Easy to get started with the world of headphones: how to choose the right headphones

In addition to the earphone store, in addition to the earphone store, there are audition services and professional consultation. Most of the stores only have open-frame displays. You can only look at the beautiful packaging box. At this time, the specification data printed on the box is you. The only reference indicator. Compared with the dazzling specification data of the computer, the specification of the headset is much simpler, and the project is less. If you spend a little time, you can clearly grasp the difference. Let us briefly introduce each item. The meaning of the specification.

Unit type

The unit is the soul role of the electroacoustic conversion in the earphone. Without it, you don't have to listen to music! However, there are many types of units, which cannot be described one by one. At present, the two types of moving coil type and balanced armature type are the most common on the market, and the electrostatic type is also worth noting.


Dynamic (Dynamic)

The dynamic coil unit is the largest, regardless of the price belt, there are moving coil units, the overall production technology is quite mature, even the unit of most household speakers is also a dynamic design, each headset manufacturer The design of the moving coil unit is different, but it does not change from the original, including the magnetic engine, the voice coil, the diaphragm, and the coil is wound around the voice coil, and the magnetic field is formed by the current intensity and direction of the coil. At that time, it will attract and repel the magnetic engine next to it, and then drive the diaphragm to reciprocate to promote the sound of the air.

Moving coil unit

Dynamic coil unit (photo by Guo Zhenrong)

Balanced Armature

This type of monomer has recently emerged rapidly in the market, but not to mention that you may not know that the balanced armature unit was originally used in hearing aids. Due to its small size and high efficiency, it has gradually changed the consumption of headphones. Balancing the armature unit, which is dominated by ear canal headphones, in order to maintain compact and portable product characteristics, and in order to enhance sound performance, some high-end models use multiple cells to enhance certain frequency bands, such as Manufacturers such as UE and Sony have high-order ear canal headphones with multiple armature units.

Sony XBA-30

The Sony XBA-30 uses three balanced armature units in one breath, responsible for full-range, treble, and bass (pictures taken from Sony's official website).

Electrostatic (Electrostatic)

When it comes to electrostatic headphones, Japan's Stax is a very representative brand. Germany's Sennheiser also has a very famous electrostatic earphone Orpheus (discontinued), and also appeared at the 2010 TAA Sound Show. Simply put, the principle of sounding the electrostatic headphones is to use the electrostatic drive to vibrate the diaphragm and make a sound. It is different from the moving diaphragm. The electrostatic type uses a very thin planar diaphragm with metal electrodes on both sides. In the middle (but not touched), according to the original STAX picture, the central diaphragm is positively charged, and the metal electrodes on both sides push/pull the diaphragm by changing the positive/negative electric field to achieve the purpose of sounding.

The advantages of electrostatic headphones are low distortion, high detail, fast response, and wide frequency response. For example, Stax SR-009 has an ultra-wide frequency response of 5Hz~42kHz, but because of the innate design factor, the low-frequency impact force is relatively poor. And must be equipped with a headphone amplifier to drive, it is not convenient to carry around, on the one hand, the price of headphones and amps is quite expensive, although the sound performance is very attractive, but under the price and portability of the clip, the electrostatic headphones can not be Popularized in the consumer market.

Electrostatic earphone

Sounding principle of electrostatic headphones (picture taken from Stax official website)

Frequency Response (Frequency Response)

The frequency response is called frequency response. Some people say that the frequency response range or bandwidth is in Hz (Hz). In the simplest terms, the earphone can emit the range from the lowest frequency to the highest frequency. Now most of the earphones indicate the frequency response data is 20Hz~20kHz, which means the lowest frequency is 20Hz and the highest frequency is 20kHz. However, it does not mean that when the earphone encounters an audio signal other than 20Hz~20kHz, there will be no sound at all, but the volume is greatly attenuated until the measurement standard is neglected, such as the frequency response data indicated by the Sennheiser HD800: 6Hz~ 51kHz (-10dB), 14Hz~44.1kHz (-3dB), from here we can interpret the 6Hz~51kHz frequency response range above the -10dB standard. If the standard is increased to -3dB, the frequency response range It will also be reduced to 14Hz~44.1kHz, but most of the headphones will not indicate how many dB measurement standards are used, and it is impossible to understand the performance of this headset in various frequency bands unless it is like the UK. Atomic Floyd prints the graph directly for consumer reference.

Impedance

The impedance unit is Ω (ohm ohm), which is one of the important indicators for the purchase of headphones. Simply put, the smaller the impedance, the easier it is to drive enough volume, and the common impedance values ​​range from 300 ohms to 16 ohms. In order to match professional studio equipment or other audio equipment, high-impedance headphones will be selected. Until now, some high-end headphones have been designed for high impedance. When listening, they must be matched with amps, such as the HD800 earphones mentioned above, impedance. The value is as much as 300Ω.

However, in recent years, the source of information, smart phones, and tablet PCs have become popular. However, in order to balance the battery life, this type of product is bound to be restrained in the driving force of the headphones. In the face of such low-power, low-current portable sources, it must be Matching with a low-impedance earphone can have enough volume, that is, the lower the impedance, the easier it is to push out a large volume (do not believe that a high-impedance earphone is connected to the phone for comparison). Usually 64 ~ 16Ω can be called low-impedance headphones, but there is also a saying that 32Ω or less is considered a low-impedance earphone.

Although the low impedance is easy to drive and easy to emit a large volume, it does not mean that it is good. Therefore, many players will add an amp between the source and the earphone to increase the driving force, so as to improve the overall sound quality and fully squeeze out. The sound potential of the headphones.

Focal spirit one

Focal Spirit One specification, Impedance is 32 ohms [ Related reading: "French Spirit One Open Box Tour"

Sensitivity

Sensitivity, or efficiency, output sound pressure, sound sensitivity, etc., refers to the volume of the earphones when the sound signal is input. The unit used is dB/mW. The measurement method is when the input power is 1 milliwatt, the earphone is at the frequency of 1 kHz. The volume level. Therefore, the higher the measured value, the easier it is to drive, and the more suitable it is to use with the portable source, so the sensitivity is also an important indicator for selecting headphones. In general, the sensitivity of the headphones is about 100dB/mW, and there are many earphones that exceed 110dB/mW or even exceed 120dB/mW.

Angle&curve classic headphone

Angle & Curve Classic Headphone equipment specifications, sensitivity (Sensitivity) is 97+/-3dB

Regarding the specifications of the headphones in the previous paragraph, as long as you spend more time searching, you will find more detailed technical explanations and data analysis, but if you are not a related department, it is likely to become more and more confused, so we use it instead. The introduction in an easy-to-understand way may not be complete, but the goal is to get the beginners to quickly grasp the initial concepts, and then when you buy headphones at the store or climb the Internet, you can quickly enter the situation.

As for the choice of headphones in the end?

Use environment

It is recommended to take the “use environment” as the first consideration and enjoy it at home. Traffic commuting? Going to work or sports? If it is traffic commuting, it is recommended to consider earplugs and ear canals first. If you are using mass transit equipment, the ear canal earphones have good sound insulation effect, which can isolate engine noise, speech, etc. If you often take long-distance flights and trains. Anti-noise headphones are worth considering. If it is used during exercise, earplugs and ear hooks are more suitable choices. On the one hand, there is no interference from the microphone effect, on the other hand, the wearing stability is high and it is not easy to fall off.

Design

With the advancement of process technology, the shape of the earphones is becoming more and more refined and varied. Not only the color is diversified, but also the design of the exterior is full of creativity, which can show your personal style. So after you decide the type of headphones, you can start with the appearance. After all, it is to follow your belongings, in addition to good to hear more to see the eye. If it is used as a gift to give relatives and friends, it is more important to look good!

Beats studio

Beats Studio earmuffs, as many as 10 colors (picture taken from Beats official website)

[ Related reading: "Beats Headphones Full Series Comparison and Purchase Guide"]

Sony xba-s65

The elegant X-ray of the Sony XBA-S65 ear-hook headphones can be adjusted to make the earphones fit better. (Image taken from Sony's official website)

Comfort

For users who wear headphones for a long time, the comfort of wearing is no less important than the design. If there is a chance, it is best to try it on your own, otherwise you can only observe it from other aspects.

Let's talk about earbuds. The comfort of this type of earphones is not much different. However, Apple's new EarPods is a special one. The special shape developed through research has improved comfort. Followed by ear canal earphones, especially pay attention to earplug material, foam material will be much softer than silicone, the foreign body in the ear is relatively slight, of course, there are exceptions, such as Klipsch oval silicone earplugs are also very comfortable. The ear-hook earphones are made of ear-hook materials. For example, the outer layer of the bracket is covered with silicone material to increase the softness, and then the adjustability of the ear hooks. By adjusting the way to distribute the force area, the comfort will naturally increase.

Apple earpods
Apple EarPods
[ Related reading: "Video: Apple EarPods out of the box" "Quality is almost ten thousand? Apple EarPods earphones listening]

The earbuds have good comfort in their own right, but Apple's new EarPods are even better.

Earmuffs

The earplugs of the ear canal earphones have different softness levels, and the sound quality is also different when used.

Head-mounted and ear-hook type, the flexibility and elasticity of the head-mounted bracket are very important. The longer the bracket, the better the elasticity, the less likely it is to feel the pressure of the “clamp”, and the inner side and the ear cushion can also be observed. The hardness of the material used, and finally whether the headphone body can be slightly deflected with the head shape, also helps to improve wearing comfort.

Durability

Durability is closely related to the materials used. For example, metal-made headbands, rotating joints, and earphone casings are naturally more durable than plastic materials, but the weight is also improved. In addition, the earplugs used in ear canal earphones, silicone will be more durable than foam, but the softness is relatively low. Finally, the wire is also a very easy to damage part. If the wire is too thin, it is likely to break due to bending or pulling, but it is too thick and not good.

Sennheiser Momentum Headphones

Sennheiser Momentum earmuffs earphones, stainless steel brackets, leather ear pads and headwear (picture taken from Sennheiser's official website)

Listening to yourself as the best policy

The data specification is the basic function of the earphone. The use environment, design, comfort and durability are the feelings of personal use. As for the sound quality of the headphones, each person's taste is different, some people like the low frequency, some people like the high frequency and elegant, and some people like the balanced listening style of each frequency band. The point is, if you have a certain insistence on the sound quality, please be sure to find a chance to audition yourself!

As long as you search the Internet, you can also find information on the earphone store that you are eager to organize. (It’s too powerful.) If you have any questions, you may want to ask the store professionals directly. It may be easier than climbing on the Internet. If you can, Try to listen to the familiar tracks as much as possible to the store, you can save a lot of time!

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