Headphones have come a long way over the years.  Before the walkman emerged onto the scene, they were restricted to the home setting and they were generally big, clunky and heavy on the ears.  Thankfully, those days are long gone.  The new generation of headphones are more attractive; slim, trim and able to deliver high quality audio right into your ears.

There are many types of headphones available and determining which set is right for you will depend on how you plan to use them.  This guide will help you choose a pair of headphones that are just right for your individual and specific needs.


Also known as in-ear headphones, earbuds are commonly given away free with the purchase of mobile phones and portable media players.  Some gamers also like earbuds for their convenience and light weight feel. For example, the Philips SHG 8010 not only offers freedom of movement, but vibration to immerse the player in the game. The small earpiece lies on the outer part of the ear or can be inserted into your ear canal.  Some come with ear clips to ensure a more snug fit. Despite the fact that they are often a throw-in, these headphones offer a sound quality that rivals some of the best full-sized models.

The Good: Highly portable.  Compact and lightweight.  Provide exceptional isolation from external sound.  Generally will not get in the way of your glasses, hat, earrings or hairdo.

The Bad: Can get uncomfortable when used for extended periods.  Some are difficult to insert and remove from the ear.  More possibilities to become tangled because of dual-wire design.

Sports Headphones

Known by various names, sports headphones usually feature horizontal designs extending behind the head or neck.  Some of them have an ear clip rather than the head or neck extension.  These type of headphones typically come in open-backed designs, which is good as you would never want to completely block ambient noise when jogging down the street.

The Good: Highly portable.  Convenient design will not interfere with your hat or hairdo.  Usually stays put while running or jogging.

The Bad: Some models are not very durable.  Tends to put more pressure on the ears than the average headphones.

Ear-pad Headphones

Also known as open-backed headphones or semi-open headphones, these headphones rest on the outer ears and tend to be very comfortable.  While some ear-pad headphones have a closed design that cover the ears, they are never completely sealed.

The Good: Easy on the ears.  Some models can be folded for easy transport.

The Bad: Less effective at isolating noise than earplugs.  Lacks bass in comparison to full-size headphones.

Full-size Headphones

Often referred to as circumaural headphones, full-size headphones include special cups that completely enclose your ears.  Due to their size and effective isolation, these headphones are better suited for the home rather than portable use.

The Good: Generally offer maximum loudness and bass levels.  Models such as the Sennheiser PXC 350 effectively blocks out noise.

The Bad: Large size limits portability.  Some models are uncomfortable and may cause your ears to sweat.  Design often interferes with glasses, earrings and hairstyles.