In the last few years, headphone technology has made huge strides forward. In light of the recently released Apple’s iPhone 7 having no 3.5mm jack, this is especially clear.
And if you’re in the market for a new pair of headphones you might be confused by all the various headphones, earbuds, and earphones on the market. How can you make sure to make the right decision without overpaying by tens or hundreds of dollars?
Don’t worry; in this guide, I’ll explain how you can pick the perfect audio accessory without breaking the bank.
1. Don’t Worry About the Brand
In 2014, ConsumserReports.org found that Grado headphones beat both Beats and Bose devices when it comes to sound quality.
And yet most people have never heard of Grado.
What does that tell you?
First, that great marketing doesn’t necessarily make a product great. Dr. Dre is an iconic music producer but the headphones he endorses may not be your best choice – especially since rumor has it they only cost around $14 to manufacture.
And this is rule #1. If you’re serious about getting great quality for your hard-earned money, don’t worry about the brand of the headphones you’re buying. And if you do care about brands, just buy whatever’s popular; I won’t tell anyone.
2. Pick a Headphone Type
Modern headphones come in 4 general types:
- Over-ear headphones. These tend to have a powerful bass range but can be bulky to carry and loud to the people around you.
- Earbuds are easy to carry in your pocket and can provide amazing sound quality. Even better, many companies offer custom earbuds that fit your ear perfectly.
- Noise-canceling and noise-reducing headphones block external sounds fully or partially. In the past, they were extremely expensive – especially the noise-canceling variety. Today, you can get a pair for as little as $20 – or $200 for a high-end pair.
- Wireless headphones. The new apple AirPods released concurrently with the iPhone 7 are one example. These operate via Bluetooth and require no wire to use, which is convenient.
Consider the pros and cons of each headphone type before looking at any specific models. Nowadays, most stores help you make the right choice by separating headphones into general categories – and Amazon even has a few extra sub-categories like “foldable headphones”.
3. Read Reviews or Visit a Store
The best way to find out whether a headphone is good is by listening to it personally – or reading a review made by someone who has. At the end of the day, a device can be made from great materials, look good on paper and seem like a bargain…
But unless someone you trust has recommended it, be careful about ordering it online.
Fortunately, plenty of websites offers extensive headphone reviews. Cnet has a wonderful “best of 2016” review series that covers various kinds of headphones. Other websites get as specific as listing the best wireless headphones for TVs available on the market.
That means there’re lots of places to look for information. Just remember to…
4. Buy Your Headphones From a Reliable Store
It can be easy to confuse real brand headphones with cheap imitations at first glance. Many unscrupulous online sellers take advantage of this by selling fakes that resemble the real deal.
Unfortunately, the whole point of nice headphones is that they reproduce music well – and you don’t get that with a pair of knock-offs. That’s why it’s important to buy yours from a store you trust; preferably, one recommended by friends.
Maximize Your Headphone’s Usage
Don’t you hate it when your headphones get tangled? How about losing small earbuds; isn’t that a pain?
I think so too. Here’re just a few things you can do:
- Turn headphones into speakers using paper cups
- Wrap headphones without tangling them
- Turn the wire into a headphone case (!!!)
If you like the sound of these useful hacks, here’s more information – and have fun choosing and buying your new headphones!