Best Headphones

Get unbeatable sound quality with our essential headphones guide

Published 5th December 2022
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The only way to listen to music on the go is with a pair of headphones! They help you stay sane on your commute, remain motivated while pumping iron and keep focused while studying and working!

But can you tell your on-ears from your over-ears, noise cancelling from noise isolating? With this quick guide you'll learn all you need to pick the best headphones for you!

listening at work

Different types of headphones

Headphone design isn't just about style - it can play a big part when it comes to sound quality and noise isolation, as well as comfort. Here's a breakdown of the different headphone types.

In-ear headphones

Also known as earbuds, in-ear headphones are small bean-shaped headphones that rest in your ear. Some have silicone tips to create a tight seal that helps block sound.

On-ear headphones

On-ear headphones are thin, circular shaped speakers that press against your ear. They're built to be compact, with only a little padding and small bands. Most models can fold down for convenient storage.

Over-ear headphones

These completely enclose your ear to stop external noise ruining your listening. They have thicker padding, so are more comfortable to wear for long periods of time, but can be quite bulky.

Bone conduction headphones

These don't fit over your ears - instead they rest on the side of your head and send vibrations through the bones of your skull to your inner ear. They leave your ears completely open so you don't lose any situational awareness (perfect for running).

Woman dancing

Wired vs wireless

The difference between wired and wireless headphones is pretty self-explanatory: one has wires, the other doesn't! But you knew that already - here's why would you pick one over the other:

Wireless headphones

  • Connects to smart devices through Bluetooth
  • Runs off a battery, with 6-20 hours of charge time depending on model
  • Immune from wire damage, breaks or tangles
  • Added features like noise-cancellation are common

Wired headphones

  • Connects to anything with a headphone port, like Hi-Fi systems, CD players or old MP3 players
  • Almost always more affordable than wireless headphones
  • No audio quality loss - luxury studio recording headphones are all wired
  • No need to worry about keeping them charged
Woman working on PC with headphones

Headphone features

All headphones play music, but some of them do more than that! Here are some of the most popular headphone features that we'd recommend looking out for!

  • Ear hooks: Small plastic clips that slip over the top of your ear. In-ear headphones with ear hooks are even more secure than normal ones - most sports headphones have this feature.
  • True wireless: True wireless earbuds are in-ear headphones without any wires. They're extremely small and discreet, making them really popular for commutes. Apple AirPods are the most famous of these.
  • Microphones: Many headphones have mics, either in the cable or in the headphone body. Models with more expensive boom mic arms (like gaming headsets) are designed for wearing while gaming.
  • Water resistance: Water and electricity don't mix, but some headphones have IP water resistance to protect them against rain showers or sweat from working out.
  • Noise isolation: Noise isolating headphones use physical barriers to block noise coming from outside. Over-ear headphones provide the best isolation.
  • Active Noise Cancellation (ANC): ANC is a nifty bit of tech that records the sounds around you in real time, then makes soundwaves at the right frequency to disrupt this exterior noise. Usually only wireless headphones have this feature.
Woman wearing headphones smiles into camera

Headphone brands

All the biggest names in tech make their own set of headphones, and there are some specialist audio brands too. Here are a few of our favourites:

Love to use your headphones one way in particular? Check out our blog on how to find the best headphones for any occasion!

Recent Guides
Music On, World Off: The Best Noise Cancelling Headphones Of 2021 Published 10th June 2021
5 Wireless Headphones For Every Budget Published 29th March 2021
The Best Running Headphones For 2021 Published 17th March 2021
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