Headphones vs Earbuds

Headphones vs Earbuds

Are you searching for something to satisfy your audio needs and wonder what the better option is for you; headphones vs earbuds? You have reached the right page because we would potentially assist you in choosing the best option for you. The first question that knocks on the mind is, "what is the difference between headphones or earbuds?". Yet, it seems both are served the same purpose.  

However, several things differentiate them. For example, people look for brands like what they offer in terms of features and designs. As well as this, people also look for some other things, including,

  • What device sounds better?
  • What device is more comfortable?
  • What device shows more stability?
  • What device has longer battery life?
  • What device is more expensive?
  • What device is more portable?
  • What device is more durable?
  • What device better isolates outside sound?

Obviously, you are also searching for the answers to all these questions, which will help you make a better decision. All these basic queries and many other facts and figures are disclosed here in this article. As well as this, you will have a brief comparison between headphones and earbuds, helping you make a better decision. So, let's begin here:  

What are headphones? 

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The headphone comprises two small loudspeakers connected by a band. You wear it over the top of the head, resting over or on your ears. The main purpose of headphones is to facilitate a single person to listen to an audio source privately. Headphones can be used for work, exercise, commuting, cleaning, gaming, running, talking on the phone, and waiting for someone. Every headphone may look different in its structure or design, but the general makeup seems the same.   

Headphones generally come with two necessary choices. For example, you can choose from over-ear or on-ear and open back or closed-back headphones. Here we come with all the potential types of headphones. The given structure and description will help you decide what you are looking for.

Over-ear headphones 

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Over-ear headphones consist of large earpads that surround the ears rather than rest on them. They are also designed with extra padding on the headband, ensuring comfortability. Because of their heavyweight and large size, they are difficult to carry while running, walking, or going anywhere else. However, this type of headphones helps seal your head against noise pollution.

If you are looking for more comfortable and durable headphones, then don't mind the large size of the headphones and go with the over-ear headphones. These can be used to study, work, and spend leisure time listening to music and watching movies.  

On-ear headphones

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On-ear headphones are specifically designed to rest on your ear rather than around them. Compared to over-ear headphones, on-ear headphones are small and lightweight. However, a long listening period can disturb you, and you may experience some discomfort. This is because this type of headphones puts pressure on your ears.

As they rest on the ears, sound intrusion from the outside is quite possible. As well as this, the loud audio will leak the sound outside the headphones. Well, you can use them for various purposes, such as studying, running, workout, listening to music, and watching movies.  

Bone conduction headphones

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Have you heard about the bone conduction headphones and are not really familiar with them? Or you may be familiar with them but having no idea when or where to use bone conduction headphones is worthwhile?

Bone conduction headphones are a relatively new item in today's electronic markets. They are incredibly innovative, offering users a listening experience they have never experienced before. In addition, the design used to manufacture these headphones makes them different from others.

Instead of covering your ear or resting on your ears, bone conduction headphones rest on your cheekbones, allowing your ears open so that you can also pay attention to outer sounds.

Bone conduction headphones come with a variety of benefits. For example, people who suffer from hearing problems can use them. As well as this, they have more advantages like increasing your situational awareness, being incredibly comfortable, entirely wireless, do not cause ear infections. And some versions are completely waterproof.  

Closed-back headphones & Open-back headphones

Along with choosing between over-ear headphones or on-ear headphones, you may also have to decide whether open-back headphones suit you or closed-back. Let's briefly compare open-back headphones and closed-back headphones.

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Open-back headphones: Open-back headphones allow air to pass through their ear cups from the speakers' rear. There is no concern about low-frequency and resonances build-up caused by the rear enclosure. Many expensive headphones come with an open-back design because they provide a clearer and more natural sound. As well as this, open-back headphones are good for the following purposes:

  • Mixing and mattering  
  • High-quality audio files
  • Critical listening
  • At home listening

Remember that open-back headphones are not a good option for the following conditions:

  • Listening at the office
  • Listening on the plane
  • Listening at the gym
  • Blocking outside noise
  • Commuting


Closed-back headphones: Closed-back headphones are entirely sealed from the back. They allow sound to out only to reach your ear. They help block a lot more outside noise, yielding much better isolation.


Low frequencies do not provide natural sound but can amplify the sound instead due to the sealed rear chamber resonances. Another noticeable thing is that closed-back headphones keep your ears warm. And closed-back headphones can be used for a variety of purposes, including:


  • Casual listening
  • Listening at the office
  • Recording radio
  • Commuting


Experts suggest that wearing closed-back headphones is not suitable for:


  • Venting heat around your ears
  • Working out

ANC headphones

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Active noise canceling, ANC headphones are headphones that help reduce unwanted ambient sounds using active voice control. Actually, ANC technology reduces dynamics and compresses sounds, affecting audio performance when turned on. In some cases, the listeners notice a background hiss when listening to music.

So, if you search for a headphone that protects your hearing, reduces environmental distractions, and provides you with a better sound experience, you should consider ANC headphones. These headphones are useful for studies, offices, and listening to music at home.     

Headphones vs headsets

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This is another debate when choosing the best headphones; whether you should go for a headphone or a headset? While choosing your audio options for gaming, watching movies, and working in the office, you might get confused between headphones and headsets. They look like the same things, but there are significant differences between them. Well, the major difference that makes them different is the microphone.

A headset shows an attached microphone, allowing you to talk. Headsets are mostly recommendable for video calls and video conferencing you make for official and other recreational purposes. On the other hand, headphone shows an integrated microphone that is not attached or visible. Therefore, headphones are mainly used for listening to audio files.

What are earbuds?

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Earbuds are two compact devices, having their own specific drivers. They fit either on the inner part of the ear or directly into your ear. Depending on the earbud model, you can connect them to audio devices either by wireless or through cables. To put it simply, we can define earbuds as the most portable, more pleasurable, and certainly more affordable alternatives to headphones. Earbuds design plays a vital role as they have less space for internal components. For some people, earbuds may be uncomfortable, depending on how they fit into their ears.

Generally, there are two types of earbuds, i.e., in-ear monitors, IEMs and standard earbuds. Here you can get a brief comparison between these two types of earbuds:

In-ear monitors, IEMs earbuds

In-ear monitors, shortly known as IEMs, are a professional grade of earbuds in the consumer audio markets. They are the pieces of personal audio listening equipment sitting within the ear structure to offer users an immersive and excellent listening experience.


Compared to the on-ear or over-ear headphones covering the entire ears, In-ear monitors create a seal by a protrusion part in the earphone extending into the ear canal. The part that spreads to the ear is typically made up of silicone or foam ear tips, helping provide comfort. As well as this, this extended part also keeps the earphone in place, helping block out noise.  


Standard earbuds


The standard earbuds are similar in size to in-ear monitors; however, they do not fit into the ear canal and rest in the ear's outer structure instead. In addition, some earbuds come with wings to get some extra support, helping avoid them falling off.


Compared to the IEMs, standard earbuds create a partial seal with the ears. As the standard earbuds allow some ambient noise, they are not considered ideal for immersive or critical listening.

In addition to this, earbuds are also categorized into different categories, depending upon their connectivity and fitting levels:

True wireless earbuds

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The true wireless earbuds are Bluetooth earbuds, with neither wires and cords between them nor an audio source. As they do not have any wires, the mic, battery, and other controls are built into the house or box of the earbuds. True wireless earbuds come with a number of benefits, including;

  • Fewer distractions
  • Suitability
  • Extended battery life
  • Power bank
  • Ability to use before sleep

Wireless earbuds

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Wireless earbuds are personal listening audio equipment that connects to stereo speakers, gaming consoles, computers, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices without using a cable or wire. Wireless earbuds come with many benefits, and the major ones are listed below:

  • Wireless earbuds enable you to be cord-free or handsfree
  • Wireless earbuds provide listeners with the high-quality sound
  • Wireless earbuds enable users to walk while talking
  • Wireless earbuds are stylish and offer users a stylish look
  • Wireless earbuds are affordable


So, choosing wireless earbuds will help you get rid of the wires and offer you an immersive listening experience under an affordable budget.

Wired earbuds

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Compared to the true wireless earbuds or simple wireless earbuds, wired earbuds are the traditional earbuds or earphones that come with wires helping them connect to other devices. Today, many electronic giants are manufacturing wired earbuds because they still have market values and demands. There are several benefits found while using wired earbuds, including: 

  • Wired earbuds are cheaper than other types
  • Wired earbuds can last longer than others
  • There is no fear of misplacing them
  • They do not require charging
  • Some wired earbuds have good quality sound
  • They are good to use anywhere, anytime
  • They can easily be repaired

Ear hook earbuds

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Ear hook earbuds are the same as Bluetooth earbuds or wireless earbuds. The only thing that distinguish them with others is that they have the hooks. As Bluetooth or wireless earbuds are inserted into the ears without any support and wire, there are high chances of dropping down the earbuds. Therefore, you cannot perform several tasks using wireless earbuds as they can be dropped and misplaced.

While keeping in view this thing, the Ear-hook earbuds are designed. The hook provides complete stability and allows you to run or perform other workout activities while wearing ear hook earbuds.   

Ear fin earbuds

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Ear fin earbuds are like other wireless or Bluetooth earbuds. The only difference between ear-fin earbuds and other wireless earbuds is the quality of the product. Yes, ear-fin earbuds provide users immersive and good quality sound experience. They reduce the ambient sound from the surroundings and are considered the best product for commuting and critical listening. As well as this, they come with unique styles and structures, providing users with stylish looks.

Earbuds vs. earphones 

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Both earphones and earbuds are the equipment used for listening to audio. The main difference between earphones and earbuds is that earphones are inserted into the ear canal; however, earbuds rest outside.

In addition to this, the following is a brief comparison chart of the earbuds and earphones:



Easier to clean

Superior audio quality

Sub-par sound performance

Snugger fit

Less secure fit

Less durable

Do not completely cancel the noise

Noise-canceling options

Weaker volume and base

Stronger volume base

Prone to falling out while exercising

Different cushion sizes

Generally, less expensive

May be expensive


Less comfortable

Differences between headphones and earbuds

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Both headphones and earbuds have their own importance. Before deciding what to buy, you need first to know what you want to meet your requirements. Below are some observations giving you a guideline on what to look for when shopping for your next audio playing device. Some requirements directly depend upon the type and model of the devices, whereas, sometimes, the price is the main noticeable point of the headphones or earbuds you are looking for. Experts always suggest consulting the users' reviews to get an idea of what to expect. So, check all the given points thoroughly, and these will surely help you to decide what can be the best option for you:  

Sound quality

Sound quality is a crucial feature to consider before buying your following listening equipment. Clear and crisp sound is something that everyone wants to have. However, poor listening quality is certainly perceptible in any listening setting.

It will be hard to compare headphones with earbuds in terms of quality because it depends on the model. A good model will surely come with a high-quality product. Both headphones and earbuds come with great sound quality, depending upon their types and models. The device's physical design can affect the sound quality, but the sound quality is mainly based on the specific model.


When it comes to using your listening device or equipment, whether a headphone or earbuds, comfort level is crucial. No one wants to be uncomfortable when listening to their favourite playlist.

If comfortability is your priority, the experts suggest going for over-ear headphones. The reason behind this recommendation is that over-ear headphones rest on or around your ears instead of resting inside them. In addition, it is noticed that over-ear headphones can put pressure on your ear, but the built-in headband and earpads foam help reduce the pressures Impact. So, headphones with more padding earpads will help ease their weight when worn. Moreover, they will not exert pressure inside your ear as on-ear headphones and earbuds do.


Portability is also a noticeable deciding factor, which depends upon your lifestyle. For example, if you want to carry your headphones or earbuds daily, they must be small and light-weighted.

You can carry both, i.e., headphones and earbuds with you. But, due to their size and weight, headphones may become tiresome to wear or carry regularly. On the other hand, earbuds are designed with portability in mind. So, in terms of portability, standard earbuds, and EMIs. They are designed in a small size, and they are easy to carry and take up far less space than headphones.

Noise isolation

Noise isolation measures how well your headphones or earbuds can block the noise from outside or your surroundings. Headphones or earbuds with better isolation will allow you to hear less noise from outside.

On-ear headphones and standard earbuds are considered the worst in noise isolation. This is because their designs keep them away from sealing against your ears, thus, do not stop outside noise.

On the other hand, over-ear and closed-back headphones are considered the best option for noise-isolating headphones. Thanks to their designs because the earpads hug around the ears and create a seal, helping prevent noise from leaking in.  


Stability is important to consider while shopping for your new listening equipment. So here we come with a brief comparison that will help you know what to choose.

If you are looking for something to work out, you need to go with earbuds. In-ear earbuds are usually stable especially when we use them with foam ear tips. In addition, some earbuds models come with an over-the-ear wire that helps reduce the cable noise, distribute the weight, and improves stability.  

Plusher headphones with tight clamping force are considered stable, but, at the same time, they can cause discomfort over time. For sports, some on-ear headphones are generally recommended. However, full-sized headphones are more suitable for home use.    


Now it comes to thinking about durability. Here we would like to share some durability options for both earbuds and headphones.

Fixed wired earbuds are more susceptible to failure because the cable can break quite easily. However, true wireless earbuds can primarily be very durable as they lack wires. As well as this, their small and light-weight house makes them more durable if they drop on the floor.

If we talk about the headphones, we see that they are heavyweight. So, when they fall, there are more chances of something breaking. Some cheaper or affordable headphones are designed with a cheaper plastic material that can easily snap into pieces.  



Technically speaking, both earbuds and headphones are safe to use. But the perception can change depending upon the style you use them. Listening to music for long periods can cause damage to your ears. This is true for both earbuds and headphones.  

However, the design or structure may also measure the level of safety while using both headphones and earbuds. In the case of earbuds, the chances of damaging the ears are higher. This is because both standard earbuds and EMIs transmit audio directly into your ears so that they can cause more damage at a higher volume. Well, it's been concluded that prolonged use or misuse can cause damage no matter what type of listening equipment is.


Both headphones and earbuds can be expensive and cheap, depending on their models and quality. For example, in-ear monitors, EMIs can be very expensive. But usually, they are not as much expensive as other bigger headphones are. It has also been seen that the premium earbuds are lesser expensive than the premium headphones shopping from the same brand. The general price of earbuds ranges from $30 to $ 300+.

Some headphones, such as audiophile headphones, are generally more expensive than others. The general price of such headphones starts from thousands of dollars. However, for general headphones, the price range starts from $30 to $700.

How to choose

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Another big question, how to choose the headphones? Well, it is to inform you that the choice directly depends upon your lifestyle and the preference that what you like to choose for the particular purposes. To assist you, here we come with some suggestions according to the lifestyles and preferences that for what purpose what type of headphones and earbuds can be the perfect option for you. So, let's start here;

For kids

If you want to buy headphones for your kids, you have to take care of some important things before buying the headphones or earbuds for your kids. First, as the children's eardrums are still developing at a young age, you should choose headphones with a design that they must away from the delicate structures of the inner ears. Another important thing to know is that the volume should be less than 82 decibels. Remember that the volume above 85 decibels is considered harmful for your kids.

On the other hand, experts suggest you look for volume-limiting headphones, a worry-free alternative. No matter how much your kid may try to amp the volume, a volume-limiting headphone usually caps the volume below 85 decibels.

For working out

Listening to music while gyming or working out helps you live in the zone. For this purpose, choosing true wireless earbuds can be a great option. As they are lightweight wireless, there is no need to worry about cable restricting your movements. Compared to this, the wired earbuds' wires can sometimes limit your activity, tug into your clothes, and get damaged. However, if you are looking for some earbuds within an affordable price range, you can look for simple wireless earbuds, which can also give the best experience of working out while playing your favourite tracklist.   

For running

Running is one of the most exciting exercises. Listening to music during running can make you into the zone and feel no hard. Consequently, you perform well in the running. This is why most runners listen to music to boost their running level, whether professionals or amateurs.

Headphones cannot be a good option for running because they are heavy in weight and large in structure. They cannot rest on your head or ears during running. Using earbuds is the best option for runners. The best recommendation is to use Ear-hook earbuds. These earbuds have a good grip around the ears, reducing the chance of dropping.   

For flying

Flights are sometimes longer and also tiring. Therefore, you need some noise-canceling headphones to make your traveling or flight easy and fun to go through this tiring period. Over-ear headphones are recommended to use on the flight. Thanks to their padding structure because it provides you with more comfortability. Ensure that your headphones have padded and noise-canceling features to have a wonderful flight experience.   

For commuting

When traveling long along the road or train, you may get tired or bored. To get rid of boredom, listening to music is one of most travelers' best activities. Now, it depends upon the mode of traveling or transporting. If you are traveling in your own car, you can use earbuds that suit you. When you travel in public transport, the headphones with padding foam and noise-canceling features are a great option to avoid the noise from outside.

As well as this, if you are tired of carrying heavyweight headphones or if it looks odd to use heavy headphones on public transport, you can choose noise-canceling earbuds.  

For audio mixing and recording

When recording or mixing audio, closed-back monitor headphones are the best recommendation. Closed-back monitor headphones are the best noise isolating equipment. These are professional-grade headphones, allowing users to distinguish each instrument. These headphones are considered the best tools for musicians to monitor what they play. They are also best to control sound bleeding into the live mics, which otherwise can ruin your recording.   

For offices and online classes

Both headphones and earbuds can be excellent for office and online classes. Now, it depends upon your personal preference. Experts suggest using headsets in a professional environment because they show an attached microphone.  

For bass lovers

It is believed that the large drivers are good at producing a deeper base. So, to get the best bass experience, it is recommended to use over-ear closed-back headphones with large drivers. The closed-back design helps stop bass from escaping.  

For gaming

Gaming is all about good performance. To ensure that you are good at gaming, you need a pair of headphones. Experts suggest using over-ear headphones for a long gaming session because they provide superior comfort.   

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you use earbuds to clean your ears?

If you use earbuds naturally to clean your ear, you should stop doing this. You can injure your ear in doing so, or in extreme conditions; you can also lose your hearing capabilities.

Are earbuds more damaging than headphones?

Both headphones and earbuds present the risk of ear damage when using them with a high decibel level. As well as this, using headphones or earbuds for a long time can also damage your ears. Compared to headphones, earbuds are more likely to cause damage because they sit right inside your ears, closed to the ear canal.


The article has briefly discussed almost all the aspects of headphones and earbuds. Therefore, you will surely have ideas about what headphones are and what categories they are categorized. Similarly, we have also discussed the potential ideas on what earbuds are and how you classify them in different classes. As well as this, a brief comparison will also surely help you choose the best listening equipment according to your needs and affordability. So, just know your requirements and shop accordingly.  


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