9 comments on “Headphones: In-ear vs Over-ear or On-ear

  1. Javier Jordan

    I own a pair of Sony MDRZX750BN bluetooth headphones. They are the on ear style. After awhile, my outter ears begin to really hurt. Can you recommend an after market over the ear cushion pads?

    • That’s a tough one—I haven’t had much experience with those. I always wear review headphones for about a day to see how they feel (do they cause my ears to sweat, do they hurt, etc).

  2. sachin

    Hello Client.

    Iam from India and need to buy headphones and need your help. I need budget headphones( 20 USD to 40 USD ) but the issue is i have a bit sensitive ears. so I want to listen at normal level or else it ill hurt my ears.The issue is as follows.

    Public transport here (trains ) here are noisy. I want to listen to education videos while travelling and I do not want to increase the volume to prevent ear damage.

    I have heard that noise cancellation “in ear ” phones are better for noise cancellation and so one does not need to increase the volume . and they will be good for noisy places like a train.

    On the other hand, noise cancellation “on ear” headphones do not prevent much noise and one needs to increase the music volume. So which will be a better choice for me. In ear or on ear ?

    Also I need earphones with mic and i want the mic to work on laptop and smartphone too. Iam considering on ear sony MDR-XB450ap or in ear audiotechina cor 150is……… so pls guide which one to choose with the e above conditions mentioned in above paragraphs

  3. David

    Very informative and helpful article. But I think, for me, it’s going to come down to price. I’m looking for the best price for the best headphones, I’ve tried very high price over the ear headphones and they were mind blowing but I can’t afford them, so I need to keep it below $100 so I need to know which is better in my price range.

  4. Pingback: How to Choose Headphones - ecoustics.com

  5. Max Jones

    I’ve always wondered about the debate between in-ear vs over-ear headphones. I usually tend to use in-ear headphones, for the simple fact that these headphones are smaller and easier to just throw in a pocket like you said. When portability isn’t an issue however, I love having bigger over-ear headphones to give me the better quality sound! For me the debate still remains, but I think that having both options keeps me happy!

  6. Soren

    In my experience:

    Earbuds are awful. They leak more sound than headphones, they cause unbearable pain after just an hour of use, and all sound quality goes out the window. I would never recommend these to anyone. If I want awareness of my surroundings (at work for example), I just unplug one ear.

    Supra-aurals are incredibly comfortable. Sound quality isn’t as good as circum-aurals, but good enough for me. But because I wear glasses, headphones cause ear pain after prolonged use (up to several hours, depending on the cushion foam type).

    IEMs are the best for me. I’m not much into bass, but good IEMs can still deliver a good dose. The sound isolation and clarity is unmatched by the other types, and they usually come significantly cheaper. With good foam tips I can go to sleep wearing a pair of IEMs and not have any pain next morning, though I wouldn’t recommend it if you have an expensive pair. That leads to the only problem with IEMs. They’re just not as durable. The longest I’ve had a working pair for was 2 years I think. But there are plenty of great brands/models you can buy for under $50 and still have amazing sound.

    For foam tips I buy foam plugs, snip them in half and use a soldering iron to melt a hole through. Pretty sketchy but very effective. You can buy them from online or get custom tips made of silicon but I’m not that big of an audiophile to invest in those.

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