So you’re in the market for a new pair of headphones and you’re not really sure what to buy. You’ve probably seen plenty of headphones that look great and that advertise all the cool things they can do. But how do you know which are really worth the money and, more importantly, which will actually fulfill the priorities that you have?
One of the first decisions you are going to have to make when you shop is what size headphones you want to buy. Most people choose between either over the ear or in ear headphones. There are some pros and cons to each. So let’s take a closer look at both below:
Over The Ear Headphones
Over the ear headphones are the ones that, as the name implies, rest over your ears. They sit on top of your ears. This is different from the much larger full size headphones which completely wrap around your ears so that they are no longer visible. As such, they are the midsize headphones.
The key advantages that they offer include:
Quality - Over the ear headphones can deliver a comparable quality of sound as full size headphones. The keyword here is “can.” There are definitely some super cheap, flimsy over the ear headphones on the market that aren’t going to deliver much of anything. As with everything, you have to be ready to invest in quality if it is important to you. That said, you don’t have to pay through the teeth. You can find many fantastic quality over the ear headphones for under $200 and around that range.
Comfort - We find over the ear headphones to be the most comfortable of all the possible sizes. Full size headphones tend to pinch down on the edges of your ears and if you wear them too long, they do make your ears get really hot. In ear headphones have to be stuck inside your ear (as the name implies). For some, this is uncomfortable right from the beginning. For others, it starts to get uncomfortable after extended use. Either way, you don’t have to deal with any of these problems when you’re wearing over the ear headphones.
Sound isolation - The design and size of over the ear headphones makes them well suited for isolating sound. They can block out more outside than even the absolute best in ear headphones can. If you get a pair with noise cancellation technology, you can easily shut out all outside distractions and enjoy your music in peace!
The drawbacks of over the ear headphones as compared to in ear headphones is that they are not quite as portable. In ear headphones could, theoretically, be stored in your pants pocket. Not so with over the ear headphones. However, they are compact enough that you could wear them around your neck without getting uncomfortable.
In Ear Headphones
In ear headphones are also called ear buds. They are a very popular size right now. These are the ones that stick inside your ear. So they are definitely the smallest possible headphones you could buy.
The key advantages of opting for in ear headphones include:
Portability - These are definitely the most portable option on the market. If you need something that you can easily store and doesn’t take up hardly any space at all, in ear headphones are where it’s at.
Convenience - Most in ear headphones are designed to maximize convenience. Not only are they small enough to be super portable, but they often boast other convenient features like being waterproof (so you can swim or shower with them) or wireless. When a company designs a new pair of in ear headphones, they know the customer’s top priority is convenience so they are constantly looking for innovative new ways to make them even more convenient.
Affordable - They are generally the cheapest options on the market. Even a high end pair of in ear headphones will generally be cheaper than a low or midrange quality headphone of a larger size. Of course, a high end in ear headphone cannot compare to a high end over the ear headphone. However, if you aren’t looking for exceptional sound quality and just need something decent, you’ll be able to find that at a lower price with in ear headphones.
While they can offer decent sound quality and they have taken steps to make them fairly comfortable, in ear headphones simply cannot match over the ear headphones on either of those two fronts.
The truth is that if crystal clear and bright sound is important to you, in ear headphones, no matter how high end or expensive, are not going to do the trick. They simply cannot offer the same degree of sound isolation and they are far too small deliver any kind of real bass.
But top of the line sound quality is not everyone’s top priority and that’s fine. If you just need something that will let you listen to your jams while you’re working out or on the go, in ear headphones will do that.
In short, what you choose will depend on your own priorities. We find over the ear headphones to be a great balance of features. They are suitably portable and they deliver a level of sound quality that you just can’t really find with in ear headphones.
However, for some people convenience is the very top concern—and that’s understandable. This is especially true for people who need a good pair of headphones for sports. Even the most compact over the ear headphones are going to feel too bulky when you’re sweating it out at the gym or going for a run. So in this case, in ear headphones may be your best bet.