Choosing headphones is like choosing a pet dog. They come in all shapes and sizes and with different personalities. The key to choosing the right pet is not spending hours researching different breeds or looking at cute pictures on Instagram.
Experts say you should choose a dog that suits your lifestyle. The same is true when choosing earbuds vs headphones. You can read hundreds of articles on the advantages and disadvantages of both.
This article is different!
We approach the argument from your perspective and lifestyle. Consider 2lifestyles influencing how you make your choices and questions you can ask to help you decide.
Lifestyle 1 – The Commuter
Are you a regular commuter? Every day early in the morning you make your way to the bus, train, or subway. You know you have at least half an hour to an hour or more of traveling time. So you listen to audio books, learn a new language, take an audio course, listen to your favorite podcast, or just relax to your favorite tunes.
But what are you going to use: earbuds vs headphones?
Convenience vs Sound Quality
In this scenario, it is likely you want something lightweight and easy to get out of your bag and put back again. You’re already weighed down with everything you need for a full day at work. The last thing you want is another heavy and space consuming item.
It is generally accepted that when you compare earbuds vs headphones which cost the same, headphones tend to offer a better quality sound. This is maybe more to do with acoustic differences between how the sound is delivered to your eardrum than the actual build quality.
The question then is, how important is high-quality sound to you in this scenario? Are you willing to sacrifice sound quality for lightweight and convenience?
If you prefer the convenience and don’t want to spend much, then you have a lot of choices for budget earbuds. Check out this post on the best earbuds under 30 dollars.
Noise Reduction vs Cost
A further consideration is the level of background noise during your commute. If you are on a high-speed luxury train in Japan, then background noise may be very little.
But, if you sit on a noisy bus, that is another consideration. Earbuds will not completely seal your ear. This means 2 things:
- The sound you want in your ear will escape
- The sound you do not want will enter your ear
Music and even speech will leak from your ear canal. Background noise tends to have a lower frequency and longer wavelength and will find its way into your ear canal. This could play with your audio lessons or ruin your serenity listening to your favorite tunes.
Headphones will be more effective at sealing your ear and naturally protecting it from the background noise. If you want to use earbuds, then you can buy ones using noise reduction technology.
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The question then is, how important is background noise reduction to you in this scenario? Are you willing to put up with the noise quality or spend more for noise reduction technology?
Lifestyle 2 – Home Based
More and more people are able to work from home. The internet and cloud-based work solutions enable thousands of people all over the world to work at home and be flexible.
Not only that, you may be someone who primarily enjoys listening to music or watching movies etc at home. Perhaps you live in a condo with thin walls.
So what are you going to use, earbuds vs headphones?
Sound Quality vs Convenience
Depending on what type of home you live in and depending on the quality of your sound system, you may prefer to listen to music through earbuds or headphones.
Some people who really love music and want to capture every note prefer to listen to their music using high-quality headphones. Perhaps headphones are not as convenient as earbuds but then it is convenient enough when using them at home.
The question then is, in this scenario, how important is sound quality? Is it the main reason you would wish to use headphones or earbuds, or is simply not to disturb the neighbors?
What Do Your Ears Want?
This may seem like an odd question. The answer depends on how much you have been listening to loud music in the past. Whether personal listening devices damage your hearing or not is surprisingly controversial.
It seems there may not be a consistent pattern in the literature that fully supports the idea that your MP3 player, mobile phone, or any other device you use to listen to music is damaging your hearing.
That said, if you check out this post on noise-induced hearing loss you will see how easy it is to damage your hearing. Personal listening devices are capable of producing a very high volume and if exposed to that over time, it will eventually damage your hearing.
If you are concerned about this, it is definitely worth considering high-quality headphones with noise reduction. This will allow you to enjoy the music without having to turn up the volume as loud as you may have to with earbuds.
Earbuds vs Headphones – Final Verdict?
If you think you have the earbuds vs headphones argument all worked out, don’t be too quick to rush out and buy some. The options keep on multiplying. For example, check out this post on headphones that are ear free. They use vibration through the skull!
Nowadays we also have the choice of using wireless technology. If you are thinking about buying wireless Headphones check out this post on 4 options from Bose.