to listening to music at home or playing video games.
  • One very important decision you have to make when buying headphones is whether you want them to be wireless or not. Wired headphones offer better sound quality, whilst wireless headphones are much more comfortable.
  • You’ll use the headphones to listen to music, watch movies or series, or even to play video games. Therefore, the quality of the sound is one of the key factors in the purchase decision and preferably you’ll want to try them out first. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. In this case, you will have no choice but to be guided by a series of technical criteria.

Ranking: The best headphones on the U.S. Market

Below is the list we have come up with containing the top five headphones you can currently find on the U.S. market. This list contains items that provide a great value-price dynamic. The main thing they all have in common, however, is that they offer terrific sound quality and are made by established and recognized brands.

No. 1: Bose – QuietComfort 35 (Series II) 

Bose’s QuietComfort 35 (II Series) headphones are one of the most beloved and well-liked headphones currently on the market. They provide superior noise cancellation, as well as unbeatable sound quality. These headphones come in a close circumaural design, and give you the choice of either black or silver.

Like all Bose products, they are manufactured using only the best components and materials and are made to be able to withstand drops and impact. If you connect them to a mobile phone, they enable you to access and use either Siri (if connected to an apple device), or the Google assistant (if connected to Android). Bose has established itself as a leader in headphone technology, and these are some of the best on the market.

No. 2: SoundPEATS – True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

SoundPEATS True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds are part of a new generation of wireless headphones, aptly named “earbuds”. Earbuds allow the wearer to directly insert each headphone into the ear without having a wire connecting the two individual speakers. SoundPEATS’ earbuds include a powerful and easily transportable charging case that makes charging quick and easy.

These earbud style headphones are a great new product that will provide you with high quality sound, a superb listening experience, and unparalleled convenience and comfort. This product also comes with a one year guarantee, so you can rest assured that your investment is insured during those first 12 months.

No. 3: TaoTronics – Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

TaoTronics is a new entrant to the headphones market, but they make a solid product at a more accessible price point. They are designed to provide you with a listening experience that minimizes the ambient noise, allowing you to listen to your favorite music unimpeded. They are also great-looking headphones, so they combine well with almost any dress or fashion style.

Another great feature of these headphones is that the battery lasts up to thirty hours. Combine that with the wireless nature of these headphones, and you’ve got a product that lets you go where you want, for however long you want, without worrying about cumbersome wires, or small charges. These headphones also fold up small, and come with a conveniently-sized carrying case.

No. 4: Sony – WH1000XM3 Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sony is definitely among the industry leaders when it comes to noise cancelling technology, and their Over-Ear noise cancelling headphones are no exception. They also provide you with Alexa voice-enabled control, allowing you to control and modify your listening experience without having to use your hands. The smart listening feature adjusts the settings based on the ambient noise around you, so that your noise cancellation settings are always optimal.

Another great thing about this product is the touch controls. With a simple touch of the right headphone, you can adjust volume, change songs, and activate the voice assistant. The battery lasts for up to 30 hours on a full charge, and even gives you 5 hours of playback on a 10 minute charge (great for those last minute charges). You will not be disappointed with Sony’s unbeatable sound quality.

No. 5: LETSCOM – IPX7 Waterproof Bluetooth Headphones 

You don’t always want to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of headphones, but sound quality and comfort are always going to be important. LETSCOM’s IPX7 Waterproof Bluetooth Headphones are a great compromise between price and quality, and are a favorite of athletes and exercise enthusiasts all over the world. They provide high fidelity sound and great noise cancellation and a reasonable price, and are a great entry level bluetooth headphone.

The control buttons on the headphones allow for easy access to music and volume, and even connect to the voice control of your cell phone. These comfortable and easy to wear headphones come with soft silicone ear hooks, so you can wear them for extended periods of time without the pain that sometimes comes with plastic. Only a 2 hour charge gives you up to 8 hours of listening and talk time.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about headphones

When buying headphones, it’s important to consider a number of things. Don’t forget that there are so many different models of headphones, each with specific characteristics that make them more suitable for one use than another. Therefore, in the following section we try to answer the most common questions of consumers.

Happy women using headphones

There are headphones available for many types of activities.
(Source: Antonio Guillem: 50531751/ 123rf.com)

What are headphones exactly?

Headphones are electronic devices that connect to sound players and allow an electrical signal to be converted into a sound signal. This sound signal can be heard with speakers that sit in or around your ears. In general, they are fairly lightweight and easy to carry.

Happy couple sharing headphones

Some headphones incorporate a noise cancellation system.
(Source: Antonio Guillem: 82408242/ 123rf.com)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of headphones?

Having headphones allows you to listen to music and talk on the phone much more freely, as well as privately. You can use your headphones whenever, wherever without worrying that you are bothering others with your music or media. Additionally, headphones have also become an important part of fashion and style for many people over the last several years.

Advantages Disadvantages
They allow you to listen to music without worrying about disturbing others Intensive use may cause hearing discomfort
You can use them anywhere. They are lightweight and easy to transport. They are perfect for travelling Using while driving or riding a bicycle can carry certain risks
Other people won’t know the music you’re listening to. With headphones you’ll have complete privacy
They’re also an attractive fashion accessory

What do you need headphones for?

You might need headphones for a wide range of reasons. You might want them for listening to music as you walk to work or class, or while you ride public transport. Maybe you want a pair specifically for gaming, or to listen to music and watch movie while you travel.

Another perfect use for headphones is for practicing sports, especially running. That’s why you’d be interested in headphones that are resistant to water and sweat. In addition, there are also waterproof models available that can be used for swimming. There are even models designed to be worn as fashion accessories.

Ellen Petry LeanseFormer Apple and Google executive

“When fans see World Cup athletes wearing Beats in their downtime, by choice, it has as much impact as seeing them lace their Adidas (boots) or sip a sponsored beverage”.

What types of headphones are there?

One of the most common ways to categorize headphones is by their shape. They can be split into two distinct types: over-ear headphones and in-ear headphones. However, the over-ear headphones, can be split further into two categories; supra-aurals (headphones with pads that sit on the ears) and circumaurals (headphones designed to completely enclose the ears). In the following table, we summarize the main characteristics of over-ear and in-ear headphones.

Over-ear headphones In-ear headphones
Placement They surround the head completely They are inserted directly into the ear, sealing the hole with rubber bands
Weight Their dimensions are larger, therefore they are also heavier They are much lighter and smaller in size. They are easier to transport
Design and use Most video game headphones use this design The most suitable design for sports headphones

What type of over-ear headphones are there?

As mentioned above, over-ear headphones can be divided into supra-aural and circumaural. The former are quite light and easy to carry meanwhile circumaurals are much larger in size, as their earpads completely surround the ear. In this way, circumaurals offer a much more immersive sound experience.

Black headphones

The human ear can only withstand up to 100 decibels.
(Source: Stepan Popov: 39631142/123rf.com)

Open or closed over-ear headphones?

The cups of over-ear headphones can either be opened or closed. Open style are those that do not completely isolate the noise from the outside, allowing a part of the emitted sound to come out. The latter, closed style, are designed to isolate noise, both inwards and outwards.

Wired or wireless headphones?

You’re probably wondering which option is best for you, wired or wireless headphones. Wired, in general, will allow you to enjoy better sound quality. However in recent years, Bluetooth connections have improved enormously, thanks mainly to the aptX HD codecs.

Wireless headphones are much more comfortable, allowing you more freedom of movement. This makes them ideal for sports and for use with your mobile phone. Their connection range is usually around 10 meters. Keep in mind, however, that the battery life can be limiting factor.

Advantages of wireless headphones Disadvantages of wireless headphones
They are much more comfortable as they do not depend on cables The sound quality is inferior to that of the cable connection. In addition, interference may occur
They allow free movement, up to 10 meters from the source The price is usually significantly higher
You don’t have to worry about the cable breaking or the connection port failing The battery life is limited, so it is necessary to recharge them frequently
You can connect to another device without having to change the cable They are not compatible with all devices

What is active headphone noise cancellation?

Some headphones incorporate active noise cancellation. This is a technology that was originally created to reduce the noise pollution to workers in the air force. Noise cancellation allows you to isolate yourself from the environment and only hear the sound coming from the headphones.

It is an ideal system for long journeys by train or airplane and to isolate you from noisy environments. However, it is not recommended to use it while walking down the street or riding a bicycle, as it can be dangerous. For this reason, some headphones allow you to turn active noise cancellation on and off.

Shopping Criteria

When it comes time to purchase your headphones, it’s important that you consider some key areas. To help you in the selection process, we have selected the criteria that we think are most important. We have done this in order to serve as a guide for you, to help you find the headphones that suit your needs and budget.

  • What will you use them for?
  • Sensitivity
  • Impedance
  • Equalization
  • Comfort
  • Connectivity
  • Battery

What will you use them for?

You don’t need the same type of headphones to listen to music at home in a relaxed way as you do to play video games or as you do when you’re travelling and listening to music on the way to class or work. So if you’re going to use them outside the house, whether it’s travelling or in your day-to-day life, you’re interested in more durable headphones.

If you’re going to use them to play video games, it’s a good idea to choose ones with a gaming profile. On the other hand, if you want to wear headphones with an attractive design, you should take a look at the Beats headphones, although they’re not the only ones that stand out for their design. Luckily, there are options for all tastes.

Beatiful women listening music

The variety and quality of headphones available on the market, fits all requirements.
(Source: Elena Vagengeim: 41558417/ 123rf.com)

Sensitivity

Sensitivity is related to the sound power offered by the headphones and is measured in decibels (dB). In that sense, you should know that 3 dB increases in sensitivity halves the power needed to reach a given volume. Keep in mind that the human ear can only support up to 100 dB.

Impedance

Impedance, measured in ohms (Ω), indicates the resistance of the headphones to the passage of electric current. The lower the impedance, the louder the headphones can sound for the same power. In general, headphones with between 16 and 80 ohms of impedance ensure good performance.

Equalization

In addition to sound quality, all headphones are characterized by a particular sound profile. This depends on their pre-set equalization, or in other words, the reinforcement or reduction of certain frequencies (low, medium or high). For example, Beats headphones stand out for boosting bass.

The most common equalizers are balanced or flat, V equalization and basshead. In this sense, the one that respects the original sound the most is the flat or balanced. V equalizer powers bass or treble and is the most recommended for listening to rock, hip-hop or electronics. Basshead specifically focuses on reinforcing the bass.

Audifonos amarillos

The comfort of the headphones will depend on their design.
(Source: Suphaksorn Thongwongboot: 38937666/ 123rf.com)

Comfort

If the headphones you buy aren’t comfortable, it won’t be two weeks before you stop using them. In general, comfort will depend mainly on the design, materials, softness and padding of the earpads and, importantly, the pressure they put on the head.

Additionally, in the specific case of over-ear headphones, a larger cup will generally result in greater comfort. Another thing to consider is whether or not they are connected by a cable. If they have a cable, is it has an anti-tangle system, or does it have practical clips to attach it to clothing.

Connectivity

In this day and age there a wide variety of options when it comes to connecting headphones to music players and devices. From the traditional 3.5 mm jack socket of a lifetime to Bluetooth or WiFi connections, not forgetting USB port connections. In each case, you want to know which connection standard they support.

When it comes to Bluetooth connections, the most recent version is 5.1, while for USB ports, the newest standard, as well as the fastest, is USB 3.0 type-C. However the fact is, the wired connection usually offers a higher level of quality than wireless connections.

Amy WebbFounder of Future Today Institute

“The transition from smartphones to smart wearables–earbuds that have biometric sensors and speakers; rings and bracelets that can sense our motion; glasses that record and display information–will forever change how we experience the world”.

Battery

Battery life is something you are only going to be concerned with if you are interested in wireless headphones. When it comes to this type of headphone, battery life is one o fthe most salient features to consider when deciding on a purchase. Nothing makes listening to music more frustrating than all of a sudden running out of battery.

Fortunately, to prevent this, many manufacturers also offer the ability to connect headphones via a cable. In any case, it is possible to find devices that offer up to 30 hours of battery life. However, keep in mind, that a longer battery life is going to mean an increase in weight and price.

Summary

After mobile phones, headsets are probably the most widely used electronic device. They are easy to use, very comfortable and can be taken anywhere. In addition, for some time now, they have been an important fashionable accessory. There is no doubt that they are in vogue.

However, we shouldn’t forget that the main purpose of headphones is to enjoy good quality sound. Thus, this is one of the main purchase criteria when purchasing a headset. Of course, along with the intended use and the connectivity options available.

Finally, if you found this guide useful in your selection process, you can leave us a comment or share it through your different social networks.

(Source of featured image: Sergey Galushko: 11000669/ 123rf.com)

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