How to choose headphones

To understand which headphones to choose, you need to answer the question why do we need headphones? Of course, in order to listen to music. And it is very good that this process will be accompanied by comfort. Surely, the primary criterion affecting listening comfort will be the absence of extraneous noise. In no case should you hear bass booming, whistling, or any other sound that is not related to the file you are listening to. But, not all headphones meet these requirements. Most people who own portable devices are forced to buy separate headphones for them. This happens due to the fact that listening to music in the headphones included with the device does not bring pleasure. What do you need to do to choose good "ears"? How to choose the right headphones?
The most important rule that will help save your nerves is do not give preference to cheap headphones. Saving will greatly affect the sound quality. If you save money on headphones, you will lose a lot of quality. It is very unlikely that you want to hear not a pleasant, clear sound, but a hiss or a whistle. In the event that you buy high-value headphones, your costs will not be in vain. At the output, you will get a wonderful sound and the absence of extraneous sounds.
Design
Depending on the type of construction, headphones are divided into several types. They are electrostatic, dynamic and reinforcing.
In dynamic headphones, the electrodynamic principle of signal conversion is used. A coil of wire, which is in the field of a permanent magnet, is attached to the membrane. Under the action of alternating current, the coil performs a movement that exactly repeats the shape of the electrical signal. Even if we take into account all the shortcomings of this signal conversion method, the use of new materials and inventions smooths them out, improving the quality of the reproduced sound.
Reinforcing headphones by the principle of operation are quite similar to dynamic ones. The main component of such headphones is fittings, the so-called U-shaped plate, made of a ferromagnetic alloy. The influence of the magnetic field on the armature attached to the diaphragm causes its oscillations, which are fully consistent with the received signal. The fluctuations of the diaphragm are perceived by us as sound. This design avoids the appearance of distortion during playback, so this type of headphone is very popular with musicians. The sound of these headphones is very dependent on the direct position of the earpiece in the ear and on the anatomical structure of the ear. Another disadvantage is the high cost of this variety.
Electrostatic headphones use a membrane that sits between two electrons to create sound. A constant voltage is applied to the membrane, and a signal from the audio system is applied to the electrodes, under the influence of which, the vibrations of the membrane incredibly accurately repeat the shape of the electrical signal. These headphones are often used with Hi-Fi and Hi-End audio equipment. This is due to the fact that their price is very high.
The headphone cable must have a one-way or two-way connection. In the event that the connection is two-way, then the wire goes separately to each headphone, but if we have a one-way connection, then the wire fits only one headphone. The second earpiece is connected through a wire, which is hidden by a bow. Which is very convenient for the person who uses them.
The main component of the connecting cable is copper, which plays the role of a conductor. The connecting cable is made up of a serial connection of individual pellets. Each granule inside has a crystal lattice of the correct structure. However, the transitions between the granules are oxidized and cause structural damage. These transitions are an obstacle that degrades the signal by interfering with the electric current. The highest-end headphones use an oxygen-free copper conductor. And, thanks to this, there is no violation of the structure between the granules, which has a positive effect on the quality of the signal.
The cable length of conventional headphones is 1-3 meters, but in some varieties it can reach 7 meters. Headphones for players have a cable 50 centimeters long, but very often an extension cord is supplied with the headphones, since the length of the cable may not be enough to conveniently place the player in your pocket. The headphone cable for portable equipment should be on average 1-1.2 meters long, but this length may not be enough for home use.
Frequency
When choosing headphones, carefully inspect the box. It should indicate the frequency that affects the quality of the sound that comes from the headphones. In the event that the frequency range is narrow, at the output we will get a metallic tint of sound at very high or very low frequencies, as well as a characteristic hiss. But manufacturers, in order to interest the client, very often indicate a wider range than it really is. This is done because the criteria for measuring the frequency range of each manufacturer is different. Outside the range, the sound will be no different, apart from being slightly quieter. That is why people are so often surprised when comparing cheap and expensive headphones with the same frequency ranges. In this regard, it is worth remembering that you should not pay attention to this parameter.
There is such a thing as a frequency response or frequency response graph, which should always remain linear, without sound distortion. That is why without the linearity of the frequency response, the characteristics of the frequency ranges remain useless information. The frequency amplitude through the package is not determined. To do this, you need to listen to an expressive composition through headphones, thus testing the device.
The headphone membrane is also one of the factors affecting sound quality. The larger the diameter of the membrane of the headphones, the better such headphones will reproduce the “bottoms”. As a result, if the quality of the received sound is important to you, remember that the membrane should not be less than 30 mm.
Resistance
Other important parameters are also indicated on the packaging. Resistance is a measure of the minimum resistance to AC current. This parameter is taken into account in relation to the device to which the headphones will be connected. The portable player is suitable for headphones, the impedance of which is 16-40 ohms. But it is worth knowing that if the resistance is below the minimum allowable level, the user will hear not only music, but also rustles that occur while switching player tabs, as well as other noises.
If large monitor headphones, with a resistance of 250 ohms, are connected to the player, we will hear not a sound, but a whisper. You also need to know that to connect headphones with an impedance of more than 150 ohms, you must use your own amplifier. Headphones that are designed for sound cards and are used without an amplifier should have an impedance ranging from 120 to 150 ohms. Headphones belonging to the highest class have an impedance of over 300 ohms. This reduces overall distortion, but requires the signal coming from the amplifier to be at a high voltage level.
Sensitivity
This parameter affects the volume level of the headphones, at certain values of the signal supplied to them. Headphones with a higher level of sensitivity will work louder than those with which they have the same level of impedance. The sensitivity of the headphones is determined by the pressure they produce when an electrical signal with a power of 1mW is applied to them.
Sound pressure is measured in dB (decibels). The sensitivity threshold for human hearing is zero decibels. The pain threshold is 140 dB. In this regard, the sensitivity of the headphones should be at least 100 dB. The magnetic cores of the headphones deserve special attention. The small diameter of the core can indicate the low power of the magnet. In the event that headphones with large membranes are not suitable for you, then you should opt for headphones with neodymium cores, which have a high level of magnetic energy.
Headphones are rated for electrical output power, which varies from 1 to 3500 mW. This shows the volume at which the headphones are playing sound. The main thing to understand is that the volume depends not only on the power, but also on the resistance and sensitivity.
Connection type
Headphone connection methods are also different. By connection type, there are wireless and wired headphones. What is better to choose? Of course, wireless headphones are quite an attractive solution that suits people who move or dance while listening to music. However, there is an opinion that the sound transmission quality of such headphones is very different, for the worse, from wired headphones from the same class. However, these headphones should not be discounted. Modern technologies make it possible to avoid strong distortions when transmitting a signal with wireless headphones.
The wireless headphone transmitter can have from 1 to 27 channels. A larger number of channels creates the conditions for a simpler selection of the operating frequency. This is due to the fact that if interference occurs on one of the channels, you can switch to the next one. The higher the operating frequency of the transmitter, the better the signal will pass through walls and other obstacles. If you plan to use the headphones outside of rooms or outside the home, you should choose headphones with a transmitter operating frequency of at least 800 MHz.
The range of these headphones varies greatly and can reach up to 100 m. In the event that you need headphones that will work within the room, a range of several meters is enough for you. To move around the apartment, it is enough that the range is 10-30 m. Headphones with a range of up to 100 m are suitable for use outside the home.
In addition to infrared and radio signal sources, there are models that use Bluetooth technology, so they can connect with many devices that have a built-in Bluetooth adapter that supports the A2TP profile.
It is no secret that wireless "ears" are somewhat heavier than their wired "comrades". This is due to the fact that batteries or accumulators are required for their operation, which are also discharged quite often. Therefore, in order not to buy separate headphones for Hi-Fi and Hi-End systems, you should immediately opt for wired headphones.
Without exception, all wireless, as well as some models of wired headphones, have a volume control. This becomes useful if the person is far away from the source of the signal.
Acoustic design
Depending on the acoustic design, there are several types of headphones: closed, open and semi-open. Closed-back headphones do not allow the penetration of external sounds, which is good when listening to music in public transport. In a closed device, the headband, if present, presses on the ear more than other types of headphones. This is due to the fact that if the cups do not fit well, the reproduction of low-frequency sounds will deteriorate. If you choose earphones with temples, put them on for 5-10 minutes. You will immediately feel if they are pressing you.
Open headphones allow outside sounds to enter. In connection with these, a person is not auditorily separated from the outside world, which makes the sound more natural. But in public transport it becomes problematic to listen to music using these headphones. Semi-open headphones let in external sounds, but provide decent sound isolation.
Comfort
There are several types of headphone design:
- plug-in
- invoices
- liners
- monitor
Headphones placed directly in the ears are divided into two types: in-ear and in-ear. The earbuds are small in size, very convenient for use with portable devices. Included with most players. The downside is that they are quite badly kept in the ears. This is due to the fact that people have very different ear shapes. Also, these headphones have low sound insulation, poorly reproduce low-frequency sounds.
In-ear headphones stay in the ear much better. This is achieved through a smaller diameter. They are also inserted deeper into the ear canal. Typically, these headphones have so-called silicone ear pads, which fix the earpiece well in the ear, and also help to improve sound insulation, which improves the quality of listening to music.
On-ear headphones are pressed against the ears with the help of the occipital arch, and also have a much larger membrane diameter, which has a beneficial effect on sound quality. Sometimes the fastener is a vertical bow, which connects two cups of these "ears". Due to this, the weight of the headphones is evenly distributed over the surface of the head.
The best monitor headphones are recognized, which are used to monitor sound in recording studios. But, it is worth noting that there are monitor headphones for home use. This variety has a large headband, ear cushions that cover the ear as much as possible, as well as large membranes that evenly reproduce the entire frequency range.
Monitor headphones of different models have their own characteristics. Some have a cable that looks a lot like a handset cord or a detachable cable. A twisted cable is used to keep the wire from dangling underfoot. Detachable cable allows replacement in case of damage. This is very true if you take into account the price of monitor headphones. It's much easier to buy a new cable than to throw away high-end headphones because of the slightest damage.
The weight of the headphones is also of great importance, because they are constantly worn on the head. Earbuds weigh from 5 to 30 grams, overheads from 40 to 100, and monitors 150-300 grams.
Switching
There are two types of audio signal transmission - analog and digital. Digital transmission means that the signal is transmitted encoded as ones and zeros. A similar transmission type is used in wireless headphones, but most headphones use an analog transmission type. It implies that the magnitude of the signal is directly proportional to the strength of the signal. Digital headphones provide higher quality sound, no interference, no motion fade, no noise, but this type of headphone comes with a high price tag.
exits
Wireless headphones have a base unit that houses the transmitter, signal processing electronics, and a line output where the signal is duplicated. This allows, without turning off the headphones, to connect an amplifier with speakers to them.
Inputs
The base unit installed in the wireless headphones also has a digital coaxial input, which eliminates the presence of interference and noise. With it, you can transmit the audio signal in both stereo and multi-channel modes. It is also possible to transmit multi-channel audio through it using a simple cable with an RCA connector.
In addition to this input, there may also be a digital optical input. It allows you to transmit a digital signal in several modes. The main difference from the coaxial input is the use of light to transmit the signal, as well as the use of a light guide instead of an electrical cable. All this allows you to ensure signal protection even with strong electromagnetic interference.
Connectors
There are several types of connectors for connecting headphones to the device. They are mini jack 3.5, mini jack 2.5, 5-pin, jack 6.3. There are two types of jacks - 6.3 for audio systems and 3.5 for players.
The size of the earphone should correspond to the diameter of the input of the audio system. Very often, in headphones with a mini jack 3.5 connector, one of the components is an adapter for jack 6.3. In turn, headphones with a 6.3 connector are supplied with an adapter for 3.5. Almost all electrostatic headphones use a 5-pin connector.
There are several modifications of the mini jack connector. This is a straight connector and L-shaped. In the event that portable equipment is used, an L-shaped connector is suitable. This is due to the fact that it fits more tightly to the body, and also does not affect its dimensions in any way. Headphones with a direct connector are quite suitable for stationary equipment.
Conclusion
Species diversity of headphones makes their choice quite difficult. When choosing headphones, you need to decide for what purpose, as well as under what conditions you are going to use them. It is also very important to take into account all the parameters that were indicated in this article. A variety of headphones allows any person to choose the “ears” that suit him. This article was intended to help the average user in terms of choosing headphones. We really hope that the information provided by us was useful to you, and you were able to choose headphones that fully met your requirements and expectations.

How to choose headphones
How to choose headphones
How to choose headphones
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January 30, 2023 07:24:10 +0200 GMT
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