Listen Up: How to Choose Good Earphones - WBCB: The Valley's CW |

Listen Up: How to Choose Good Earphones


Whether you’re working out or on the train to work, good earphones make your listening experience better. It is well worth every penny that you can put into them, that’s for sure.

If you’re looking to purchase earbuds (in-ear headphones), there are a lot of things you need to take into consideration. Buying the wrong earbuds could lead to you being unsatisfied with the overall sound and it could even be dangerous to your health.

Keep your ears happy with this guide on the factors to look for when choosing earphones for your next purchase.


This is something that a lot of inexperienced shoppers don’t account for. Basically, the higher impedance there is on a device, the less current will flow through it.

Some high-quality earbuds have high impedance, meaning they won’t function to their full potential on a mobile phone. In order to properly power high impedance earphones, you would need an earphone amp.

For the best results, you should try to match the impedance of the source with that of the earbuds. If you buy something with too high of an impedance level, you won’t be able to drive it as loud as you might like and the sound might be somewhat weaker.

Frequency Response

The frequency response is the range of sound that the earbuds are able to replicate. Different kinds of earbuds emphasize different areas of the frequency spectrum, so make sure you don’t overlook this aspect of earbuds.

Earbuds generally don’t have as much bass as headphones, but some earbuds have a lot better bass response than others. You should pick a set of earbuds with a frequency response that complements the type of music you want to listen to.

Say you want to listen to bass-heavy dance music; you probably want something with a good range of bass so you get a sense of the sub-bass regions in your music. On the other hand, if you’re more into rock and heavy metal, you might want to go for something that’s strong in the midrange frequencies so you can hear the distorted guitars well.

Be aware that you should take the manufacturer specifications with a pinch of salt. Earbuds are often listed as having a much deeper bass response than they actually have in the “real world.”


The sensitivity of earbuds is how loud of a sound they’re capable of producing. This is often referred to as using SPL, or sound pressure levels.

While loud music often sounds better than quieter music, you don’t want to buy any earbuds that are too loud. Since earbuds sit right in your ears, you’re in danger of hearing loss if you have them too loud. You should buy earbuds with mid-range SPLs at the most.


The drivers in your earbuds are what turns the electronic signals from your device into sound pressure. The drivers are what makes or breaks the earbuds.

The stronger or larger the driver, the better the sound will be, especially if you want to have a nice bass response. Since earbuds are so small, the size of the driver is limited.

You may be able to get better sound quality at a better price point if you go with headphones instead of earbuds. This is especially true if you want to hear really low sub-bass tones. The small drivers of earbuds are often not enough to create these kinds of frequencies.

Earphone Fit

It doesn’t matter what the SPLs are, what driver they use, or what the frequency response is if the things won’t fit in your ears. Depending on your ear shape, you might find it more difficult to find earbuds that fit you well.

Some people experience earbuds falling out of their ears too easily. When buying earbuds, you should see if you can try out a pair first to make sure they fit. If that isn’t possible, you should try and shop somewhere with a good return policy.

Sound Isolation

This is important for earbuds; in some situations, sound isolation is desirable.

For example, if you’re listening to music on the bus or trying to listen to a podcast on the train, you don’t want other people’s conversations leaking through and interrupting whatever you’re listening to. You might also get sound canceling earphones that use inverted soundwaves to completely block out the sound of the outside world.

On the other hand, if you want earbuds to use while you ride your bike, you don’t want the sound isolation to be too much since this could cause various safety issues.

If you plan on using your earbuds in a situation where you need to be able to hear the sound, you might want to consider trying bone conduction headphones. These transmit sound in a completely different manner, compared to traditional earbuds and you can completely hear the outside world as well as your music.

Sweat Resistance

This is something to consider if you’re planning on using your earbuds while working out. Sweat-resistant earbuds are specially engineered to prevent moisture damage. This is perfect if you plan to use your earbuds while jogging or weightlifting.


The worst part of owning earbuds is dealing with tangled wires. Earbuds have the uncanny ability to tangle themselves up completely after a short time in your bag or pocket.

With Bluetooth earbuds, the wires are no longer an issue. Bluetooth earphones are very convenient, but it’ll definitely raise the price.

Do You Need a Mic?

If you’re planning on using your earbuds with your phone, it’s a good idea to consider a set with a mic. When you have a mic on your earbuds, you don’t even need to take your phone out of your pocket to answer the phone. Once you’ve gotten used to this incredibly convenient feature, it’s hard to live without it.

Check Out Reviews on Good Earphones

When it comes to good earphones, there are plenty of passionate users out there who write highly detailed reviews. Make sure you check out some review sites before you make a decision about your purchase.

Want to purchase a headphone instead? Then check out our headphone reviews!

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