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Headphones – Types, Pros and Cons – All You Want To Know


Since there are many different types of headphones, it’s more reasonable to concentrate on your exact needs. Normally, for indoor usage, prefer open-back headphones; for sports reach for the earbuds; for general usage, get your hands on the over-ear headphones, and for the rest of the types of headphones and their usage, read the complete article.

- Updated: 2nd May 2024, 14:52 IST
  • 1
    Types of Headphones
    • 1. Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones
    • 2. Bone Conduction Headphones
    • 3. Classic Earphones
    • 4. Closed-Back Headphones
    • 5. Open-Back Headphones
    • 6. On-Ear Headphones
    • 7. Earbuds
    • 8. Wired Headphones
    • 9. Wireless Headphones
  • 2

Investing in the correct set of headphones is a great deal for many people, but they are confused about which types of headphones would be ideal for them. We have made a list of the types of headphones you can find globally and the advantages and disadvantages of owning them.

Also Read: iPhone SE Plus Tipped to Arrive in 2022: Here are the Details

Types of Headphones

Below you will find one of the most comprehensive lists of the types of headphone that are available in today’s market and which type of headphones will be ideal for you.

1. Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Active Noise Cancelling headphones

Active noise-cancelling headphones are one of the high-end tech headphones that you will find in the market. The mechanism of such headphones is such that it cancels out the noise around the environment by recording the environment’s noise, reversing its phase, and then transmitting it to your ears. Therefore, the sounds are cancelled out before they are transmitted to your ears.

noise cancelling headphone structure
Working of Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Pros of Active Noise-Cancelling HeadphonesDescription
Noise-cancelling featureThe option of completely cancelling out the external noise to have an immersive sound experience.
Stress-free listeningActive noise-cancelling headphones are tailored for those users who commute through public transport and want to cancel out the noise coming around them. Some people in the work area use such headphones to focus much better while working. You will also find people use it while sleeping to listen to white noise to help them sleep.
Prevents eardrum damageSince these headphones have the feature of cancelling out the noise, you won’t have to increase the volume that much to listen to your music, podcast, etc.
Cons of Active Noise-Cancelling HeadphonesDescription
ExpensiveSuch headphones are costly to own as they have additional hardware for noise cancellation increasing their overall price.
Sound quality variationIf you go for a low quality active noise-cancelling headphone, then the sound quality will deteriorate once you turn on the noise-cancelling feature. Don’t compromise on hardware quality to get the best out of your active noise-cancellation headphone.
Battery lifeSince these headphones use additional hardware to block external noise, you can expect the battery life to reduce exponentially for such headphones.
Limited usageThe microphones in active noise-cancellation headphones pick up noises on a windy day which will be transmitted into your eardrums. They are meant for indoor use primarily.

Used for- Types of headphones ideal for studio monitoring as they are sound leakage proof.

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2. Bone Conduction Headphones

different types of headphones

Bone Conduction Headphones use a mechanism where the sound is transmitted through your cheekbones which makes these headphones dodge the outer ear. These headphones are fabulous as they keep you well aware of your surrounding noises, and you are not compromising your sound quality.

Pros of Bone Conduction HeadphonesDescription
AlertnessSince these headphones do not cover your ears entirely, they are a good fit for the urban population as they will not cancel out the noise coming around you and keep you aware of your surrounding.
ResilienceThese headphones reside upon the ear, making them very sturdy.
Suitable as a hearing aidBone Conduction headphones are helpful for people who have difficulty hearing things from their outer ear.
Cons of Bone Conduction HeadphonesDescription
Quality of soundYou will find the bass and audio quality lacking as not much can be done when transmitting sounds through cheekbones.
SolatarinessUsers of Bone-conduction headphones have their ears fully open. That means you can hear everything around you. If you want to enjoy your music, you will have to be in an isolated room where no kind of external noise can come.

Used for- Types of headphones ideal choice for being alert about your surroundings when you’re doing outdoor activities.

3. Classic Earphones

classic type earphone

The Classic earphones will fit your ear canal and are the most popular listening device you will find globally.

Pros of Classic earphonesDescription
ComfortableWith no covering on your entire ear, your ears won’t become sweaty as they do in conventional headphones, and they are light to carry around, so you will hardly feel them over your ears.
Surround sounds like a stageSince they are placed a bit far from your eardrums, they can imitate the sounds at a soundstage.
Cons of Classic earphonesDescription
Quality of soundThey are decent sound-producing devices but can perform at the level of an in-ear headphone as they lack covering up the ear, reducing the sound quality.
SolidityEarphones don’t clutch your ears, making them gullible to dropping out during motion. They are not appropriate for a workout.

Used for- Types of headphones for people who want the bare minimum from their listening devices, classic earphones should be ideal.

What is soundstage in headphones/earphones?

In the world of an avid music listener, the soundstage is also known as speaker image. It allows the listener to listen to the place of musical instruments while hearing music in their headphones/earphones. So it gives you the feeling of surround sound in your headphones/earphones, like you are sitting at a concert listening to different musical instruments being played.

4. Closed-Back Headphones

closed back type of headphones

Closed-back headphones are built-in a way where they can cover the ear in three ways- 

1) Over the ear coverage

2) On-ear coverage

3) In-ear coverage

These types of headphones have the best sub-bass feature. Sub-bass sounds are the lowest frequency that humans can hear, around 20Hz. Since human hearing is not that sensitive around sound-bass, such sound notes are not heard as much as they are felt.

Pros of Closed-Back HeadphonesDescription
Better sound isolationClosed-back headphones are good at cancelling out external noises. They are also great at reducing sound leaking from your headphone so that people around you cannot listen to what is it that you are hearing in your headphone.
Bass friendlyYou will hear low frequencies, that is, bass much better in these headphones as they are fully enclosed on your ears.
Cons of Closed-Back HeadphonesDescription
Not ideal for soundstageSince they are enclosed over your ear, the sound leakage is not possible, so you are not able to feel the authentic surround sound of the musical instruments in your headphones, and you will feel as if all the instrument sounds are coming from one spot altogether making the experience less immersive.
Moisture trappedClosed-back headphones have very tightly capped on your ears and prevent any sort of circulation of fresh air, so after a while, your skin over the ear will be hot and humid, and you will tend to sweat in that area.

Used for- Types of headphones for users who want sufficient noise cancellation in an environment with a lot of noise.

5. Open-Back Headphones

types of headphone

Open-Back headphones are not fully covering your earlobes and are an ideal choice for people who want a tad bit of windy sound from their surroundings in their headphones. 

Pros of Open-Back HeadphonesDescription
Quality of soundSince they don’t tightly seal your earlobes, you will find that more natural sounds are being generated in your headphone, and such headphones are better at handling high volume when there is less distortion around.
BreathableOpen-back headphones let proper air circulation allowing the skin around your ears to be comfortable and not letting your ear become sweaty after prolonged hours of usage.
Soundstage friendlyOpen-back headphones are suitable for soundstage effects as they have an airy feeling in them because of their built style, so the sounds feel more natural in these headphones.
Cons of Open-Back HeadphonesDescription
Poor noise isolationOpen-back headphones means that noise cancellation is not possible, so use them indoors to get the best out of them.
Sound spillSince they are not tightly packed over your ears, people around you can hear what is being transmitted in your headphones.
Lack of portabilityThey are huge in size and are ideal for indoor use only.
Poor bassSince they are designed openly to be placed over your ears, they don’t provide as good of bass as you can expect from a closed-back headphone.

Used for- Types of headphones which is a popular choice among studio artists when doing recordings. Also suitable for gamers, too.

Open-Back Headphones vs Closed-Back Headphones

different types of headphones

Closed-back headphones are best at cancelling out external noises. Plus, they are good at proofing the sound leakage, which means people around you won’t be able to hear what is transmitted in your closed-back headphones.

Open-back headphones are designed for better air circulation and let you have an airy feeling in the background while listening to audio. They do not cancel out the external noises and let the noise from the external area come into your headphones.

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6. On-Ear Headphones

types of headphone

On-ear headphones are built identical to your over the ear headphones, but the difference is they have smaller cushion pads for your ear, so the on-ear headphone’s cushion pads will directly be placed over your earlobes.

Pros of On-Ear HeadphonesDescription
On-ear headphones are a great fit and can be used during any sort of activity, be it strenuous or light.
PortableSince they are small compared to your over-ear headphones, they are a tad bit easier to take around.
Cons of On-Ear HeadphonesDescription
Not ComfortableIf you invest in such an on-ear headphone that doesn’t have an adequate cushion pad, then your earlobes may start hurting after prolonged usage.
Sweaty earsSince the cushion pads are pressed against your earlobes, there is no air circulation, which will lead to your ears becoming hot and humid, and the ears will start sweating after prolonged usage.
Indirect noise cancellationSince our earlobes are fully flat so the cushion pad on the on-ear headphone won’t completely seal off the external sounds, and you can be prone to sound leakage as well.

Used for- It is a good alternative if you are not a fan of in-ear headphones.

7. Earbuds

Earbuds are the most compact headphones you will find in the market. These are different types of earbuds you will find in the market- 

7.1 Modern True Wireless Earbuds

type of headphones

True Wireless Earbuds are entirely free from wire, and they are charged in a charging case known as a pod.

Pros of Modern True Wireless EarbudsDescription
Quality of soundSince these wireless earbuds are well placed near the eardrum, the crisp quality of audio can be definitely expected.
SturdinessSince they are fixed very close to the eardrums, they are good at holding grip and less prone to fall out during sports activity.
Cons of Modern True Wireless EarbudsDescription
Regular maintenanceSince earbuds are plugged near the eardrums, the chances of ear wax being pushed into the earbuds are always there, and you will end up cleaning the earbuds with an alcohol solution to remove the wax from them. Not doing such maintenance may result in a clogged audio canal in your earbuds, and you may get less sound because of it. Plus, you always run the risk of ear infections in such cases.
Little soundstage effectEarbuds aren’t as wide as a headphone, so the surround sound of different musical instruments will sound as if coming from one spot, making the overall listening experience less immersive
LagWireless Earbud’s Bluetooth has to transmit the audio signal, and that takes time, so you can expect a few milliseconds of delay in audio while viewing videos.

Used for- Good choice for commuters wanting a portable listening device.

7.2 Conventional Wireless Earbuds

types of headphone

Conventional in-ear headphones have a wire which connects the two earbuds, but you don’t have another wire to plug in a 3.5mm jack.

Pros of Conventional Wireless EarbudsDescription
PortableThey are as hassle-free to carry as your modern True Wireless earbuds as the wire connecting the two earbuds don’t get tangled that easily.
SturdinessThe edge Conventional Wireless Earbuds have over the True Wireless Earbuds is that you can dangle them around your neck after using them.
Cons of Conventional Wireless EarbudsDescription
NoiseYou can hear the sound of cable rubbing against your fabric which creates creepy sounds in your earbuds.
Battery lifeSince they work on Bluetooth connectivity, you can expect a short battery life because of wireless connectivity hardware.

Used for- Fitness enthusiasts might prefer such types of headphones in case one earbud drops out during workout so that the cable will help it from not getting off on the road.

7.3 Wired Earbuds

wired earbuds type of earphone

Wired Earbuds are something that you will find in the usage of an avid listener of music.

Pros of Wired EarbudsDescription
Quality of sound and no latencyWired Earbuds are an excellent way to not compromise on the audio quality as wired connection transmission has no signal loss compared to wireless earbuds, where a minuscule amount of signal is lost in transmitting the audio from your device to the wireless earbuds. Wired earbuds also ensure that there is no delay in audio transmission in your earbuds while you view videos.
AffordableWired earbuds are very cheap to afford, and you can get some real quality earbuds starting from just ₹500.
Cons of Wired EarbudsDescription
Compatibility issueMost of the devices like your gaming controllers and smartphones have opted for a C-Type port for plugging in your wired earbuds, and most wired earbuds available today still use a 3.5mm pin, so you made need to make an additional purchase like Type-C to 3.5mm Jack Audio Connector to make your wired earbuds connect to your modern devices.
Not hassle-freeCables are prone to get tangled in your pockets, so it gets annoying to untangle them whenever you want to use them.
DurabilityCables are prone to damage with regular usage even though you are careful or may face the issue of one earbud not working because of partial damage in the wiring.

Used for- For people who don’t want to compromise on audio quality or someone looking for a budget-friendly listening device.

8. Wired Headphones

wired headphones

Wired Headphones are still one of the highest-selling types of devices among audiophiles. They are excellent in sound quality, but the absence of portability can be felt.

Pros of Wired HeadphonesDescription
Quality of sound and no latencyWired Headphones are an excellent way to not compromise on the audio quality as wired connection transmission has no signal loss compared to wireless earbuds, where a minuscule amount of signal is lost in transmitting the audio from your device to the wireless earbuds. Wired Headphones also ensure that there is no delay in audio transmission in your earbuds while you view videos.
AffordableWired Headphones are very cheap to afford, and you can get some real quality headphones starting from just ₹1,000.
Cons of Wired HeadphonesDescription
Compatibility issueMost of the devices like your gaming controllers and smartphones have opted for a C-Type port for plugging in your wired headphones, and most wired headphones available today still use a 3.5mm pin, so you made need to make an additional purchase like Type-C to 3.5mm Jack Audio Connector to make your wired headphones connect to your modern devices.
DurabilityCables are prone to damage with regular usage even though you are careful or may face the issue of one headphone side not working because of partial damage in the wiring.

Used for- Types of headphones which is for avid music lovers who are looking for high-end hardware to do recordings in the studio and want the best listening experience.

9. Wireless Headphones

wireless headphones

Wireless headphones also have all the necessary parts that you can find in wireless earbuds. You will find two types of wireless headphone connections-
1)Connection via Bluetooth
2) Connected via USB dongle over WiFi.

Pros of Wireless HeadphonesDescription
Hassle-freeA lack of wires makes it best for daily usage for your activities.
Cons of Wireless HeadphonesDescription
Battery lifeWireless Headphones have short battery life, and they tend the charging cycle is limited to 1000 for such devices in most of the cases, which means that post this cycle, you will see a big drop in the battery performance.
Quality of soundWired headphones is a better choice for audio quality. In high-end wired headphones, you will find the audio quality that is equivalent to their wired competitor.
High latencyThe sync between the video you are playing on your device and the audio transmitted to your wireless headphone can have some noticeable lag.

Used for- The Wireless headphones are great for commuters and gamers also. Also, they are an ideal choice over their wired competitor if you want a tangle-free wire experience.

Also read: Android 12 Game Mode API: These are the First Games to Support it


We hope that our list has helped you get the idea of different types of headphone available in the market and which will be an ideal fit for you.

Also read: How To Make Money Playing Games?

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Highlights of the Story

  • Confused about the type of headphones you want to buy?
  • Not sure about the pros and cons of the categories of headphones?
  • Don’t worry as we have made a list of the types of headphones available globally and also stated their advantages and disadvantages.

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