The Difference Between Earphones and Earbuds

It’s quite common for people to use the terms “earphones” and “earbuds” interchangeably. But actually, there is a significant difference between the two. This article takes a closer look at earbuds and earphones and delineate their distinctions, from their appearance to their noise cancellation capabilities. 

1. Appearance

People tend to confuse earphones and earbuds as one and the same.

However, earphones usually come with cushions so that they can fit in the ear comfortably. These cushions are made of different materials such as foam, rubber or silicon. Earphones usually have different sizes and types of ear cushions which allow you to have the snuggest fit possible.

Earbuds usually do not have cushions (although a few earbuds have them). It’s because they are designed to be worn outside the ear canal, unlike earphones. The problem with earbuds, though, is that they come in only one size. They may slip and fall off from your ears if they don’t fit well, or they may not be too comfortable especially if your ear canals are quite narrow.

Both earphones and earbuds can come either wired or wireless. More people have come to prefer wireless earphones and earbuds because they are easier to wear and people won’t have to struggle with tangled cords.

2. Noise cancellation

Earphones and earbuds allow you to listen to your favorite music without hearing much of the noise around you and without annoying other people nearby. That’s their basic function, which gives you a more enjoyable listening experience. However, it’s different when it comes to their noise cancellation capabilities.

If you want to completely isolate yourself from the surrounding noise, earbuds are a poor choice since the are worn just outside the ear canal which allows for the outside noise to filter through. But if you don’t want to be shut yourself out your immediate surroundings, earbuds are the right choice for you.

But if you want to completely immerse yourself in your favorite tunes without being bothered by the outside noise, earphones are the best choice because they are equipped with the cushioning system and better sound quality.

3. Quality and price

Quality and price go hand-in-hand with each other – the more expensive an item is, the better its quality.

Earphones usually cost more because of the better bass control and overall sound quality that they offer. They are also designed for more comfortable listening experience. Even smaller earphones come come off as the more expensive ones because of their superior sound quality and performance.

Earbuds, on the other hand, are cheaper. They offer less superior sound quality and thus are easy to replace. They usually come as free accessories whenever you buy a new phone. Some earbuds are equipped with their own volume control and on/off feature which make them more convenient to use.

Final words

To sum it up, design is the major difference between earphones and earbuds. Earphones are like headphones in terms of sound quality and performance, that is why they are also called “in-ear headphones.” If you want superior sound quality, good fit, efficient noise cancellation and comfort, earphones should be your best bet.

Earbuds, on the other hand, are cheap and easily replaceable. They don’t fit well since they come only in one size, thus they are designed to be worn only in your outer ear. They provide just an okay enough sound quality but don’t expect any well-rounded bass to come out of them. Plus, they don’t cancel outside noises well as earphones do, but if you want to keep yourself aware of your immediate surroundings, earbuds should be the one for you.