Tips on headphones
When it comes to headphones, aside from budget limitations, there are two key questions worth considering:
What is the primary purpose and place of use?
How good should it sound?
Once these two questions are answered, almost all the other distinctions to be made take care of themselves, such as:
Open or closed headphones?
Open headphones are usually lighter, so they are often more comfortable to wear. They also allow sounds from outside to pass through, which can be important in road traffic (or when the pizza deliverer rings the doorbell). On the other hand, closed headphones are ideal when it’s about focusing entirely on the music and deliberately sealing yourself off from the outside world.
In-ear, on-ear, over-ear?
In-ear headphones are extremely light and easy to transport. They can also be adapted to the anatomy of the user’s ears quite flexibly (at least the better models can). Over-ear headphones are advantageous if you don’t like the feeling of having a foreign body inserted in your ear canal. These can also have a larger membrane surface to work with, or even multiple drivers, providing for a better low-frequency foundation and enabling better virtual localization of sound sources. On-ear headphones represent a good compromise.
Dynamic converters are comparatively low-cost and mechanically robust; they also only require a low operating voltage. Electrostatic headphones, on the other hand, guarantee a higher sound resolution and a significantly lower distortion factor than dynamic drivers, but they are costly, sensitive and power-hungry: a separate headphone amplifier is usually essential.
If you often use your headphones with mobile playback devices when you’re out and about, for example, we recommend purchasing a pair of high-quality in-ear headphones. On the other hand, if you only listen at home and want peace and quiet in every sense, then it would be worth considering using large-format plush over-ear headphones, especially in combination with a high-fidelity pre-amplifier.
Incidentally, the ultimate sound is achieved with balanced headphone connections, as used in professional recording studios. However, this usually means that the amp and headphones together will border on the four-digit price range…