Earphones might not be as eye-catching as headphones, but they can be much more convenient. Besides their size and weight, earphones are often more resilient than headphones when dealing with moisture. This is important if you want to listen to music at the gym. Earpads can get soaked and worn with a solid sweat, and they aren't built to withstand the regular, constant friction that comes with working out. Earphones can be built to be water- and sweat-resistant, and hold up much better to activity.
Newer models manage to strike a balance between operability and layout. Some use actual tactile buttons to control playback, call management, track navigation, and volume. Some others cleverly divide controls between the two earpieces with touch panels—tapping the left ear, for instance, will skip a track backward, while tapping the right will skip forward. Despite needing to do a little more thinking before you tap, eventually the division of controls between the two earpieces reveals itself to be intuitive. So on-ear control panels are getting more creative and user-friendly, but there's still a ways to go before they catch up with traditional wireless models.
Our head Gear editor Michael Calore is a fan of the British brand Rock Jaw Audio, which offers excellent sound quality for a moderate price. Like the company's other headphones, you can swap out different tuning filters, with a silver filter for rock and hip-hop, a balanced gold filter, and a black filter for higher audible frequencies. They're also IPX5-rated, sweatproof, and water-resistant, and have a playing time of more than 11 hours.
Not all earphones are workout-friendly, though; don't assume your earphones will handle what you throw at them unless they're fitness-oriented earphones, or at least are explicitly listed as water- and sweat-resistant. Really pricey earphones can be as fragile as really pricey headphones, and you don't want to accidentally ruin a $200 pair with ear sweat.
I was pleasantly surprised by what headphone company Status is able to offer for the money. The BT Structure are its wired sport headphones—IPX5 rated to protect against sweat, with a comfortable over-ear clip. They also have a dual-driver system, which is unusual for sporty headphones in this price range. Most sports headphones tend to emphasize the bass, but the BT Structure sounded very balanced and expansive—the highs of "This Is What You Came For" sparkled against the heavy bass beats. The 10+ hours of battery life is pretty spectacular, too.
The Creative Outlier Gold are the complete true wireless package for less. These earbuds support both AAC and aptX Bluetooth codecs. This means you benefit from high-quality streaming regardless of what platform you have. The capsular charging case houses a USB-C input and comes in a slick gold color which isn’t nearly as “in your face” as it sounds.
Bluetooth headphones - Bluetooth headphones provide a two-way connection to the user’s cellphone or other Bluetooth device using Bluetooth. Fitting in one ear only, the part that is pressed slightly into the ear canal typically comes with a removable small, medium, or large tip. The Bluetooth headphones have a range of 30 feet from the device. These headsets can usually connect to multiple devices at the same time.
Marketed claims such as 'frequency response 4 Hz to 20 kHz' are usually overstatements; the product's response at frequencies lower than 20 Hz is typically very small. Headphones are also useful for video games that use 3D positional audio processing algorithms, as they allow players to better judge the position of an off-screen sound source (such as the footsteps of an opponent or their gunfire).
Sony’s Waterproof Walkman is an all-in-one device that doesn’t need to be connected to a phone or other playback source; instead, it has 4GB of storage to hold your music, and you can load up songs and playlists on your PC via the included USB cable just like in ages past. Sure, 4GB might not sound like much space, but that adds up to about 1,000 to 2,000 tracks, depending on their file size. All playback is controlled with tiny buttons on the sides of each earbud. Speaking of charge, the W-Series Walkman will last up to 12 hours per charge, and Sony claims you’ll be able to charge them in no time via their quick-charge feature.
These early headphones used moving iron drivers, with either single-ended or balanced armatures. The common single-ended type used voice coils wound around the poles of a permanent magnet, which were positioned close to a flexible steel diaphragm. The audio current through the coils varied the magnetic field of the magnet, exerting a varying force on the diaphragm, causing it to vibrate, creating sound waves. The requirement for high sensitivity meant that no damping was used, so the frequency response of the diaphragm had large peaks due to resonance, resulting in poor sound quality. These early models lacked padding, and were often uncomfortable to wear for long periods. Their impedance varied; headphones used in telegraph and telephone work had an impedance of 75 ohms. Those used with early wireless radio had more turns of finer wire to increase sensitivity. Impedance of 1000 to 2000 ohms was common, which suited both crystal sets and triode receivers. Some very sensitive headphones, such as those manufactured by Brandes around 1919, were commonly used for early radio work.