Over-the-ear headphones

Growing up, I watched Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Each episode, he would come inside, open his closet, and change his cardigan. Today, I do the same, except instead of sweaters I’m switching out headphones. I use a variety of different headphones throughout the day. I keep them all in a little box in my kitchen. In a sense, I’ve become the Mr. Rogers of earbuds. 

I’ve reviewed a lot of headphones. This experience has given me a unique perspective. For instance, some features like app compatibility are nice to haves. Others like fit and comfort, are non-negotiable. Today, there are so many different types of headphones to choose from: truly wireless, on-ear, over-ear, and gaming headsets. It can be confusing to choose one pair over another. Hopefully, I can help. Here’s what I’ve learned about headphones.

Headphone accessories

Always try the headphone ear tips

We all have different ear sizes. Still, the medium size ear tips that come with wireless earbuds fit most profiles. Many earbuds come with smaller and larger-sized ear tips. If you’re like most people, you never tried different sizes. In my opinion, that’s a mistake. When I review in-ear headphones, I always try all the different sizes. That’s because some sizes fit, but other sizes fit better. The only way to know is to try all the different sizes in one go. 

I recommend trying all the ear tip sizes the first day you use new earbuds. In some cases, you might find that you want the left ear one size, and the right ear another size. I’m a case in point. The right earbud always seems to fall out first when I’m jumping rope. Now I use a larger earbud size which creates a tighter fit. The takeaway lesson is always try the different ear tip sizes. 

Choosing between button or touch controls  

Do I prefer a button or touch controls on my earbuds? That’s the question you need to ask yourself. Reading the comment section of YouTube videos, I’ve come to conclude there are two types of earbud users. 

One type of earbud user loves the tactile feeling of a button. You can feel the button pressing against your ear. Others, can’t stand that feeling. They don’t like the pressure against the ear. Instead, they prefer touch controls that work with a simple touch of the finger.

Myself, I’m on Team Button for a simple reason. When I’m jumping rope, I often have to readjust the earbud. With touch controls, I often stop the music when I do this. However, I never had this issue with button controls. For that reason alone, I prefer button touch controls. 

Headphone lifestyle picture

Let’s talk about bass in headphones

One thing I’ve learned about headphones is that they are designed and tuned for specific demographic groups. If a headphone brand is targeting young people, chances are their headphones or earbuds have a lot of low-end bass. Earbuds can achieve bass in two ways. 

The first way an earbud can produce bass is by offering a larger driver in the speaker itself. This will create a larger bass sound inside the ear. The second is by offering bass boost EQ presets. This feature is available in earbuds that come with a corresponding app. Young people tend to listen to bass-heavy music so it’s no wonder that brands offer the ability to crank up the low-end. 

The other option for bass in earbuds is enhanced bass. Since I jump rope a lot, I find the bass helps me keep time with my rope movement. I try to become a human metronome as the rope hits the ground. The extra bass in my ear gets me immersed in the music without having to listen to it at loud volumes. 

Headphones up close

Comfort over sound quality with headphones

When choosing headphones, I suggest people choose one feature over another. In this case, I’m going to support a single position. With headphones or earbuds, always choose comfort over sound quality. One can be forgiven, the other cannot. How do you know if a pair of headphones or earbuds are comfortable? If you forget you’re even wearing them, that’s a good sign. 

Remember, ear fatigue is a real thing. If you’re choosing over-the-ear headphones, choose a pair that is lightweight. Conversely, earbuds need to be comfortable and secure in the ear. A lot of people these days wear them all day. You should be able to do quick head movements without them falling out. A good pair can be worn all day without issues. At the end of the day, sound quality can be forgiven, but comfort cannot. Check out the headphones buying guide for more tips on choosing headphones with the right balance of comfort and sound quality.

Create a headphone charging station

By definition, wireless headphones are battery-powered devices that need to be charged. For the most part, this charging occurs in the case itself. However, that case also needs to be charged from time to time. For this reason, everyone should create a dedicated charging station for earbuds. 

There are two ideal locations in the home for a charging station. One is the kitchen. This is where people normally charge some of their mobile devices and it’s a great place to charge your earbuds. Charge it by your keys so you’ll remember to grab both on your way out. This also makes it easy to put back in a dedicated spot once you get back home. 

The second place that’s a great spot for a charging station is your bedside. Most people charge their phones here so it makes sense to charge your earbuds as well. Having a dedicated charging station ensures you get into good charging habits. Plus, it helps avoid misplacing them. Earbuds and their cases are small and can easily go missing. 

I personally have a box in my kitchen for multiple earbuds. I have one pair for jumping rope, another for taking calls, and a pair I use during yard work. Seriously, I’ve become the Mr. Rogers of earbuds. 

Headphone case

Case size matters

Does size matter? With headphones and earbud cases, they certainly do. Let’s put it this way. If your case is large, chances are you won’t take it with you on the go. Bulky headphone cases are hard to carry around. They take up a lot of valuable real estate inside a bag. Additionally, large earbud cases are hard to carry in the pocket. I call this the pocket test. If you can’t carry the earbud case in your pocket, I’d advise against that model.

Some might wonder why it’s necessary to carry the case in the first place. The simple answer is security. Earbuds are easy to lose. If you take them out of your ear, they should always go straight into the case. If they don’t, your chances of losing them go way up. They are small and easy to lose. Remember, case size matters. That’s why you should always take the case with you. If it’s too big, you probably won’t.

Headphones of the future

The smartphone has drastically changed our day-to-day lives. In the near future, I feel headphones and wireless earbuds will do the same. I envision a day where we will wear them all day. I think they will slowly become extensions of our smartphones.

Why look at a screen when a voice assistant can tell you what you need to know. Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are the next best feature of headphones. While we have those features now, most people don’t use them to their full potential. Our habits and behaviour need to change. Once we all start wearing earbuds all day, they will. 

Until then, we get to enjoy the headphones we can currently buy. Be sure to check out bestbuy.ca for all the new headphones hitting the market today.

Andy Baryer
Andy Baryer aka “Handy Andy” is a technology journalist, gadget reviewer, and DIY/how-to content creator. Known as the handyman of tech, Andy enjoys fixing poor wireless networks, building smart homes, and cooking with the latest kitchen gadgets. He’s a competitive whistler, a budding woodworker, and loves gardening in his home-built smart garden.