Headphones are one of my go-to gifts for everyone. From over-ear headphones to noise cancelling earbuds, there are a lot of different options when choosing a pair as a gift. Here are a few things you might want to consider when you’re choosing a pair of on-ear or in-ear headphones for someone this year.
How to choose headphones for anyone on your gift list
When choosing a pair of headphones as a gift, narrowing down your options is key with so many models available. Start by choosing the type of headphones you would like to give. Will your giftee prefer an on-ear, over-ear, or in-ear model? Once you know the style, you can select your feature options—wired or wireless, active noise cancellation or noise suppression, water-resistant or splashproof? Take a look at the headphone buying guide and the true wireless headphone buying guide for a full list of features to choose from.
If you still aren’t sure what type you’d like, you can find the right pair for your gift recipient by looking at how they will mainly be used. Here are a few examples to help you select a pair.
Headphones for travellers
If you know someone who’s always on the go, whether that’s running through an airport or commuting back and forth on a bus, a pair of wireless headphones is a great gift. The perfect pair of headphones for a traveller or commuter can be on ear or in ear, but they should have a few core features.
- Active noise cancelling (ANC) to block outside noise
- Long battery life so they don’t need to recharge mid-flight
- Wireless design so they don’t need to be plugged into a phone or tablet
As they rack up the miles travelling or commuting, noise-cancelling will block out any noise. It’s a great feature for flying because it lets you take a nap in complete silence, even if you’re surrounded by people. Some models with ANC offer an ambient or adaptive mode you can turn on if you’d like to block noise but still be aware of your environment.
Headphone choices for kids
Kids headphones have a few main characteristics.
- They mainly come in on-ear or over ear types
- They are available in a variety of colours with fun themes or characters
- They have volume limiting so they can’t damage children’s hearing
The easiest way to choose a pair of kids headphones is to focus on their favourite character or colour. They are less expensive than other types, but they are extremely durable and designed to stand up to a child’s day-to-day activities. Most parents will appreciate a pair of wired headphones because they don’t need to be charged to work, but you can also choose wireless kids headphones.
Headphones for sports and fitness
If you know someone who loves to work out, a pair of headphones will be a great gift. Workout or sports headphones share a few of the following features:
- Sweat or water resistance rating of IPX4 or higher
- Snug fit (if choosing wireless in-ear headphones) so the earbuds stay in place when running or at the gym
- Controls on the earbud so they don’t have to pull out their phone to change playlists
Music can provide motivation for a long workout, so having a set of wireless headphones is a must for a workout fan. If you’re gifting a pair of headphones for the gym or someone who plays a lot of sports, you’ll want to look for a wireless earbud design. The headphones should have several different earpiece options they can try to get the best fit.
The most important feature of a pair of active or sports headphones is the IPX rating. An IPX4 rating means the headphones can withstand sweat and an occasional splash of water. If the person you’re buying for is an active swimmer, you’ll want to look for a pair of earbuds with IPX7 or higher rating. IPX7 will keep their headphones safe in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
Headphones for the music fan or audiophile
When you know someone who only wants to listen to high-fidelity music playback, they will love a pair of high-quality headphones that can reproduce music the way it is recorded. You can see a few reviews of the latest premium headphones on the blog. High-end headphones share a few features.
- Over ear headphones with acoustic features like vents
- Wireless design but also includes a cable to plug into devices for lossless playback
- Compatible apps with built-in synthesizers to customize playlists
- Look for brands like Sony, Bose, and Sennheiser
Comfort and audio quality are key when choosing a pair of premium headphones for someone who loves music. They’ll want to enjoy their favourite playlists for hours so having a long battery life of 25 hours or more will keep them happy. Having Bluetooth connectivity to their phone keeps them free to move, and compatible apps will give them full customization of the low, mid- and high range of every song.
Headphones for gamers
A PC or a console is a must when you’re a gamer, but coming in a close second is a high-quality gaming headset. Gaming headsets have a few key features.
- Over ear or on ear design so they are comfortable to wear for hours
- Virtual surround sound so they can hear every detail in-game
- Multi-directional microphones that can be muted on the headset
Gamers take their headsets seriously. If you’re gifting a new headset to a gamer this year, you’ll want to look for long battery life of 30 hours of more and low latency RF wireless connectivity for lag-free audio. The best gaming headsets have multi-directional Discord microphones you can control with a tap on the headset and compatibility with PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. It’s even better if the headset offers 7.1 virtual surround sound so they can hear every footstep, gunshot, or approaching enemy.
Headphones for the tech fan or trend setter
If you know someone who likes to keep up with the latest devices or who wants to stay ahead of the newest trends, a pair of smart glasses will be a new favourite accessory. Smart glasses are glasses with headphones built into each arm. Most types share the following features.
- Microphone and speakers built into the frame of the glasses
- Protects your eyes from harsh sun and keeps you hands-free while enjoying music or taking calls
- Crystal clear low latency audio to enhance music, podcasts, or for taking calls
Smart glasses offer the perfect blend of hands-free listening and style. They protect your eyes while playing your favourite music, and some models have touch controls or pair with your voice assistant for hands-free commands. With so many styles to choose from you’ll be sure to find a pair that suits the person you’re buying for.
Which headphones will you give as a gift this year?
Headphones are a great gift to give during the holidays. With so many different types you’re sure to find a pair that would suit everyone in your life. You can find the perfect headphones for everyone on your gift list at Best Buy.