How to Spot the Best Headphones: 10 Essential Terms to Know

Headphones are one of the most important pieces of audio equipment that you can own. Whether you’re a music lover, a gamer, or just someone who likes to watch TV or movies with great sound, a good pair of headphones can make a world of difference. But with so many different types and brands of headphones on the market, it can be tough to know which ones are right for you.

To help you make the best decision when purchasing headphones, here are 10 important terms to know.

  1. Frequency Response

Frequency response is the range of frequencies that a pair of headphones can reproduce. The human ear can hear sounds in the range of 20Hz to 20kHz, so ideally, you want headphones with a frequency response that covers at least this range. However, most headphones don’t have a flat frequency response and will boost or cut certain frequencies. For example, bass-heavy headphones will often boost the low frequencies to give you more thump, while “bright” headphones will boost the high frequencies for added clarity.

  1. Impedance

Impedance is a measure of how much resistance a pair of headphones has to an electrical signal. In general, higher impedance headphones require more power to reach their full potential, so they may not be the best option if you plan on using them with your smartphone or another portable device. That said, high impedance headphones can often sound better than low impedance models when used with the proper equipment.

  1. Driver

The driver is the part of the headphone that actually produces sound. There are two main types of drivers: dynamic and planar magnetic. Dynamic drivers are the most common type and use a coil of wire to create sound. Planar magnetic drivers are less common but are often found in higher-end headphones. They use a thin sheet of material with a magnet attached to it to produce sound.

  1. Open-Back vs Closed-Back

Another important factor to consider when purchasing headphones is whether you want open-back or closed-back models. Open-back headphones have vents or openings in the back of the ear cups, which allows for a more natural sound. However, they also leak sound and don’t do a good job of isolating you from external noise. Closed-back headphones, on the other hand, don’t have any vents or openings. This design does a better job of blocking out external noise and prevents sound from leaking out, but it can also make the headphones sound more “closed in”.

  1. Noise Cancelling

If you’re looking for headphones to use in noisy environments, noise cancelling models are a good option. These headphones use active or passive noise cancellation technologies to reduce the amount of background noise that you hear. Active noise cancellation uses batteries to power a small microphone that emits sounds that cancel out background noise. Passive noise cancellation relies on things like ear cups that seal around your ears to reduce the amount of noise that gets in.

  1. In-Ear vs Over-Ear

Headphones also come in two different designs: in-ear and over-ear. In-ear headphones, also known as earbuds, sit inside your ear canal. They’re small and portable, but they can be less comfortable than over-ear headphones and some people find them easy to lose. Over-ear headphones sit on top of your ears and have cushioned ear cups that surround your earlobes. They’re larger and more cumbersome than in-ear headphones, but they tend to be more comfortable and offer better sound quality.

  1. Wireless

Wireless headphones are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. They’re more convenient than wired headphones since you don’t have to worry about tangled cables, and they give you the freedom to move around without being tethered to your device. Most wireless headphones use Bluetooth to connect to your device, but there are also models that use other technologies like NFC.

  1. Battery Life

If you’re looking at wireless headphones, one important factor to consider is battery life. Many wireless headphones have built-in batteries that need to be charged regularly, so you’ll want to make sure that the model you choose has a good battery life. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to recharge your headphones in the middle of a workout or commute.

  1. Sensitivity

Sensitivity is a measure of how much power a pair of headphones needs to produce sound. In general, you’ll want to look for headphones with high sensitivity if you plan on using them with portable devices like smartphones. Headphones with low sensitivity, on the other hand, require more power to reach their full potential and may not work as well with portable devices.

  1. Total Harmonic Distortion

Total harmonic distortion (THD) is a measure of how much distortion is present in a pair of headphones. Distortion can occur when the drivers are unable to produce sound accurately, which can result in a “muddy” or “fuzzy” sound. In general, you’ll want to look for headphones with low THD for the best sound quality.

When it comes to choosing the best headphones, there are a lot of important factors to consider. From driver type to noise cancellation capabilities, it’s important to know what features matter before making your purchase. By keeping these 10 terms in mind, you’ll be sure to choose the best headphones for your needs.

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