What Are the Different Types of Headphones?


Headphones are devices that allow people to listen to audio without disturbing people nearby. They go in or over the ears so sound travels into people's ears instead of the space around them. There are several types of headphones for different uses. Some are for personal entertainment. Others can be for professional or personal use.

Ear Bud Headphones

  • Ear buds are small headphones that fit inside the ears. They typically have no headband, so are less bulky than other headphone types. They are also less noticeable. Some ear buds have only one speaker. These are convenient for hands-free phone use or for when people need to be able to hear the speaker as well as their surroundings.

Circumaural Headphones

  • Circumaural headphones have two speakers and a headband that connects them. These headphones have cup-like padding that goes around the entire ear. This allows for maximum sound quality and background noise reduction. They are otherwise known as full-size headphones because they are larger than most other headphone types.

Supra-Aural Headphones

  • Supra-aural headphones are similar to circumaural headphones, but they do not cup the entire ear. The padding rests on the outside of the ear. They do not allow for optimal sound like circumaural headphones, but they are less cumbersome.

Headset Headphones

  • Headset headphones are headphones that have built-in microphones. They may have one or two speakers and attach to the ear with clips or headbands, which may go behind the neck. Headsets have many personal uses, including video chat, hands-free telephone use and Internet gaming. They also have many professional uses, such as military communications, pilot communications and secretarial use.

Wireless Headphones

  • Wireless headphones and headsets do not need to plug into devices to which the user listens. Common uses for these headphones and headsets are gaming and cell phones. The headphones or headsets receive signals that allow them to transmit audio without wired connections.

Clip on Headphones

  • Clip on headphones have no band holding them in place. Instead, they have hooked clips that go over the back of the ear. This allows freedom of movement. They may have one or two speakers.

Sports Headphones

  • Sports headphones have bands that go around the back of the head or rest near the neck. This makes them more comfortable for use while playing sports. They may have added comfort and stability accessories, such as ear clips or on-ear speakers.

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