When it comes to headphones, everyone has a favorite type they prefer, and the pair you ultimately end up purchasing may have more to do with how you’re going to use them rather than what brand they are or the color you choose.

So, how do you choose? What are the many different types of headphones? Read on to find out the answers you need.

Wireless or Wired?

This is the first question you should ask yourself — do you want a wireless pair, or a wired pair? If you’re going to be using them in the office, sitting at your desk, not moving much, then maybe wired headphones are adequate.

However, if you plan to use them while you commute or move around a lot, then wired headphones might be a better choice. They do tend to more expensive than their wired counterparts, but the price difference might be worth it if you’re not dealing with unsightly tangles.

Most wireless headphones use Bluetooth in order to stream content through your headphones. Some models may even include a microphone that would let you answer calls or respond to texts hands-free just using your voice.

Over-Ear Headphones

Offered in wireless or wired configurations, over-ear headphones have cushioned ear cups and completely surround the ear surface. They’re also frequently called “around-ear” or “full-size”.

Experts believe these types of headphones offer the best sound quality, and also do the best job of filtering out ambient noise, whether noise-canceling models or not.

In-Ear Monitors

These types fit inside the ear canal. They’re popular for sports or workout applications, and some varieties have an actual physical wire to connect them, but the wire goes behind your neck, so it stays out of your way.

Many of these types come with custom fittings for an optimal fit that provides the most comfort, especially during long periods of use. HIgher-end, professional-grade models offer sound quality that’s comparable to larger over-ear headphones.


Typically much less expensive than in-ear monitors, earbuds are the headphones that are typically included with portable music devices.

Their sound quality is a bit inferior to higher-end models, but they’re much more affordable than their competitors.

Volume Limiting Headphones

These types are often marketed to parents and children because of their built-in volume limiters. The typical cutoff for volume is 85dB, and this is done in order to protect kids’ hearing, so in case they turn the volume way up by accident, no sound will come through because of the 85dB cutoff point.

Ordinary consumers probably want to steer clear of these, as 85dB is loud, but it’s not too loud. How loud is it, exactly?

A diesel truck driving 40mph at 50 feet away is about 84dB.
An operating garbage disposal is about 80dB.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Ideal for traveling or listening to music in a crowd, noise-cancelling headphones are excellent for filtering out ambient noise. They provide a truly personal listening experience so you can focus on the music.

Environments that are filled with people or excess noise can be very distracting, and noise-canceling headphones can help make sure you never hear any of that while you enjoy your music or podcast.

Whichever type of headphones you choose, you can be guaranteed to enjoy a personalized, individual listening experience as you travel, head to work or relax at home.