Buying Guide: How to choose your headphones?

The number of brands and references of cat ear headphone has literally exploded in recent years, and what was it is only a tool to listen to its music has become a real fashion accessory.

There are many large brands of headphone in the market, sedentary headphone and nomad headphone are in top of the list. They do not respond to the same needs at all. The former prefer the comfort of listening and the sound quality, at the expense of the “look” and compactness. The latter must be light, comfortable, well insulated, compact and, for some years now, have a strong visual identity.

They address, as their name indicates, listeners in search of a listening solution of living room – mostly filial – favoring sound quality. There are two types of headphone in this category: closed headphone and open headphone. Remember that a closed headphones is hermetic and isolates the sound, preventing it from spreading outdoors while the open headphone lets pass a part of the sound message, often by a grid visible on the shell of the earpiece.

Closed headphone have the advantage of offering a wide range and optimal insulation. You are in a bubble, cut off from the outside world, for a better immersion in music. Some models, called Noise Reduction Headphones (also called “active noise reduction”), are particularly suited to a noisy environment (aircraft, train, etc.).

Open headphone , which are less insulating, allow an opening of the restitution, with the result of a less severe but often more tense and more varied, and especially a “release” of the interpretation, which seems more airy and more neutral . Disadvantage, the sound is perceptible from the outside, which can create an embarrassment for the entourage.
The nomadic headphone

Taken by the triumph of smartphones, they clearly have the wind at the moment. There are three main families in this category:-

– Let’s start with the cat ear headphones, the principle of which is to enter the ear canal and create a maximum sound insulation. Their big advantages are their discretion and lightness, they can be used everywhere. It remains that a large number of listeners are refractory to the introduction of a foreign body in their auditory pavilion. Another disadvantage is that the isolation they create can be dangerous because we have less awareness of the world around us and our attention is reduced. With the recent progress in this family of headphone, today we find on the market number of quality products, and this in all price ranges.

– Headphones (or earphones) , very popular at the beginning of the adventure of nomadic sound, are losing momentum. Often provided original with walkmans, they are clearly set back in sound quality and listening comfort. The insulation is very relative, the sound scene is often narrow, the port is often unpleasant over time, so we reserve the use of it to take telephone calls.

– Finally headphones with head arch , the most sold currently. They are more or less comfortable depending on the quality of the workmanship and the clamping system chosen, for them they have better bass management and good isolation (especially for closed models), often wider bandwidth and greater versatility many of them can be used on a hi-fi system thanks to the jack adapter often provided). Besides, the vast majority of them are fold able for a largely reduced congestion. These cat ear headphones often offer an extended sound scene compared to other technologies.

cat ear headphones

Let’s stop for a moment on the particular case of wireless headsets. Practical, lightweight and with clear sound quality, Bluetooth headsets are an interesting alternative to wired headsets. It should be borne in mind that this increased comfort is paid for by a slight loss of definition and reduced bandwidth at the ends. To be preferred, the A-PTX compatible Bluetooth headsets , supposed to approach, if the source is also compatible, the audio quality of the CD.

The UHF headphone themselves remain mostly dedicated to the intimate listening to your TV and away from a high-fidelity reproduction. Some manufacturers, like Sennheiser , however offer UHF headphones very compatible with a musical listening.

Everything for style!

Before, the cat ear headphones had to be discreet. Today, on the contrary, they are fashion accessories in their own right, made to be seen. This is called trendy headphone . Manufacturers compete with ingenuity in shapes and colors, for a sometimes hazardous result (see photo below), but also with very beautiful aesthetic successes, This is unfortunately sometimes to the detriment of the sound quality, which is a headroom for a headphone … audio!

To synthesize, if you are looking for a nomadic headphone, a headphone with head arch and closed seems to me the most suitable and the most qualitative solution musically speaking. The Bluetooth is an alternative for its practicality, but often making concessions on sound quality. The in -ear , if you support them, will also be an interesting solution but a hair less qualitative in my opinion. For the most part, nomadic products are also equipped with a remote control and a microphone for communication.

For use at home, I recommend a closed headphone to listen to dynamic music, and an open headphone if you are an audiophile and / or if you listen more specifically to jazz, classical music or acoustic music. Manufacturers like SENNHEISER or AKG have made it a specialty. I draw your attention to the fact that we must not forget to check the consistency between the impedance of the headphone chosen and the use for which it is intended.

One last piece of advice, take time to do several listening , a very demonstrative headphone during the first listening can become wearisome over time, when a headphone with a more neutral and balanced and therefore more discreet restitution will bring you long hours of pleasure and will be more versatile over time.