Headphones buying guide
Find the right headphones by learning about the different styles
David Brown is a member of Crutchfield's Home A/V writing team. He studied writing and politics at Ithaca College in upstate New York, where he grew up. He spent 12 years in Washington, D.C., where he earned a Masters degree in journalism and wrote an award-winning humor column. David relocated to Charlottesville, VA, in 2012. He enjoys listening to music, playing the guitar and piano, and hiking with his wife and children.
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With so many different headphones out there, how do you decide which ones are right for you? This guide will show you what to look for.
Headphones come in lots of different shapes and sizes. But there are three main categories that relate to their size and how they fit your ears.
Open- vs. closed-back headphones
Around-the-ear and on-ear headphones can all be classified as having either an open or closed back. This refers to the design of the earcups.
Choosing by application: When and where do you listen?
Before choosing a pair of headphones, you should think about when and where you will use them. Are they for travel, commuting, working out at the gym, working at the office, or watching TV late at night without disturbing others? Click on the various types of headphones to learn more and find links to shop.
Want better sound from your headphones?
Learn how a headphone amplifier and digital-to-analog converter can help your headphones sound their best. [Read our headphone amplifier and DAC shopping guide]