Picking the Perfect Headphones
Drowning out the noise pollution around you can be hard, especially if your headphones aren’t up to par. But with modern noise-cancelling technology, that sort of distraction can be minimized. With so many options on the market, picking the right headphones to fit your needs can be tricky. Knowing which features are important to you will help narrow down the decision. Here are a few to keep in mind.
Active vs Passive
The first thing to know about noise-cancelling headphones is the difference in the technology. Noise cancelling can be achieved in two ways, active and passive. Passive works like an earplug, you get less sound from the outside world because of a seal around or in your ear. Almost any over- or in-ear headphones with pads or rubber earbuds give some amount of passive noise cancellation.
Headphones with active cancellation analyze the frequencies around you. The headphones then send out the opposite frequencies of the surrounding environment to cancel out the outside sound waves. This works best on lower frequencies that do not vary much, such as traffic or airplanes. Nearby voices will get some dampening but not to the same extent, so if someone comes up to you, you will still be able to hear them.
Beyond dampening the noise around you, the next most important thing to consider in headphones is comfort.
When looking at over-the-ear options, similar to the noise-cancelling headphones from Sony, the ear cups should be large enough to fully cover your ears so you don’t have extra pressure, which can lead to discomfort over time. The weight is another aspect to factor in — the difference of a few ounces can make a big impact if you are wearing them for several hours.
Active noise cancellation requires power. The question then becomes do you want an internal or external battery, both of which have advantages. With the internal battery, it is one less item to have to remember to bring with you. External batteries, however, are available almost anywhere and can be swapped out on the go.
Wired vs Wireless
There are pros and cons to wired and wireless options, and it can primarily come down to what you’re going to use them for. Wireless headphones and earbuds are convenient because they connect via Bluetooth and don’t get tangled as easily, making them a great option for exercising. But this freedom comes at the price of more reliance on power, which will drain faster when using active noise cancellation. While Bluetooth technology is getting better, it isn’t always perfect. If something comes between your device and headphones, you may have slight interruptions in service.
While you are tethered to your phone with wired headphones, you don’t have to worry about running out of power or having a bad connection. Instead, you have to make sure you are always close to your audio source and watch out to avoid getting caught on something and having your headphones yanked about.
While there are many factors that come into getting the perfect set of headphones, some features tend to be more important than others. In any case, being able to isolate yourself from the outside world is always a great feeling.