Since the introduction of earbuds, they have become the mainstay for many people. As there are many different types of earbuds, finding the one that best suits you can be tricky.
Some prefer the newer versions that fit more snugly into the ears to listen to music on the go, while others prefer the ones with high-quality built-in microphones for voice calls.
Before we dig deep into the types of earbuds and which is best for you, let us first clear out one thing:
Earbuds are not the same as Earphones (although they may look like it).
Earbuds, also known as intra-aural headphones, rest outside your ear canal while earphones go into your ear canal and beyond your concha.
Anyways, without further ado, let’s begin.
Types of Earbuds: Based on Design
The wired earbuds connect to audio devices via cable. One end of the cord connects to the earbuds and the other end connects to the device (mobile, computer, etc.)
The major benefit of wired earbuds is that it does not need batteries or any power source to work. As long as your audio device is charged, you can put the buds in and listen to music whenever you like. However, the constant pressure may damage the cable.
Wired earbuds also have certain drawbacks. The major drawback is the restrictions on movement. The dangling wires may cause inconvenience to you. The wires also tend to get entangled which can be quite annoying.
The wireless earbuds do not require a plug-in cable and connect to audio devices via Bluetooth. The Bluetooth technology transmits the signal over a short distance so your audio device needs to be close to your earbuds.
Note that there’s a difference between wireless and truly wireless earbuds.
Truly Wireless earbuds are the types of earbuds with no wires ’cause they use radio waves instead of electronic waves to transmit the signal. They are powered by batteries so they require regular charging. They come with a portable charging case where you can slip them back in when not in use. The major benefit of such type of earbuds is mobility. No dangling wires to disrupt your listening sesh! However, such types of earbuds come with the greatest risk of falling out or getting lost.
On the other hand, Wireless earbuds also do not have any plug-in cord as they connect via Bluetooth but, here, the two buds are connected to each other by a cable. The advantage of this type of earbuds is they remain secured around your neck. The magnetism secures them around your collar when not in use. But, then again, you do not get the “wire-free life”.
Types of Earbuds: Based on Fits
These are the type you are most familiar with- the regular-kind earbuds, wired or wireless, that rest outside your ear canal.
This type of earbuds is a one-size-fits-all kinda deal. So, if they fit you well, you’re good to go, but if they don’t, frequent falling out will be a major issue. It is due to the fact that they rest outside your ear canal and have no rubber tip to secure them in place.
Moreover, the design does not offer a proper seal to block out ambient noise (even the ones that are specifically designed with noise-canceling technology may not cancel out all noise either).
However, if they fit you well, it’s very comfortable to use for a prolonged period. Also, they come at a cheap price and are very easy to clean and maintain.
In-ear Earbuds/In-Ear Monitors
These are the type that comes with a rubber tip to secure them inside your ears and create a proper seal. The tips are interchangeable according to your ear size so it offers a snug fit.
The snug fit offers excellent noise isolation to get better sound quality. This type of earbuds is perfect if you wanna enjoy your music with all the privacy you can get.
However, the tight seal can be uncomfortable for many people. Falling out might be an issue if you can’t find a pair that fits your perfectly. Also, cleaning and maintenance can be quite difficult.
Earbuds with Ear Hooks
In my opinion, this type is the best of the three. It’s the same as the standard ones except the buds are secured with hooks around your ears so they can be worn for a long time without falling out.
The hooks are interchangeable to fit your ears perfectly. This type of security is appealing to gym bros and athletes.
Types of earbuds: Technology
Most types of earbuds offer passive noise cancellation which means the noise-cancellation provided due to the physical construction of the earbuds (tighter the seal of the buds in your ears, the greater the noise-cancellation).
Some of the earbuds have an active noise cancellation feature which refers to their ability to capture the external sound waves with a built-in microphone and create inverted sound waves to cancel out the noise.
Earbuds with Built-in Microphones
Most of the earbuds come with built-in microphones that enable you to make hands-free voice calls. Having built-in microphones makes it all the more convenient to work with earbuds, especially when you’re driving but you have to take the call.
However, the microphone is not of the top-notch quality ‘cause the manufacturers don’t put their primary focus on that component. But, if you’re lucky enough, you can get your hands on a pair of earbuds with an excellent microphone.
Bone Conduction Earbuds
This type of earbuds is fairly new in the market. The technology here is to transmit the vibrations through your skull which then is transferred to your eardrums. The speakers rest on top of both sides of your skull instead of your ears.
The benefit with this type of earbuds is that there is no issue with fitting ‘cause they’re not in contact with your ears. You won’t even have to worry about them falling out!
However, these earbuds do not offer noise isolation ‘cause there’s no “seal” to block out ambient noise.
Also, scientific concerns are there regarding the safety of this technology, hence, this type of earbuds isn’t so popular yet.
Volume Limiting Earbuds
This type of earbuds limits the volume, keeping it in the 70-80 dB range. These are most suitable for kids or health-conscious adults who do not want to risk ear damage.
Stereo vs Mono
Stereo means each earbud is connected to separate audio channels.
Mono means both the earbuds are connected to a single audio channel.
Nowadays, most earbuds are stereo which offers better sound quality as compared to mono earbuds. However, stereo does not beat the “surround sound” offered by headphones.
Now that we have listed all the different types of earbuds, the question arises:
Which is Best For You?
The answer to this question depends on your needs and the circumstances under which you’re gonna use the earbuds.
But we shall provide you with some suggestions based on different circumstances.
|Best For||Features||Product Suggestion|
|For Sports and Gyming Activities||Sweatproof, truly wireless, sports-oriented earbuds with proper seal and noise-canceling feature||Jabra Elite Active 75t|
|For Home Listening||Comfortable, fitting earbuds with decent sound quality (wired or wireless)||Apple Airpods Pro|
|For Performers and Musicians||In-ear monitors (in-ear type earbuds)||Shure KSE1200|
|For Gaming||Built-in microphone earbuds (preferably true wireless) with noise-canceling technology and proper seal.||Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Gaming Earbuds|
|For Traveling||Secured earbuds, noise-canceling with built-in microphone (preferably wireless)||Sony WF-1000XM4|
|For Kids||Volume limiting, in-ear earbuds, comfortable fitting||LilGadgets BestBuds Volume Limited|
|For Audiophiles||Best noise-canceling earbuds (preferably in-ear)||Sennheiser IE 80S BT Audiophile In-Ear|
How to choose the right earbuds?
The physical appearance is the first thing that attracts people but you must consider the two main factors i.e. comfort and the features/technology it offers.
Can earbuds damage your ears?
It depends on how you use them. If you do not use them properly, say you turn up the volume too much for your ears to handle, or you use the earbuds for an unhealthy amount of time, then it can lead to ear damage like hearing impairment. It can also cause headaches and neck pains.
What are the safest earbuds?
All the types of earbuds are safe to use if used properly, however, for the sake of comparison, earbuds with silicone tips noise-canceling feature are safest as they protect your ears from external noise.
I hope you found the answer to your query: Types of Earbuds and Which is Best For You? To know more about earbuds and the other types of headphones/ earphones, read this article: Headphones Vs Earphones: Which Device is Best?