The moving coil driver, more commonly referred to as a "dynamic" driver is the most common type used in headphones. It consists of a stationary magnet element affixed to the frame of the headphone, which sets up a static magnetic field. The magnet in headphones is typically composed of ferrite or neodymium. A voice coil, a light coil of wire, is suspended in the magnetic field of the magnet, attached to a diaphragm, typically fabricated from lightweight, high-stiffness-to-mass-ratio cellulose, polymer, carbon material, paper or the like. When the varying current of an audio signal is passed through the coil, it creates a varying magnetic field that reacts against the static magnetic field, exerting a varying force on the coil causing it and the attached diaphragm to vibrate. The vibrating diaphragm pushes on the air to produce sound waves.
Earphones are very small headphones that are fitted directly in the outer ear, facing but not inserted in the ear canal. Earphones are portable and convenient, but many people consider them uncomfortable.[16] They provide hardly any acoustic isolation and leave room for ambient noise to seep in; users may turn up the volume dangerously high to compensate, at the risk of causing hearing loss.[16][17] On the other hand, they let the user be better aware of their surroundings. Since the early days of the transistor radio, earphones have commonly been bundled with personal music devices. They are sold at times with foam pads for comfort. (The use of the term earbuds, which has been around since at least 1984, did not hit its peak until after 2001, with the success of Apple's MP3 player.[18])

Circumaural headphones (sometimes called full size headphones or over-ear headphones) have circular or ellipsoid earpads that encompass the ears. Because these headphones completely surround the ear, circumaural headphones can be designed to fully seal against the head to attenuate external noise. Because of their size, circumaural headphones can be heavy and there are some sets that weigh over 500 grams (1 lb). Ergonomic headband and earpad design is required to reduce discomfort resulting from weight. These are commonly used by drummers in recording.
That said, the term earbuds has become synonymous with earphones and in-ear headphones, so the difference is ultimately academic. Whatever you call them and whatever they say on the box, you should look for earphones that form a good seal inside your ear with silicone or foam eartips. They'll sound much better than plastic-covered drivers cupped against your ear canal.

Anker is known more for its value headphones, but it's trying to step into more premium territory with its Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds, which carry a list price of $150. From a design standpoint, they share some similarities with Sony's WF-1000XM3, although this model doesn't have active noise-cancellation. Anker says they have large 11mm drivers combined with Knowles Balanced Armature, with up to 8 hours of battery life on a single charge (32 total hours of playtime with the case) and noise-cancellation microphones to help reduce ambient sound so callers can hear you better. They charge via USB-C and also support wireless charging.
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.[14] 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.

The Astro Gaming A50 emerged in 2012 as the wireless follow-up to the excellent A40. Seven years later and four generations on, they remain the gold standard for gaming audio. With an ability to faithfully reproduce 7.1 channel surround sound through just two earcups, gamers will get critical 3D audio for all of their favorite console titles whether it’s from an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4. Wireless audio can lead to an unacceptable amount of lag, which often sends gamers in search of wired models, but here too, the A50 manage to beat expectations.


Earphones can connect to your smartphone through a 3.5mm cable or wirelessly over Bluetooth, depending on the model. Wired earphones are generally less expensive, and you don't need to worry about keeping them charged. Bluetooth earphones are more convenient because you don't have to physically connect them to your smartphone, but they need battery power to work. For the most part, you won't find a 3.5mm port and removable cable on Bluetooth earphones; when they're out of power, they're out of commission until you charge them again.
Jaybird got off to a bumpy start in the world of true wireless -- that's "AirPod-style headphones" -- when it released its Jaybird Run workout headphones back in October 2017. Updated to the wireless in-ear Jaybird Run XT earlier this year, the Jaybird Run earbuds were well designed but had some small performance issues that held them back from being great. But their wireless successor model, the Jaybird Vista (cue the Windows Vista jokes), includes design, battery life and performance improvements that make it the quality product I'd hoped the Jaybird Run would be.
Circumaural headphones (sometimes called full size headphones or over-ear headphones) have circular or ellipsoid earpads that encompass the ears. Because these headphones completely surround the ear, circumaural headphones can be designed to fully seal against the head to attenuate external noise. Because of their size, circumaural headphones can be heavy and there are some sets that weigh over 500 grams (1 lb). Ergonomic headband and earpad design is required to reduce discomfort resulting from weight. These are commonly used by drummers in recording.
Using headphones at a sufficiently high volume level may cause temporary or permanent hearing impairment or deafness. The headphone volume often has to compete with the background noise, especially in loud places such as subway stations, aircraft, and large crowds. Extended periods of exposure to high sound pressure levels created by headphones at high volume settings may be damaging to hearing;[25][26] Nearly 50% of teenagers and young adults (12 to 35 years old) in middle and high income countries listen to unsafe levels of sound on their personal audio devices and smartphones.[27] however, one hearing expert found in 2012 (before the worldwide adoption of smartphones as the main personal listening devices) that "fewer than 5% of users select volume levels and listen frequently enough to risk hearing loss."[28] The International Telecommunication Union recently published "Guidelines for safe listening devices/systems" recommended that sound exposure not exceed 80 decibels, A-weighted dB(A) for a maximum of 40 hours per week.[29] The European Union have also set a similar limit for users of personal listening devices (80 dB(A) for no more than 40 hours per week) and for each additional increase of 3-dB in sound exposure, the duration should be cut in half (83 dB(A) for no more than 20 hours, 86 dB(A) for 10 hours per week, 89 dB(A) for 5 hours per week and so on. Most major manufactures of smartphones now include some safety or volume limiting features and warning messaging in their devices.[30][31] though such practices have received mixed response from some segments of the buying who favor the personal choice of setting their own volume levels.
JLab's affordable, wireless sport buds also offer great value for the money. They have a very comfortable over-ear clip and Cloud Foam tips, and are IP66 rated. (I ran in the rain with these with no problem.) They have a crisp, clear Bluetooth 5.0 connection and decent 6-hour battery life. I can wear these for up to two weeks of working out without having to recharge the case, which also has its own convenient included charging cable. As is typical with JLab's workout buds, the signature EQ is bass-heavy and upper ranges can sometimes sound a little frizzy. But as I'm running or hiking, I sometimes forget I'm even wearing them.
The design is not mechanically stable; a slight imbalance makes the armature stick to one pole of the magnet. A fairly stiff restoring force is required to hold the armature in the 'balance' position. Although this reduces its efficiency, this design can still produce more sound from less power than any other[clarification needed]. Popularized in the 1920s as Baldwin Mica Diaphragm radio headphones, balanced armature transducers were refined during World War II for use in military sound powered telephones. Some of these achieved astonishing electro-acoustic conversion efficiencies, in the range of 20% to 40%, for narrow bandwidth voice signals.

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 usual way of limiting sound volume on devices driving headphones is by limiting output power. This has the additional undesirable effect of being dependent of the efficiency of the headphones; a device producing the maximum allowed power may not produce adequate volume when paired with low-efficiency, high-impedance equipment, while the same amount of power can reach dangerous levels with very efficient earphones.


Complementing the big bass response is the Powerbeats Pro’s eyebrow-raising 9-hour battery life, making them one of the longest-lasting fully wireless pairs of earbuds we’ve tested. Those 9 hours can be extended to almost 24 thanks to the wireless charging case — though it’s a bit bulkier than we’d like. Still, even if you leave the case at home, 9 hours is more than enough for an average working day of listening.
The main difference between the AirPods Pro and the AirPods 2 with Wireless Charging Case, which used to hold this spot, is the addition of noise-canceling. They also offer a more discreet, fitted design that makes use of silicone tips to: A) keep the Pods firmly fixed to your ears during intense exercise; B) make them more pleasant to wear for extended periods; and C) create the seal that’s required for noise-canceling to function as intended.
China-based upstart 1More blew our minds when we discovered how little the company wanted for the Triple Driver headphones, the first pair we’d ever heard from the brand. For this kind of build quality and performance, we’d expect to pay at least double. And while these aren’t wireless earbuds, if you don’t mind some strings attached, they more than make up for their wired constraints with sweet sound for the dough.
Active noise-cancelling headphones use a microphone, amplifier, and speaker to pick up, amplify, and play ambient noise in phase-reversed form; this to some extent cancels out unwanted noise from the environment without affecting the desired sound source, which is not picked up and reversed by the microphone. They require a power source, usually a battery, to drive their circuitry. Active noise cancelling headphones can attenuate ambient noise by 20 dB or more, but the active circuitry is mainly effective on constant sounds and at lower frequencies, rather than sharp sounds and voices. Some noise cancelling headphones are designed mainly to reduce low-frequency engine and travel noise in aircraft, trains, and automobiles, and are less effective in environments with other types of noise.
A planar magnetic driver consists of a relatively large membrane that contains an embedded wire pattern. This membrane is suspended between two sets of permanent, oppositely aligned, magnets. A current passed through the wires embedded in the membrane produces a magnetic field that reacts with the field of the permanent magnets to induce movement in the membrane, which produces sound.
BGVP are a new brand from Thailand and are producing multi driver earphones. The DM7 are said to be tuned in trying to achieve the Harman curve (a frequency response that is meant to deliver the optimum sound). They really do sound incredibly and to be honest the reason I haven’t listed and IEM’s here around the $500 mark is because you may as well just save your money and buy the DM7.
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.

If you're a music lover, chances are you're not happy with your phone or media player's bundled earphones. Most of the time, they sound pretty dismal. Some devices don't come with any earphones at all, but even the models that do include them tend not to offer a high-quality listening experience. Your music and video can definitely benefit from an upgrade.
At $300 (£279, AU$499), Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are more expensive than Apple AirPods, Jabra's Elite 65t true wireless earbuds and the Elite Active 65t and Bose SoundSport Free wireless earbuds. But they sound superior to those models, with better bass and cleaner, more detailed audio. They also feature quality performance for making phone calls, with solid noise cancellation, and offer a generally comfortable fit, though they're bigger than the Jabras and stick out of your ear a little more. Their only significant downside is that they gradually lose their charge in the charging case and can end up completely dead after four days or so if you don't recharge the case.
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.
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?
Even if they don't sound as magical as you'd hope a $249 model would, the AirPods Pro still manage to be a great pair of truly wireless earphones. That's largely due to their winning design and fit, improved bass performance, effective noise canceling and excellent call quality. Yeah, they're expensive at $250, but the good news is you'll use them so much you'll probably wear the battery down -- it does degrade over time and isn't replaceable -- and have to buy a new pair in 18 to 24 months if you don't lose them first. 
The E25BT didn’t score quite as high for audio quality as other models on this list, and it lacks some features you’ll find on certain other models, such as water resistance and extended battery life. But if you want a pair of wireless headphones that provide decent sound at a fraction of the cost of its competitors, the E25BT is an appealing option.
Android users shouldn’t settle for AAC support as its performance is dubious at best unless used with an iPhone. Additionally, LDAC isn’t as high-res as we’re lead to believe. Ultimately, though, if you’re short on cash and can’t afford wireless earbuds with aptX or AAC support, you can rest easy knowing that most of our ears are too old or damaged to perceive a difference.
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We run every pair of earbuds through a rigorous process over the course of several days. That includes playing them in all sorts of scenarios — be it on a bus, in the listening room, or at the office — and playing back from a wide array of sources. We know most people use their headphones with a smartphone, often with lower quality MP3 resolution tracks, so we test that, too.
Bose’s QuietComfort 20 aren’t specifically designed to be sleep earbuds, but they’re so good at their job that they’re also one of the best choices when your head hits the pillow (you can also use them equally well at work or play, which is handy). The active noise cancellation will help get rid of annoying environmental noises so you can get to sleep more easily, while the “Aware” button allows you to tap back into surrounding noises in case someone is calling your name or you need to listen to announcements. The tips also do a great job of staying in your ears without being too obtrusive. If necessary you can also take calls on the earbuds, but make sure you pick the model that corresponds to your phone, iPhone or Android.
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.
We run every pair of earbuds through a rigorous process over the course of several days. That includes playing them in all sorts of scenarios — be it on a bus, in the listening room, or at the office — and playing back from a wide array of sources. We know most people use their headphones with a smartphone, often with lower quality MP3 resolution tracks, so we test that, too.
Both of Jaybird's current running headphones, the Tarah and the X4, are excellent, durable, long-lived workout buds with fantastic sound quality. But if you don't need the X4's special, squishy Comply foam ear tips, and you're OK with losing the storage pouch, the Tarah has everything you need at a sweet price point. The eargels with wings fit securely out of the box and stayed put while trail running, rock climbing, and weight lifting; They weigh less than half an ounce. You can also tinker with the EQ in the Jaybird mobile app, either by choosing one of Jaybird's presets or customizing it yourself.

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.
Unfortunately, more and more phones are ditching the standard headphone jack in favor of USB-C. Besides not being able to charge and play music at the same time, this also means that your options are fairly limited if you want a good pair of earbuds to use every day. Of course, you could always use any of the earbuds on this list with a dongle, but if dongles aren’t your style then don’t worry. We have a list of the best USB-C earbuds you can get so make sure to check that out if none of these piqued your interest.
KZ ATE copper in-ears: If you’re not looking to spend too much but prioritize sound quality over all else, then these might do it for you. The Kz ATE Copper in-ears are not going to outperform your favorite pair of expensive ‘buds, but for less than $20, they’re good enough. This means that you can leave your expensive headphones at home. Better yet, just leave these in your bag for when you forget your main pair and know that you have something solid to fall back on.
Bose’s QuietComfort 20 aren’t specifically designed to be sleep earbuds, but they’re so good at their job that they’re also one of the best choices when your head hits the pillow (you can also use them equally well at work or play, which is handy). The active noise cancellation will help get rid of annoying environmental noises so you can get to sleep more easily, while the “Aware” button allows you to tap back into surrounding noises in case someone is calling your name or you need to listen to announcements. The tips also do a great job of staying in your ears without being too obtrusive. If necessary you can also take calls on the earbuds, but make sure you pick the model that corresponds to your phone, iPhone or Android.

Today they are typically used only in in-ear headphones and hearing aids, where their high efficiency and diminutive size is a major advantage.[20] They generally are limited at the extremes of the hearing spectrum (e.g. below 20 Hz and above 16 kHz) and require a better seal than other types of drivers to deliver their full potential. Higher-end models may employ multiple armature drivers, dividing the frequency ranges between them using a passive crossover network. A few combine an armature driver with a small moving-coil driver for increased bass output.
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