New phone accessories are being introduced every day. But some have stayed around for decades. Did you know the first loudspeaker was invented in 1876? Yes. Alexander Graham Bell invented it as part of his telephone. The first headphones came around in 1910.
We have come a long way since. There are so many varieties available now, it’s hard to choose just one. It gets much easier once you know what you’re looking for.
Even if you get the best multimedia phone, it is doubtful that the built-in speakers would be enough. Some high-end devices do have stereo speakers that get quite loud and have Surround sound technology for music and videos. But we all know that doesn’t help in crowded or noisy places. And if you are going to get a pair of wireless headphones, you should get a good one.
What to look for
Here are the most significant features you should check before you make a purchase:
Size and design:
Headphones can easily be defined by their size. This determines how they fit in your ears. It’s all about your comfort and ease. There are two basic designs you may come across for larger headphones – open back and closed back. The closed–back headphones are more efficient because they ensure minimum noise interference from outside.
Since these go on your head, making sure they are of optimum weight is of utmost importance. Using large and heavy headphones can cause more discomfort than you think.
Headphone sensitivity can be defined as how efficiently it produces sound. Highly sensitive headphones can produce loud audio at a low power level, so there are efficient. But at higher volumes, these can be damaging to your ears.
Although audio resolution depends more on the audio file, your headphones also have to be compatible. Most audio and video are recorded at high resolutions (24-bit or 32-bit) these days. The sound quality you ultimately receive depends on both.
Unlike speakers, you will probably be carrying your headphones around. To get your money’s worth, check the construction material. Also, make sure your headphones are water-resistant for those pool parties where you want to ignore the crowd.
Most current brands have long-lasting batteries, so this probably won’t be a concern. However, depending on where you will use the product, you should know how long the battery will last.
It may seem obvious that headphones are used to listen to music or watch videos, but applications do vary for each person. Before picking your new headphones, make sure you remember where you will be using them – at home, while travelling, while working out or on your daily commute. They also need to be easy enough for you to pack and unpack (especially the large ones) several times.
What your options are
You can divide wireless headphones into three basic categories. There are several designs and sizes you will find, even within these groupings.
In-ear – These are the most common types and come in both wired and wireless forms. They go into your ear canals and while that might be comfortable for many users, it’s not the most suitable type for your ears. Many smartphone manufacturers still add a pair in the box but not as much as they used to. Some of the best in-ear headphones in the market now are OnePlus Bullets, Bowers & Wilkins PI3, and Optoma NuForce.
Earbuds are also in-ear headphones but are called true wireless. The best earbuds are still Apple Air Pods, although Sony WF-1000XM3 has come quite close.
On-ear – This type is less damaging and comes midway of the other two. These are comfortable, and usually light and portable. Sony WH-CH510, Philips Fidelio, Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are some of the really good ones.
Full-size – What is meant by full-size are the even larger ones that go over your ears and give you that surround sound experience. These are best for movies. Sony WH-1000XM3, Sennheiser HD, Philips PH805, and JBL Tune are some of the best you will find.
What is True Wireless?
Of course, they don’t have wires. At all.
The left and right pieces of wireless headphones are connected. A true wireless pair (also known as earbuds) has a primary and secondary piece. The primary piece collects the audio signal from the device and then transmits it to the secondary one.
So, not only do they work without being physically connected to the device, they are not even physically connected. Although they seem cool, they’re not the best option for everyone.
Just as we have come from wired to wireless, there are also a variety of connection methods you can use now.
- Bluetooth – This is the oldest form of wireless connection. It is also the most readily available kind. You turn on the Bluetooth on your device and turn on your headphones and then pair them on your device. It works in a very limited range.
- Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi connections cover a larger area. One paired, your headphones connect to the network and let you stream music online, without using your phone in the middle.
- NFC (near-field communication) – This is the least popular type and requires very close proximity. NFC connections are commonly using for services like Apple Pay and Google Pay. They work with Bluetooth headphones and you can connect them in the same way.
Alternative – Bluetooth Speakers
If you’re not interested in headphones, there are some other portable options for you. Whether it’s for a party, your home or even your car, a good song on a quality loudspeaker can uplift your mood any day. There are several small Bluetooth speakers you can buy. The latest ones are compatible with your phone, laptop, tablet ad most other devices.
JBL and Sony have many options from low to high price ranges. Even Xiaomi’s Wireless speakers have gained a lot of popularity in the past few years.
In addition to all these features, you also need to check out the price. There is no reason to believe that one should spend the bare minimum on headphones or speakers. Some high-end brands can last you years. So even if it is just another accessory to you, they might be worth a good amount.
Another factor in deciding your budget would be how often you use them. So know what you want, do your research and choose wisely. Let the music play!