REVIEWS / Headphones Reviews (Wireless, Bluetooth, Noise-Cancelling...)

Marie Georgescu de Hillerin
The headphones that come with today's portable MP3 players are usually not much more than satisfactory. Our headphones and earphones reviews should help you get more out of your music while you're on the move.

When we gave a not-so-good pair of headphones to a selection of human guinea pigs, most of them found that the sound was good, or at least fine. But when we gave them a much better-quality model, they found it hard to go back to using the lower-quality headphones. Sometimes switching to a new pair of headphones can change everything. Try it for yourselves—especially if you're still using Apple's standard iPod earbuds!

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It's very easy to forget, but the sound quality you enjoy from your MP3 player has usually got a lot more to do with the the headphones you use than anything inside the device itself. Indeed, just about every manufacturer uses the same technology inside their MP3 player, leaving a very even playing field when it comes to the quality of the sound signal produced.  The quality of the headphones included, though, is a lot more variable, and is often mediocre at best.

Sound quality is clearly a key thing to consider when shopping for headphones. However, there are one or two other things you should look for. First, you should think about comfort. Then you should also look at portability. 

Ultimately, your choice boils down to three options: headphones, earbuds or in-ear headphones. The first group generally give the best sound quality, the second are easier to carry around while the third are the best at isolating external noise.

If you go for a large pair of headphones, think carefully about the small details, like the quality of the cables provided. It might seem like a needless detail, but there's nothing more annoying than a stiff cable makes your MP3 player uncomfortable to wear. Another important detail is how well the cable is protected from accidental scratches and scraping. If you're in the habit of wearing your collar up, you might notice it rubbing against the cable of your headphones, another irritating effect that's easily avoidable.  And gentlemen, it's even worse for you if the cable brushes against your stubble.  Where this is the case, we've pointed out the problems.

In-Ear Headphones

When it comes to in-ear headphones, the most important thing is to ensure there's a good seal in between the outside of your ear and the headphones lodged inside the ear canal—it's the only way to get the best out of the powerful bass notes these headphones can produce.  Most manufacturers deliver several sizes of silicone plugs for their in-ear headphones, and don't be afraid to experiment until you find the right size. You might even need a different size for each ear, but it's definitely worth the hassle, as creating that seal is the key to good sound quality.
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