Choosing a pair of earphones is hard. There are literally thousands of different brands and models in the market right now. On the one hand, there are huge brands like Bose, Jabra, Sennheiser, and Apple. But there are also hidden gems out there like Xiaomi and others which has burst onto the scene in recent years.
Here are the factors that you should consider when buying a pair of true wireless Bluetooth earphones, earbuds or headphones.
Earphones, earbuds or headphones
The first question you should consider is what form factor suits your lifestyle needs better. In-ear earphones are very popular these days. They usually come with different ear cushions that are interchangeable so that you can choose the right size for your ears.
On the contrary, earbuds do not fit inside your ear. Instead, they are meant to be fitted into your outer ear. Generally, they do fit comfortably. However, you cannot customize the size of an earbud. If you have an unusual ear shape, you may find certain models too big or too small. Apple’s AirPods are among the most popular wireless earbuds.
Over-ear headphones are the best for sound quality. Because of their larger size, manufacturers can pack more quality features and parts inside. The tradeoff is that they are less portable than earphones and earbuds.
As mentioned, headphones will generally have the best sound quality. However, with continued technological advances, earbuds and earphones have also improved leaps and bounds in terms of sound quality.
Sound quality is also somewhat subjective. Everyone has a different preference. Some may like more bass while others may prefer clarity. Unless you are an audiophile, most mid-range earphones or headphones will sound pleasing to your ears.
How much should you spend on a pair of earphones? It can be hard to decide because there are earphones as cheap as under $10 and some that cost more than $500 easily. Because you are searching for wireless earphones, it is going to be more pricey than their wired counterparts. Here a general breakdown of what you will get for each price range.
Less than $50. For wireless earphones, it can be hard to find a brand name which sells that this price range. Most wireless options are off-brands and OEM models. While some do provide decent quality, their poorer quality control often means that failure rate within a year is high. Also, many of them do not offer warranties. Once it spoils, that is $20 down the drain.
$50 to $100. This is the price range when quality starts to improve. You’ll begin to see more earphones from more well-known brands and companies. Sound quality will see a significant improvement from the $20 range models. Additionally, they will usually come with a warranty which will protect your earphones for around 1 to 2 years. If you want a value-for-money option, we recommend that you go for an earphone at this $50 price range.
$100 to $200. Quality shoots up dramatically at this price range. You will enjoy the strong bass and clear sounds with earphones that cost around $150. Most brands will have a product line that offers this pricing. You can choose from the top brands like Bose, JBL, and Sony. If you have the budget, earphones in this category are a fantastic choice for the quality and features provided.
$300 to $500. If you are a semi or full-fledged audiophile, the earphones you’ll be interested in will be in the price range or even higher. These are the top of the line models that are high in functionality, style, and quality. Once you buy a top-quality earphone, you may never want to go back to a $100 one.
Are you going to be taking calls on your wireless earphones? If so, you should get a pair that has an inbuilt microphone. Another consideration is how often you are going to be using the voice functionality. If you are using it daily and for important calls, getting one with high-quality voice audio is highly recommended.
If you only need to receive calls on your earphones on the rare occasion, then voice quality will not be as important a consideration.
Portability and weight
Earphones and earbuds are going to be much lighter and portable compared to headphones. Having a pair of bulky headphones on your head and ears for hours can be painful for some. If you value portability, a pair of wireless earphones will be your best bet.
For sports, exercise and running
Headphones are a no-no for running. They are cumbersome and will fall off easily with movement. There are many wireless earphones available that are designed for the active sportsman or woman. If your primary use for the wireless earphones is going to be for sports, you should get one that is made for sports.
Having your earphones die on you during your long MRT journey home sucks. That is why you need to choose a pair of wireless earphones that comes with good battery life. Also noteworthy is having a fast charging time.
Most earphones have battery lives of 1 to 5 hours. That amount of battery life is usually sufficient only for a day’s use. That is why some of them come with a battery charging case that gives an additional 15 to 30 hours of use.
A point to note is that most of the cheap Bluetooth wireless earphones come with terrible battery life. Some can barely last for 30 minutes. So do look out for real-life user reviews on its battery life before buying a cheaper one.
Durability and quality
Usually, durability and quality have a positive relationship with price. That means, the most you spend, the likely the earphones will last for a longer time. This is especially the case when it comes to choosing a brand name model. These pricier models justify their price tag by providing more extended warranty periods that are supported by local service centers.
Controls – Touch or Buttons
Touch controls are getting more popular, especially on earphones. The ability to tap, double-tap or triple-tap to pause, play or skip a track is awesome. For true wireless earphones, the touch functionality is almost a given. For semi-wireless earphones, most of them still come with button controls. In the coming future, we predict that most wireless earphones and even headphones will come with touch controls. So if you want to future-proof your earphones, get one that already comes with touch.
If you get easily distracted by ambient noise, an earphone with noise cancellation functionality will be a godsend. How does it work? The microphone on your earphone will pick up on the ambient noises and generate a frequency that counters those sounds. It will feel as though you are in a quiet place, similar to a library. Great for periods when you need full concentration.
Earphones with noise cancellation functions are usually priced higher as the technology required to do it is not cheap. You can expect to pay upwards of $100.