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noise reducing earbud headphones

Updated on June 16, 2010

Factors to consider

1) Noise isolation

A lot of people are confused as to the difference between noise isolation, noise reduction and noise cancelling.They are basically similar in that they are meant to improve your hearing experience by removing ambient noise, but they work quite differently and this transfers to different prices. Noise isolation and reduction works as dampeners, for example most in ear earphones with noise isolation can reduce up to 25 decibels of ambient noise. Noise cancelling, usually will require external batteries as they take the external signals and produce an anti wave, cancelling it.

2) Price

In general there are three brackets of earphones that people would normally get, and that manufacturers would end up falling into. The cheapest throwaway brackets, which is anything in the double digits, trending towards the lower end. Often their quality, while markedly above the default iphone/itouch earphones you would start off with, are still lacking if you've ever heard of the higher end headphones. If you're tight on a budget, I would advise you not to listen to the higher quality earphones, you'll feel horrible about using the cheaper ones. For the cheaper ones, you would have to balance between sound quality, durability and isolation power. For many people, they use the cheaper throwaways for heavy duty stuff like sports, jogging and running. For the next bracket, in the lower three digits, from 100 to slightly over 200, you get the sweet spot for people. Its good enough you won't be running to the next headphone shop in a few months, has durable build quality, and often comes with good decibel noise reduction. It packs a powerful punch in between affordability and quality, giving it great value. Naturally, if you're an aspiring audio production soundmaker you would want to go straight into the next bracket. Which would be the 300+ and up earphones. Often they are two or three driver earphones. If you're wondering what those are, a one driver would be the ones most people listen to, then imagine you have another driver, so one can focus on the low sounds and another on the high sounds, giving greater clarity and drive. If you're unwelling to shell the dough, you can wait a few more months as they drop in prices. The higher bracket your phones are, the more you would want to buy it from an authorised reseller, from reputable sites on the internet instead of shoddy places where they may give you fake ones.

3) Looks

Since the earphones will be nested nicely as earbuds in the alcoves of your ears, there's only that much room for fashion that can be seen. These days, earphones above a certain price looks at least presentable, or at the very least not horrible. Depending on how much you intend to use your in ear headphones as a fashion statement, you would give different weightage to the looks of these aural devices. For me, I'm pretty satisfied with anything that looks decent and unobtrusive. If you're willing to void the warranty, you can also perform cheap mods on the casing, or perhaps make exterior modifications that would presumably not void your warranty. Of course the cheaper your headphone, the more willing you would be to perform more dangerous surgical beauty operations on it. You might even consider doing it yourself.


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