What Factors Determine the Quality of Headphones?

The world of headphones is a confusing one to navigate. You have wired and wireless. You have headphones that sound great, and headphones that sound like you’re listening to the band perform at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. There are headphones that can survive the elements, and headphones that short out of you twist the wire ever so slightly.

Headphones can be a product where you get what you paid for. A ten-dollar pair of headphones won’t sound as good, or last as long, as those that stay in the triple-digit range. However, sometimes you can find a cheap pair that sounds decent enough and lasts for a while.

It’s all so confusing. When searching for headphones, what exactly determines their quality? Here are a few things you should look out for when choosing a pair.


Sound Quality

When it comes to sound quality, this is a bit of a subjective taste. Some people will want headphones with headphones as crisp as a freshly opened bag of chips. Others may want bassy headphones. There are some who prefer their pair to have that popping noise, like listening to some vinyl.

Figuring out what sound quality you want can be a challenge. Often, you may not know how the headphones sound until they’re over your head. Here are some ways you can determine the sound quality.

  • Look up the frequency response of the headphones. These tend to be measured in hertz. There may be two numbers on the headphones. For instance, it may say 20 to 20,000 Hz. The first number is the bass, and the second is the treble. The 20 to 20,000 ranger is what most headphones will have when it comes to sound quality.
  • There may be other ranges as well. With that said, if the ranges are better, the sound quality may not necessarily be improved.
  • If the bass frequency is below 20, you may feel the bass, but you may not hear it. The same happens if the treble is over 20,000.
  • If you see a plus or minus on the rating, this may tell you how the sound will deviate. If the deviation is lower, then this often means it’s more consistent.
  • While the headphones you have can determine the quality of music, look at the music itself you’re listening to. Check the kbps (kilobits per second.) The more kbps, the better the sound quality may be. Streaming services may give you a chance to change the kbps.
  • The better your headphones are, the more noticeable the difference in kbps will sound.
  • With all that said, both the headphones and the type of music matter. If the quality of music is important, look to FLAC audio files, which are as lossless as possible. Normal MP3s may lose some sounds. Often, they are unnoticeable, but for the most authentic experience, try lossless.

And Now for Durability

The sound quality of the headphones is important, but it won’t matter if your headphones are fragile and can break down within a week. There is no such thing as an invincible pair of headphones; even the expensive kind will wear its welcome. Part of the game is getting you to buy more headphones, so planned obsolesce is always in the horizon. With that said, there are headphones that are stronger than others.

First, try to figure out what you're using your headphones for. Are you using them for easy listening? You may not need a durable pair. Are you trying to work up a sweat to your favorite banger? Then you may need a pair that can survive sweat and you dropping it.

Here are some things that may determine a pair’s durability.

  • The strength of the materials. Obviously, strong headphones will be made from tough material. The wires will have thick rubber if they’re durable. If they’re cheaper, the rubber may be thin, making the insides susceptible to every tangle and twist you make. Stop leaving your headphones in your pocket.
  • The plastic and casing help out as well. If the casing is made from aluminum, it can take a beating. Obviously, you shouldn’t get a baseball bat out and test the limits, but metal cased headphones can help if you're a klutz who drops them every so often.
  • There are no design flaws. Some headphones will have earbuds with a unique shape, but that makes them susceptible to damage. Others have I connectors that are poorly made. These design flaws may only be noticeable if you use them, so read other people’s reviews and decide for yourself.
  • Look up how water resistant a pair of headphones are. Most won’t be able to survive submerging them underwater for a long time, but they should be able to survive minor amounts of moisture, such as sweat, or a little rain. This is especially important if you're using them for sport.
  • Finally, you can always check the warranty whenever you're deciding on a pair of headphones. Few headphones have a lifetime warranty, but the warranty should last you a while. If the warranty expires the moment you take them out of the case, then that’s no good.

Don’t Forget to Research

If you're unsure about the pair of headphones, check the reviews and do some research. You’ll find opinions from all across the board. There are perspectives from people who just want a budget pair of headphones, or perspectives from your favorite audiophile. There are specs, best of lists, and other things that can help you make the choice much easier. Don’t overpay for the headphones you have, but also don’t pay too little and get a pair that will be a paperweight within a few weeks.

Choosing headphones is a challenge, but by following these rules, you can make it easier to help you find the pair that is right for you. Do your research and see what you can find.

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