How to Buy Headphones 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

How to Buy Headphones

Choosing the perfect pair of headphones for you is not a walk in the park, especially with the different types of headphones on the market nowadays.

With technology developing day by day, you’re getting new kinds of headphones like true-wireless ones. Also, there are new factors that you need to look into that weren’t as much of a hassle a few years ago, like portability and noise cancellation.

There are multiple factors that you need to take into consideration, like how and where you’ll be using your headphones. For example, a pair of headphones for at-home gaming is a lot different from an on-the-go pair for traveling.

There’s a reason there are so many kinds of headphones nowadays, and that’s because there are many scenarios that require headphones, and each situation has different needs.

So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know before you can make your final decision. In other words, here’s how to buy headphones.

Types of Headphones

Headphones are completely different. A wired pair of open-back headphones will not operate the same as a wireless pair of earbuds. So, which type is perfect for you? Keep on reading to find out.

Open-Back vs. Closed-Back

Open-Back vs. Closed-Back

Choosing between open-back and closed-back headphones mostly depends on what you’ll be listening to and where.

Firstly, Open-Back Headphones

Open-back headphones allow sound to leak in and out of the headphones, so they’re better if you have children around, and you need to stay alert, even while listening to music or gaming.

Also, open-back headphones let air in and out so they’re more comfortable during hot summer days, or if you like wearing headphones for extended periods. They prevent hotness and sweating of the ear.

Open-back headphones are preferred for gaming and music production because they make you experience the sound like it’s happening all around you, not just in your head, so they produce a better soundstage.

However, they leak as much sound out as they do in, meaning everyone around you will be hearing what you’re listening to; that’s why they’re not preferred for commuters or traveling in general.

So, What About Closed-Back?

Closed-back headphones have their own advantages as well. They’re much more effective at noise-cancelling because they’re designed not to leak any sound, to begin with.

Closed-back headphones are much better for commuters, or if you experience a lot of distracting noises around you, they can help you focus on the task at hand.

They make you feel like the sound is being generated inside your head rather than around you; that’s why some people would describe their sound as “artificial” or “unnatural.”

Also, they’re a little less airy, which means you’re more likely to get hot, sweaty ears after a few hours of listening.

In-Ear, On-Ear, or Over-Ear

In-Ear vs On-Ear vs or Over-Ear

Another thing that you need to decide is the shape or the wear of your next headphones. Do you want something portable and small? Or would you prefer larger headphones that eliminate outside noise? Well, keep reading to find out.


In-ear headphones are also known as earbuds. Everyone has used earbuds, and you already have a general idea of what they can and can’t do.

First of all, in-ear headphones are extremely portable. You can just put them in your pocket or bag, and you’re good to go. They’re easy to carry around, and they weigh next to nothing.

They’re ideal for commuters or joggers due to their small size, and they often come with a built-in microphone for the most convenience possible.

However, they’re not the most capable type of headphones out there. Their sound quality is average, so they’re not the best for professional usage unless you’re willing to spend some money.


On-ear headphones are also great for portability due to their small size when compared to over-ear headphones.

They’re perfect for long rides because they block out some outside noise, just enough for you to focus on the task at hand, but without completely isolating you.

Also, their design allows more airflow to your ears and therefore prevents hotness, making them an excellent choice for jogging or working out.

However, they’re not the most comfortable type out there. They’re not too stable, meaning they can fall off your head if you make sudden moves.


Over-ear headphones are the most common shape of headphones. They offer advantages like their stability and high-quality sound that no other type can match.

They’re mostly noise-canceling due to their massive size; not a lot of sound can leak in or out. Nonetheless, you can easily find open-back over-ear headphones that can leak sound if that’s what you’re looking for.

They’re perfect for long flights because they’ll block out the plane’s engines, and they’ll stay securely on your head without the need to readjust them every few hours.

However, their massive size comes with a disadvantage; they’re not portable. They’re too bulky for you to carry them around comfortably. Also, their design causes hotness and lacks enough airflow to keep your ears cool.

Simply, over-ear headphones are not for you if you’ll be working out or wearing your headphones for extended hours.

Wired vs. Wireless

Whether you decide to go for wired or wireless headphones, each type has its own pros and cons; here’s everything you need to know.

Traditional Wired Headphones

The traditional wired headphones we all know and love. They’re easy to use; you just plug them into your device, and you’re ready to go.

Also, they’re generally more affordable than wired headphones, and they produce a higher sound quality.

However, the cord can get in the way while you’re walking or exercising. Also, the cord can easily get damaged, and then you’d have to get a new pair of headphones.

To Wireless or Not to Wireless?

Wireless headphones are both a blessing and a curse. They’re much more portable and convenient to use while working out because you wouldn’t need to worry about the cord tangling or getting in the way.

However, they also require charging. That’s one more device you need to worry about and make sure they’re fully charged before long trips. You’ll most likely need to recharge your wireless headphones on a daily basis.

What to Look for in Headphones

Choosing the perfect pair of headphones is not just choosing a type. There are some extra factors that you need to consider. The last thing you’d want is to get a high-quality pair that isn’t comfortable on your ear. You need to make sure your next pair is perfect in every aspect possible.


This is quite obvious, but you need to make sure your headphones are comfortable on your head and ear.

Each head and ear shape is different; that’s why you need to be careful when purchasing your next headphones. If you have smaller ears, and you’re getting earbuds, make sure you double-check and even try them on whenever possible.

Similarly, if you’re buying over-ear or on-ear headphones, make sure they’re not too large or too small for you.


If you’re looking for the most portable choice possible, you should go for a truly wireless pair of earbuds. They don’t have any wire, not even between the two sides.

However, wireless means you’d need to keep an eye out for the battery. So, if you want a portable pair without worrying about recharging them, the traditional pair of wired earbuds are your best bet.

You could also go for a pair of on-ear headphones. They’re not as bulky as over-ear ones, and you can easily carry them around your neck or in a bag.

Noise Cancellation

Noise cancellation is a double-edged sword. Being completely isolated from the world is a blessing if you’re living on a busy street or with roommates, and you need to focus on your music or game.

You’ll feel like the sound is being generated inside your head, which many people love. They’re perfect if you take a lot of flights because they can block out the plane’s noise.

On the other hand, when you’re completely isolated, you won’t be able to hear if someone is calling for you. You need to be completely aware of that before deciding to get a noise-canceling pair.

Also, noise-canceling headphones are usually more expensive than regular ones due to their technology or design that prevents sound leakage, and they cause more hotness on your ear.


At this point, you should know what you’re looking for in your next pair of headphones. Even though making a final decision could be a little difficult, it’s nowhere near impossible. Do your research and read users’ reviews before committing to a pair.

Generally speaking, if you’re looking for a pair of headphones for on-the-go, going for earbuds or on-ear headphones is your best bet. Besides, if you don’t mind recharging your pair often, definitely go for a wireless pair.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to be entirely immersed by your music or game and you’re not too bothered about hotness, an over-ear pair of headphones with noise cancellation would be perfect for you.

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