As we try to escape the reality of our daily lives, music comes to our rescue all the times. Plug in, put on, play music. Most of us spend some quality time with our ‘earphones on’ and it is important to choose the right one.
The growing competition in the entire manufacturing sector has led to a wide range of choices for the user. The earphone manufacturing sector is no different as well. It is easy to get carried away with advertisements and endorsement by the fellow influencers you follow on Social Media or YouTube. So there are a few terms you need to know for picking the right one.
These small earbuds sit right in the ear canal. They come with two major benefits - a. they sit close to the eardrum and provide excellent sound quality and b. since they fill the ear canal, they can effectively block the external noise.
Also known as supra-aural headphones, these ones rest on the top of the ears. Though they direct sound through the ear canals, they do not completely block out the external noise.
These earphones are designed to cover the entire ear, thus making room for a larger driver that allows louder volume, better bass performance, and more immersive music experience. Due to the wider ear space, the drivers are placed further away from the ear and produce a more spacious sound for your ears. They provide better noise isolation. The only con is their size and portability issue.
Coming to the essentials, these are the most important things in an earphone. You can say that the ‘Drivers’ are the music maker, as they turn the electrical signal into sound pressure which we experience through any earpiece. Irrespective of their types, they primarily consist of magnets, voice coils, and a diaphragm.
5. Sensitivity and Sound Pressure Level (SPL)
While looking in the specs of the earphones one may find either of these two terms. These related terms determine how loud your earphone will go. Sensitivity indicates how efficiently an electrical signal is converted into an acoustic signal and SPL is the scale on which sensitivity is measured.
This is how electrical resistance is measured and is displayed in Ohms. We don’t want higher impedance since higher impedance means higher resistance and in turn, means using more power. However, lower impedance means the use of lower voltage, in turn, requiring higher current.
7. Frequency Response
With frequency response, one can understand the range of audio frequencies the headphones can reproduce. Measured in Hertz (Hz) the lower number represents the amount of bass and the highest treble.
8. Total Harmonic Distortion
If you don’t want voice distortion while using headphones at a high volume, you need to check out for Total harmonic distortion (THD). The sound in earphones is a result of a vibrating diaphragm in the driver and at higher volumes; the diaphragm may not be able to vibrate fast enough and can result in distortion. The lower the THD- the better the sound.
9. Noise Cancellation
For total voice immersion, we now have noise cancellation earphones. Embedded microphones and electronic chips, they record ambient noise, then create an inverse sound wave which in turn provides complete external noise cancellation.
10. Noise isolation
Unlike noise cancellation technology, noise isolation headphones physically stop external sounds. They come in both over-ear and in-ear types do not require any external power supply and are not limited to certain frequencies.
These are just some of the many specs you can look for while choosing your earphones. Though there is no standardization, these can help you in narrowing down your choices.
Bonus Question -
How to Tell if a Pair of Headphones or Earphones you are wanting to buy are Good?
That’s the most valid and immediate question that comes to anyone’s mind. How to know without owning or experiencing a particular earphone if they are worth your time and money?
The simplest and most easily available medium is to read the product review on e commerce portals such as Amazon and Flipkart.
But let’s say you want to explore further by yourself, by actually analysing the specifications given by the manufacturer. Now that you know what the individual specs mean, so you can easily bring them together to practically understand a product without having it just by reading the Specifications table. Like for example below,
This technical specification gives us enough information and reasonable picture of what these headphones can do.
With a regular sized driver these headphones come with 16 ohms impedance which means, it require little power to deliver high audio levels. Low impedance headphones work well with equipment with weak amplification like portable music players, phones, and other portable devices.
With frequency response of up to 20khz the headphones have the ability to reproduce high sounds. Speaking about the sensitivity, with 105dB+3dB (decibels) these headphones can play well at a given power level.
So from the specifications – and bearing in mind that you haven’t used these headphones yet – you can be confident that these are likely to be pretty good.
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