8 Qualities to Look for in a Pair of Headphones

Are you in the market for a high-end set of headphones? The range of choices and array of features can be overwhelming, but you only need to focus on a few elements to get the sound quality you’re looking for. Here’s a guide to the most important features when choosing a headset.

In-Ear Buds

High-quality in-ear headphones, commonly called earbuds, are capable of delivering excellent sound. They sit directly inside the ear canal, close to the eardrum, and seal external noise out of the ear canal. They’re very portable and typically come with a selection of tip sizes so you can find a pair that sits firmly in your ears and effectively seals out external noise.

On-Ear Styles

On-ear headphones rest on top of the ear comfortably. They’re still lightweight and portable, and they’re able to deliver a stream of sound directly focused into the ear canal. however, they don’t seal out external sound well. On-ear headphones’ main advantages are portability and comfort.

Over-Ear Headphones

Over-ear (or “circumaural”) headphones encase the user’s ears. They’re much larger and less portable than other styles, but they’re capable of delivering amazing sound quality. Their size allows them to house a larger driver, which can produce better bass and volume. Since the sound isn’t being delivered directly into your ear canal, it more closely resembles the tone of an external speaker. And if they’re well-sealed and fit you well, over-ear headphones can offer great noise isolation, as well.

The Perfect Fit

Speakers pour sound into the room and let your ear shape bring the sound into your ear canal according to its own unique design. But with earphones, the way that the shape of the earpiece interacts with the shape of your ear is an important part of the sound system. While reviews can be helpful, it’s important to test different brands and styles in person to see which ones will work best with your personal anatomy. High-end headphones will usually provide detailed adjustment options so you can get a precise fit for customized sound.

Noise Cancellation

Many people assume that noise cancellation refers to physically blocking external noise out of the ear canal, but sealing out noise is considered “passive” noise cancellation. Active noise cancellation is a much more sophisticated process. Inactive noise cancellation, a microphone detects the pattern of exterior noise, and the headphones electronically filter out that sound pattern as they deliver your music.

Additional Features

Which features you’re willing to pay extra for is an entirely personal decision. Noise cancellation is the most commonly selected feature for personal sound equipment. Bluetooth compatibility is another popular feature that frees you up from cords and wires. If you like to wear your headphones while you’re soaking in the tub or paddling a kayak, you’ll need to search for a waterproof set.


No matter how good the sound quality is, you won’t enjoy using headphones that are clunky or don’t suit your personal style. You might change your clothes and your shoes often, but your headphones will be with you almost every day, and they’ll become as much a part of your signature style as your haircut. Top brands like Beats by Dre earphones are built for bosses and are instantly recognizable and identify you as someone who is both tech-savvy and style-conscious.


Are you hard on your devices? If your phone screen is usually cracked and your laptop power cord is nearly always patched with electrical tape, you should prioritize durability when you buy electronics. Read lots of reviews and choose a brand with a workhorse reputation to be sure you won’t be dealing with a lot of loose wires and mechanical issues. You might also want to invest in a padded carrying case to protect your investment.

When you’re shopping for headphones, keep comfort, durability, portability, and style in mind. When you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few options, test drive each of them to find the perfect fit. In the end, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with great sound and great style.