How to Choose the Best Headphones for Your Budget

By: Bob Keen

Headphones have come a long way since they were first invented in the 1930’s by Beyerdynamic. Nowadays there are hundreds of different models to choose from ranging in price from a dollar or two to thousands of dollars or more. With all the choices, how do you possibly know which pair of headphones is right for you, and for your budget?

Above all else, you must consider what you will use them for: Watching late-night movies or TV, listening to an iPod or MP3 player, jogging, working, studio use, DJing, playing computer games etc.

For example, if you’re using the phones for exercising, you wouldn’t want them to come loose, so you might want ear buds, in-ear headphones or headsets with clip-on earpieces that are designed with active uses in mind. If you’re an audiophile and plan to use them in a distracting environment, you might want phones that offer sound isolation and better quality sound.

There are three main categories of headphones: Circumaural, Supra aural and canal phones.

Circumaural phones have big comfy pads that fit all the way around your ears and are usually used in studios where sound isolation is mandatory, by DJ’s in noisy environments or by the home audiophile where only the highest quality will do.

For casual listening most people prefer supra aural open air designs as they are much more comfortable, are less fatiguing to wear and provide a good quality of sound. These are also known as sport phones and consist of a pad that sits on the ear, or held to the ear by a clip. Open-air headsets come in a choice of either behind-the-neck or the more traditional over-the-head band style. Ear buds are also another form of so called open (or semi open) air designs.

Canal phones are another type of headphones with ear buds inserted directly inside the ear canal which provides better sound isolation with a deep bass response.

They are usually used by musicians, are custom fit and thus are not for the average user.

Unless you require outside sounds to be blocked out such as a musician in a recording studio, or will be listening in?an environment where sound leakage will be a problem, you’ll probably want to opt for an open air design.

Also, don’t worry too much about headphone specs, especially when it comes to frequency response. A pair of headphones with a response of 10 Hz to 30,000 Hz won’t sound any different (all other factors being the same) than a pair of headphones with a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz (within the average human hearing range).

One other quick thing you might want to keep in mind is the impedance of the headset you are considering buying. Headphones can range in impedance from 4 ohms to 600 ohms or more. The higher the ohms, the more power required to drive the tiny speakers. Thus a pair of headphones that are more than 64 ohms may not go very loud when driven by a portable music player like your iPod. Also, the lower the impedance, the less energy the phones use to create the sound.

Noise-Canceling Headphones:

If you need or want to block out sound for any reason whether you do a lot of traveling or work in s distracting environment noise canceling headsets can be godsend. Noise canceling headphones incorporate active circuitry which relies on tiny microphones to pick up the noises around you. Then the electronics inside the phones generate an identical out-of-phase signal that when played in the headsets cancels out the background noise. These headsets are a little heavier than normal headsets due to the special circuitry and batteries that are usually required.?

Will You Go Wireless?

Wireless headphones open up a whole new world of listening possibilities. You can listen to your favorite music while moving around your home or office, doing yard work or anything else without carrying a portable player with you.

Wireless headphones use either an infrared (IR) transmitter that only works in line of sight, or use an RF (radio frequency) signal that can operate through ceilings and walls and has a potential range up to a few hundred feet or more. Obviously, you’ll probably want to opt for the more expensive RF model that has an extended range and isn’t bound by walls.

Since wireless headphones do run on batteries, models that come with a rechargeable battery that you can plug in to charge are great, and models that will automatically charge when set on the stand are even better.

Wireless headphones have come a long way in the last few years, but they still do have their problems: they’re more expensive then wired modelsBusiness Management Articles, they have limited listening time (i.e. the batteries die) there are sometimes interference problems or added RF background noise.

The best advice I can give you is try before you buy and get the best pair of headphones wile staying within your budget.

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