Headphones are the primary means of listening to a personal audio device without disturbing others. They are essentially small speakers that fit over, in, or around a person’s ears. In-ear headphones may sometimes be referred to as "earphones" or "earbuds". Headphones are used in conjunction with products like radios, CD and mp3 players, televisions, mobile phones, and DJ equipment. Generally, headphones are connected to the device with a wire but in recent years, improvements to technology have allowed headphones to become wireless. Through the use of a receiver, wireless headphones can receive and transmit sound without a physical connection between the headphones and the audio device. In addition, many headphones now include a microphone to assist in the context of telecommunication.
Headphones are available through most electronic stores, online electronics retailers, as well as online auction websites such as eBay. eBay offers an extensive range of headphones for consumers to choose from, suiting a number of taste and style preferences depending on what a person is looking for. When purchasing headphones online, a buyer should consider the different types of headphones available as well as the variety of features, sizes, and styles to choose from.
Types of Headphones
There are many different types of headphones. These include circumaural, supra-aural, and ear-fitting. There are different forms of each type of headphone. In addition, there are an array of features such as noise-cancelling headphones, amplified bass headphones, as well as fashionable or stylish headphones that include aesthetic features such as graphics or personalised colours. Each type of headphone and set of features is specifically designed for different purposes. If the headphones are intended to be highly portable, this would dictate using smaller, lighter headphones that may sacrifice sound quality. In contrast, headphones for home use may be larger, heavier and thus, provide better sound.
Circumaural headphones, sometimes described as a "full-sized headphones", are an over-ear type of headphone. They have circular earpads that fully surround the ears and are the typical form of noise-cancelling headphones. As a result of their large size and complete covering of the ear, they often can block outside noise and therefore, typically provide a high sound quality. The large size of circumaural headphones reduces their portability and requires extensive padding and a highly functional design to avoid discomfort for the user. These are often the choice for DJ’s who have a need to hear the playback without interference from outside ambient noise.
Supra-aural headphones are a hybrid form of headphones that do not cover the ear entirely like circumaural headphones, but are not intended for in-ear use like earbud style headphones. Instead, supra-aural headphones have comfortable pads that press up against the ear. Supra-aural headphones represent a good balance of portability and sound quality as they tend to be lighter and more compact than the larger circumaural headphones, but do not provide the highest level sound quality or noise-cancelling benefits. However, the sound quality and noise cancelling properties of supra-aural headphones tend to exceed that of the smaller and generally less expensive ear-bud style headphones.
Open or Closed Back Headphones
Circumaural headphones and supra-aural headphones come in two different varieties depending on the type of earcup. Open-back headphones leave the back of the ear-cup open. While leaving this space open allows more outside noise to interfere with the user’s listening experience as well as allows additional sound to escape out of the headphone, it may provide the user with a more desirable listening experience. This is the result of a more spacious "soundscape". By leaving the ear-cup open the sound is heard over a wider area, providing a more natural sound, akin to speakers.
In contrast, closed-back headphones have a sealed ear-cup. This provides more noise-cancellation and does not allow as much sound to escape the headphone thereby not disturbing others. Additionally, closed-back headphones have a smaller "soundscape" and can be both louder and provide more of a direct sounding listening experience as the audio is played directly at the listener instead of bouncing off a wider area.
Ear Fitting Headphones
Ear fitting headphones are the most portable form of headphone and come in two forms; earbuds and in-ear headphones. Earbuds are intended to fit directly into the outer ear. Some include additional hardware to hook around the ear to provide greater stability or foam pads for additional comfort. Many people find earbuds to be uncomfortable and prone to falling out. Earbuds are generally the most inexpensive type of headphone although higher-priced, higher-quality models are available as well.
Earbuds provide little in terms of noise-cancellation. A common problem with earbuds is that in order to compensate for the lack of noise-cancellation, users may turn the volume on their audio devices up extremely high and risk hearing damage. Earbuds are commonly used for applications that demand a high level of portability such as sports or travel, though it is important to make the fit a priority if these are the intended uses.
In-ear headphones are inserted into the ear canal itself and may also be called "canalphones". In-ear headphones, like earbuds, can be very inexpensive but can also be extremely costly and high quality. The higher quality in-ear headphones are sometimes called in-ear monitors which are frequently used by audio professionals such as engineers and musicians. In-ear headphones offer a high level of portability as well as impressive noise-cancellation properties. They typically come with some kind of foam, silicone, or other material covering the device to increase comfort, achieve a better fit, and provide additional noise isolation. In-ear headphones may also be custom made to specifically fit an individual’s ear canal.
Headsets are simply headphones that include a microphone. These allows for use as both headphones and a hands-free telephone when used in conjunction with a telecommunication device such as a mobile phone, intercom system, PC or console gaming. Headsets may also be used in aviation and as a direct communication among professionals who require hands-free communication.
Headsets provide two different types of microphones, internal and external. External microphones are typically more familiar, and provide an arm that holds the microphone in front of the user’s mouth. Internal microphones are less noticeable as the microphone resides in the headphones themselves, thus eliminating the need for additional hardware.
Sound Quality of Headphones
Headphones are an excellent choice for people who want to have audio, whether it be music, radio, etc., but not disturb others around them. They can provide a higher level of sound quality than speakers while also allowing the listener a higher level of privacy. There is some debate in regards to the level of sound quality as stereo recordings use two speakers as the foundation for the sound. The sounds from these two speakers mix creating a "central sound".
Headphones do not mix the sound thereby the idea of a "centre" is lost. However, this is a personal preference as some individuals favour the separate left and right channels and some musicians have even taken advantage of this phenomenon by providing listeners with a unique listening experience when using headphones by fading the sound from side to side. Headphones have additional advantages for gamers, who can better triangulate the location of in-game sounds than those who rely solely on speakers.
How to Find Headphones on eBay
eBay has a broad array of headphones to suit any need. Begin your search for headphones on eBay by using the search box located on every page of the website. Once you have decided which type of headphones best suits your individual needs, you can type in keywords describing that type of headphone into the search box. For example, if you decide that you desire high sound quality with exceptional noise-cancellation for home use, type circumaural headphones into the search box and click search. eBay provides a variety of this type of headphone and a range of prices from which you can choose from.
Since even the larger headphones are relatively small items, generally shipping is not overly onerous. However, it is important to be careful particularly with inexpensive, low-quality earbud style headphones. Since users have a tendency to use earbuds at high volume to compensate for the low sound quality and poor noise-cancellation, earbuds tend to blow out quickly.
When deciding which headphones to purchase, it is important to balance all of the different factors against whatever the intended use is. As a general rule, the highest levels of sound quality and noise-cancellation are the heaviest, most expensive, and least portable headphones. If the intended use is portability and sound quality is not the primary concern, earbuds may be a good choice. There are many different options that all blend price, sound, portability, and noise-cancellation and many headphones are well-suited to one application and not another.
In addition, some put an emphasis on aesthetics. There are many different types of colours, patterns, and graphics that allow virtually every individual the opportunity to express themselves. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to evaluate what the primary use of the headphone is. eBay provides a large range of headphones, replacement parts, and accessories that are likely enough to satisfy any buyer.