The best thing about getting a shiny new pair of headphones is hearing your favourite tunes in a completely new way. And for that, you need headphones with features that can help you make the most of your day, from cancelling out unwanted noise to keeping up with you in the gym.
So, if you’re still using the freebie earbuds that came bundled with your smartphone, it could be time for an upgrade.
In, on or over-ear?
The bigger the headphones, the bigger the drivers they can hold inside them. But that doesn’t mean you need something huge for a big sound. In fact, one of the most important things to decide on when you’re choosing headphones is how they’ll fit you, rather than the size of them.
There are three kinds of common fits for you to choose from:
- In-ear models fit snugly in your ears
- On-ears go over the top like earmuffs
- Over-ears are the big cans you see DJs wearing in the booth
In-ears are all about getting a secure fit, and most come with a few different sizes for you to try out. It’s important to get the correct fit so that you can hear the right amount of midrange and bass – and so they don’t fall out of your ears, of course!
On and over-ear models will cling to your head better, and can give you a weightier sound full of bass. Their main drawback is their size – they’re not always great for carrying around in your bag or pocket.
Wireless or wired?
The next big decision you need to make is whether to go wired or wireless.
With wired headphones, plug in to the headphone jack of your phone and you’re good to go. But these days, not all phones actually have a headphone jack. That’s where wireless headphones come in.
Wireless headphones use Bluetooth to connect to your device, giving you the freedom to listen without worrying about tangled wires or your headphone jack getting pulled out mid-song.
There are different types of wireless headphones to consider. True wireless means two separate buds, which link to each other via the magic of Bluetooth – think Apple AirPods or the What Hi-Fi? Award-winning Sony WF-1000XM3. You might also see other neckband models tethered by a wire that goes round your neck. They’re wireless, but just not true wireless.
Want to cancel unwanted noise?
Looking to block out the unwanted noise and chatter of a busy office, café, train or plane? Noise-cancelling could be what you’re looking for. This incredibly smart tech has come on in leaps and bounds over the last year or so, and the latest noise-cancelling headphones constantly gauging the noise around you and blocking out as much of it as possible.
Going for a run or a swim?
Great sound and noise cancelling is one thing, but you won’t be able to enjoy music on your run if your headphones keep slipping off your head. So look out for dedicated sports headphones designed to fit snugly, even when you’re pounding the pavement.
And keep an eye out for headphones that are sweat and water-resistant, like Beats Powerbeats Pro or Adidas In Ear models. These will protect your tunes in the gym, and out in the rain.
More of a swimmer than a runner? The Sony NW-WS623 is an all-in-one system that you can load up with tunes and wear in the pool. It’s got 4GB of inbuilt memory – that’s enough for about 1000 songs.
Something for the kids?
Let’s not forget about the kids, because there are headphones specially designed for younger ears too. Models such as the JBL Junior, Goji Kids and JVC Tinyphones HA-KD7 all limit their volume output to protect smaller ears. So you can be sure that your children are enjoying their favourite music, TV shows and educational games in complete safety.
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