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How do you plan to use your headphones? For travel or commuting? Workouts? Gaming? To block out distractions at the office? Or simply to relax and enjoy your favorite music at a thrilling level of sound quality?
Which form factor suits you best? Over-ear headphones surround the ears completely. On-ear headphones rest on them. In-ear headphones/earbuds fit securely inside the ear opening or canal.
Open-back headphones let air flow through the earcups. Their sound is spacious and natural, but some of it leaks out. And that can annoy the folks around you. Closed-back headphones keep sound from leaking in or out.
Below you'll find tips on how to choose. To learn more, read our buying guides.
Bluetooth headphones let you listen without connecting a wire to your phone, tablet, music player, or computer. If your phone lacks a headphone jack, don't despair. The quality and reliability of wireless headphones have greatly improved. You'll find a wide range of models in all of the same styles as traditional wired headphones. True wireless earbuds (in-ear models that don't have a cord between the two buds) are the latest trend.
Noise-canceling headphones contain circuitry that counteracts exterior sound. You'll enjoy clear sound, even at lower volumes, no matter how loud the world around you gets. Frequent flyers love noise-canceling headphones.
Sports headphones are durable, sweat-proof in-ear Bluetooth models. Good ones are comfortable, yet fit snugly enough to stay put while you exercise. They have remote controls for your smartphone. Some are also noise-canceling. Look for models that let you mix in some ambient sound with your audio program. Sometimes it's not safe to block all awareness of the sounds around you.
Want better sound than your game console's stock headset can provide? Gaming headsets help you hear game soundtracks clearly and react to the subtle cues they present. A boom microphone lets you talk to other online players. Some models have a noise-canceling circuit built into the microphone.
Every device with a headphone jack has a headphone amp inside. So why would you need a separate one? Because the amp inside your phone or computer is weak and can't bring out the best in a good set of headphones. A good headphone amp is an option that will make an average set of headphones sound above average. If you're going to invest in expensive audiophile headphones (especially a model that has high impedance), a headphone amp is a must. To learn more, read our headphone amp buying guide.
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