Headphones VS Earphones – Which One Do You Need?

If you are buying a new pair of personal headphones but having a hard time to choose between headphones and earphones, several factors can influence the choice of one over the other. Sizes, comfort, practicality and characteristics: all these considerations are likely to influence your final decision. But is there a difference between headphones and earphones in terms of sound quality?

This article will help clear all your confusion. So, let’s get busy reading.

What is the difference between a headphone and an earphone?

Earphones: Personal hearing devices that adapt to the ear canal. Neck-band style or wireless earphones. Earphones offer active noise cancellation, tactile surface control and elegant, non-slip design. Some models are waterproof.

Headphones: personal hearing devices that rest or surround the outside of the outer ear. There are fold-able headphones with extended battery life and a compact and comfortable fit. Designed with a sleek, minimalist exterior and innovative features, including touchscreen controls, smart audio sharing and smart play / pause.

Comfortable fitting

The better your earphones fit, the better they can deliver the sound. After all, everyone has different ear canal sizes. Most of the earphones come with multiple ear tips in different sizes and shapes but many users find it difficult to fit the earphones perfectly. It’s just the reality, you can’t help it.

On the other hand, headphones do not need to be designed for a precise and anatomical correct structure. This is why they can offer greater noise cancelling ability. A less demanding fitting means a more comfortable fitting, which in turn means you can wear the headphones for a long time.

And since they are physically larger, the headphones always provide more space for electronics, which means more battery life, better noise cancellation and better sound drives. Although newest innovation of earphones is closing the gap really good.

Audio performance

Headphones benefit from much larger drivers, typically in the 40 to 50 mm range, unlike the 7 to 15 mm drivers most commonly used in earphones. These larger drivers generally produce smoother, better quality bass and smoother performance from low frequencies to high frequencies. Headphones literally and figuratively give more space to your music. With headphones, it is generally possible to better estimate the amplitude and the sound of a musical mix.

Earphones often offer the same deep, rich bass, but they do so because their audio drivers are in or very close to the ear canal. If you’re not an audiophile, you won’t notice much difference at all.

Noise isolation

In general, the more noise isolation the better unless there is a reason you should hear ambient noise and what you are already listening. Better noise isolation also means annoying others around you less with your music.

If the earphones are worn correctly, they should form a complete seal with the ear canal. No sound comes in or goes out, outstanding isolation. Properly fitted earphones provide the best noise isolation.

Even the excellent over-ear headphones do not form a complete seal around the ear. This results in leakage of noise. So well fitting earphones will provide you better noise isolation.

Noise cancellation

Noise cancellation actually differs considerably from noise isolation. Noise isolation is something that all earphones or headphones have. However, noise canceling head phones actually process and remove additional signals before hearing the sound.

Noise canceling earphones are generally not as effective as noise canceling headphones.

In my experience, headphones tend to be a little more effective at eliminating noise than earphones of similar quality. This is partly because there is more room for electronics in the headphones. Therefore, headphones usually have a small advantage here.

Advantages and disadvantages of Headphones


  • Well-fitting headphones are very comfortable compared to earphones. They are generally well padded and do not put pressure directly on the ear canal
  • Headphones and earphones both provide excellent sound quality. The biggest advantage of headphones, however, is that they offer superior sound quality
  • Headphones are a little better for noise cancellation than earphones


  • Although the headphones can be folded, they are still bulky and not very portable. It cannot be easily placed in a pocket or small bag
  • The over the ear headphones do not seal completely around the ear, which makes noise leakage
  • Headphones can interfere with glasses and earrings and are not suitable for sweaty outdoor activities like jogging or gym
  • Not very comfortable for wearing long period of time

Advantages and disadvantages of Earphones


  • Earphones that fit well and stay in the ear canal, offer the best noise isolation
  • Due to its small size, it is easy to carry in a pocket or small wallet
  • Earphones are generally less expensive than headphones
  • Better suited for gyms and workouts


  • Headphones generally work best for noise cancellation than earphones.
  • Since it is necessary to insert the earbuds into the ear canal, the earphones may not stick to your ear if they aren’t perfectly fitted as the shape of each person’s ears varies slightly.

If you want high sound quality and really want to enjoy all the sounds of a piece of music, headphones are the best choice. They are also great for listening to music in your home. But if you work out in the gym or commute every day, the earphones are preferably better because of their lightness and portability.

If you’re an outgoing person, I suggest you to get earphones. However, it wont hurt getting both a headphones and earphones for different occasion. I have my JBL headphones to watch movies, for the gym and walk I take my Samsung galaxy buds plus with me.

The Performance Club
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