Your Guide to Buying Headphones by the Specs

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Your Guide to Buying Headphones by the Specs

In a digital age of MP3 players, gaming consoles, and smartphones, headphones have become an essential component for relaying the audio signal from the electronic device to the listener without the sound directly affecting other people. Headphones are convenient to take on a trip, for use at the office, out for a run, or just to stay at home and listen to one's favourite music. They are easy to use, and are fairly comfortable when placed around and in the ear. They are miniature speakers developed to be used with the listener's ears and not away from the body. They come in different sizes, prices, colours, designs, and features that appeal to the buyer's personal preferences.

eBay offers a large variety of different types of quality headphones for any purpose and budget. They also offer headphones that may not be found at a regular electronics store or retail store. When shopping for headphones, it is important to understand the different types of headphones, the technology involved, and the vital specs of each type of headphones.

Uses for Headphones

Headphones can be used on a personal or professional level. On a personal level, they can be used with devices such as CD and DVD players, radios, audio systems, personal computers, MP3 players, and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. On a professional level, professional DJs and sound engineers, use headphones in radio stations and recording studios. The military and aviation industries also use headphones.

Types of Headphones

The first headphones were developed in 1910 before amplifiers were invented. These larger headphones were bulky and had a wired cable plugged into a headphone jack. Later, headphones became popular during the 1970s when the Walkman, a portable, lightweight, audio cassette player came on the music scene. The only way to listen to the music on the Walkman was through the use of smaller headphones. Since then, the popularity and uses for headphones have increased substantially, making them essential components of most electronic devices such as CD players, MP3 players, radios, gaming consoles, and smartphones.

Today's contemporary headphones are also smaller, more lightweight, and comfortable to wear than traditional headphones. The types of headphones vary according to where and how they are used. Individual preferences and taste in music help in determining the choice of headphones.

Wired and Wireless Headphones

Headphones are wired or wireless. Wired headphones connect to the electronic device with cables such as with a CD player, MP3 player, or audio amplifier in order to receive the audio transmission. Wireless headphones do not use cables to receive a transmission from another device. Many in-ear headsets have wireless connectivity.

Dynamic and Electrostatic Headphones

Headphone technology is termed either dynamic or electrostatic, depending on the type of sound produced. Headphones that are dynamic can be wired or wireless, and are representative of small speakers. It is the most common headphone technology used in all brands and types of headphones, ranging from inexpensive to expensive. The headphone's characteristic round shape sets it apart from the rectangular shape of electrostatic headphones. These headphones need an amplifier to produce sound. The sound quality of electrostatic headphones is significantly better than dynamic headphones. However, they are too pricey for the audiophile shopping on a budget.

Full Size, Over-the-Ear Headphones

Full size, over-the-ear headphones are headphones that cover the entire ear. The circular earcups on the headphones surround the ear, preventing external noises from affecting the listener. Full size, over-the-ear headphones are the heaviest headphones, weighing approximately 500 grams or more. Many wearers of these types of headphones use a comfortable headband and earpads to compensate for the discomfort.

On-the-Ear Headphones

On-the-ear headphones are headphones in which the earpads do not cover the entire ear but simply press against the outside of the ear. Because they do not cover the entire ear, there is a tendency for some external noise to affect the sound quality. They are also not as heavy as full size, over-the-ear headphones.

Open-Back and Closed-Back Earcups

Open-back and closed-back earcups are two types of earcup designs used with full size, over-the-ear and on-the-ear headphones. They describe the differences in soundscape between the two types. Soundscape is a combination of the naturally and environmentally created sounds formed within a specific environment. For instance, it describes how much natural, outside sound seeps into the headphones, affecting the listening environment.

Open-Back Earcups

Open-back earcups are earcups that are open at the back of the headphone. They are used mainly with on-the-ear headphones. Because they are open, more natural, outside sound is allowed to enter into the listening environment. Some sounds and music from the headphones can also be allowed to leak outside of the headphones. This speaker-like, sound perception gives the listener a feeling of distance between the sound, or the music's source, and the listener's ear.

Closed-Back Earcups

Closed-back earcups are earcups that are closed at the back of the headphone. For full size, over-the-ear headphones, this type of earcup completely seals out natural and environmentally created sounds that may affect the listening environment. The listening environment is focused internally and situated around the listener's head and ears rather than from a distance. Most recording studio headphones use closed-back earcups for reasons of sound quality, comfort, and durability.

Ear-Fitting Headphones

Ear-fitting headphones or earbuds are small enough to fit inside the outer ear. They do not enter the ear canal. They are very lightweight and easily portable. Ear-fitting headphones do not come with a headband to hold them in position so they can easily fall out of the ear. Some users see them as being uncomfortable and difficult to fit properly in the ear. Because of their small size, they easily allow outside sounds to enter the listening environment, affecting the overall sound quality. Many listeners compensate for this by increasing the volume level. Too much volume can permanently affect the listener's hearing. Other listeners view this as an advantage. They are still in tune with the external sounds around them and are more aware of potential hazards, like when crossing the road while listening to music. Many ear-fitting headphones come with electronic devices such as MP3 players. They are quite affordable when purchased separately.

In-the-Ear Headphones

In-the-ear headphones or ear canal headphones are similar to ear-fitting headphones but instead of fitting inside the outer ear only, they fit into the ear canal. This type of fit prevents most outside sounds from entering into the listening environment, providing a better quality listening environment than ear-fitting headphones or earbuds do. They also do not fall out as easily even without a headband to hold them in place.

Sports Headphones

Sports headphones use in-ear headphones or earbuds. This type of headphone is good to use when exercising, especially running or jogging. They are lightweight, sweat-resistant, and can be easily used with a portable electronic device such as a personal music player.

Universal and Custom-Made Headphones

There are two types of in-the-ear headphones. They are universal and custom-made. Universal, in-the-ear headphones are made to generally fit the ear canals of different users. Custom-made, in-the-ear headphones are made to fit a particular user's ear canal. They are more expensive than universal, in-the-ear headphones. The most expensive and highest quality, in-the-ear headphones are in-ear monitors.


Headsets are headphones that are connected to a small microphone either located in the earpiece of the headphone or directly in front of the listener's mouth. The listener talks into the microphone to another person, as if talking on the telephone, and listens through the headset for the person's response. Headsets come with one or two earpieces. Headsets with two earpieces provide better stereo sound than one-earpiece headsets. Most wired headsets fit over the head, behind the neck, or over the ear. Wireless headsets such as Bluetooth mobile phone headsets are small, over the ear headsets that offer hands-free operation by transmitting signals through radio wave frequencies.

The following table illustrates the differences between the different types of headphones. These differences are in the areas of location, size, and sound quality.

Headphone Type



Sound Quality

Full size, Over-the-Ear

Around the ear

Large, full size

No external sounds with closed-back earcups


Against the ear

Large, ear size

Some external sounds with open-back earcups

Ear-Fitting, Earbuds

Inside the outer ear

Small, bud-shaped

Smaller fit, more external sounds

In-the-Ear, Ear Canals

In the ear canal

Small, canal-shaped

Custom-made and in-ear monitors let less external sounds in than universal headphones


Over the ear

Ear size for wired Small, bud-shaped for wireless

With two earpieces, less external sounds than with one earpiece

The table above highlights the differences between the five types of headphones. eBay offers quality headphones in popular brands to appeal to any buyer.

Buying Headphones on eBay

eBay provides a variety of different types of headphones for any budget. The headphones listed on eBay come in different colours, popular designs, and hard-to-find styles. They are versatile and can be used with various electronic devices such as televisions, personal computers, DVD players, CD players, MP3 players, and smartphones. Some headphones have noise isolating features which filter the background noises apart from the normal audio sounds. eBay offers professional DJ and studio headphones, along with sports and gaming console headphones.

To shop for headphones on eBay, the buyer should go to the eBay homepage and type in 'headphones' in the search bar at the top of the page. If the buyer knows the specific brand of headphones, they can enter this information in the search bar, too. The buyer is then be directed to a specific page of listings with numerous descriptions for headphones. The buyer can select a specific listing or sort the listings by eBay top-rated sellers. eBay top-rated sellers are sellers who have earned high feedback ratings from previous buyers quality customer service and delivery.

The buyer should take note of the specification in the item description. There are times when the buyer simply forgets to include important specification in the item listing. In cases like this, it is important to contact the seller with questions. The buyer can reach out to the seller by going into their profile and clicking on the contact link.


Headphones can be used with virtually any electronic audio or video device. They are an essential component of these devices, providing quality sound output and listening enjoyment for all ages. The different types of headphones appeal to individual listening preferences and music styles. Their colourful designs reflect listeners' personalities, making them both fashionable and functional. eBay offers hard-to-find designs such as audio earmuff headphones that may not be found in regular electronics or retail stores. With so many available choices, it's easy to shop with eBay.

The choice of headphones can help bring a buyer's entire musical collection to life or allow wireless, hands-free phone calls. Individuals can use them at home, at work, on holiday, when exercising, or in professional music venues. When choosing headphones, the buyer should consider sound quality as well as comfort. An expensive pair of headphones isn't going to do much good if they are a pain to wear. The eBay platform is simple to use, allowing buyers to effortlessly compare headphones by the specs.

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