Earbuds vs over-ear headphones: Which is best?

An article I wrote for Electronic Products.

Comparing two popular ways to enjoy portable music

No doubt about it, good headphones are a pleasure to listen to. Tuning out the world of noise around you so it’s just you and the music, audio book, or podcast you’re listening to is something we all need to indulge in every once in a while. When choosing headphones, one of the comparisons you’ll be making is whether you want earbuds or over-ear headphones.  As with just about anything, both come with pros and cons, but consider these important points when selecting a quality pair of headphones to enjoy.

Over-ear headphones

Pros: Over-ear headphones rest on your outer ears while fully enclosing them, much like the ear coverings worn by those working on airstrips. The biggest advantage of these headphones is that they deliver superior sound quality, especially for capturing bass tones while blocking out background noise you’d rather not hear, such as traffic on the street or that loud movie playing in the other room. Compared to earbuds, many people find the soft pads covering the ears to be more comfortable, as they don’t irritate the inner ear.

Cons: The downside to these bulky headphones is just that – they’re big and aren’t too portable, and if you wear them long enough, they tend to get sweaty and sticky, especially if you’re exercising. They also have a habit of ruining hair and getting in the way of glasses and jewelry.

Cost: For a pair of over-ear headphones, prices typically range from $20-$500, depending on the overall quality and design.

Over-ear Headphones

Over-ear headphones. Image via foxxdeals.com.


Pros: Most earbuds are designed to be inserted into the ear canal, securing them from moving or falling out. They act as plugs, letting minimal sound reach the eardrum, and are much more compact than over-ear headphones. They also don’t interfere with glasses or jewelry worn on the ears.

Cons: After an extended amount of time, earbuds may irritate the inner ear. They don’t filter out external noise as well as over-ear headphones do, so earbud-wearers usually crank up the volume to drown out background noise, which can eventually ruin their hearing. Wearers also find that if they aren’t using the correct earbuds, they easily slip out of their ears.

Cost: Earbuds are typically less expensive than over-ear headphones, usually priced between $2-$15.


Earbuds. Image via fishtrain.com.

Ultimately, it all comes down to which earbuds or headphones work the best for you and your lifestyle. Which do you prefer and why? Let us know — leave a comment below.


  1. Higgins · December 18, 2013

    I prefer over ear headphones. Earbuds are annoying and lack depth in bass. Pus earbuds can easily ruin your hearing like you allready piointed out in the post.

    • Nicole DiGiose · December 21, 2013

      I’ve yet to come across a great pair of earbuds! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  2. saba · February 17, 2014

    Depends on the occassion on which I prefer.

  3. best over the ear headphones · March 27, 2014

    Your blog has given me useful information about over the ear headphones
    …thanks for sharing.

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