Whether you use your phone or portable player to listen to music or any type of audio, chances are that you already own some earphones. Apart from the convenience they offer, headphones are a great way to get your groove on – whatever your music taste is – without letting other people in.

That’s arguably the biggest part of what makes headphones good and ‘cool’ to most people. Still, most people don’t know what to look for when purchasing headphones and base their selections entirely on costs which often leads to disappointments. We’ll look at the different headphone types and how to choose headphones for all your acoustic needs.

What are the Various Headphones Types?

There are so many types of headphones on the market that we can’t possibly discuss them all. However, there are a few common types that you may have used, heard about or seen in an ad or shop somewhere. We can define headsets either based on their shape and fit over the ears or on their acoustic properties. Based on physical variations, the different types are:

• Over-the-ear headphones: Typically have large earcups that cover the whole ear.

• On-the-ear headphones: Have earcups that just fit over the ear, with no overflow.

• Earbuds: The most popular type of headphones. Often have circular or oval heads that fit in just inside your ear.

In-ear or plug in headphones: Basically, the type you need to insert deep into your ear. Are small, thin, longer and sharper than earbuds.

In terms of sound quality, we can categorize acoustic headphones as either sweetened or flat frequency response. Sweetened headsets are usually the most widely used as they sound great which is what regular users like. They are probably the best headsets for music as their EQ curves are set in a way that both the highs and lows are emphasized, giving a warm, sweet sound. Flat frequency response headsets, on the other hand, are considered the best earphones for music producers and mixers are they give raw, unfiltered sound. That said, let’s see how to choose headphones that fit your needs and budget.

How to Choose Headphones

There are no set rules or procedures on how to buy headphones as needs and preferences vary. Nonetheless, here are a few general pointers to get you started:

• Durability – Good headsets are expensive and naturally, you want to use them as long as possible without having to replace. Thus, look for heavier, more sturdy sets that will not break when they fall, or when you sit on them. If you’re looking for durable headphones for schools, go for ones with thick cables and readily available spare parts.

• Comfort – If you are a regular user, comfort is the most essential factor to consider. When shopping for over-ear or circumaural sets, choose the ones with bigger earcups. Similarly, earbuds with rubber or fabric padding are more comfortable and easier on your ears than bare plastic.

• Cable length -Ideally go for headsets which are not too long or too short as length impacts sound quality. The ideal cable length is two feet or thereabouts. Longer than that and it will always get tangled and too short and the headphone bass could get distorted. Wireless headphones might solve that issue, but remember that it will be another device that you’ll need to charge.

If you work under noisy conditions or are a budding deejay, regular earphones won’t help you much as they can’t block outside noises. You need noise-canceling headphones. Below are some useful tips on how to choose noise-canceling headphones:

• Physical qualities – From our experience, closed-back, full-sized headsets work best in blocking out ambient noises compared to earbuds or open-back sets. Also, headphones with bigger earcups that fit your entire ear are more effective.

• Put them to Test – The best way to see how well a particular noise-canceling pair works is to put it to test. If your retailer is worth their salt, they will let you wear it at the store.

Reviews – Good noise canceling headphones are expensive and the last thing you want it to pay high dollar for a low-quality product. Of course manufacturers and stores will always show off the best qualities of their product while talking as little about the negatives as possible. A good solution for that is to check out the user reviews, especially on sites that are not directly affiliated with any shop or manufacturer as they are least likely to be skewed.

Yes, there are lots of cool headphone designs available, but sometimes, aesthetics do not match functionality, and often, you have to choose between the two. Your choice!


That, ladies and gentlemen, is our comprehensive take on headphones, mainly how to choose headphones. Hopefully, all your questions were answered in the post and in case they weren’t, let us know in the comments. Greetings, suggestions and additional advice are also welcome.