No matter you’re at home or on the go, many of us spend a lot of time listening to music on our headphones. If you’re looking to get beyond the iPod earbuds and invest in a nice pair of headphones for yourself, When Apple began packaging earbuds with their iPods in 2001, music lovers abandoned their Walkman® and Discman® portable music players along with whatever headphones they were using at the time, and a new consumer market was born.
Soon people wanted better sound from their portable players, and that meant something other than ubiquitous white earbuds. Now over a decade later, the explosion of models, styles, features and costs can be a little overwhelming. So many brands, colors, pop stars and prices. Here’s how to pick out the perfect set for you. What’s the real difference? Here’s some helpful information that may keep you out of the weeds when you’re trying to decide.
Two-way and three-way crossovers
A two-way crossover typically splits the audio signal into two separate channels: high and low. The high signal would be routed to a high-frequency driver (often called a “tweeter”) and the low signal would be routed to a low-frequency driver (often called a “woofer”). The frequency at which the signals split is called the “crossover point,” which is where one range ends and another begins. When designed properly, the resulting sound might be more expansive with a stronger bass response.
A three-way crossover is similar to a two-way but would include another crossover point, making three distinct frequency ranges: low, mid and high. A three-way design can offer even more sound level at an even higher quality if it is implemented properly.
Like many listening products, earphones usually specify a frequency range that is measured in Hertz (abbreviated as Hz). Frequency response is the range of bass, mids and trebles. Twenty to 20,000 Hz (or 20 kHz) is generally accepted as the audible frequency range for humans, so it’s the standard for most earphones. But it can be a nearly meaningless metric, since few audio companies measure frequency response in exactly the same way, and what’s in the center of the response range (human hearing) is what really matters the most.
Earphones may be relatively small, but they face plenty of abuse. Cables get wrapped around our smartphones or MP3 players. They are subjected to all kinds of weather conditions. They end up in the bottom of our gym bags and briefcases. Many of the problems associated with earphones are the result of damaged cables. That makes features like detachable, multi-length and reinforced cables important to the longevity of your earphones.
Earphones come in all kinds, sizes, shapes, and varieties. Choosing the right earphone for you depends on what you like, dislike, and prefer. Some users prefer to have smaller more portable devices, while others prefer better sound quality. No matter what you want, it is important to do a little research and decide which type of earphone fits your personality best.