Headphones and earbuds have become an extremely common sight in the office, and with good reason: listening to music while working increases many people’s productivity, and headphones and earbuds are also an essential tool for videoconferencing, a form of the meeting which has become exponentially more popular since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are looking for your next set of ‘hearables’ (yes, that’s a word!), here are some factors to consider.
1. Noise cancellation
If you work in a busy office or even if you work from home and don’t live by yourself, you might want to invest in a pair of headphones or earbuds that have good active noise cancellation. This technology works through tiny microphones located either on the inside or on the outside of the ear cup which picks up an external sound and immediately plays in your ear the opposite phase to that sound – a sound that has the exact same frequency and the opposite amplitude – so that the two sounds cancel each other out. Active noise cancellation technology, however, is not perfect: it works well for lower frequencies (such as the sound of a running engine) but can’t really cancel out higher frequencies (like the sound of your screaming kids, unfortunately!). If you need to block out lower-frequency sounds, therefore, you should invest in headphones or earbuds with active noise cancellation. Otherwise, the passive noise cancellation provided by a good pair of padded, closed-back over-ear headphones will probably be enough for your needs.
2. Flexible connectivity
Gone are the days when the price to pay for using headphones or earbuds was dealing with a never-ending tangle of cables: these days, you can buy yourself a wireless headset for relatively little money. Most wireless headphones and earbuds use Bluetooth technology, which relies on radio waves to establish a connection between two devices.
Bluetooth technology has improved immensely over the years, transforming itself from the hit-and-miss connection route of the early twenty-first century into an overwhelmingly reliable option. This does not mean, however, that Bluetooth connections never fail—glitches still take place, especially when a device has been connected to several others. Using Bluetooth can also put a drain on your laptop or phone’s battery. To get around these problems, use your best buy coupons to snag yourself a dual connectivity headset with both Bluetooth connectivity and a removable jacked wire for battery-saving and glitch-related emergencies.
3. Folding and lightweight headphones
Earbuds are extremely portable and generally do not weigh much, but if you would rather buy yourself a pair of headphones – perhaps for higher sound quality – then you would be well advised to invest in a lightweight set, which will increase your comfort without adding too much weight to your commuter backpack or briefcase. For maximum portability, you should consider choosing a pair of headphones that you can fold; otherwise, you may struggle to fit them into your bag. Many headphones have ear cups that can rotate and lay flat, but some models also offer the added flexibility of a headband that can be folded in half. Invest in a hard case to protect your folding headphones from damage, and you’ll be good to go!