What are the different types of Headphones?

Different types of headphones

Before you head out to look for a pair of headphones for yourself, you may want to know about the different types of headphones available in the market. Let’s take a look at these:

Circumaural Headphones

CIrcumaural HeadphonesThey sit around the ears and their earpads or ear cushions surround ears completely thereby blocking any external noise. They are also called full size headphones or over ear headphones.

Pros: Comfortable, great sound quality, produce bass with depth, great noise isolation

Cons: Bulky, big in size, may heat ears in warmer places

Supra-aural Headphones

Supra-aural HeadphonesThey sit on top of the ears and are often called on ear headphones. These headphones are lighter and smaller than Circumaural headphones and are relatively cheaper too.

Pros: Relatively small, portable, good sound quality, comfortable

Cons: Less powerful bass, press the ears which may be uncomfortable to some

Both the circumaural and supra-aural headphones are further divided in two categories based on their earcups:

Open-back Headphones

Open-back HeadphonesThe back of the earcups is open in these headphones which lets more ambient noise to filter through and leaks more sound that may cause some discomfort to the people sitting adjacent to the listener. The upside of these headphones is that they provide more natural and larger soundstage that means the distance from which the sound is coming is higher.

Closed-back Headphones

Closed-back HeadphonesThe earcups of these headphones have closed back thus lesser external noise and lesser sound leaks as compared to open-back headphones. These headphones generally have a smaller soundstage.

In-ear Headphones

In Ear HeadphonesThey sit in the ear canal and are also known as cananphones or in ear monitors (IEMs). They are lighter in weight, compact and their sleeves block any unwanted external noise. These are ideal for fitness activities as they have a very good grip in the ear of the listener.

Pros: Compact, lightweight, transportable, good sound quality, good noise isolation

Cons: Depth of bass is less as compared to its bigger counterparts, may be uncomfortable over extended use


EarbudsThey sit loosely in the ear but not inside ear canal. They are lighter in weight and quite inexpensive but ineffective in blocking external noises. These are the ones which generally come with mobile phones.

Pros: Lightweight, cheap, portable

Cons: Poor sound quality, often tend to fall off, no or very less noise isolation

In the case of headphones, “One Size Fits All” does not hold true and different wearers have different choices. Some prefer to have more than one type of headphones for different occasions and environments. Most popular choices are circumaural and in ear headphones while there is always room for others as well.

If you are buying a pair of headphones for the first time, head towards your nearest electronic store and try every type out while playing your favourite songs. Focus on sound quality, comfort, portability and your budget and you will definitely buy a great pair of headphones as per your needs.

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