Health and Wellness

Headphones Comparison Guide: Which Headphones are Best for You?

By Eric Harry

How to choose headphones that are best for you? Calm Radio has put together a guide for choosing headphones that are best suited to your listening needs, including noise-cancelling headphones, over-ear, in-ear headphones and more.

Over-Ear Headphones

Over Ear Headphones.
Over-ear headphones.

These are large headphones with earcups that cover around the entire ear. Recommended for listening to classical music, meditation music and enjoying all relaxing music.

Pros:

  • Truest sound quality
  • Good external noise isolation
  • Minimal noise leakage to people around you
  • Most comfortable option
  • Wearable for longer periods
  • Less ear-fatigue

Cons:

  • Larger, less portable
  • Can be pricier
  • Noise leakage at higher volumes

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise Cancelling Headphones.
Noise Cancelling Headphones.

Noise cancelling headphones are over-ear headphones designed to maximally reduce external noise, as well as prevent any sound leakage. They have large earcups with cushions that fit all around the ear. The mechanism includes a microphone that measures external ambient noise and generates the exact opposite sound wave to cancel it out.

Recommended for blocking out unwanted sound when meditating to Calm Radio’s guided meditation music channels or listening to Calm’s meditation music.

Pros:

  • Superior sound quality
  • Noise cancellation
  • Ear protection for noisy environments, machinery
  • Blocks jet noise when flying
  • Less ear fatigue

Cons:

  • More expensive (but worth it)
  • Inexpensive models do not perform well

On-Ear Headphones

On-Ear Headphones.
On-Ear Headphones.

These are similar to over-ear headphones, but with earcups that sit on top of the ears, not covering the surrounding area. They are smaller and lighter than over-ear headphones, while maintaining great quality.

Pros:

  • Lighter and easier to carry among bigger headphones
  • You can hear externally what’s around you
  • Less listening fatigue

Cons:

  • Less comfortable than over-the-ear headphones
  • Noise cancellation is not possible
  • Not as good blocking external sound
  • Leaks sound to people around you
  • Sound is not as superior as over-the-ear headphones

In-Ear Headphones

In-Ear Headphones.
In-Ear Headphones.

Small and light, in-ear headphones have a silicone tip that sits inside the ear canal, allowing the sound to go directly into your ear, providing some noise cancellation due to a tighter fit.

Very good for practicing meditation or listening to guided meditation music. Recommended for classical music, relaxation music and pop and rock music.

Pros:

  • Decent fit
  • Sound quality can vary from good to great
  • Affordable and easy to find
  • Small and portable
  • Maximum external noise isolation
  • Little to no sound leakage to people around you

Cons:

  • Poor comfort
  • Not recommended at higher listening volumes
  • Sound quality is inferior to earbuds
  • Dangerous when listening and walking or running

Earbuds

Earbuds.
Earbuds.

These are small earphones that rest at the entrance of your ear, without going inside the ear canal. They often come with mobile phones and other portable devices.

Also good for relaxing to Calm Radio’s meditation music, listening to guided meditation music channels, as well as classical music, relaxation music and pop and rock music.

Pros:

  • Small and portable
  • Sound quality is better than in-ear
  • Decent comfort
  • Little to no external leakage

Cons:

  • Not the best external noise isolation
  • Medium comfort
  • Not recommended at higher volumes
  • Can be dangerous while listening when walking or running

Summary

HEADPHONES PROS CONS
Over-Ear Truest sound quality.
Good external noise isolation.
Minimal noise leakage to people around you.
Most comfortable option.
Wearable for longer periods.
Less ear-fatigue.
Larger, less portable.
Can be pricier.
Noise leakage at higher volumes.
Noise Cancelling Superior sound quality.
Noise cancellation.
Ear protection for noisy environments, machinery.
Blocks jet noise when flying.
Less ear fatigue.
More expensive (but worth it).
Inexpensive models do not perform well.
On-Ear Lighter and easier to carry among bigger headphones.
You can hear externally what’s around you.
Less listening fatigue.
Less comfortable than over-the-ear headphones.
Noise cancellation is not possible.
Not as good blocking external sound.
Leaks sound to people around you.
Sound is not as superior as over-the-ear headphones.
In-Ear Decent fit.
Sound quality can vary from good to great.
Affordable and easy to find.
Small and portable.
Maximum external noise isolation.
Little to no sound leakage to people around you.
Poor comfort.
Not recommended at higher listening volumes.
Sound quality is inferior to earbuds.
Dangerous when listening and walking or running.
Earbuds Small and portable.
Sound quality is better than in-ear.
Decent comfort.
Little to no external leakage.
Not the best external noise isolation.
Medium comfort.
Not recommended at higher volumes.
Can be dangerous while listening when walking or running.

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