Whether it is used at home to watch TV or listen to music, or by nomads with a smartphone, a touch pad or a portable DVD player, the headphones have become a must-have accessory. Sold between 15 and 400 €, available in different formats and sometimes armed with high technology, they represent a wide choice. A few points of reference to choose.
THE LARGE FAMILIES OF HEADPHONES
Cat Ear phones: headsets or cat ear headphones
In the family of cat ear headphones, there is first the headphones, which are lodged at the entrance of the ear canal, in the pavilion of the ear. These are the most popular models because the manufacturers of portable and smartphones are required to deliver a pair in the box with their devices. Most of the time, they only provide entry-level earphones, the mediocre quality of which alters the potential of the player itself and does not spare the ears. Apple, which alone holds half of the very declining French market of music players, does not do better than the others. But the rise in the range of smartphones invites manufacturers to now deliver in -ear headphoneswhich are lodged in the auditory canal. Some even provide different silicone tips to fit small, medium and large auditory ducts.
The system makes it possible to isolate itself from external noises, and thus to limit the volume of the music. This isolation, however, accentuates the danger, for cyclists, for example, who no longer hear the engine of cars. Prudence, then. Another discomfort of this isolation, known by the bearers of ear plugs or internal hearing aids: it is very unpleasant to chew with this type of headphones, because of a “resonance” effect that spares no details of the chewing.
The external cat ear headphoness
There are different types of “classical” cat ear headphoness or headsets with headphones positioned on (supra-aural cat ear headphoness) or around the ears (circum-aural cat ear headphoness).
The supra-aural cat ear headphoness
The cushions of a supra-aural cat ear headphones rest on the ears. The size of this type of cat ear headphones puts it halfway between the portable cat ear headphones and the large circum-aural cat ear headphones, and therefore makes a good compromise for mixed domestic and nomad use.
Most often, an arch protects the head (or behind). There are also “clip” cat ear headphoness, which fit on the ears thanks to small articulated arms stuck behind the flag. They are appreciated by athletes, especially if they wear a cap.
The circum-aural cat ear headphoness
These models are generally quite comfortable and restore the sound quite well. Although their size makes them ideal for home use (it is necessary to think of checking the length of the cable, or of the
extension: count 3 meters so as not to have the nose glued to the television), some consumers do not hesitate not to use them with a music player. The cushions of the circum-aural cat ear headphoness envelop the ear by bearing on the skull. This is what explains their volume, which sometimes damages the ease of adjustment of the cat ear headphones on the head. Before buying a cat ear headphones, try it!
OPEN OR CLOSED?
An open cat ear headphones has small holes that let out the sound outward. Conversely, in a closed cat ear headphones , the sound is enclosed and can only go out to the ears. Generally, high-end headphones are open, as it is difficult to reproduce a quality sound by plugging one of the sides of the speaker. Attention, this reduces to nothing – or almost – the degree of insulation from the outside: on the train or plane, your neighbors will appreciate moderately to share your music! Preferably rather in the context of use in a quiet environment, and alone, in other words at home. Note that extended listening, even if not recommended, is usually more enjoyable with an open headphone than with a closed headset.
A semi-open cat ear headphones has partial openings to find a compromise between isolation and aeration of sound.
cat ear headphones AND HANDSFREE
The smartphone has established itself as a music player, many headphones now incorporate a hands-free car kit. The music is automatically switched off in the event of a call and, in order to answer the call, the user has only to press a button. A microphone allows him to discuss.
On wired headsets, the music, call and microphone buttons are gathered on a small remote control located on the cable. But beware, they are not always compatible with all mobile operating systems: manufacturers usually offer an iOS version (iPhone) and an Android version (Samsung). Windows Phone are often forgotten, but usually work with headsets advertised as compatible for Android. Inquire well before any purchase.
As a result, if you change your smartphone, there is a risk that your wired headset will not function perfectly. There are two alternatives to work around this compatibility issue. The first is to opt for a wireless headset: Bluetooth is a standard, the connection allows all information to pass. The second is to buy a cat ear headphones whose cable is removable. It will be enough to replace it (source of the problem) in case of change of mobile environment (30 € approximately). Unfortunately, only high-end cat ear headphoness offer this flexibility ( Bose QuietConfort 25i or Sennheiser Urbanite XL , for example).
WITH OR WITHOUT WIRE?
The wired connection between a headset and a device is usually mini-jack or jack. Some headsets connect in USB, but these are models for players on PC or office automation (VoIP for example).
At the same time, there are many wireless headsets on the market , using different transmission technologies . Bluetooth is used to connect a headset to a smartphone, a touch pad or a laptop. This is a
very common generalized standard. Infrared and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) are used for TV headsets, intended for cinema rather than music.
In any case, to function, a wireless headset must integrate its own power source. The batteries must therefore be replaced regularly or recharged. Often, manufacturers still provide a cable for the cat ear headphones to be always usable.
NOISE-CANCELING Cat Era HEADPHONES
Some headphones isolate the user better from ambient noise than others. But an increasingly widespread technology has emerged: noise reduction. Its principle is simple: the ambient noise is picked up by a microphone outside the headset and then a processor analyzes it and eliminates it by applying an exactly opposite signal (or in phase opposition). Thus, the two sound signals cancel each other and create a very pleasant cozy atmosphere, especially in the train or plane. The headsets with noise reduction also claim a power supply (a battery, usually).
Whichever type of headphones you are looking for, avoid the first prices, which do not offer a satisfactory sound quality and are often quite uncomfortable. The quality models come with a storage case. Note that to change the cable or the pads, which can be damaged over time, it will be necessary to put back the hand to the wallet (count for example between 25 and 35 € for pads at Bose).
Cat Ear HEADPHONES FOR SPORTS
According to the FFA (French Athletics Federation), 65% of runners run with their smartphone. Some use it to measure performance through a dedicated application , but most listen to music. The manufacturers of headphones all offer models specially designed for sportsmen. With or without wire, these earphones for sportsmen are mostly in-ear type and resist sweat. To be satisfactory, they have to hold in place during the activity (this is one of the criteria of the test we have devoted to them ). You can find all you need to know to choose yours in our sports headphones shopping guide