When looking for portable audio, most people end up thinking about a headset. There are several different kinds with different pros and cons. Lets take a look at the various types and highlight their differences.

The most pervasive type are earphones or ear-buds. These have been made iconic with Apple’s ads featuring white silhouette dancers against colorful backgrounds with white earphones wires. Of course, there are many manufacturers of ear-buds. The biggest benefit of ear-buds are the price. They frequently come free with MP3 players and extras can be purchased for as little as a few dollars. They are also very portable and can be easily kept in one’s pocket. The down side is sound quality. Although the sound quality varies greatly from the cheapest models to the more expensive models, ear-buds are lacking as compared to full size headphones. This is true particularly in the lower frequencies. Ear-buds can also cause discomfort as they generally sit in the opening to the ear canal.

Next are supra-aural headphones. That fancy term simply means the headphones sit on top of your ears. This type of headphone came onto the scene in a big way during the 1980’s with advent of the Walkman personal cassette players. It seemed that everybody was wearing headphones out and about. These can also be very portable but you would not be able to easily carry them in your pocket. The advantage with headphones is that they reproduce lower frequencies much better than ear-buds and can generally be worn longer without discomfort. The disadvantages are that they are more expensive than ear-buds and they will typically let in more ambient noise. As a result people tend to play them louder than ear-buds to drown out the noise which can damage one’s hearing.

The circumaural headphones are known as full size headphones. Circumaural means that the headphones fit over your entire ear for maximum noise isolation. The true advantage of these headphones is the excellent sound quality across the entire frequency spectrum. Again, there is a range of quality within the category, but they will, on balance sound better than the other types of headphones. The drawbacks here are cost – the sky can really be the limit with ultra-high end models. Also, they are not very portable and they can become uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time as they can become hot.

Finally, a note of clarification. A headset is a headphone with a microphone. These are used on telephones and often seen on pilots. Of course, you could use a headset as a headphone but you would be paying more than necessary since the audio input feature runs up the cost.

Hopefully, I have given you an earful and you can shop more intelligently for the best audio product for you!

Many websites provide additional information on the topic of audio equipment. One such site worth visiting is http://www.MidWestSpeaker.com.

Eric Parish independently authors articles for WebDrafter.com, Inc. ( http://www.webdrafter.com ) for search engine marketing. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those solely of the author, and not of any other person, company, or organization. No guarantee or warranty, express or implied, is made regarding the accuracy, fitness, or use of the content herein.

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