Headphones

It's Time to Upgrade Your Headphones

A pair of headphones can be a great buy for people who like entertainment on the go, whether that's for music, gaming, or workouts. A good pair of headphones fit comfortably, deliver great sound quality, and can even match your style. Headphones come in a variety of designs, like on-ear, over-the-ear, open, and closed back. You can also go for wireless and Bluetooth options that offer convenience -- no dragging along a cord wherever you take them.

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What's the Difference Between Open and Closed-Back Headphones?

"Open" and "closed-back" refer to the ear cups on a pair of headphones. Most models have closed backs, which means the ear cup is totally closed on the outside. On an open-back model, there is a grille on the outside. Open-back models provide good sound detail and depth because they don't permit sound waves to bounce off the back of the ear cup and move back towards the ear.

How Are On-Ear and Over-Ear Headphones Different?

On-ear headphone models rest on top of your ear, while over-ear ones have larger cups that go around the entire ear. Over-ear designs are more isolating. The difference mostly comes down to comfort and preference, because both types will deliver the same kind of sound. Joggers in particular may want over-ear models because they'll stay in place more easily while running.

What is a "Soundstage"?

When referring to the "soundstage" of a pair of headphones, just imagine the feeling of hearing a piece of music's instruments arranged around you -- as if you're sitting in the middle of a band. For gaming, in particular, a good soundstage can help players identify the direction a sound is coming from -- like gunfire, a grenade, or a character's speech. Some headphones specialize in soundstage. Ear cups with open backs have good soundstage because they allow for perceived spacing between instruments and depth sound.

What is "Coloration"?

Coloration refers to the change that speakers and circuits impart to headphone audio. Some models, called monitors, try to be as neutral as they possibly can so they pass on the audio source with no changes. Others add, for example, enhanced bass, warmer midranges, or sharper high notes. This comes down to a matter of taste, and coloration makes different models suitable for different genres and uses. Often, a brand will be known for having a "house sound." Grados is known for detailed bass and Sennheiser for soaring highs, for example. Gamers will typically want an accurate and detailed sound, so they'll opt for a more even coloration. In some cases, a model will have an option to switch on some kind of modification, such as a bass boost, or will have its own equalizer that you can use to modify the sound.

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