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Earphones vs. Over Ear Headphones

by Paul Sanders

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Girl wearing over ear headphones

Really good headphones are simply a pleasure to listen to, especially if you've upgraded from the standard factory earbuds that came with your CD or MP3 player. With good noise-canceling headphones, you can shut out the rest of the world, so it's just you and the music, the podcast or the audio book you're listening to. One of the comparisons you'll be making when choosing headphones is whether your want earphones or over ear headphones. Here are some comparison points to help you get started thinking about headphones.

Earphones and Headphones Compared:

  1. Frequency response: Frequency response is the range of sounds that speakers, like headphones, can reproduce. Your ears can hear sounds ranging from about 16 Hz to 20 kHz. Earphones and large headphones both reproduce frequencies rather well. Larger headphones can reproduce bass and other low sounds a little better because the drivers in the headphone cans are larger, but the difference is not noticeable to most listeners.

  2. Noise-cancelation: Earphones and regular headphones block out background noise in different ways. Earphones usually fit inside your ear canal, with the ear buds acting as a plug that lets minimal sound to reach the eardrum. Over ear headphones make a seal around your ears with soft pads, which buffer outside sound. Which works best really depends on the manufacture and design of the earphones and headphones respectively.

  3. Comfort: Which type of headphones is more comfortable is really a matter of your personal preference. You might find that earphones distract you or cause your ears to become sore. Then again, you might find over ear headphones to be too heavy or too warm to wear for a long period of time. Earphones also don't interfere with your hair or jewelry.

  4. Convenience: Earphones are definitely more compact. But if you're carrying your MP3 player in a backpack anyway, putting your headphones in there may not be that much of an inconvenience either.

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