Guide to finding the right pair of headphones

Music technology has come on leaps and bounds since the headphones of the 80s and 90s. From wireless and Bluetooth to in-ear and noise-cancelling headphones, there's no shortage of choice when it comes to the types of headsets available. With smartphones and MP3 players now ubiquitous, the demand for high-quality headphones has never been higher.

Top manufacturers like Sennheiser, Beats, Sony, and Skullcandy offer a vast range of models catering to any need. Besides being practical, headphones are often considered to be fashion accessories. As such, there's an impressive range of stylish colours and designs to choose from relating to the latest headphone trends. This Tesco buying guide will help you to find the perfect headphones for you.

Types of headphones

When buying headphones it's important to consider where and how you will use them. The best headphones for running and travel may be different to those ideal for listening to music at home. Almost all makes and models come with the same 3.5 mm jack plug. This means that all headphones should work with any smartphone, MP3 player, or iPod.

In-ear headphones

The most common of all, in-ear headphones offer unparalleled flexibility and portability. Since these lightweight headphones fit into the ear, they take up little space, so are a great option on the go. While the sound quality of in-ear headphones is improving all the time , audiophiles may prefer full-sized headphones for even greater fidelity.

Earbuds

Earbuds are similar to in-ear headphones; however these sit on the small ridge at the entrance to the ear canal, whereas in-ear headphones fit right inside the ear canal. Usually bundled with new smartphones and MP3 players, earbuds tend to offer a slightly poorer quality audio, with greater sound leakage. These headphones are usually cheaper than other models. This makes them ideal to keep as a spare pair in your handbag or in the office.

Over-ear headphones

For those who don't like the feel of in-ear headphones or tend to be a little more active when listening to music , sports-clip headphones may be the better option. They clip round the ears, meaning they're more likely to stay in place than in-ear models. Because there's no band connecting each headphone together, they're easy to carry and fit in the pocket. Due to these features, over-ear designs are perfect for the gym or when going for a run.

Bluetooth headphones

Well-suited to household use, wireless headphones enable the listening of music playlists, watching TV or playing video games without the hassle of wires and cables. Taking their audio from a base unit connected to the headset via Bluetooth, wireless headphones make it possible to listen to music while wandering around the house, without disturbing family members or housemates.

Thanks to their portability they are also becoming increasingly popular as sports headphones. While these offer fantastic convenience, wireless delivery of the audio does downgrade the quality slightly. A better listening experience is likely from wired headphones.

On-ear headphones

Providing premium results when it comes to sound quality, on-ear headphones are a great choice for those who want to hear every note of their music. On-ear headphones are connected by a band that goes over the top of the head, so are a bit bulkier than in-ear or over-ear headphones.

For an even better sound, larger on-ear phones that fully cover the ear are available. These full size headphones offer high quality sound and are the ideal choice of headphones for making a statement, since they generally come in a range of fun colours.

Noise-cancelling headphones

An increasingly popular range of headsets are the noise-cancelling products. These ingenious headphones contain a small microphone in the ear piece that assesses the frequency of the surrounding ambient noise and releases a phased wave to counteract the sound. This technology enables audio in near silence, and they can be turned on in order to enjoy some peace and quiet on a noisy commute.

These models tend to be a little more expensive, and the internal circuitry means that they need their own power source and may not work as headphones if their battery is depleted. They are also some of the more bulky models out there, but they come recommended for anyone wanting to ignore the outside world for a while.

Noise-isolating headphones

A cheaper and smaller alternative are the passive noise-cancelling ranges. These sound-isolating headphones keep out unwanted noise by either creating a seal within the ear or covering the entire ear. Over-ear headphones often provide this functionality.

Hands-free headphones

Headphones today can do much more than just enabling the listening of favourite tunes. Hands-free designs allow calls to be made via headphones, songs to be selected and the volume to be adjusted on the go. This type is perfect for those who need to multi-task while speaking on the phone.

As audio quality is very subjective, what sounds great to one person might not sound so good to someone else. This means that it's always best to try a few different models and brands when looking for the best headphones. Fortunately Tesco has a stellar range available, so with a little information it's easy to find the best pair in no time.

How to look after and clean headphones

Gently wiping headphones and earphones with a soft cloth dampened with soap and water is sufficient enough to keep them clean. Especially with regular use, dust and grime builds up and needs to be taken care of.

Always store headphones in a clean, dry environment and don't leave them on the floor where they can be stood on and damaged. Shockproof, waterproof headphone cases provide essential protection on the go.

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