Are Expensive Earbuds Worth It? (If So Why?)
It may not seem like it, but there is a huge difference in the quality between expensive and cheap headphones. For those who love to listen to their music casually, they may not care if the quality of the sound suffers but for those who want to hear every detail and be fully immersed in their sound then purchasing a pair of expensive headphones is something you should consider.
This is because the differences may seem small, but they can make a huge difference. In this guide, we’ll answer the question, are expensive earbuds worth it? We’ll take you through everything you need to know about why expensive headphones might be worth spending the extra money.
Different kinds of headphones
There are several kinds of headphones that you need to bear in mind when choosing which one is right for you. They have different physical attributes which in turn influences the audio quality when playing music.
The most recognisable and popular kind of headphones is the on-ear headphones which are worn over the head and sit comfortably on the ears. They tend to block out any outside noise and the more hygienic choice as nothing enters your ears. There are plenty of lightweight options for comfortability and they reduce the chances of fatigue when using them.
Open headphones sit on the outside ear on the cartilage with foam padding for comfortability. Ideal for monitoring but also for streetwear as they don’t cancel out all noise so you’ll be able to keep up your awareness as much as possible.
Closed headphones are designed to provide the most immersive experience by cancelling out all sound. They sit on the sides of the ear over the head which is comfortable to wear for long periods of time and are best for studio and home use, particularly.
Lastly, in-ear headphones are placed inside the ear. These are the easiest to carry around but you do need to be careful with your volume and hygiene as they sit on the inner part of the ear. A lot of devices will trigger warnings if you are going too high in volume to prevent any long term hearing loss from occurring.
Why choose expensive headphones?
The first thing you need to think about is why you want to purchase an expensive set of headphones. Since they cost a lot of money, it’s essential that you seriously consider why you want to make such an investment and whether it is worth it.
There must be a reason why your current set of headphones aren’t good enough and give you the same sound quality. So whether you have a particular brand in mine or a budget laid out, think about what you want to get from the headphones.
The most popular reason why people want to invest in expensive headphones is for studio use. When working in a studio, there are two different types of headphones which are closed and semi-open. Here is what you need to know about both:
- Closed headphones are the best choice for mixing and mastering as they are noise cancelling. They are also the best option for comfortability as they can be worn for hours at a time without irritation.
- Semi-open headphones are the ideal choice for performing when recording making them perfect for singers. This is because they will be able to hear their own voice as well as the band so they can stay in key.
Studio headphones don’t have any EQ curves meaning that you won’t be able to hear all the little details and nuances of the music so they aren’t the best for those who want a fully immersive experience. Studio headphones are more suited for the casual listener rather than someone who knows what they want from their music.
Headphones for streetwear
Headphones are usually purchased for streetwear which means a pair of headphones that are used when out and about. They can be plugged into your cell phone which can also affect the audio quality. If you have a high end smartphone, then the music is more likely going to sound even better.
As discussed above, there are two distinct types of headphones and for those using headphones when out and about then semi-open or open headphones are going to be the safest choice to prevent any accidents.
Gaming headphones are different from other kinds of expensive headphones as they include a microphone which adds a lot to the overall budget. This is because microphones allow gamers to stream or play online with each other and communicate with no issue.
They are usually closed headphones as they close off all sound so you are immersed in the gaming experience. The Bluetooth technology helps to add an EQ curve which gives the sound more nuance which is great when playing intensive games.
In-ear monitors are usually worn by singers when they are performing onstage. Not only are they more comfortable if you are dancing a lot but they stay in place as they are made to fit the ear perfectly. The more expensive the in-ear monitor is, the more precise and custom made they will be for you.
Bluetooth and sound quality
A huge debate that has been widely discussed is whether Bluetooth affects the sound quality. The simple answer is yes as there is not a direct connection via a wire or cable which can cause inconsistency, especially if you are in a place with patchy signal.
However, wireless headphones have their benefits with the main being convenience as you don’t have to worry about any tangled wires. You’ll notice that a lot of brands release a wide range of wireless options nowadays and they are growing increasingly popular.
What makes a pair of headphones worth the money?
Now that we have discussed the different kinds of headphones available and why you would want to purchase a pair, it’s important to understand why the high end options cost the amount that they do. Naturally, brands develop their reputation and mark up their prices when there is high demand but as technology advances at a fast pace, the price will also increase accordingly.
A detachable cable is the most important aspect for those who want a pair of headphones that are not wireless. A detachable cable will ensure that your headphones have a longer lifespan as their performance is not dependent on the cable. If the cable is damaged over time then you can simply purchase a replacement without having to replace the headphones themselves.
Having detachable cables also makes it easy when using them out and about. If they get caught, the cable will detach without causing any damage to the headphones.
More expensive headphones have three way sound systems so you can get the most rounded listening experience possible. They usually have a frequency splitter with woofer for lows, a small speaker for mids and a tweeter for highs. In comparison, cheaper models will have one speaker to fit all of the nuances into which causes low audio quality.
Having three way speakers means that you are going to have a high frequency tweeter and perfectly tuned woofer which will give a crisper sound with a clearer contrast.
High end headphones have reliable constructions because they have been designed with durability in mind. These are meant to last for years so you can get your money’s worth.
A lot of cheap options are made from cheaper materials such as thin foam lining or harder materials that aren’t as padded which makes them uncomfortable to wear. However, expensive headphones take into consideration the longevity and comfortability of the wearing experience.
Impedance and volume
The impedance refers to the piece of gear that defines the definition of the audio quality. High end headphones can get to be 2K Ohms which means that you have more definition in the sound. This does mean that the volume will be low but the actual quality of the sound is crisp and more defined.
Every bass sound and string will be heard. The higher the impedance, the lower the volume, so decide which one you want to sacrifice. High end headphones tend to opt for a higher impedance because they prioritize the actual sound over the volume.
Overall, investing in an expensive pair of headphones is going to make a huge difference to the sound quality no matter what you are using them for. If you are in the studio then getting a quality pair of headphones is going to ensure that your music sounds the very best it can whereas for casual listeners, you’ll be able to hear the little details and feel more immersed in the sound.
In order to know what headphones are going to give you that quality experience, check out the EQ curve and opt for a pair that has a flat EQ curve with high impedance which will exaggerate all the nuances. You’ll hear the difference from cheaper pairs the moment you begin to use them.