| Jochen Wieloch |
BERLIN (dpa) – Whether you want to listen to some tunes during your workout or drown out your daily commute, your earphones can make or break your music experience. But, given the wide variety out there, how to pick the right one?
Options range from ear buds to high-end studio models. It’s important to pick the right one for your needs and to remember that some models really can do more than others.
A lot of smartphones and other mobile devices come prepackaged with earphones.
But choosy listeners get rid of those immediately and look for something more upscale.
“Most ear buds included with phones and MP3 players scratch, sit too loosely, buzz and only deliver muffled sound,” says Matthias Roessler from German computer magazine Chip. Even higher-priced smartphones often only come with mid-range ear buds.
However, ear buds have their good side. The way they sit in the ear can deliver some good sounds.
“Thanks to the way they sit near the eardrum, a product of the way they’re built, the loudspeaker delivers good sound,” says Roessler. “That’s because standard headsets project some of the sound produced outward, which reduces the number of sound waves that work their way into the ear effectively.”
Ear buds also envelop the listener better with their sounds, which is advantageous if a person is working in a loud setting and wants to concentrate on the music. At the same time, one doesn’t disturb those around them.
But it can take some practice getting used to wearing ear buds.
“That’s why most headset manufacturers make their headphones in various sizes, so they can guarantee a comfortable, secure placement on the ear,” says Roessler. For example, most people really want their headphones to stay on stably while working out.
People who want to relax at home listening to music might be more likely to listen with headphones, which are earphones covering the entire ear connected by a headband.
“These kind of big headsets are generally much more comfortable, which gives them an advantage within one’s own home,” says Roessler.
Bear in mind that, if you plan to regularly use headsets both for stationary devices at home – such as stereos or amplifiers – and mobile devices – like smartphones and MP3 players – the headphones can’t have as much impedance as a set exclusively for home use might have.
The ideal is to have 24 to 36 ohms, recommends Stiftung Warentest, a German consumer goods tester after a recent review. Since smartphones and MP3 players don’t generate as much voltage as a stereo, they can’t generate as much volume as the larger device might. But the resistance can’t be too low either, otherwise the listener will constantly be disturbed by loud noise.
The only way to be sure is to test the headphones out before making a purchase.
The construction will also have an impact on the volume and sound loss of ear buds. The delineation is between open-back devices – which don’t enclose the ear thoroughly, allowing in outside noises – and closed-back devices, which do a better job of blocking outside sounds.
Comfort is a major influencing factor with headsets. Stiftung Warentest has noted that some models can push down too much. But a lot will depend on the size and shape of an individual’s head and ears. That’s why any test should last several minutes, the only way you can get an idea if it’s too tight or if it makes one’s ears hot.
Wireless models offer more freedom to move and can have good sound.
However, “when it comes to quality music playback, there’s no way past a cabled headset,” says Martin Mertens of industry publication ear in. “Generally, wireless headsets always means a compromise.”