A Guide to Buying Audio Headphones

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A Guide to Buying Audio Headphones

Audio headphones originated from the earpiece, which was the only device that allowed users to listen to audio signals until the development of the amplifier. As technology advanced, headphones became capable of doing more than just channelling sound through a cable into two separate ear plugs. The headphones used for listening to high-fidelity music in the comfort of a user's home have evolved into various types of headphones that users wear at work, outdoors, and on the run. Headphones are now a pervasive part of most cultures, as users wear small, lightweight headphones to listen to music downloaded from digital files stored with third-party sources.

While manufacturers can include audio headphones with the purchase of a home entertainment centre or home theatre, consumers eventually replace their original headphones due to wear and tear. They can find audio headphones at any audio electronics shop or big box electronics retail outlet. Moreover, consumers can shop for audio headphones online at the leading online site, eBay. Before they shop for audio headphones, buyers should learn about the types of audio headphones, the features manufacturers make available, and the factors to consider when making the final purchasing decision.

The Most Common Audio Headphone Styles

The style of headphones chosen depends mostly on the intended use of the headphones. For instance, users wear different headphones while gaming, listening to music, or organising a work project. Moreover, home listening does not require the portability necessary for consumers who are on the go. Review the following five most common audio headphone styles and decide which style best matches its intended use.

Audio Headphone Style

Description

Earbud

Known as in-ear headphones

Use with portable players

Ultra compact and lightweight

Provides moderate to outstanding isolation from external noise

Does not interfere with earrings or clash with hairstyles

Ear-Pad

Known as open-backed, ear-pad, or supra-aural headphones

Rest on top of outer ears

Some designs cover the ears

Comfortable

Less likely to overheat compared to full-size headphones

Full-size

Known as circumaural, closed-back, or ear cup headphones

Ear cups fully cover ears

Better suited for home use due to size and acoustic isolation capability

Provides maximum bass and loudness levels

Surround sound seals sound within the ear cups

Wireless

Often referred to as transmitter or Bluetooth headphones

Perfect for apartment use

Used by people who need portability

No wires needed for connection

Noise-Cancelling

Produces ambient noise that overrides ear noise

Available in a wide variety of sizes

Promotes reduced ear fatigue

Ideal for flights and public transportation commutes

Most consumers buy multiple audio headphone styles to cover all of their intended uses. Of the five most common audio headphone styles, wireless headphones are more capable of working well outside of their intended purpose. Consult with an electronics sales professional to help decide which style works best for an intended use.

Audio Headphone Features

The purpose of buying audio headphones goes a long way in determining which type of headphones consumers purchase. However, consumers must also consider the features they want in their audio headphones. Some features increase the price of audio headphones, which is a factor that consumers should consider before making a final purchasing decision. Here are the features most buyers need to consider.

Bass

Headphone bass never comes close to matching the booming bass that people experience while listening to music through large speakers or subwoofers. However, many audio headphone manufacturers create a signature bass sound by isolating lower frequencies. Earbud headphones typically possess small sound devices that do not compete with the level of bass provided by full-size headphones. The capability of full-size headphones to project strong bass tones is one of the reasons why full-size models work best with home entertainment systems.

Open or Sealed

Sealed headphones completely cover the ears to isolate them from external noise. While the degree of isolation varies among headphone models, the intention of sealed headphones is to prevent sound leakage into the sealed areas around the ear. Sealed headphones are used in libraries to prevent music and other sounds from negatively impacting the concentration of other patrons. Open headphones, such as foam earpads, release sound that other people can hear. The advantage of open headphones is that they typically produce more high-quality sound than sealed headphones. Open headphones work best for outdoor activities that require users to be aware of their surroundings.

Comfort

Anyone who has worn uncomfortable headphones understands the irritation they can cause. The best way to discern if a pair of audio headphones provides comfort is to wear the pair for at least 15 minutes. Factors to consider include weight and the pressure the headphones place on the ears. Audio headphones that cover ears can cause uncomfortable heating and moisture. Stay away from larger, sealed headphone models that manufacturers construct with leather pads. Consider headband-style headphones, since they invariably feel more comfortable than heavier, full-size audio headphones.

Durability

Audio headphones should provide a lengthy lifespan. The materials used to construct durable audio headphones comprise combinations of materials that resist dents and prevent scratches and chipping. Durable headphones are constructed to last more than a decade, except the headphone styles that people use for outdoor activities. Some earbud and wireless headphones can be fragile due to the inability for those types of headphones to fold into compact, easy storage positions. Some manufacturers include warranties to entice consumers to buy their brands of audio headphones.

Cable

A vast majority of headphones only come with one attached cable, which is typically attached to the left earpiece in a design called single-sided cabling. A few models utilise Y-cabling that connects a cable to both earpieces. Cable length preferences vary depending on where users wear the electronic devices. An electronic device placed in a backpack or trouser pocket requires a longer cable, but devices attached to an arm or worn around the neck only require a short length of cable. Consumers can buy cable extensions if they find their current cable length to be too short.

Audio Headphone Buying Factors

Intended use is the most important factor that determines which type of headphones to buy. Over-the-ear headphones work great for users who want to listen to their favourite music from the comfort of an easy chair. Noise-cancelling headphones block out the external distractions found in bustling airports and on light rail cars. Portable audio devices, such as MP3 players, require lighter, more mobile headphones. While intended purpose forms the cornerstone of the audio headphone buying process, consumers need to consider other factors before they decide on a pair of audio headphones.

Price

Follow the mantra, "Never sacrifice quality for price". Headphones require consumers to use the same buying standards that they use for purchasing other types of electronic equipment.

Specifications

Since headphones utilise a number of different connectors, make sure the headphone plug fits the stereo or MP3 player jack. The 6.33 mm plug still defines the professional audio headphone standard and consumers can find this standard in most electronic equipment. 3.5 mm plugs are more common on computer, studio, and noise-cancelling headphones. Consumers typically use 2.5 mm headphone plugs to connect to cell phones and other small electronic devices. Adapters can correct any plug-to-jack size issues, but adapters tend to leak audio signals, and thus, reduce the power and quality of the sound.

Dynamic or Static Driver

All types of speakers utilise drivers, which represent the vocal chords of stereo speakers. Dynamic drivers are cone-shaped diaphragms that connect to a voice coil. They range in quality from cheap, low-fidelity drivers to some high-end varieties. Sound quality hinges on the quality of the materials used to construct the diaphragms. Static drivers, which are thin sheets of stretch foil, are considered the higher quality driver. They produce superior sound replication and extremely low distortion. Static drivers work best in high frequencies.

Impedance

Impedance determines the volume limit on a pair of headphones. Lower impedance levels mean headphones can obtain higher volume levels. Some electronic devices restrict volume levels, which places more importance on buying audio headphones that possess low impedance levels. Studio musicians wear audio headphones that fall on the lowest end of the impedance range.

Buying Audio Headphones on eBay

You can find a wide variety of new and used audio headphones by shopping on eBay. Simply type keywords into eBay's search engine, and then navigate through search result pages until you find sellers who meet your buying criteria. You should type specific keyword into the search engine to narrow the number of seller options. For instance, typing "Sony audio headphones" or "DJ headphones" reduces the number of search result pages. Once you choose a seller, click on the seller's product page link to review return policies, delivery terms, and accept payment methods.

Consider buying audio headphones from one of eBay's Top-Rated Sellers. These sellers have established reputations for selling high-quality products at reasonable prices. You can find the top-rated sellers by looking for the electronic icon that eBay places by each qualified seller's product photograph. eBay sellers also compile customer feedback that you can find on their product pages. Look for sellers who have earned positive customer feedback over the past year and preferably have some experience selling electronics equipment. Once you build a solid business relationship with an eBay seller, ask that seller if he or she runs and eBay Store where you can directly purchase products.

Conclusion

What were once a pair of earpieces that enabled users to mute radio sound, have now transformed into high-tech listening devices that perform many functions. Consumers choose audio headphones primarily because of how they intend to use the listening devices. For instance, someone who wants to listen to music through a home stereo system requires a different type of audio headphones than someone who wears headphones during a walk in the park. Other buying factors that consumer must consider include features such as comfort, durability, and bass resonance. The final phase of the buying process is to rank the factors that consumers deem to be important when buying audio headphones.

Many electronics shops bundle audio headphones with stereo and home entertainment systems. Therefore, consumers may not have to purchase a pair of headphones until the first breaks. The same bundling concept is implemented by many eBay sellers who either discount audio headphones with the purchase of a higher ticket item or include the headphones with the purchase of other electronic products. Buying audio headphones requires a bit of detective work that can pay off with a discounted or free way to listen to music and hear televised concerts.

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