For many of us, headphones are one of life’s essentials. From work to exercise, we are constantly listening, streaming, and chatting using headphones. If you’re in need of an upgrade, make sure you consider the following six things to find the headphones that are right for you!

1) Wired or Wireless?

While wireless headphones are currently the most popular and fashionable choice, the more traditional wired headphones still offer excellent sound quality. Wired headphones can be used with any device with an audio input jack. The fact that you frequently need to charge wireless headphones, as well as their higher price-points, make them less attractive if your priority is sound quality.

Of course, whether you opt for wireless or wired headphones will depend on your primary needs. If you want headphones suited to exercise, wireless is more convenient. If you need headphones for work, wired choices are often more affordable and don’t compromise on quality.

2) Noise Cancellation

Active noise cancellation (ANC) is a feature that blocks out all external sounds when you’re using headphones. This can be useful if you’re a busy commuter or work in a noisy environment, and you don’t want the distraction of outside noises. For casual listening, however, some users find that noise cancellation can be too intense.

Headphones with ANC as a feature do come at a higher price. However, you might consider prioritizing it if you are a regular traveler and want to cancel out the sound of noisy passengers. Think about whether this is one of your priorities when shopping around for headphones.

3) Wear Style

You can purchase headphones in three different wear styles. These are:

  • In the ear: Small earbuds that go in the ear, offering natural noise cancellation. Available at a range of price points.
  • On the ear: Padded earmuffs and a headband for comfortable listening.
  • Over the ear: Similar to on the ear, but larger and greater sound quality. Often used in studios.

The style you choose will likely depend on the purposes for which you need the headphones. In-the-ear are portable, so they’re great for when you’re on the go or heading to the gym. On-the-ear styles are great for long periods of listening, while over-the-ear tend to offer the best sound quality.

4) Comfort

If you use your headphones on a daily basis, you need them to be comfortable—and that’s a matter of preference. Some people love the convenience and size of in-ear headphones, such as wireless earbuds. Others, however, find their lack of cushioning uncomfortable over long periods of use.

For over-ear or on-ear options, you need to consider ear pads and the headband. With the headband, you don’t want it to be too tight, so check out the product specifications to make sure they won’t feel like your head is being pinched! Ear pad cushions range in firmness and cushioning, so it depends on what you personally find comfortable.

5) Sound Quality

This can be hard to judge without testing the headphones out first, so it’s worth it to see whether you can try before you buy in-store. Product specifications as well as online reviews are excellent resources for looking at sound quality. It’s also a matter of taste—some people enjoy earphones with a heavy bass effect, while others are looking for tonal depth and range.

6) Price

Set yourself a realistic budget and try to stick to it. You can buy any kind of headphones at number of price points, from a few dollars to thousands. Think about your priorities and find ones at a suitable price that suit. We think that you can find great headphone for less that $100 – for example, these headphones are all under $50 and offer different features, quality and convenience.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.