Headphones are available with high or low impedance (typically measured at 1 kHz). Low-impedance headphones are in the range 16 to 32 ohms and high-impedance headphones are about 100-600 ohms. As the impedance of a pair of headphones increases, more voltage (at a given current) is required to drive it, and the loudness of the headphones for a given voltage decreases. In recent years, impedance of newer headphones has generally decreased to accommodate lower voltages available on battery powered CMOS-based portable electronics. This has resulted in headphones that can be more efficiently driven by battery-powered electronics. Consequently, newer amplifiers are based on designs with relatively low output impedance.
Until now, the best true-wireless earbud features like noise cancellation or hands-free access to voice assistants were something you could only have if you spent well over $200. So when Amazon introduced its Echo Buds for just $130 with onboard Bose active noise reduction, IPX4 water-resistance, hands-free Alexa access, and a customizable fit, our only question was: Do they sound good?
If you want a good pair of ‘buds that aren’t going to break the bank, check out the latest par of earbuds that have been making the rounds in the audio community: the Linsoul Tin Audio T2. These small earbuds are machined entirely from metal which gives them a build that won’t break or snap in your pockets. They’re also rocking MMCX connectors so if you have a favorite cable that you prefer, or even if the cable snaps at some point in the future, you can just replace it without needing to go out and buy a whole new pair of earbuds. That said, at just $49 these aren’t going to break the bank anyway and will also make a great for anyone that prioritizes good sound on the go.
The Bose Soundsport Free are wirefree earbuds (also known as true wireless earbuds). At 1.5 inches deep and 1.25 inches wide, these do stick out of yours ears a little bit, but they sound so good that you might not care. The soft silicone rubber fins rest just outside of your ear canal, so they don't make your ears hurt, and let in just enough ambient noise to warn you when a cyclist or angry dog is approaching. Their sleek clamshell case holds enough power for two full recharges. If you can overlook a barely perceptible lag while watching videos on your phone (and high price tag), these might be the best workout headphones for you.
The Triple Driver’s sound signature provides sparkling clarity, smooth and powerful bass, and balanced sound that outdoes everything we’ve heard at a similar price point. These headphones provide exceptional sound for anything you listen to, from electronica to acoustic folk. Need we say more? Oh, and if you’re rocking a new iPhone and you hate the adapter, there’s a Lightning version, too.
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).
The Elite Active 65t feature an ergonomic design, with three different sets of eartips to guarantee a good seal. The excellent passive noise isolation means you get the most out of every note, and you can also lower the volume for less ear strain. Overall sound quality is good, coming through clear and balanced, with punchy bass response and a very dynamic treble register.
Noise cancelation for kids? Doesn’t that mean they’ll ignore their parents even more often than they already do? Perhaps, but it’s a risk worth taking if it means your kids’ hearing will be protected over the long-term. That’s exactly the premise behind the Puro PuroQuiet headphones. Not only are they wireless and great-sounding, but they also come equipped with a software limiter that keeps the volume at or below 85dB, which is considered the maximum volume that children should be exposed to for prolonged periods. The noise-canceling feature means they’ll actually be able to listen to lower (therefore safer) volumes.
For those who really need wireless earbuds for sleeping, the Bose Sleepbuds offer a welcome solution. The Sleepbuds wirelessly connect to a sleep app that can play all kinds of relaxing audio. The earbuds also use noise masking to help reduce environmental sounds. With the app, you can set alarms and experiment with settings to find out what works for you. A full battery charge lasts around 16 hours.
Not only is Sony’s Walkman still alive and well, but it’s now adapted to aquatic environments and is one of the best choices for swimming and water-based sports available. Simply put, the W-Series Walkman Sports MP3 player is the most waterproof earbuds option we’re aware of, and that fact alone wins them this category. Not only can they be completely submerged and still continue to play music, but they can operate in salt or fresh water at depths of up to 2 meters — so go ahead and jump in the deep end.
Surprisingly, many of these wire-free models can be used at the gym and even get wet, despite the fact that each earpiece has an exposed charging contact on the inside. Check the IP rating of these; some workout-friendly earphones are only IPX4-rated, so they can stand up to sweat but might be hard to wash. Others are IPX7-rated, which means they can survive getting rinsed and dunked.
There really is no answer to what the best type of earbuds is for you and it should come down to a range of factors to help make your decision. If you want full freedom of movement buy true wireless earbuds. If you want to not be shackled to your phone buy wireless earphones. If you don’t want to worry about charging your earbuds all the time go wired.
Bone-conducting headphones - Bone conduction headphones send sound through the bones of the skull as opposed to through the ear canal. Most use transducers to send the vibrations through your cheekbones to your cochlea so your eardrums are free to take in sound from your surroundings. This type of headphone is used by many hearing-impaired people to hear the world around them and to listen to music.
As for Bluetooth pairing, you won't find an easier pairing process than with the AirPods or the Powerbeats Pro (if you have an iOS device), which essentially do all the work for you the second you turn them on thanks to Apple's H1 (or older W1) headphone chip. Other pairs are still relatively simple to connect in your phone's Bluetooth settings menu.
The other headbands and sleep masks we’ve highlighted are excellent products, but they do require wires, which can be annoying when you are trying to sleep. If you really don’t like the idea of dealing with a cable, this headband is wireless, with a battery that lasts around 10 hours. You will still need to tuck the receiver under your pillow, but it’s a good option if you need to go wire-free, especially if you like to roll over a few times before falling asleep.
Our favorite workout headphones got better with the 2018 update to the Plantronics BackBeat Fit. You can now connect the headphones to the PLT BackBeat app and choose each function for the sleek, stylish metallic earpieces. A full seven hours of battery life means that you won't be tapping out midway through a long run. Plantronics' "Always Aware" feature lets you hear ambient noise so you don't get run over, and a bigger driver means bigger sound. They're also extremely durable and waterproof. I also tested the Backbeat FIT 3100, but I prefer the ease (and price) of the connected headphones.
Although modern headphones have been particularly widely sold and used for listening to stereo recordings since the release of the Walkman, there is subjective debate regarding the nature of their reproduction of stereo sound. Stereo recordings represent the position of horizontal depth cues (stereo separation) via volume and phase differences of the sound in question between the two channels. When the sounds from two speakers mix, they create the phase difference the brain uses to locate direction. Through most headphones, because the right and left channels do not combine in this manner, the illusion of the phantom center can be perceived as lost. Hard panned sounds are also heard only in one ear rather than from one side.
Telephone headsets connect to a fixed-line telephone system. A telephone headset functions by replacing the handset of a telephone. Headsets for standard corded telephones are fitted with a standard 4P4C commonly called an RJ-9 connector. Headsets are also available with 2.5 mm jack sockets for many DECT phones and other applications. Cordless bluetooth headsets are available, and often used with mobile telephones. Headsets are widely used for telephone-intensive jobs, in particular by call centre workers. They are also used by anyone wishing to hold telephone conversations with both hands free.
The WH-1000xM3’s advanced control systems allow you to let in various levels of ambient sound, with advanced features like voice-only mode, which helps filter through vocal frequencies so you can hear your music and the voices around you while blocking out other sounds. Responsive touch controls let you navigate volume, make calls, and play and pause music with ease, all while helping to maintain a clean aesthetic. Best of all, the WH-1000xM3 offer a staggering 30 hours of battery life, providing even heavy users with days of use from a single charge, and have a quick charge feature that allows you to enjoy five hours of listening after just 15 minutes of charging.
I don't really know how stylish the 1More Stylish True Wireless earbuds are (yes, that's their name), but they do sound good. With a list price of $100, they're the least expensive of any of the models on this list. 1More made a name for itself with its wired earbuds, the Triple Drivers, which sound great and were a good value when wired headphones were still a thing. The same clear, balanced sound is present in 1More's first true wireless earbuds; they don't sound as good as the Triple Drivers, but they sound very good for true wireless.
That depends on what you’re using them for and how much you’re willing to spend. At the high-end, over-ear and in-ear headphones can both perform fantastically. For those of us not willing to spend thousands on headphones, over-ear headphones typically offer better bass response and a bigger soundstage, but in-ear headphones are significantly more portable and convenient — especially wireless earbuds.
We have been consistently impressed with JBL's recent offerings, and these headphones—designed in collaboration with Under Armour—are no exception. Our reviews editor Jeffrey Van Camp notes that these are probably best for people with medium- to larger-sized ears. They also don't allow an air gap, which can make music sound muffled if you don't adjust them. But they have a decent five hours of battery life and great features like TalkThru, which lets you lower the music and amplify ambient sound to talk to your workout buddies.
Pairing high sensitivity headphones with power amplifiers can produce dangerously high volumes and damage headphones. The maximum sound pressure level is a matter of preference, with some sources recommending no higher than 110 to 120 dB. In contrast, the American Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends an average SPL of no more than 85 dB(A) to avoid long-term hearing loss, while the European Union standard EN 50332-1:2013 recommends that volumes above 85 dB(A) include a warning, with an absolute maximum volume (defined using 40–4000 Hz noise) of no more than 100 dB to avoid accidental hearing damage. Using this standard, headphones with sensitivities of 90, 100 and 110 dB (SPL)/V should be driven by an amplifier capable of no more than 3.162, 1.0 and 0.3162 RMS volts at maximum volume setting, respectively to reduce the risk of hearing damage.