Headphones – Different Types and Functionality


Headphones are described as a pair of tiny loudspeakers enabling an enhanced music hearing experience. They are often available in pairs and very rarely as a single entity. They are marketed as earphones, ear buds, stereo phones or headsets.

A peek into its history:
Its inception dates back to the early twentieth century when telephone earpiece was developed into the precursor of the modern day device. The earlier ones however, worked on the moving iron drivers; either single ended or balanced armature.

Types of headphones:
Depending on their appearance and functionality they may be categorized into the following types:

  • Circumaural: Headphones with a circular ear pad that surrounds the ear.
  • Supra-aural: Made functional with pads that sit atop the ears and not around it.
  • In-ear: They are of smaller size and can be placed directly outside the ear canal.
  • Canalphones: Known as ‘in ear monitors’ they are inserted directly into the ear canal.

It is important to have an understanding of the various applications of a headphone. Based on their applications they may be broadly divided into the following types:

Cordless:
They do not need to be connected via a wire. They are made of powered receiver systems of which the headphone is merely a component. Specific types depending on their technical competencies are used in events such as a silent disco or silent gig. They may also be used by professionals. Their easy portability makes them all the more enticing.

Professional:
They are often used by disco Jockeys, DJ mixers and sound engineers to monitor signal sources. They find tremendous use in recording studios as well. DJs turn off the speakers and use them while talking. This is done in order to eliminate acoustic feedback and keep track of their voice. At studio recordings, musicians and singers use them to play in sync with a backing track. What`s more, in the military too, professional headphones are handy. They are used to monitor audio signals of varying frequencies.

Noise cancellation:
They are equipped with the noise cancellation technology and employ an active noise control to reduce ambient noise. How it functions is quite simple to comprehend. Essentially, this involves the use of a microphone, placed near the ear. The electronic circuitry generates an “antinoise” sound wave which has a polarity opposite to the sound wave arriving at the microphone. Destructive interference is formed which cancels out the noise within the enclosed volume of the headphone. This enables optimum music experience at moderate volume.

The headphones may be used depending on the functionality, with fixed equipments such as home theater, CD or DVD players, computers and other portable devices like digital audio player/mp3 player and mobile phone. Although headphones have become an integral part of a music aficionado’s life, it is important to know that not all of them are suited for you.

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