How to select a good headphone

     Print Edition: July 2012

Most of us use headphone on a regular basis, especially with our smartphones and music players. But do we think about whether the headphone we use is the best at what it is doing. Kapil Gulati, Vice-President (Sales & Marketing) Sennheiser, explains how to select a good head phone. There are 3 factors to consider while selecting a headphone:

APPLICATION / USAGE: The type of headphone will depend on the usage. So you have different headphones for indoor, outdoor, travel and so on. Each of these has a different USP. For travel you will need a headphone with noise cancellation; for sports one with a good fit, water and sweat resistant; for video conferencing and chats you need a headset with good noise cancellation microphone. If you are an audiophile you should look at a high-end headphone; and for latenight TV, a wireless headphone is best. Gamers should look at headsets with 3D/surround sound.

MUSIC TYPE: Headphones are of different types based on their impedance levels. You have to match the impedance levels of the source device with the headphones. Impedance level is like resistance and a mismatch can affect the sound quality. For use with mobile devices look for an impedance level of between 16 and 64 Ohms, for home theatres select between 32 and 120 Ohms, and up to 300 Ohms if you want to use it on an amplifier.

TIP: Don't listen at more than 70 per cent of the maximum volume if you use your headphones throughout the day, or more than 80 per cent of the volume if you use them for an hour or so.
You can also select music according to your favourite genre. Ideally, the human ear can hear sound between 20 and 20,000 Hertz though it is better to buy a headphone with a wider frequency range for better overall performance. Fans of jazz and classical music should look at headphones that give more detail in midrange and highs. For rap and hip-hop, headphones with more lows are better.

DESIGN: Open-back headphones deliver the best quality and are more natural. Closed designs are better if you need more bass and need to block external sounds. If you want to listen for long stretches of time then look for a headband that is padded and adjusts to fit to your head. Circumaural / Over the ear headphones distribute pressure over a wider area and are more comfortable. Supra-aural or On-ear-headphones are smaller and better for travelling. In-ear headphones are good for travelling and keep out external sounds. Make sure the cord is long enough-ones that are connected to one side are less prone to tangles.

Courtesy:Gadgets and Gizmos

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