Headphones earphones and headsets have been around for many years - they have been used since the very earliest days or radio, and have been considerably developed over the years.
Nowadays there is a huge choice of headphones, earphones and headsets - something for everyone in a host of different environments.
There are headphones and earphones for listening to music at home, Music on the go, audio and video editing, for receptionists and others requiring a microphone as well, and many more types for a host of different applications.
Headphones, headsets & earphones
Headphones, headsets and earphones are quite similar in their function and the words may be used interchangeably at many times, but there are some key differences between them.
- Headset: A headset is essential a pair of headphones that includes a microphone. The term headset tends to imply that the microphone may be mounted on a short boom to the side which can be positioned as needed, but the microphone could equally well be an inline microphone.
Headsets are ideal for applications like receptionists or for call centres where the wearer needs to hear the caller and the caller needs to hear a clear voice without high levels of noise from the surroundings. Headsets are also very useful for many Skype or similar communications to cut the external noise and reduce echo, although modern phones are able to handle this very well.
- Headphones: Headphones themselves are essentially a pair of small speakers that are attached to a band that is positioned across the wearer’s head to enable the speakers to be positioned over the ears. Normally there are cushions that are placed around the speakers and over the ears for comfort and sound insulation.
Headphones provide a very personal and what may be termed immersive listening experience. Unlike true loudspeakers, headphone transducers do not need to move large volumes of air and therefore they can deliver a very impressive sound. However the experience is different to that of speakers as the sound is heard in the plane of the headphones and does not come from in front of behind.
- Earphones: The term earphone has now come to describe the form of transducer that has dispensed with the cushioning and consists of a small earpiece that fits into the ear itself. This makes the transducer / ear connection even more direct and the earphones or ear pieces need to move even less air.
Earphones can be made to be very small - they can easily be carried in a small pocket when not in use and they are much less bulky to wear than traditional headphones. This makes them ideal for those travelling about on public transport, etc, for runners and the like. They can easily be powered by mobile phones or other music players and as such they are ideal for music on the go.
Headphone and earphone capabilities
There are also other capabilities that can be introduced into headphones and earphones to make them more convenient to use.
- Noise cancelling headphones & earphones: Noise cancelling headphones have the very attractive feature that they are able to remove much of the external noise by electronic means. They sample the noise outside the headphone and then use this to apply an equal and opposite signal into the headphones, thereby cancelling the noise. Noise cancelling headphones provide significant levels of noise reduction and as such they are ideal for use when commuting, air travel or anywhere that there may be high levels of noise. Noise cancelling versions of both headphones and earphones are available.
- Wireless headphones: One of the issues with headphones and earphones is the wire that is required to connect the headphones or earphones to the sound source. Wireless headphones achieve this connection using a small wireless link - typically a Bluetooth link. The headset needs to have battery power and this is often achieve bay installing a lithium ion rechargeable battery. Charging can be achieved in one of a number of ways dependent upon the headphone. It is wise to look after the batteries as they are normally not replaceable.
There are many different types of headphone and earphone that can be obtained. Often the choice of what is suitable comes down to personal likes and the actual usage of the headphones or earphones.