Insight Headphones

Earbuds vs. Headphones: Which one should you prefer?

What Sets Earbuds Apart from Headphones?

If you’re looking for anything to meet your sound requirements, you might be debating between headphones and earbuds as to which is best for you. What is the difference, after all? They appear to have the same function for some people.

It’s simple to become confused by the various brands available and what they have to deliver in terms of functionality and design, in addition to trying to select between earbuds and headphones.

To assist you in making an informed choice, we’ll explain what headphones or earbuds are in this post and how they differ.

Headphones: What Are They?

Two tiny loudspeakers joined by a band of makeup headphones. They are worn over the top of the head, sitting on or covering the ears.

They are used to make it possible to listen to an audio source alone. Despite the variations in appearance, all headphones have the same fundamental parts.

The two standard configurations are on-ear and over-ear, open-back and closed-back headphones.

Over-ear headphones

Large earpads on over-ear headphones, sometimes referred to as circumaural headphones, envelop the ears rather than resting on them.

They typically include extra padding on the headband as well for comfort. On the other hand, they can be quite a burden when traveling due to their size and weight.

Over-ear headphones assist with noise isolation. These headphones are good at sealing against the head.

On-ear headphones

On-ear headphones, sometimes referred to as supra-aural headphones, are made to sit on your ears instead of being wrapped around them.

On-ear headphones are typically lighter than over-ear headphones because of their compact shape. However, you might feel uncomfortable if you listen for a long time. Uncomfortableness brought on by the headphones’ strain on your ears.

They are more vulnerable to outside noise interference since they lie on the ears. Additionally, this implies that loud sounds may escape through the headphones.

Open-back VS. closed-back headphones

You must determine if you want closed-back or open-back headphones in addition to on-ear or over-ear headphones. Let’s quickly examine how they differ from one another.

  • Closed-back headphones have a solid enclosure around the outside of the headband. This enclosure keeps the audio inside the headphones, sending it directly to your ears. Bass tones are also trapped by the closed design.
  • The outer shell of open-back headphones is made of breathable material. Breathable material promotes airflow and prevents sweat in your ears. A more lifelike sound was also produced due to the removal of slight echoes. However, since there is no seal to keep sound in, noise isolation becomes difficult because of its open design.

Over-ear, closed-back headphones make up the majority of the available headphones. But everything depends on preference. You should test out several various styles of headphones before settling on a pair.

Open-back VS. closed-back headphones

Headphones VS. headsets

Design-wise, headphones resemble headsets. The only notable change is the microphone.

Headphones and headsets both have wired and wireless options. They are directly equipped with a microphone. Additionally, the microphone could be removable depending on the model.

A headset might be a better choice for you based on your needs. When using headphones or a microphone, headsets are also used. They’re a more affordable (and compact) option than using headphones with an external mic.

Headphones VS. headsets

Earbuds: What Are They?

Two small devices called earbuds, each with a separate driver, are used. They are both comfortable either directly in the ear or resting on the interior. Depending on the model, they can connect to audio equipment wirelessly or over a cable. They are unparalleled in terms of portability because of their compact form factor.

Regarding audio quality, headphones outperform earbuds at a similar price point. Due to the constrained inside space of earphones, design is quite essential. Earbuds may cause pain for some people based on how they fit in their ears.

In-ear monitors (IEMs) and regular earbuds are the two different types.

IEMs are made to fit within the ear canal, unlike conventional earbuds, which lie inside your ears. Both are designed to send sounds straight to your ears. Additionally, IEMs have replaceable ear tips that provide better noise isolation. Further, thanks to this, you may adjust the fit to meet your ear size.

Additionally, they may appear in any of the following three kinds of connections:

  • Wired: The connection mechanism for both earphones is a cable that runs from an audio source to them.
  • Wireless: Even though a cable connects the two earphones, they interact wirelessly with an audio input.
  • True Wireless: earbuds communicate wirelessly with the audio source and each other.

Note: Let’s examine the physical distinctions between the regular Airpods and the Airpods Pro to illustrate the two types of earphones. While AirPods Pro are IEMs that snugly fit inside your ear canal, Airpods are standard earbuds that sit on your ear.

The differences between earbuds and headphones

Both earbuds and headphones have advantages over the other. You must first decide what you want from them before purchasing one.

While the observations listed below are an excellent starting point for what to look for when buying, certain variations may rely significantly on the brand, model, and occasionally even price end of the headphones or earbuds you’re considering. Always read the user evaluations first to understand what to anticipate.

Sound Quality 

One of the most important factors to consider is sound quality. Everyone desires audio that is crystal clear. Poor sound quality can be heard in any listening environment.

It is challenging to compare headphones and earbuds because the quality differs depending on the model. While some models of earbuds and headphones can outperform each other in a specific price range, headphones typically offer superior performance.

Conclusion: High-quality sound can be produced by earbuds and headphones alike. While physical design, such as more significant drivers creating stronger bass on headphones, might affect the sound, the sound quality mainly depends on the particular model.


Portability may or may not be a deciding issue, depending on your lifestyle. If you want to carry your headphones or earbuds with you all the time, they must be small and light.

Earbuds and headphones can both be utilized when traveling. However, given their size and weight, headphones can become uncomfortable to wear and carry around. Earbuds, on the other hand, were designed with convenience in mind.

Conclusion: Both traditional earbuds and IEMs are the most portable choice. They are lighter, more covert, and require far less storage space than any other set of headphones because of their compact form factor.

Noise Isolation 

How effectively the noise-canceling earbuds vs. headphones can block outside sounds is measured by their noise isolation. Noise canceling earbuds vs headphones are important to discuss. The level of noise isolation is higher when you can barely hear anything outside your headphones.

On-ear headphones and traditional earbuds perform the worst in noise cancellation. They cannot mute outside sounds because of the design they are constructed. 

Conclusion: Because of their design, closed-back over-ear headphones frequently provide the finest passive noise isolation. The snug fit of the earpads around the ears produces a seal that reduces noise infiltration.

Note: Try IEMs if over-ear headphones are too big for your taste. Because of their molded and sealed ear canal tips, they feature improved noise isolation.

Noise Isolation - Earbuds vs headphones


When using headphones and earbuds, comfort is crucial. No one wants to be uncomfortable while listening to songs.

If comfort is your top goal, over-ear headphones are typically recommended. This is because they rest on, rather than inside, the ears. Some over headphones could nevertheless put pressure on your ears despite having foam ear pads and headbands. However, you should also consider the headphones’ padding material and whether it allows for enough ventilation.

Conclusion: Over-ear headphones are preferable if you want more significant padding in the earpads. Additionally, they frequently have padding on the band that joins the two drives. When worn, this lessens their weight. In addition, unlike on-ear headphones or earbuds, they don’t rest on or in your ears; therefore, no pressure is put there.


In principle, earbuds and headphones are both safe, but how you use them can affect their safety. If you listen to loud music for a prolonged period, your ears may suffer harm. This group includes both headphones and earbuds.

However, the danger is a little greater due to the way earbuds are made. IEMs are even closer to your ear canals than standard earbuds, which deliver audio straight into your ear. They are, therefore, more destructive at more enormous volumes.

Conclusion: Loud music can damage your ears if you listen to it too much. However, headphones are typically better because earbuds are so close to the ear canal.


When it comes to both headphones and earbuds, prices can be very consistent. Both ends of the spectrum contain models of each class. Earbuds are typically less expensive due to their size and the number of materials needed in their construction, although it depends on the model.

Conclusion: The cost is mainly determined by the model. Both inexpensive and pricey models of headphones and earbuds are available. High-end headphones typically come with a hefty price tag. Earbuds Price can also be compared to this.

Earbuds or Headphones: Which Should You Choose?

The crucial query, In the end, your lifestyle and personal preferences will determine which type of headphones or earbuds you prefer. Here are some recommendations for what would be ideal in each case to aid you.

For children

Are headphones better than earbuds? As young children’s eardrums are still developing, it is advisable to use headphones because they are further from the sensitive inner ear structures. Even so, keeping volume levels at 82 dB or lower is more crucial because anything above 85 decibels is considered detrimental.

A worry-free substitute for them is headphones with volume controls. No matter how loudly your kids try to turn it up, volume-limiting headphones typically cap the sound at 85 decibels.

For exercising

You can get into the zone more quickly if you listen to music while working out. Your best option may be true wireless earbuds. You don’t have to worry about cables limiting your movement or pulling on your clothing because they are wireless and lightweight.

For flights

Flights can be very long and exhausting at times. You can’t go wrong with travel-friendly noise-canceling headphones to get you through.

The padding makes headphones more comfortable to wear for extended periods. You have comfort as well as noise cancellation. Include the noise cancellation option, which proactively mutes outside noise. Whether you travel by train or air, you can be sure your journey will be more relaxing. No more obnoxious engine rumble!

To mix and record audio

When recording, a good set of closed-back monitor headphones is essential. They provide excellent noise absorption.

Professional-grade monitor headphones let you distinguish between each instrument. This aids in the monitoring process for artists. Additionally, it prevents sound from entering live microphones, which would otherwise sabotage any recording.

Open-back headphones, on the other hand, are preferable for mixing since they can provide a more natural sound at the expense of noise isolation. When using open-back headphones, you’ll need to make sure you’re combining in a quiet setting.

When traveling

Due to their small size and lightweight, earbuds are a preferred option for people who have to travel to work or school. Although headphones can be used, they are not advised due to their size and weight.

For businesses and online courses

Both headphones and earbuds work well for use in offices and online classes. The choice will largely be influenced by personal preference.

Due to the built-in microphone, headsets are the preferred option in professional settings.

For bass enthusiasts

Significant driver over-ear closed-back headphones are the finest for hearing bass. More significant drivers best produce more profound bass. The closed-back design complements this since it prevents bass from escaping.


Performance in gaming is everything. A quality set of headphones is necessary to ensure that you are operating at your peak potential. When worn for extended periods, over-ear headphones are incredibly comfy.

When gaming, good headphones are equally as crucial as effective communication. If you don’t already own one, think about getting a gaming headset to replace an external microphone. They combine input and output capabilities. Additionally, they occasionally include buttons for volume control and mute.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Earbuds: Do they harm hearing?

Earbuds’ more severe drawback is that, if worn improperly, they can result in long-term hearing loss. Because of the loud sounds that earbuds can produce, they can potentially be harmful. Many individuals assume that the things they purchase are safe and don’t consider that the volume level on headphones can be excessive. Most earbuds can have sound levels much over this generally acceptable range, even though sound levels below 70dBA are typically considered safe.

Long-term exposure to sound pressure levels over 85 dB and brief exposure to sound pressure levels over 90 dB have both been shown to increase the risk of transient hearing loss.

Are headphones a factor in hair loss?

Yes, hair loss is a natural side effect of headphones. The condition, known medically as traction alopecia, is brought on by the band of your headphones pulling your hair out of its root because they are too tight. However, wearing headphones occasionally won’t cause hair loss.

What causes ear pain after using earbuds?

Improperly fitting earbuds might be uncomfortable because they rest unevenly in your ear canal. Small, medium or large tips can trigger points in your ears. Inconvenience and tiredness may result from this.

How long should you wear headphones per day?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the maximum daily period you should wear headphones is one hour.

You or your adolescent may find this absurd, or perhaps the two of you together, but the truth is that the longer and louder you listen, the faster your hearing will deteriorate.

Hearing loss was formerly mainly a concern when we age, but these days it affects many younger people since we like to blast music in our ears.

Will my ears get used to earbuds?

No, your ears would hurt after about two hours. Numerous attempts at adjusting them, including bending the headband to make them looser, are ineffective.

Why do earbuds fall down?

Because they are not the proper size for your ears, you could lose one earbud. The earphones fall out if you don’t put them in properly. Is it correct? Therefore, be sure to insert them correctly.

If you can’t find the perfect fit, try covering your ears with something. The earphones won’t be able to fall out if you’re wearing a headband or helmet. You probably have a cable linked to each of your earbuds. The gadget you’re listening to is connected to this cable. You can typically retain the earbud’s wire by wrapping it around the ear.


It can be challenging to choose between earbuds and headphones. You can confidently decide now that you are aware of their distinctions. When looking for new headphones, have a look at the essential elements to take into account.