If you think that getting a new pair of headphones is as easy as picking up the first thing you see at your local tech store, then you need to go back home, and take a long hard look in the mirror. Okay, it might not be so important that you need to rethink who you are if you believe that getting headphones is not a big deal, but it is important to realize that the headphones you choose will greatly influence your day-to-day life, especially if you’re trying to reduce the noise in your office. So yeah, this is not a decision you should make lightly.
In fact, there is a process to the whole thing, a kind of a checklist you need to run over in your head every time you’re out shopping for headphones that will help you make the best cost-effective decision and buy a pair that will serve you for many years to come. With all of that in mind, here are the five tips you need to keep in mind when shopping for a new pair of headphones.
Understand the concept of diminishing returns
Before we delve deep into the intricacies of an amazing pair of headphones, we need to talk about the concept of diminishing returns. In a nutshell, the more you spend on a pair of headphones, the less bang for your buck will you receive. Think of it this way: a Gibson electric guitar can cost anywhere from below a thousand dollars up to five or six thousand and beyond. Now, what’s interesting is that there is a big difference in the sound and overall quality of the instrument between the thousand-dollar one, and the three-thousand-dollar model.
However, when you move up from the latter price range, you tend to notice that there’s not much of an increase in quality, if any. The same goes for headphones, and other technology for that matter. So, even if you’ve got a lot of money to spend, keep in mind that a) expensive is not always best, and b) popular brands don’t guarantee top quality.
The different types and shapes of headphones
Okay, now that you know that you actually have to do your research instead of buying the most expensive set on the shelf, let’s talk about the various shapes and types of headphones. It’s important to note that not all headphone shapes were created equal, so you can’t expect to get the same listening, or noise-cancelling experience in every situation. This is why you need to research popular types, and choose carefully.
You can choose between open-back and closed-back headphones. The former will cancel outside noise better, which is best for gaming or canceling the sounds from your office environment, while the latter will provide a clearer, more airy and spacious sound. Next, you can choose between in-ear and standard earbuds, both wired and in Bluetooth, which might be more practical if you’re working out or listening to music on the go. As for true noise-cancelling models, only buy those if you’re ready to cash out the big bucks.
Separate activities and choose a different set
One of the most important things to keep in mind is, again, that not all headphones will serve the same purpose, nor will their true quality come to life if you try to use them in different situations. For example, people who love to play video games need a professional gaming headset that will cancel all extraneous sounds form the environment, and emphasize the nuanced sound waves to help you win the match or just get the full immersive experience. That said, you can’t listen to music on these headphones while you’re commuting to work, so you need earbuds or something less cumbersome to take with you.
In other words, you should ideally get a different pair for every occasion. For your office, get a noise-cancelling headset. For your own listening pleasure at home, get an open-back pair. For commuting or working out, grab a pair of wireless earbuds. For gaming and entertainment, get a closed-back pair.
Try each set out and replace if necessary
Nobody is going to force you to keep a pair of headphones you don’t like, so don’t fret, you have time to change your mind. It’s absolutely imperative that you test out your new headphones and give it time to adjust to the feeling and the overall sound quality before you make the final decision. Don’t be afraid to order several pairs you’re interested in, and return the ones you don’t like.
Check the impedance and frequency range
And finally, pay special attention to the specifications of the headphones you’re interested in. The specs you should focus on are the impedance, and the frequency range. It’s important that the impedance of the headphones matches the impedance of your audio equipment, this will provide the best quality and you won’t have to turn up the volume too much. And of course, the frequency range should be between 10 Hz to 25,000 Hz – this will allow you to easily discern between various sound layers.
As you might have gathered by now, choosing a pair of headphones is no simple matter, and in many ways, the pair you choose will impact your day-to-day life. Be sure to use this guide to scrutinize the headphone market, find the pair that suits your needs, and invest in a set that provide the best listening experience.
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