Headphones are regularly used by most people, there are many different variations available which are use specific as well, such as headphones designed for sports or developed for use in a studio. With different designs from different brands and features that range from in-built mics to waterproof headphones. Which headphones you decide to purchase depends on what your usage is generally like and the budget you have in mind.
One of the most used gadgets
Headphones have changed how we interact with sound, providing a personalised soundscape. Headphones have small inbuilt speakers that are close to the ear, cancelling the ambient noise making one feel immersed in whatever they are listening to. Today headphones are very common, most smartphones come with a pair and there are so many designs available otherwise from an endless number of brands. A lot come with mics, so you can answer calls while you are listening to music or while you are driving. The ones you choose depends on what your regular usage is like.
The basic variations
There are many different designs but the most common ones include in-ear headphone, also known as canal-phones or in-ear monitors (IEMs). These are called so because they are like nodes that fit into the ear. Not producing the best sound due to the size, the bass can be a bit lacking. These are good for use on the go, but if you want to share your headphones these might not be the right ones. They can easily pick up dirt from the ear. There is also a version of these that have a sort of hook built around them that fits behind the ear, making them perfect for use while out for a run or other sports. The hook keeps them in place so you won't have to keep adjusting them into place. On-ear headphones also known as supra-aural are designed to press against the entire ear. When worn they reduce ambient noise and create a more immersive experience. These are bulkier and wearing them for long can make your ears hurt some. The most immersive design is the over-ear headphone, which is also called circum-aural. These cover the whole ear, essentially the ear is inside a foam cup with a speaker in there. Creating the largest sound stage and the best bass response, also the most noise-cancelling abilities. These are better if you are planning extensive usage, as they are designed to be the most comfortable. Most studio reference headphones are also in this design so one can have a close listen of what they are working on.
Within the types mentioned there are also wireless headphones that use Bluetooth to connect to media playing devices such as iPods or smartphones. This is quite convenient as far as mobility goes, but range can be somewhat limited to a few yards and these headphones have built-in batteries. The lack of a wire means they need their own on-board power source, which also makes the weigh more. The sound quality although comparable is a little less whole as a wire-based signal.
There are headphones designed to actively cutout outside noise, these are great for the purpose of listening to music. Though there is the danger of one not paying attention to their surroundings and not hearing a car or bike in close proximity. One should be careful if using such headphones while out and about.
There is a line of waterproof headphones from many brands, these are ideal for working out. Some are also protected enough to be used while swimming. There are IP ratings on them, these let you know how much water these can handle without shorting out. The higher the number along with IP means the more defence against water. This same rating also means they are dustproof.
Bone conduction headphones
Conducting sound straight through the bones in your head and bypassing your eardrum, these are somewhat odd initially. Vibrations carry the sound past the eardrum and into the inner ear. These are useful for people who want to listen to music and also be able to hear their surroundings to be aware of whatever is going on. The opposite of noise-cancelling headphones essentially.
There is a slight difference between regular headphones and headphones used in the studio for music production. These headphones are usually better quality, also known as reference headphones and are built without any EQ-ing. This allows musicians and producers to hear the music exactly as it is so they can make changes for clarity and better layering of sounds. At times these are also called as monitor headphones.
The well-known brands that are producing top quality headphones include Beats by Dre, Skullcandy, Bose, Sony, JBL (in partnership with Under Armour), Bang & Olufsen, Sennheiser, AKG, Bowers & Wilkins, Klipsch and Jabra. All the brands have many models available at different price points depending on what kind they are and what features they come with.