Five Factors to Consider Before Purchasing Your Next Headphone

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A lot of folks come to us looking for headphones with a thousand-yard stare and the word “Beats” on the tip of their tongue.  Maybe they want “headphones”  or “good headphones” but beyond that, they are unsure.  And while we here at Audio 46 looooove to help people pick out headphones, there are five factors you should consider when purchasing your next headphone (even if you aren’t shopping with us).

If you are interested to explore the latest headphones, feel free to reach out to us online through our email or live chat now. You can also call us at (212) 354-6424. Our sales engineers and technicians are happy to help and/or discuss any questions you may have about headphones and headphone related products.

Design

The iconic Momentum In-Ear from Sennheiser features a radical design that improves on both comfort and sound without sacrificing durability.

What kind of headphones do you want?  On-ear?  Over-ear?  In-ear?  Open-back?  Design is sometimes overlooked, but it actually factors a great deal when it comes to comfort and sound.  In-Ear headphones tend to get the loudest, with best isolation, at the expense of audio quality.  On-ear headphones will still seem loud, but may be a pain for those with delicate ears.  Finally, over ear headphones offer the best audio quality – usually with a comparable level of volume to on-ear headphones, but a much more full and resonant sound.  Of course, design quality can vary greatly from one model to the next and can influence other factors as well, such as durability, comfort, and sound.

Durability

The Solo II from Beats By Dre may just be the crappiest headphone ever constructed. Its lack of durability is only undercut by its horrible sound.

Not all headphones are created equal, and you only need to handle some to figure this factor out.  Generally, price can be used as an indicator for quality, but there are plenty of expensive models out there that I wouldn’t breath on, much less use.  Same with cheapo headphones:  sometimes you find them built like a tank.  Your best bet, when shopping for your next headphone, is to find a pair you can hold in your own two hands.  Or find some in-depth reviews online.

Comfort

The Sennheiser PX95s are perhaps the most comfortable on-ear headphones we’ve ever tried.  Coincidentally, they’re cheap as chips and sound fan-freaking-tastic.

Comfort should be high on your list of deal-breakers.  You don’t want to spend money on a headphone you hate using.  And uncomfortable headphones will do that to you.  Trying a pair of headphones on before you buy isn’t a bad idea, but you can also get others’ perspectives via forums and reviews.  Here, too, design can offer some clues as to what will be comfortable and what will be uncomfortable, but some individual models will still stray from the norm, like Grado and Sennheiser on-ear headphones (which tend to be a little more comfortable than other on-ear models).

Sound

Nowhere near cheap, reference-type headphones like the Grado RS2e offer unrivaled audio fidelity that may not be for everyone.

Arguably the most important factor in deciding which headphones to buy, audio quality can vary widely from model to model, even if they look the same, feel the same, and cost the same.  Materials and design – things you can’t see, but exist “under the hood” – can have a huge impact on distortion, bass, and resonance.  On the other hand, knowing what you want is also important.  Just because a headphone is considered the best doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be completely happy with a less expensive model.  Some specifications (impedance, frequency range) can tell you a lot about how a headphone might sound, but your ears should be the final judge.

Warranty

 Audio Technica offers a wide-reaching warranty  on all their products (like the MSR7 above) that few manufactures can match.

Another final recommendation we often give, as far as deciding factors go, is the warranty that will come with your prospective headphones.  Basic headphones can have issues with wiring further down the line, and the number of things that can go wrong or stop working only increases with more advanced features like Bluetooth or Noise Cancelling.  For instance, Sennheiser offers a two-year international warranty, as does Audio Technica.  AKG will give you two years of coverage in the US and Canada, and Grado will cover one year in the US only.  User experiences with warranty coverage are also a great asset, and can be fairly enlightening as to how well the warranty is upheld.

So, keeping these five factors in mind when looking for your next headphone should benefit you greatly.  Of course, if you’re still lost on which pair of headphones are perfect for your preferences and listening habits, you can always stop by a local headphones store where dedicated staff members will look forward to helping you out.

You know what I’m talking about: Come visit the Audio46 Headphones Store in Midtown Manhattan, you hosers.

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