In ear headphones or earphones as they are often called are small headphones which sit inside the ear.
There are generally two forms of earphones, those which sit just inside the outer ear which are often referred to as earbuds and then those which fit more snuggly into the ear canal itself. The earbuds are generally fairly cheap, very portable and convenient to use. However critics complain that this style of earphone is uncomfortable and have a tendency to fall out of the ear particularly if any sort of exercise is being carried out. Because they sit in the outer ear the wearer is more aware of external noise and what is going on around them which can be seen as a positive if being worn in public. The possible downside is that the user may turn the volume level up to compensate and thus risk damaging their hearing.
Conversely in-ear headphones or earphones as they are often called are inserted into the ear canal and form a tighter fit thus being less prone to fall out and more practical for people jogging, in the gym or generally moving around. The tighter fit means that external noise is reduced and so these types of headphones are often referred to as noise isolation headphones or noise reduction headphones. This is also known as passive noise reduction whereas active noise cancelling is when a small electrical circuit in the earphones controls measures the external noise and creates noise waves equal and opposite to the external sound, thereby cancelling it out. This method can achieve up to 98% noise reduction.
As with most things in life the cost of earphones can vary immensely depending up the quality of the materials used, the manufacturing process and the technology, features and functions available. For example active noise cancellation, built in microphone for making and receiving phone call, Bluetooth capability, balanced armature technology can all add to the cost and improve performance. One can pay from £5 for a poor quality pair of earbuds up to £200 for high quality in ear headphones.
The choice available to consumers is huge in terms of design, brand and features so before deciding what to buy you may wish to make a list highlighting what you would use the headphones for, what gadgets would you use them with,where you would use them most, how long would you be wearing them for at any given time, what main features and functions do you require. Then you will be well placed to start researching brands and designs.
It is surprising how something which on the face of it is so simple can actually be quite complex!
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