The Difference Between Earphones and Headphones

Shopping for personal listening devices, such as headphones and earphones, should be easy, right? But in reality, with the great abundance of tech and sound accessories as well as brands and models, choosing the best among them is not as easy as a walk in the park.

But it does not have to be that complicated. First, you have to know what you really need in a personal loudspeaker – do you care for function over aesthetic, or vice versa? Second, you have to consider the quality – do you want something that provides a superior sound quality or are you okay with something that provides adequate sound quality? Third, don’t forget comfort and convenience – are you better off with headphones or do you feel that earphones are more portable to use? And lastly, look at your budget – do you have at least a few hundred bucks to pay for a good sound quality?

Anyway, even with those guidelines above and you still can’t quite decide between earphones and headphones, this article breaks down the differences between the two to help you make an easier buying decision.

1. Appearance and design

At first sight, you will immediately notice the difference between a headphone and a pair of earphones. Headphones are bigger while earphones are smaller. And it’s not just the size – it’s also the structure and design. A headphone rests on the outer ear surface but it doesn’t seal it completely. Earphones are essentially stripped-down versions of the headphones which are fitted inside the ear.

2. Sound quality

When looking for a decent personal listening device, one of your top considerations is the sound quality. Earphones provide adequate sound quality, but it’s thin compared the booming, encompassing sound provided by headphones.

Headphones on the other hand, have far better sound quality compared to earphones. They also provide well-rounded bass as well as crisp and clear sounds. You can even hear the minutest sound details. These factors make headphones ideal for movies and PC games.

3. Noise cancellation

Earphones are small. Therefore, they don’t do a good enough job of blocking outside noise which would affect the sound quality and your overall music-listening experience. However, earphones are a good choice if you want to remain aware of your immediate surroundings.

Headphones, on the other hand, have oversized earbuds. Thus, they have great noise cancellation capabilities. They block out unwanted external noise miles better than earphones do, so if you want to isolate yourself completely from the outside world, you should go for headphones.

4. Portability

Earphones easily score a point on this one. They are small, lightweight and easy to carry and store compared to headphones which are quite big and bulky.

5. Ease of use

Because of their size and design, earphones are more ideal to use while doing other things like commuting, jogging, exercising at the gym or preparing your favorite food in the kitchen. Since they are small, they do not cover your ears, allowing them to “breathe.” They do not mess up your hairstyle, to boot. It’s not the same with headphones. Wearing them and taking them off can leave your hair disheveled. With their oversized earbuds, headphones can make your ears feel quite confined, hot and sweaty when they are worn for a long time.

Final words

Both earphones and headphones have their own advantages and disadvantages. You only have to know which of them will work best for you. If you are all about the sound quality and noise cancellation, go for headphones. But if portability and ease of use matter more to you, choose earphones.