Are you looking for a new pair of headphones? You’re in luck; some of the most popular brands are on sale! Amazon is having its first-ever Prime Early Access Sale today and tomorrow, a perfect excuse to get a head start on holiday shopping. With deals this huge, why not also treat yourself?
What kind of headphones are right for you? Well, headphones are largely a matter of personal preference. Some people swear by the over-ear comfort, while others prefer subtle earbuds. Maybe you value battery life the most so you can listen all day without the need to charge. We’ll break down how to choose your next favorite pair — or a pair to gift — but first, let’s compare three of the most popular brands on the market: Beats, Bose, and Skullcandy.
West Coast rapper and record producer turned entrepreneur, Dr. Dre and Interscope Records executive Jimmy Iovine co-founded Beats by Dre in 2006. In 2014, Apple acquired the company for over $3 billion.
Beats headphones are stylish, portable, and sound great. Optimized for hip-hop and pop music, Beats headphones are perfect for music listeners who are all about that bass.
Most are wireless, fold up to store, and deliver up to 22 hours of battery life. They also come with features such as noise cancellation and on-ear controls. Beats headphones offer more color selections than Bose, but not as much as Skullcandy. Each style comes in at least a few different colors. However, since they are so bass-heavy, they may not sound as balanced as Bose headphones.
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The Bose name is practically synonymous with high-quality audio. While they may cost a little more than Beats, they are top-quality. Features include a built-in equalizer for exceptional sound, a built-in microphone, noise cancellation, and touch controls. In fact, this innovative brand was the first to offer noise-canceling headphones.
Perfect for everything from working out to traveling, Bose over-ear headphones are lightweight, comfortable, and flexible, with the perfect amount of grip on the headband.
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Available in a wide range of colors, Skullcandy headphones are more affordable than Bose and Beats headphones. However, the sound quality puts these budget headphones on par with the others. The over-ear design features soft earcups for comfort, while the frames are nice and light.
For full hands-free control, Skullcandy offers Skull-iQ Smart Voice Control technology. This allows you to control audio, calls, and Spotify; share music in real-time with your friends; and utilize many other features using only your voice. The app also allows you to update your headphones with newly-released features and stay up-to-date with the latest technology.
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How To Choose The Best Headphones
I usually use headphones when doing dishes or laundry, but you may use them at the gym or on an airplane. Considering what you will use the headphones for most is the biggest factor when selecting a new set. For instance, if you need them for the gym, you may want a pair that is sweat/waterproof; whereas if you are looking for a pair for travel, you may want noise-canceling functionality or prefer them to be pocket-sized. Figuring out which features are a priority will help narrow down your options.
In-Ear Earbuds Vs. Over-Ear Headphones
Whether you prefer earbuds or headphones is a matter of comfort and compactness.
Most earphones for smartphones nowadays are wireless earbuds. They are lighter and more portable than their over-ear counterparts. However, they often have a shorter battery life and less immersive sound. Finding a good fit can also be tricky. However, earbuds won’t mess up your hair and you can wear them with earrings. If you do use earbuds, remember to clean them regularly to avoid an ear infection.
If you’re not comfortable with sticking something in your ear, you’ll definitely want to go for over-ear headphones. As mentioned above, they often have a longer battery life than their earbud counterparts. Because they fit over your ear and not inside of it, it is easier to find the right fit. However, headbands can mess up your hair, and having your ears covered has the potential to make you hot.
Bluetooth Vs. Wired
Most headphones on the market now are wireless/Bluetooth, but wired options are still available. Here’s the breakdown of each style.
Bluetooth Wireless Headphones
Untethered, wireless headphones give you much more freedom. They’re especially great for exercising, cleaning, and traveling. However, you do have to keep them charged. Wireless headphones often cost more than their wired counterparts, while offering the same sound quality.
Wired headphones don’t have to be charged, but they don’t connect to every device. Many smartphones don’t have headphone jacks anymore. But, as mentioned above, wired headphones are more affordable than wireless.
A big consideration is whether or not your headphones are compatible with the device(s) you will be using. For example, my wired headphones that came with my last iPhone don’t plug into my Macbook, even though they are both Apple products. Beats by Dre is owned by Apple, however, they are compatible with Android devices. Each of the headphone options listed below is compatible with both Apple and Android operating systems.
Active Noise Cancellation, or ANC, is handy for those who will be using their headphones in public spaces or somewhere with lower-pitched sounds. For example, my husband uses his where he works in phone offices to drown out the low hum of the fans that keep the equipment cool. ANC works great for lower-frequency sounds like an airplane engine but not as great for voices. Some headphones have the functionality where you can turn noise cancellation on and off.
Consider how the headphones are controlled. For instance, in order to pause my wireless earbuds, I just tap the outside. Occasionally, I do it by accident. Sometimes I tap them twice, thinking the first tap didn’t work, which skips the audio forward. When it comes to controlling the play/pause, volume, skipping, etc., do you prefer buttons or touchpads? Over-ear headphones have larger surface areas for the controls than earbuds.
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