Latest News: Technology |  Celebrity |  Movies |  Apple |  Cars |  Business |  Sports |  TV Shows |  Geek


Filed under: News | Hot Gadgets


Glossary of Headphone Terms

Feb 21 2014, 7:41pm CST | by

1 Updates
Glossary of Headphone Terms

YouTube Videos Comments

Full Story

Glossary of Headphone Terms

Driver, open-back, balanced armature, neodymium magnet, electrostatic… confused yet? These are all terms used in describing the parts of headphones, and they’re all important.

Ever been confused by the marketing and technical descriptions of headphones?

Here’s a glossary with short, simple explanations.

Before we get going, if you have questions about headphones in general, first check out What Are The Best Headphones?, and How To Compare Headphones.

Balanced armature: A type of headphone driver, starting to be used more frequently across a wide range of price points. Balanced armature designs often have a pleasing, delicate sound.

Closed-back: The opposite of open-back, closed-back is a more traditional design where the back of the headphone driver is sealed (or close to it), so sound doesn’t leak out. These offer better noise isolation, and the people around you generally can’t hear what you’re listening to. Check out Open-Back Vs. Closed-Back Headphones.

Driver: This is the part of the headphone that makes the sound. It’s a broad term, and can refer to balanced, armature, planar magnetic drivers, electrostatic, and more.

Earbud: Visually similar to in-ear headphones, but tend to rest in the cup of the ear, not going into the ear canal. Apple’s Earpods are this type.

In-ear: Similar to earbuds, these headphones fit snugly in your ear canal. Almost all come with multiple tips to ensure a good, and comfortable, fit with most ear types. Everyone’s ears are different, so be sure to try multiple tips to get the best fit, otherwise sound quality and comfort will suffer.

Neodymium magnet: A type of magnet, used to move a headphone (or speaker) driver. Neodymium magnets tend to be very strong for their weight, but more expensive.

Noise Cancelling: These use electronic processing to create an inverse sound wave to cancel outside noise. Check out Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Worth It? and Noise Cancelling Vs. Noise Isolating Headphones.

Noise Isolating: These use a secure fit to physically reduce the ambient noise. Most commonly used to describe certain in-ear headphones, but some over-ear headphones can also be noise isolating. And if you’ve been reading from the top down, you can probably guess this next sentence: Check out Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Worth It? and Noise Cancelling Vs. Noise Isolating Headphones.

On-ear: Headphones that rest on the outside of your ear. Smaller than over-ear.

Open-back: These have a design where the back of the driver is open to the world. You hear all of the sound coming from the driver directly, and some of what it’s sending outwards. This mix makes the overall sound more natural, open, and “big.” People near you can hear what you’re listening to. Check out Open-Back Vs. Closed-Back Headphones.

Over-ear: Big headphones designed to fit your entire ear inside. Check out 5 Great Over-Ear Headphones.

Planar Magnetic: Instead of a cone-shaped driver, planar magnetic drivers are flat, with conductors embedded in them. This entire diaphragm moves. There are pros and cons, but some of the best sounding headphones are planar magnetic designs. Check out my review of the planar magnetic Audeze LCD 3, which has a more extensive explanation. There are a couple of Electrostatic headphones on the market, which also have a flat diaphragm, but use an electric field to move it.

Tips: These fit on the end of in-ear headphones, and come in multiple shapes, sizes, and materials. Fit is crucial with in-ear headphones, so make sure you try multiple tips to find the best for your ear. There is little correlation between head size and ear canal size.

That’s the basics. Anything you think I missed? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!

Follow me on Twitter and G+! You can also subscribe to my Forbes blog and check out my latest novel.

Source: Forbes


iPad Air Giveaway. Win a free iPad Air.

You Might Also Like


Sponsored Update


More From the Web

Shopping Deals


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.




blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Karrueche Tran Under Fire for Blue Ivy Comments
Karrueche Tran Under Fire for Blue Ivy Comments
Beyoncé fans are upset with Karrueche.
Bill Hader Thinks Justin Bieber Is Worst &quot;SNL&quot; Of All Time
Bill Hader Thinks Justin Bieber Is Worst "SNL" Host of All Time
Not the first time he's mentioned his dislike for the pop star.
Doc Rivers Gets 5-Year Extension With Los Angeles Clippers
Doc Rivers Gets 5-Year Extension With Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers gave president of basketball operations and head coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers a five-year contract extension on Aug. 27 which runs through the 2018-19 NBA season. It was new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer's first major move since officially purchasing the franchise earlier this month.
Josh Gordon's 1-Year Suspension for Substance Abuse Upheld
Josh Gordon's 1-Year Suspension for Substance Abuse Upheld
The NFL upheld its one-year suspension for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon on Aug. 27 for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

About the Geek Mind

The “geek mind” is concerned with more than just the latest iPhone rumors, or which company will win the gaming console wars. I4U is concerned with more than just the latest photo shoot or other celebrity gossip.

The “geek mind” is concerned with life, in all its different forms and facets. The geek mind wants to know about societal and financial issues, both abroad and at home. If a Fortune 500 decides to raise their minimum wage, or any high priority news, the geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants to know the top teams in the National Football League, or who’s likely to win the NBA Finals this coming year. The geek mind wants to know who the hottest new models are, or whether the newest blockbuster movie is worth seeing. The geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants—needs—knowledge.

Read more about The Geek Mind.