Headphones these days can be considered many things. A necessity, fashion statement, means to entertainment, all these reasons could justify the rising popularity of headsets among people everywhere. Wireless (Bluetooth) headphones are the clear choice because technology is cool similar to how not having to untangle your wires every now and then is doubly awesome. Headphones without the restriction of wires allow for a range of movements and provide the proper aesthetics to help you stand out from the crowd.
Now when you consider purchasing a wireless pair of headset, selecting the right one can be quite confusing since there are many options and reviews galore. The market is riddled with options from different brands, for various budgets and sizes, which are all competing for your business. Keeping all of this in mind, allow us to guide you through the necessary metrics in selecting the right wireless headset, helping you make the purchase without any second thought or buyer’s remorse. Keep in mind that the term headset is generally specific for on-ear option with a mic installed, however this guide will discuss wireless headphones generally, in usability for a wider audience.
1) Keep your preferences in mind
The very first thing you should take into account is your personal preferences. There are two prominent types of options available: in-ear and on-ear. Both types have their respective pros and cons with the main decisive factor being the use case of the chosen wireless headsets. In-ear headphones will offer you considerably greater portability as they are quite easy to carry around as well as being smaller but are prone to becoming lost due to this factor. The battery timings with in-ear options are also better in general. These type of wireless headsets also cost relatively less in comparison to some of the more formidable on-ear options. With on-ear options, you get to taste the true potential of what a wireless headset can deliver. A Majority of options come with 40mm drivers, which produce ecstatic sounds capable of delivering each and every aspect from a sound source just the way it was meant to be comprehended.
2) What’s the sound quality like?
Now that you know the difference between the two options, it’s time to focus on the quality you are after. Preferences here can vary since some will opt for better bass reproduction, others will prefer more accurate sound stage while the majority are most like after the best of both worlds. A great wireless headset will be able to deliver sound quality on equal footing when compared to that of a wired headset. Be wary since wireless headphones generally function over a Bluetooth connection, while the wired counterpart might take the lead since wires tend to be a more reliable medium. But this doesn’t imply a general notion since wireless options outperform wired headsets at times. For general consideration, your headset shouldn’t distort sound or bass even at maximum volume. The results should be clear, crisp and pleasurable all at the same instance at max volume.
3) Consider your required wireless range
Every wireless headphone has a peak operating range after which it begins struggling. Some wireless options will require you to stay close to your audio source while others will allow you to roam freely around your humble abode, but even those have a set range. Your headphone range will also be affected by various obstacles which might come between the source and you, such as walls and doors. The specified range, in general, doesn’t take these obstacles into consideration so you need to keep this in mind. If you want to use headphones while you work on your laptop or while sitting at a fixed location, then you don’t need as much range and those with limited range would work but if you plan to be active and be on the move around your house/office, something with greater range would be advisable. All factors considered, opt for something that offers a decent range to be on the safe side since being limited by range might be a devastating con in a yet to be known future use case scenario.
4) Battery life is always important
Battery life is undoubtedly the bane of any wireless device especially those that focus on connectivity. Good battery life will always come in handy, particularly when you are on the go and unable to recharge the battery. Make sure that the option you are looking into offers decent amount battery life to accommodate your routine. A number of on-ear options these days offer great battery timings with minimal charging time so you have less downtime. For instance, the wireless edition of the Beats Studio3 offers up to 20 hours of playback time. For an average pair of wireless headphone, the battery life advertised is roughly 10 hours per full charge which will be able to get you through a normal daily routine.
5) How good is the microphone?
When we are purchasing headphones these days, it is highly beneficial if it comes with a microphone built-in. This way we can transform our headphones into a headset when needed for communication purposes, which takes care of both personal and professional needs at the same time. Now there are certain metrics associated when it comes to a dependable microphone. Advanced options these days readily offer external noise cancellation so that the just your voice is free of stutter and background noises. The sensitivity of your microphone also is as a deciding factor. Although settings can be tweaked via Apps, the built-in sensitivity will vary between various offerings and is something that really can’t be tweaked. As your headphones will connect over Bluetooth certain models, which focus on music which most of the times suffer when it comes to calling quality. You can consider it as a trade-off.
6) Simple configurations and synchronization
Setting up a pair of headphones should ideally be a seamless process. Only then would a general user readily enjoy their headphones. For customers opting for high-end entries, some additional features such as dedicated applications for tweaking sound quality are usually available. That actually makes sense since when you pay a premium, you expect customization which is precisely what these apps aim to deliver.
Some applications such as Spotify require an active connection to the internet which when coupled with your wireless headphone allow for a pleasurable listening experience. The only downside of Spotify is that an active connection is required to the internet throughout your listening session. For application updates, it is always recommended to use a Wi-Fi network so make sure you go through your local internet options to make sure you have a dependable connection.
Plug and play is the standard these days and headphone manufacturers know that the internet isn’t always available. It isn’t convenient for users to download drivers whenever they switch a device for their headphones. Keeping this in mind, you should consider options which offer compatibility across various platforms without any compromise in the quality that doesn’t require individual applications.
7) Comfort comes first
Your headphones should be comfortable enough to wear for extended hours. This goes for both in-ear and on-ear options. The design for in-ear options should be apt enough to sit comfortably in your ears without becoming a burden on your ears. With on-ear options, you get to enjoy proper cushioning and ventilation to dissipate heat build-up which might become an issue during continuous usage. Go for something which offers good air flow as to negative excessive sweating and ensuring that it doesn’t become a nuisance. A number of good options have memory foams in the ear cups with breathable material surrounding it. The headband also matters so it is advised to try on option properly beforehand before actually buying it. A number of companies allow you to test their products so you don’t have to rely solely on the reviews.
8) Noise cancellation is the ‘it’ thing
With the latest options these days, noise cancellation is becoming actively popular. On-ear headphones don’t just include noise cancellation in the earbuds but also through the mic. There are two kinds of noise cancellation noise technologies available: active and passive. Passive noise cancellation uses hardware and cushioning to create a seal and block out external noises. The passive noises cancellation seal prevents sound leakage from spilling into the environment from your headphones so you can very well pump up the sound as per your liking without worry people staring in your general direction. Active noise cancellation, on the other hand, uses technology to block external noise by processing and eliminating the surrounding sound waves.
9) What is aptX technology?
Created by Qualcomm, the aptX technology greatly enhances the quality of the sound and is compatible with a wide array of devices. The device sends the entire music bandwidth to the headphones through a Bluetooth connection so you can be sure to enjoy the music and sounds to their fullest, just the way they were meant to be heard. Do check if the headphones of your choice support aptX technology. If they do, then that is a good plus to look forward to.
10) The build quality goes a long way
The build quality of your headphone components is one of the key metrics, which needs to be considered. For instance, for gym use, one would require something that is able to withstand the physical strain which might be exerted along with waterproofing for sweat. Similarly, if you like to travel a lot, you need something which is strong and portable at the same instance. Metallic frames are the preferred options for reliable on-ear headphones. There should be proper insulation so that water or dust doesn’t seep through and comprise the components within.
Keeping all these metrics in mind would help you choose a headset/headphones of your liking. New technologies are being introduced every now and then, which might seem quite fancy but don’t let them distract you with the tech. Focus on the bigger things and once those metrics are fulfilled, you can dive into the nitty-gritty for increased personalization.