AUKEY's Guide to Choosing the Perfect Pair of Headphones
Without music, life would be a chore.
How often have you wished to hum to a tune to describe your real-life situations?
The best way to do so is simply by wearing your headphones and jamming to that perfect song.
Whatever your vibe is, it is important to get a perfect pair of headphones.
After all, when it comes to listening to audio, there are no two ways about it than using headphones.
Here's what to look out for when getting a pair of headphones in Singapore.
The price of headphones can vary greatly depending on model, brand and their features. Budget headphones often cost around S$100 whereas the more premium models can go beyond S$500.
At the price-point of around S$250 (or the halfway mark), nifty audio features like noise cancelling and Bluetooth kick in.
The Aukey EP-B52 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones are a pair of premium headphones that are priced affordably. These are going at S$59.90 on sale.
2. Form Factor
There are three types of headphones: 1) in-ear headphones, 2) on-ear headphones and 3) over-ear headphones.
Looking for a pair of snappy headphones that can be taken with you on the move?
In-ear headphones (or commonly known as earphones) are the most portable type.
As the name suggests, in-ear headphones rest in your ear. Some rest on your outer ear, specifically on a section of the outer ear called the “Antitragus.”
Others are pushed slightly deeper into the ear canal, which helps them stay in place (ideal for sports or other vigorous activity).
In-ear headphones are considered the least comfortable but the most convenient.
Source: What Hi-Fi?
On-ear headphones offer a happy compromise between in-ear and over-ear headphones.
While they keep the same general shape as over-ear headphones, they're usually a little smaller and often can fold up—making them a superb choice for those that don't like in-ear headphones but still want something they can fit in a bag without adding too much weight.
Over-ear headphones are unparalleled when it comes to both comfort and sound quality, but they're by far the least portable of the three form factors.
As the name suggests, over-ear headphones don't touch your ears. Instead, they have padding that clamps around your ears.
Part of the reason over-ear headphones can sound so much better is that they have more room for drivers that require more room to work properly.
While the look of the headphones may be important to you, the design of a pair of headphones commonly refers to whether they’re closed back or open back.
The majority of headphones out there closed back headphones. This means they keep your music in and the outside noise out.
Closed-back headphones are better for being on the go or for those who listen to music near others.
While closed-back headphones keep your music at least somewhat isolated, open-back headphones do the opposite.
They create a much more natural sound. With the ability for sound to escape your headphones, there aren't the tiny echoes that resonate inside closed-back headphones.
While largely imperceivable, those echoes create a tighter soundstage, so music played using open-back headphones sound a little broader and more open.
However, open-back headphones have some huge downsides. For starters, just as sound inside the headphones can get out, outside sound can also get in.
So if you plan on listening in a noisy environment, you'll be able to hear everything around you.
4. Wired or Wireless
If you are a big fan of convenience, you should opt for wireless headphones.
Wireless headphones also come with added features such as being able to connect to your virtual assistant (e.g. Siri or Google Assistant).
However, if price is a concern for you, wired headphones tend to be cheaper because they don't come with the added wireless technology.
Wired headphones also generally sound better than wireless headphones because Bluetooth® can only handle so much information through its signal.
You also don't have to worry much about battery life for wired headphones.
5. Battery Life
If you opt for a wireless headphone, battery life is bound to be a concern.
On the other hand, wired headphones don't require any charging.
Good battery life for true wireless headphones is more than four hours of continuous playback.
Non-true wireless earbuds should have at least 8-10 hours of playback on a charge.
On-ear headphones should be able to offer 15 hours or more, and over-ear headphones should provide at least 16 or 17 hours, though they can range up to 25 hours or more.
Keep your music playing from morning to night with a 2.5-hour charge of the large 500mAh lithium-ion battery of the Aukey EP-B52 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones.
Switch from Bluetooth to wired mode using the 3.5mm audio cable to continue listening if the battery runs out.
6. Audio Quality
Frequency response refers to the different frequencies that headphones can reproduce, resulting in a full sound.
Instruments like bass guitars, bass synths, and kick drums primarily live in the lower frequencies, while the sizzle of cymbals ands sibilance on a vocal lives in the higher frequencies. Guitars, other drums, the body of a vocal, and so on, all live in between these frequencies.
The frequency range of human hearing is 20Hz to 20kHz, though most adults can't hear much past 17kHz.
Most headphones have an advertised frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz too, which, of course, doesn't tell you much about how they sound, considering that's what humans can hear anyway.
The driver is the most important feature in headphones because it converts electrical signals into sound.
To put it simply, the driver creates the sound you hear. You can think of headphone driver units as tiny loudspeakers in your ear.
There are four common types of drivers:
1. Dynamic Drivers
Dynamic drivers have three main components, a voice coil, diaphragm and a magnet.
The magnet magnetises the voice coil and when the electric current flows it behaves as an electromagnet and in turn moves the diaphragm which displaces air to produce sound.
By far the most common type of drivers, these are inexpensive to manufacture.
These drivers produce the most powerful bass but are prone to distortion at higher volumes.
Two advanced dynamic speaker drivers of the Aukey EP-B52 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones provide superb high-fidelity stereo sound with deep bass response.
2. Planar Magnetic Drivers
Where dynamic drivers use a magnet wrapped in a coil, planar magnetic drivers use a thin diaphragm suspended between powerful conductors (magnets).
Planar magnetic drivers don’t suffer from high volume distortion and they typically have a tighter frequency response. The bass isn’t as punchy as with dynamic drivers, but it is more precise. Their biggest strength, however, lies in top-notch sound separation and superb mids.
3. Electrostatic Drivers
Electrostatic drivers work by applying static electricity to the thin-film layer that “floats” between two perforated metal plates. When an electrical current is applied to the perforated plates, the film will vibrate due to the magnetic attraction and repulsion. The vibration will move the air and create sound waves.
These are the most expensive to manufacture but offer the best sound quality.
They have an unmatched soundstage, reproduce the best highs, feature an overall tight frequency response, can feature the widest frequency range and suffer from next to no distortion thanks to their incredible transient response. Their bass is on the feeble side though.
4. Balanced Armature Drivers
Balanced armature drivers consist of a coil wrapped around an armature. This coil is suspended between two magnets. As electric current passes through the coil its changes causes fluctuations between the magnet and the coil.
Everything about these drivers is made to facilitate portability, from their small frame to their power efficiency. This is why they are so commonly used in earbuds. They provide superior noise isolation but have a weak bass.
Sensitivity refers to how loud headphones can get relative to their power. It's measured in decibels, which, in basic terms, is a volume measurement.
Generally, sensitivity is measured per 1mW (milliwatt). Usually, a sensitivity between 90dB and 120dB / 1mW is acceptable.
Anything past the upper limit of this range (120dB) is like listening to a rock concert.
You wouldn't want your ears to be permanently damaged, would you?
Impedance refers to the opposition your headphones give to the flow of current from your headphone amplifier.
Impedance generally ranges from 8Ω (ohms) to the hundreds of ohms on high-end models.
If you plan on using your headphones with a phone or computer, any headphones with an impedance of under 25Ω should work just fine.
7. Other Features
Headsets often come with related audio features.
Depending on your needs, you may want to get a headphone with noise cancelling capabilities or a water-resistant headphone.
The Aukey EP-B52 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones comes with a built-in microphone for calls and a convenient three-button control.
Ergonomic headphones are designed to be comfy and to reduce pressure on your ears.
Super-soft memory foam earpads and adjustable headband of the Aukey EP-B52 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones ensure optimal fit with reduced pressure.
Still unsure of which pair of headphones to get? You can’t go wrong with Aukey's EP-B52 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones.