Different Types of Headphones

The internet age has brought so much closer to us with the wealth of information at our fingertips. Though somehow all that information has made some things more difficult like buying the best types of headphones. There’s a wide variety of options that have sprung up over the years with all types of headphones available. Here we are going to break down all of the earphone types so you can figure out what’s best for you. It’s time for you to finally know how to decipher the complex world of getting music to your ears.

First a little disclaimer, you will sometimes find these designs crossing over though this mainly applies to the technological aspects. We will be going in alphabetical order so you can skip along to what interests you. Now let us begin.

Bluetooth Headphones

Bluetooth HeadphonesAn appropriate place to start as these headphones are quickly taking over the market. Bluetooth is the most popular way to wirelessly connect headphones and its constantly improving. With a 30 foot range on basic Bluetooth and solid energy efficiency eventually, all headphones should have some form of Bluetooth (since this is not a type of headphones, this is their feature).

Bluetooth headphones often have apps for increased functionality from your smartphone and even AI assistance like Alexa.

Bone Conduction Headphones

This is another style of headphones that is a bit newer than the rest. Bone conduction technology doesn’t transfer sound into your ears like most headphones. Instead, they send vibrations through your bones that transmit the music to your eardrums. The result is a lower sound quality design that fits extremely well. They are preferred as workout headphones as they are often water and sweat-resistant.

Their form-fitting airy design makes them popular with runners who need to be aware.

Top Rated Bone Conduction Headphones
AfterShokz Bone Conduction Headphones For Running

Bone Conduction Headphones

inspireLAB Bone Conduction Headphones For Swimming

Types of Headphones - Bone Conduction


Closed-Back Headphones

These are a favorite for those who are trying to block out peripheral noise from interfering with your music. Their design focuses on sound isolation so you can here just the sounds your looking for. These headphones offer a great level of sound clarity as they can be tailored for different purposes.

Available in over-ear or on-ear design the versatility and solitude these headphones provide keeps them popular.

Top Rated Closed-Back Headphones
Sennheiser HD 569

Closed-Back Headphones


Not to be confused with the next type of earphone, earbuds have also become very popular as well. This isn’t due to their design but more so because of their native inclusion with Apple products. Nevertheless, the earbud is a solid design that sits comfortably on the outside of your ear. This gives them a relatively flat sound that could be considered safer for sensitive ears. Due to their size, they aren’t known for having great sound quality.

Earbuds are generally chosen for their portability though their positioning can have them falling out of some ears.

Don’t worry, lightning is not included.
Top Rated Earbuds


In-Ear Headphones

The cousin of earbuds these headphones penetrate deeper into the ear canal. This gives them the ability to stay snug in your ears for superior portability. The most convenient style of headphones is also capable of creating high-quality sound.

As technology improves these headphones are sought for their sound isolation, comfort, and increasing clarity. They can be dangerous however at higher volumes due to their proximity to your eardrums.

Top Rated In-Ear Headphones
Bose SoundSport

In-Ear Headphones

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

While many headphones use their physical design to create some sort of noise isolation these headphones take it a step further. With the help of multiple microphones, they are able to pick up exterior sounds and create opposite sound waves that cancel them out. This technology comes along with a higher price point that scales along with their quality. Lower quality noise-cancelling will produce a weird pressure during use along with other issues.

The sound quality of noise-cancelling headphones is generally worse due to the technology though higher-end models buck the trend.

Top Rated Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

On-Ear Headphones

Perhaps the odd man out among headphone designs, though some may prefer these actually sit on top of your ears. They are smaller than the over-ear headphones and are always padded. These headphones are often comfortable and sweat less than the larger over-ear models. They do allow more sound in and out though so their noise isolation isn’t as strong.

On-ear headphones are also lighter contributing to their overall comfort. A wide disparity in comfort and quality exists that makes finding the perfect pair a challenge sometimes, possibly insoluble.

Top Rated On-Ear Headphones
Bose Soundlink

On-Ear Headphones

Open-Back Headphones

These are the spiritual competitor to the closed-back design allowing more sound to slip out. They have an open-ear design that will give you a more airy spacious sound. This can benefit certain types of music by allowing them the expand.

This style is preferred by professional sound editors more than traditional listeners. Their open design allows leakage that lets audio engineers stay accurate while closed-back build up frequencies. This also makes them preferred by many audiophiles.

Top Rated Open-Back Headphones
Sennheiser HD 599

Open-Back Headphones

Over-Ear Headphones

These headphones technically labeled circumaural fit over your ear cupping them and allowing for superior sound isolation. Due to their design, they are on the lower end for sound leakage as well. Over-ear headphones give you an intimate sound environment which can be quite unreal on the higher end. They are known for their comfort with some being made of materials such as leather or even velvet.

These are the bulkiest headphones though so finding a pair that isn’t too heavy can be difficult. Air circulation is also an issue as over extended use they can start to sweat.

Top Rated Over-Ear Headphones

Over-Ear Headphones



Which type of headphones is best?

All types of headphones could work for anyone as it really comes down to preference, however, you can narrow things down. In-ear or bone conduction headphones are often best for athletes. Over-ear headphones can offer amazing sound experiences that teleport you away.

Though can anything compare to a pair of comfortable high-end on-ear headphones? If you’re aiming for a cheap pair that’s comfortable with great sound quality, over-ear is probably the way to go. You can find something special even for snow helmet.

Should I buy headphones or earbuds?

This will again depend on preference. Generally, people choose earbuds for their portability. On the other side headphones often have higher sound quality at better price points.

Can I use AirPods for gaming?

Yes, as long as the gaming system you are using has Bluetooth capabilities AirPods will work once Bluetooth is paired.