What Does In-Ear Headphones Mean

What Does In-Ear Headphones Mean?

You may be wondering what in-ear headphones are. These popular listening devices will be explained to you in this post by comparing them to two other types of headphones. Sit back, scroll, and get informed about in-ear headphones!

Over the past couple of years, headphones have gone from the uncommon device of the audio world to a must-have “fashion” accessory. These days, there is a wider selection of headphones than ever before. 

When you are shopping for a new pair of headphones, the first thing you should do is decide whether you are looking for on-ear headphones, in-ear headphones, or over-the-ear headphones. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s take a look at each of these styles and talk about how they perform in three important areas – comfort, portability, comfort, and performance.

In-Ear Headphones

In-Ear Headphones
Source: Pixabay

Whatever you want to call them. Earbuds, earphones, or in-ear headphones, are definitely the most common type of headphones today. The white earbuds that come with the purchase of every iPhone have caused them to be the new must-have accessory. This type of headphone is especially popular among college students. Students wear them everywhere, even in the car (which by the way is very dangerous). Inn-ear headphones have been added to the list of things not to forget when students are on the way out the door. Phone, wallet, keys, earbuds.


Because of their small size, earbuds (in-ear headphones) score the hight when it comes to portability. Some in-ear headphones even come with a travel case. It not, many people simply wrap the cord around their fingers a few times and toss the headphones into their pocket or bag. 

However, tangling the in-ear headphones can be an issue. Some companies advertise that their cords are tangle-free, so look for something like that. Otherwise, a more popular (and expensive) option is wireless Bluetooth headphones. This type of in-ear headphone has no cord and is even more portable. 


Most in-ear headphones fit just inside of the opening of your ear canal. This creates a nice seal. Other kinds of headphones are held on with small pieces that wrap around the back of your ear. How comfortable they are really depends on how you will be using the headphones and your personal preference. 

To some people, in-ear headphones are very comfortable, while to others, they can be painful and annoying. We recommend considering in-ear headphones that use memory foam rather than hard silicon or plastic. If you do purchase a pair that comes with plastic or silicone tips, they typically come in a few different sizes. Finding the right size for your ears will be important to find a comfortable fit. Regardless, in-ear headphones are not ideal for long times of listening to music or audio.

If you are looking for headphones to work out or jog in, in-ear headphones are the best option for you. Most models will stay snug in your ear without falling out. You also won’t have to deal with sweat getting on your headphones because they are located inside of your ear canal and not around your head. 


Because in-ear headphones are so popular today, it can be really hard to judge the entire product on sound quality. You can find a pair of multi-colored, cheap, plastic earbuds at the local convenience store, or you can purchase high-performance in-ear headphones from companies like Apple, Klipsch, Audeze, and Astell&Kern. 

One thing that many in-ears have is that they create a seal inside of your ear canal. This helps to isolate you from the outside world and its noises.

In-ear headphones have very small drivers, so most of them cannot produce the types of lows and highs that over-ear or on-ear headphones can. They also push the music straight into your ear-drum, so they’re less “open” sounding than the other types of headphones.

On-Ear Headphones

This type of headphone sits directly against your ear. To be honest, they don’t have any unique advantages over over-ear or in-ear headphones. On-ear headphones are more of a happy medium between in-ear and over-ear headphones. In-ear headphones are better in the portability category while over-ears are better when it comes to sound quality. 


Most on-ear headphones are made with travel on the mind. The earcups are smaller than on over-ear headphones. Many on-ear headphones even fold up for easy travel. However, if you purchase a nicer pair, you will want to also buy a hard-shell case to prevent damage when on the go. 


Again, when it comes to comfortability, it all comes down to personal preference. On-ear headphones don’t typically get as warm as over-ear headphones do. They also don’t sit inside of your ear canal, which irritates some people. However, some people are more sensitive than others, so having on-ear headphones in contact with the ears may irritate them. 


On-ear headphones cannot create a seal or sound the way over-ear or in-ear headphones do, so they usually don’t score very highly in the sound noise-cancellation category.

The quality of the sound truly depends more on the product itself than the type of headphones. However, on-ear headphones have larger drivers than in-ear headphones. This means that in the same price range and quality, they typically can reproduce a wider range of high and low sounds (frequencies).

Over-Ear Headphones

While on-ear and in-ear headphones have their pros, if you ask an audio enthusiast about their favorite pair of headphones, you can likely guess they’ll be a pair of over-the-ear headphones.

This type of headphone is clunky and big because they are meant to be worn at home or at work, not on the go. Most of the comfy and best-sounding headphones are over-ear headphones.


Though some over-ear headphones can be folded up and often come with a travel case, portability is not their strong suit. When comparing to the other types of headphones, over-ears are the biggest and the least portable.


Wearing a pair of comfortable over-ear headphones is like snuggling up around a warm fire. The oversized ear cups cover your ear entirely, so you will never have to worry about your ears hurting. Some high-end over-ear headphones can be pretty heavy, so be sure to look for a pair that won’t literally weigh you down. The thing to be aware of is whether or not they make you and your ears sweat during long listening sessions.


Because over-ear headphones have the largest drivers, the higher-end over-ear headphones can usually reproduce the widest range of frequencies, from deep bass to silky smooth high pitches. Because they enclose your ears completely inside the large earcups, over-ear headphones can provide great isolation while still allowing a wide stage of sound.

In terms of sound, over-ear headphones are the very best.


There you have it, folks, now you know all you need to know about in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear headphones.

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