Can I Use Earbuds For Music Production?

Can I Use Earbuds For Music Production?

While studio headphones have been acknowledged as a must-need item for music production, those of us who don’t prefer headphones may ask: Can I use earbuds for music production? And this is a great question as you’ll need the right equipment to produce quality stuff. Because people spend a lot of time looking for the best music production headphones, it’s easy to wonder why earbuds aren’t as prominent in the producing scene. But there’s a reason for this, and by comparing the pros and cons of headphones versus earbuds, we can see why earbuds may not be the best choice for music production.

Can I Use Earbuds for Music Production: Headphones vs. Earbuds

Can I Use Earbuds for Music Production: Headphones vs. Earbuds
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If you’re looking to do music production for fun, earbuds are an okay option, and there are great earbuds to choose from. However, if you want to approach music production seriously, earbuds are not a great choice. The characteristic and overall quality differences between headphones and earbuds shows why one of these options should be used for music production while the other is a better fit for leisure music listening. 

Sound Quality

The sound quality is important for music production, and earbuds are worse in this area than headphones. Specifically, having the proper course of frequency feedback is crucial for music production. Earbuds have a worse frequency response for music feedback while headphones have a better frequency range overall, making headphones a better option in terms of sound quality. 

Noise Cancellation Ability

Another important difference to consider between the two options is their noise cancellation abilities. In music production, being able to correct atmospheric sounds is important. And since noise-canceling has to do with the signal processing of sounds, noise-canceling happens when the waveforms from those atmospheric sounds are reproduced and then canceled from the audio. This process of correcting atmospheric sounds is typically better executed in headphones than earbuds and as such makes headphones a better option in terms of noise cancellation abilities. 


Comfortability is also beneficial to music production as you’ll need to wear either headphones or earbuds for hours. Earbuds don’t always fit the person wearing them because of their curved shape, leading to discomfort and irritability. On the other hand, headphones fit over the ears instead of inside and as such tend to have a better fit, making them more comfortable. There is a concern for those who wear thick-framed glasses as headphones can become uncomfortable for them over time. But overall, headphones are more comfortable than earbuds which will allow you to work on your music for a longer period. 

Overall, earbuds aren’t a great option for music production as headphones are better in terms of hearing sound frequencies, eliminating distracting sounds, and comfortability. However, if you don’t want to use headphones, there is another option that seems similar to earbuds but offers more in terms of quality: in-ear monitors. 

In-Ear Monitors

In-Ear Monitors
Source: Commons.wikimedia

In-ear monitors, also known as “earphones,” are often confused with earbuds. While they seem similar, in-ear monitors are much better for music production than earbuds. And this gap in quality stems from a key difference between the two. 

The difference between in-ear monitors and earbuds is how they sit within the structure of the ear. In-ear monitors are sealed against the walls of the ear canal, causing all the sound to be directly guided into the canal and allowing you to hear more details of your source material. Also, because they are sealed against ear canal walls, it blocks out the majority of ambient noise and provides sound isolation. As such, it mimics noise-canceling features and can lead to a more clear and pure sound, depending on the quality of the earphones. 

Earbuds, on the other hand, are similar in that they also sit in the ear, but they aren’t sealed against the ear canal. They’re open construction which lets in more ambient noise, decreasing the sound quality significantly. The fact that most earbuds are meant to be used for casual listening and as such are cheaply manufactured also contributes to their low quality. With this important difference, in-ear monitors are a great choice for producing music compared to earbuds. 

Conclusion – Can I use earbuds for music production?

Our answer to the question, can I use earbuds for music production, is that earbuds aren’t a great choice if you want to seriously invest in music production. But if you don’t prefer studio headphones and are looking for alternatives to earbuds, in-ear monitors or “earphones” are a great option as they aren’t bulky like headphones are but have the same preferable qualities as headphones that make them great for music production.

Written by Emily Cho

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