Headphones vs. Earphones – Which Is Better and Why?

If ever you’re looking for a new personal sound solution and can’t really decide between earphones vs. headphones, and what is better then there are actually some factors that could influence you to buy one over the other.

Features, comfort, convenience, size, etc., all of these will likely play a role in your purchasing. Nonetheless, what if pure performance is the only aspect you care about? Is there a vast difference between headphones and earphones?

We’ll answer all these questions throughout the article. So stay tuned!

headphones vs. earphones

The Actual Difference Between Headphones and Earphones

Earphones are actually headphones that were specially engineered to fit inside the user’s ear canal. Most earphone models don’t have any type of cushion incorporated on them, and they’re fundamentally tiny plastic speakers that sit on your ear canal or the concha.

Most iPhone users are quite familiar with this version of headphone. In fact, some models come with a loop to hook them over the user’s ears and keep them in place.

Moreover, earphones are primarily designed to slide past your concha and extend into your ear canal itself. Usually, the extension includes a silicone tip that covers it and keeps the earphone in the ear. However, aside from silicone, there are various shapes, sizes, and materials available.

Headphones or Earphones – Know The Difference

Not so long ago, many people were not aware of the fact that earphone is actually a version of headphones.

Thus we want to give you some detailed comparison on earphones first.

Earphones

earphones

Sound Quality

The sound quality of earphones compare to headphones can be just as good as the version of headphones such as the on-ear model. But usually, earphones can be demanding by generating very minimal bass unless inserted entirely and adequately. Earphone’s sound output is directly inputted into the user’s ears canal; thus any surrounding psychoacoustic effects created by having space around your ears is lost and should be done directly.

Actually, some of the most precise you could ever hear are through the use of earphones since they can be tailored for accurate sound reproduction without regarding any environmental elements. In short, they provide exceptional natural noise isolation by simply getting inserted into the user’s ear canal.

Comfort

Some people find it very uncomfortable when there’s something stuck inside their ears, and that’s the reason why a few individuals don’t really prefer earphones.

However, that would only be the case for cheap earphones. That’s why if you really want the portability, and get an exceptional comfort at the same time, go and invest to quality earphones.

Ultimately, comfort significantly varies from model to model. Though some people might argue that some earphones cause discomfort regardless of brand, again, we suggest that you try a few quality different models of ear tips before going into conclusions.

Noise Rejection

Noise rejection is a crucial aspect of an earphone. Without this feature, the background noise near you might disrupt your listening experience.

A good tip is an excellent dynamic range is best achieved by minimizing background noise, and not increasing the volume of your listening device.

Earphones can reject background noise without any noise cancellation components or fancy algorithms. They merely block environmental noise by being correctly inserted into the user’s ear canal.

Portability

Obviously, earphones are the most portable version of headphones.

The reason is that the speakers are usually only the size of white beans, and therefore can easily be coiled up, and stored in your pocket. This aspect of earphones is particularly an advantage for travelers.

Headphones

headphones

On-Ear Headphones

Supra-aural headphones, or most commonly known as on-ear headphones are top-rated since they are made using lightweight materials and offers more portability compared to over-ear headphones.

In addition to that, they also provide more natural “open” sound output since they don’t completely close off the user’s environment, unlike the over-ear models.

Sound Quality

On-ear headphones’ sound quality possesses unlimited sound potential and is only limited by how their manufacturers develop them.

Also, on-ear models can range from inexpensive basic models to more innovative audiophile headphones that offer full-range frequency response and high fidelity sound. Meaning the choices are vast, and the decision is yours.

Comfort

On-ear earphones provide exceptional comfort over the other versions of headphones as users won’t tend to sweat as much while wearing them in a long period because of their soft-synthetic and soft-leather materials.

Aside from that, on-ear phones tend to weigh less than over-ear headphones. The headbands can be more comfortable as well since it only applies less pressure to the sensitive top of the users head.

Noise Rejection

Noise Rejection is great during flights. And since on-ear earphones are very particular on this aspect, they run the board regarding this factor.

Admittedly, there are versions with active noise cancellation, but on-ear headphones will typically cost more especially if they sound exceptional, and if they need to get charged.

Nonetheless, for those on-ear versions without this feature, they can be altered to generate natural isolation utilizing a closed back design.

Portability

If you don’t like the style of earphones but seek the more portable style of headphones, then an excellent, compact on-ear headphone is the right pair for you. You can also tag this with the fact that most on-ear versions will generate better bass and aren’t subject to being correctly inserted just to get your expected sound output.

Nevertheless, even if on-ear headphones are folded, they can still take up a significant amount of space compared to earphones, and while it’s true that they can work for portability, their strengths lie in a different aspect that you’ll know after a few more reading.

Over-Ear Headphones

This one is the last type of headphone we want to include. They are sometimes called “Circumaural” headphones.

These headphones are quite famous since they can offer a comfortable fit with advanced integrated features such as high fidelity sound and noise cancellation.

Sound Quality

Some of the best sound output you could ever get is through either open or closed-back headphones, and over-ear headphones belong to that category.

The takeaway is that if you want to get the most consistent, and very best possible sound output of a headphone, then you are most likely to end up with over-ear headphones as they have more advanced features primarily because of their size.

Comfort

Over-ear headphones can be either extremely uncomfortable or extremely comfortable. That’s why it’s a good idea to look for a thick, padded headband that will spread the weight accordingly across the top of your head. You might also want ear cups that won’t sweat easily to wear the headphones longer.

On the other hand, there are actually some synthetic materials that could last longer and are more comfortable than authentic leather. Just try to look for a design and flexibility that doesn’t have all the weight concentrated at a single point on your head, and everything will flow smoothly.

However, it’s quite unfortunate that the new trend in headphones is to encase the whole system in plastic. With these new designs, it’s quite apparent to see that the flexibility and comfortability are significantly affected, unlike the earlier models.

Noise Rejection

Over-ear headphones are the most popular platform for active noise cancellation. These kinds of headphones reject outside noise by trying the surrounding with a pair of external microphones and then playing back that same noise out of phase.

Portability

Since over-ear headphones have more advanced features, it’s only natural that they need more space to integrate all basic and complex parts, In shorter, they naturally need to be bigger to contain all those parts inside them.

In fact, over-ear headphones are what you’ll find in various sound design studios in Hollywood, what sound engineers use as they do well at providing genetic isolation, and makes you hear what exactly what you want to hear.

The Pros and Cons of Each Model

Now, before delving into the pros and cons of headphones and earphones, you should be aware first of your daily routine.

Both headphones and earphones are more suitable for an “on the go” type of a person. Now, the question is what precisely the most crucial aspect you must consider before picking the right pair is?

Truth is, each style has its own advantages and drawbacks. Aside from your wallet, knowing how you plan on using them is really important. Some people want to use them strictly for the gym, and there are those who like the discrete nature of being able to listen to your favorite soundtracks without attracting that much unnecessary attention.

And of course, there are those travelers that need more sound isolation.

Others want earphones since they’re cheap, small, and won’t really mess up their hair. Regardless, before shopping for a new pair of headphones or earphones, you must determine first what their purpose is.

Pros and Cons of Headphones

Pros of Headphones

Comfort is one of the major pros of headphones. They’re significantly large but lightweight, and most models come with different loops, cushions, and wingtips to fit almost anyone’s ear.

Along with their larger size are their larger drivers, providing users a pretty good sound quality. In addition to that is the ability to take calls and you get a really convenient partner for your everyday life.

Also, portability won’t even be an issue because, in some models, there are those that come with a magnet and necklace style cord to hold them in place around the user’s neck.

Cons of Headphones

If noise cancellation is a big issue to you, then, fortunately, headphones could not be the best pick for you since most of them don’t actually fit inside your ear canal, and thus outside noise might creep into the user’s ears.

In addition to that, though we mention that comfort is one of the main advantages that headphones can offer, there is some inevitable issue regarding it. Hard plastic loops hooked around ears, or hard plastic speakers are sitting in your ears can be as much uncomfortable over a long period of use.

While there are models that are incorporated with silicone tips, they don’t really extend into the user’s ear canal and their movement while working out can disrupt your activity. Also, waterproof headphones are always available depending on how much you have in your wallet, but then again, nothing is a hundred percent waterproof.

Pros and Cons of Earphones

Pros of Earphones

Apparently, the most significant convenience that earphones can offer is their portability.

They can fit into your purse or pocket. Less obtrusive than their counterpart, headphones, earphones provide a high-quality sound output at a very reasonable price.

Most of the top-tier brand of earphones today include a hard carrying case that makes them harder to shatter and more comfortable to store, so users don’t have to worry about breaking them or having to delve past wires to get something from your purse or pocket.

On the other hand, regarding sound quality, you won’t probably get the same rich sound that you would get from a high-end headphone.  However, that doesn’t ultimately mean that the in-ear headphone won’t be able to pack a punch against headphones.

With a frequency response of around 5 to 40 kHz on some of the high-end earphones, the user’s ears won’t be starving for better sound quality output.

Another distinct advantage is the comfort. Since earphones sit in the user’s ear canal, the noise isolation will be excellent. Some earphones provide custom fitting ear tips that are form-fitted for the user’s ears and stay tight when doing your last set of workout in the gym.

Cons of Earphones

Having your ears plugged is okay in the school library or the gym, but out on the street, it might pose some serious danger.

Some individuals are not comfortable with something stuck in their ears. Mid-range sound can also pose a bit of an issue for earphone users. The treble and bass are good, but they might miss some of the multiple middle ranges, and ultimately make your listening experience light.

As for the wired version of earphones, storing them in your clothing is good, but when the wires rub against your shirt or you, it might disrupt the sound output.

Value for Your Hard-Earned Cash

Price and money should always come in utmost consideration before buying a new pair of earphones and headphones. The fact is that the ratio between the value and cost of an item certainly play a crucial reason for a purchase.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options nowadays. You can get affordable headphones or earphones to budget your money while fulfilling your wants. Nonetheless, headphones might be slightly pricier merely because they’re larger and need more materials for its design.

Sound Quality

Sound-quality will always play a vital role in choosing a pair of earphones and headphones. In fact, there’s actually almost no difference in sound quality if you compare a headphone and an earphone.

In both types, users can get balanced, bass-dense, and plenty of other sound features they want. There’s a vast selection out there in the market to list.

However, since it is so easy to change the ear-tips in earphones, users can have more control over their device’s sound quality. In fact, getting some foam ear-tips can enhance and significantly improve the sound you can get from your earphone or headphone.

Conclusion

Truth be told, this article won’t precisely tell readers which to buy – headphones or earphones and what is better. However, we hope that this could expand your knowledge about the difference between headphones and earphones, and why some people prefer this version over the other.

Both headphones and earphones have plenty of similarities. At the same time, they also differ in my aspects. Comparing them and, considering the most compatible for your needs is the ideal approach to make the right purchase.

Perhaps, the best thing you can do if you’re still stuck in doubts and confusion is to give an earphone or a headphone a shot merely. And ultimately answer the question: Headphones or earphones which is better?

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Virendar

Virendar Singh is a 20-year-old Blogger from Uttarakhand, India, he loves to play with gadgets and likes to write reviews on best tech products. Learn more about us here.

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