HomeVersusHeadphone Vs. Earphone: A Comparative Discussion

Headphone Vs. Earphone: A Comparative Discussion

Headphone vs. earphone – this has always been a topic of sound debate. You may need a new personal sound solution but you are confused about what to pick. Headphone or earphone?

There are several factors that will help you to choose one over the other.

Today I am going to present a comparative discussion between headphones and earphones. I hope this will play an important role in your ultimate decision-making.

Let’s know the basic definition of these two first.

What Are Headphones?

Headphones are hardware devices used for listening to sound from a computer, laptop, smartphone, music player, and other electronic devices privately.

Two small speakers are connected by a band in a headphone. It is worn in or around the ears by placing the band over the head.

Now I will try to define earphones in short.

What Are Earphones?

Earphones are audio listening products that can be worn directly by inserting into the ear canal. Earphones are sometimes called smaller versions of headphones.

These two definitions mainly describe the physical appearance of headphones and earphones.

We should focus on the important part now, which is their functional differences. Have a look below to know the details.

Headphone vs Earphone

Headphones Vs. Earphones: A Comparative Discussion

I want to describe the differences between headphones and earphones in terms of some definite factors. They are –

  • Driver size
  • Frequency response and sound quality
  • Noise cancellation
  • Noise isolation
  • Sound leakage
  • Comfortability
  • Portability
  • Gaming purpose
  • Music production
  • Power
  • Sharing and hygiene issue
  • Hearing problem
  • Durability
  • Budget

Now, I am going to explain these points one by one.

Let’s know how their functions vary with their driver sizes first.

1. Driver Size

Headphones have larger drivers that generally range from 40 mm to 50 mm. larger drivers always produce better and smoother bass.

On the contrary, 7 mm to 15 mm drivers are typically found in earphones.

They can barely generate deep and rich bass. They manage this feature because their audio drivers are very close to the ear canal.

Driver size controls the sound quality. The larger the driver, the better the audio quality.

You may be curious about their frequency response and audio quality. It is an important term to consider. Let’s know which is better in this case.

2. Frequency Response And Sound Quality

Headphones have a higher frequency response between 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

You can enjoy excellent audio quality in this frequency range. The sound of headphones is louder depending on various models.

Headphones give your music more room to breathe. You can feel the width and the soundstage of the musical mix. The guitar, drums, and vocal will seem to spread out around and in front of you.

Earphones are totally the opposite. They can’t offer a good frequency range because of their small size. Earphones are not able to provide exceptional sound quality like headphones. The sound in earphones feels like it is trapped inside our ears.

Now we will know about the noise cancellation features of headphones and earphones.

3. Noise Cancellation

The noise cancellation feature uses components to block the external noise by producing different sound waves.

Headphones are better in this feature because of the components and mic placed in them. Some headphones use a filter for noise cancellation that can filter the unwanted sound of the environment.

But, the noise cancellation feature in earphones doesn’t work to the extent where it can cancel every sound in the background.

Earphones don’t have supreme and effective noise cancellation features like headphones.

But again, some high-end earphones can provide 100% noise cancellation.

I am going to put a comparative discussion on headphones and earphones in terms of noise isolation now. Have a look here.

4. Noise Isolation

The noise isolation feature provides a complete seal over headphones that can block ambient sound. The headphone should be fitted perfectly in this case.

Wearables DevCon emphasizes how earphones can be highly risky to ear health.

Noise isolation works passively in earphones. It can block the external sounds physically if your earphone fits perfectly. In fact, earphones are better in noise isolation as they have a proper seal.

Now, we are going to know which one can work actively against sound leakage.

5. Sound Leakage

There is a greater possibility of sound leakage in headphones especially in open back headphones. As earphones are directly inserted into ear canals, there is almost no possibility of sound leakage.

Then, are you concerned about their comfortability? Which one is more comfortable? You can get your answer below.

6. Comfortability

Headphones are not inserted inside your ears. They are worn on the ears or over the ears. There will be no redness or pain issues if it fits perfectly.

Well-known brands sometimes offer headphones with padded support. Their cups are made of various materials like no-frill foam pads, soft cloths, sometimes even velour or exotic leathers. They will keep you warm, and you feel no extra pressure around your head.

They have some negative sides too. When they don’t fit well, you will feel discomfort. They sometimes interfere with your glasses. Moreover, you can’t use headphones while lying on the bed.

On the contrary, you can use earphones in any position or any situation. They never interfere with your glasses also. The negative sides of earphones are they sit inside the ear canals. They usually just give you the silicone ear tips.

So, they are pretty irritating while using for a long time. Besides, one of the annoying things that happen with earphones is they tend to slip off easily.

Here comes the next point, portability. It is an important aspect you need to consider when you go to the market to get a new pair of headphones or earphones. Let’s know about it.

7. Portability

If you are a travel person, earphones are the best option. You may carry them in your pocket and listen to music wherever you go. Earphones are also better for a workout or any other activities related to mobility.

Oppositely, headphones need more space. You also have to carry a case along with your headphones. If you are just going to sit on your desk and want to enjoy music, then headphone is the best option.

I also have advice for gamers. It is vital for them to make the right choice for listening. I hope this may help you to choose between headphones and earphones if you are a gamer. Just take your eyes below.

8. Gaming Purpose

The headphone is an ideal choice for gaming. You can enjoy the 3D audio and hear the gunshot from a particular direction. Overall you will have a pleasant gaming experience with headphones.

On the other hand, earphones can’t even come closer to headphones for gaming purposes.

Are you a music producer? Don’t get confused between the two. Stay with me to choose the best option.

9. Music Production

Even the best earphone speakers can’t generate a more comprehensive frequency range compared to decent headphones.

So, avoid earphones if you are producing music.

Now, let’s know how they are different regarding the power they drive out from a device.

10. Power

Headphones drive more power out of the devices as it is bigger. They may not be suitable for some low-powered devices.

Conversely, earphones are smaller and can be plugged into any device. They don’t need a lot of power to be amplified.

We also have to be concerned about our ears and hygiene issues while using headphones and earphones. Have a look below to know which one is better in these cases.

11. Sharing And Hygiene Issue

Headphones never really go inside of your ears. So, there is no problem in sharing them if any of you don’t have any skin diseases.

Oppositely, earphones sit inside the ear canal. If you share it with others, the exchange of earwax can cause a severe ear infection to both.

12. Hearing Problem

Earphones are inserted into the ears. This can remarkably affect the eardrums, even sometimes cause hearing loss.

Headphones are safer in this case as they sit on or over the ears.

Maybe you are curious about which one is more durable and long-lasting. Don’t worry. I am helping you to know that.

13. Durability

Headphones last longer than earphones. As they have bigger drivers and a more complex system, it makes them last longer.

Earphones are small with fragile wires. Even if you twist them in the wrong way, they can break easily.

Earphones can go as far as to burst the membrane in the ear.

Now, I am going to discuss their budget. This can be a vital fact in choosing between the two. Everyone may not want to spend a handsome amount on these listening products.

14. Budget

The structure of headphones are more complex and they have higher production cost. Earphones have smaller components that are cheaper to produce.

Besides, there are some high end earphones which are very costly. You can also get headphones at a cheaper rate. So, the cost entirely depends on their quality.

However, in general I can say that headphones are more expensive than earphones.

I have discussed the differences between headphones and earphones all this time. I hope this will help you choose according to your need and you won’t get confused either.

Let’s end the discussion on headphones vs. earphones here.

Now, it’s time to share one more thing with all of you.

Headphones are totally different from earphones in physical appearance. So, people generally don’t get confused about headphones and earphones.

But they may get confused between earphones and earbuds. So, I am going to clear this confusion now.

Earphones Vs. Earbuds

I will discuss the differences in terms of three factors. They are –

  • Appearance
  • Sound isolation
  • Price

The main difference between earphones and earbuds is their appearance.

Earphones have cushions made of foam, silicones, or rubber. These help them to fit perfectly inside the ear canal.

On the other hand, earbuds don’t have cushions. They sit outside the ear canal.

Let’s go to the next point.

Sound Isolation

Earbuds can’t isolate the sound entirely as they are worn outside the ear canal. If you don’t want to experience sound leakage, never use earbuds.

Do you need privacy while listening to music?

Then earphones are better than earbuds. You can get complete isolation and better sound quality.

I am going to inform you of their price difference now.


Earphones are more expensive than earbuds. They offer better sound quality, better bass, and better design to fit properly inside the ear canal.

Let’s conclude the topic of earphones vs. earbuds here.

So, what message did you get after reading this article? I hope you are not confused anymore.

Headphones Or Earphones, Which One Is Better?

Finally, we can say in one line that there is no clear winner between headphones and earphones. Both the two have their own advantages and disadvantages.

You just have to choose according to your using purposes. If your primary concern is sound quality, then headphones are perfect for you.

Choose earphones when portability or movability is your main focus.

Thanks for reading the article.

Recent Posts