You’re on the hunt for fantastic headphones. The kind of headphones that will leave your ears feeling fresh, sound crystal clear, and make you feel like you had an intensive spa getaway for your head. But there are so many options out there- what’s the best way to choose?
Below are steps to help guide you through this process:
Find Your Budget
As with any purchase, identifying your budget will be the first place to start. Although looking at headphones that can range in thousands of dollars can be fun, be realistic with your budget. This will help limit the number of headphones to actually consider. You can narrow your search by finding the absolute best headphone under $500 or find the best DJ headphones under $100. Whatever fits your budget and needs, there will be a solution to fit your budget.
Consider Your Purpose
When choosing headphones, consider why you’re buying them. Are they just for entertainment purposes or are you looking to mix or record music? In other words, will they serve more than one purpose? If so, find a style that will work with all of your intended uses.
Open-back vs Closed-back
Open-back headphones provide a better sound quality, but they are not ideal for an noisy environments such as an office or train commute since they will leak sound into the environment. Closed-back headphones work well for recording and noisier environments but you often will sacrifice some sound quality and soundstage.
If you want to travel with your headphones, consider foldable and collapsible styles, models with a durable case or ones that have in-line remotes. If you’re looking for studio use only, consider bigger over ear style headphones without as much concern as to their portability.
Style is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing headphones. If you’re looking for big bold headphones, you’ll probably be looking at open-back if you want them to be portable and closed-back for desk or studio use. For a more subtle style, consider smaller in-ear style models.
Wired vs Wireless
This year wired headphones have made a big comeback. Wired headphones typically provide better sound quality but they don’t offer as much freedom as wireless models. You also will have to contend with the wires draping over your desk or computer station. Most models are Bluetooth so you can wirelessly connect them to your smartphone, laptop or other device. The convenience and portability of wireless headphones can’t be beat, though.
The sound signature can make or break your headphones. If the sound signature isn’t what you like, the quality and other features probably won’t make up for the fact that they aren’t to your liking. Before purchasing, ask yourself what type of sound you’re looking for. Are you a bass head? Then consider closed-back models with big bass response and little sound stage. Do you listen to a variety of music genres and want to suck out every last detail of the recording? Then consider open-back with a flat/flat neutral sound profile to get as close as possible to how the artist intended the recording to sound.
Comfort and Durability
Considering how well your headphones will fit and feel while using them is a great place to start. Do you want a headband style, or will you be using them without the headband? What about the material used to make your headphones, do you prefer leather, plastic or metal? All of these factors can affect how comfortable your headphones are and how long they’ll last. These are also key factors when choosing which style of headphone to purchase and how much to spend on them as well.
Finding Headphone Examples
After you have narrowed down your the qualities that are most important to meet your needs start researching specific models. You can start by looking at major headphone manufacture sites such as Audio-Technica, Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic. Choose some models that meet your criteria and from here you can start researching and minimizing your choices. Once you have some models in mind, start seeking out individual reviews from independent audio sites such as The Sound Awards to see the pros and cons of the different models. At this point you should have a short list of models that have positive reviews and meet your needs.
Demo and Test Headphones
With your short list of headphones in place, it is time to hear how they sound. If at all possible, try to find a local headphone dealer to demo your top two or three choices. If this isn’t possible, you can always find YouTube videos of other people demoing their headphones. Finding and listening to your preferred headphones before you make a purchase will help ensure that the investment is a good one and meets your needs perfectly. If you are unable to demo ahead of purchasing, find a retailer with a good return policy in case the headphones you choose do not live up to your expectations.
By following these tips you will be able to find the perfect set of headphones that meet your criteria but also will not break the bank. With this being said, any type of headphone will be a great investment. Whether they are $10 in-ear headphones or $2000 over-ear headphones, you should take the time to get a pair that is comfortable and sounds great. You’ll find that you’ll use them on a daily basis and have an overall better experience in your day to day life.