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The big Headphones VS. Earbuds debate!

edited July 2006 in Flamewars
Okay, I dunno. I just felt like a flamewar.

I'm all for headphones, especially those big studio phones, because they tend to block out more outside noise for me and are more comfortable. I just don't get why people love earbuds so much! They're portable, that I understand, but they're just so uncomfortable! They actually hurt my ears every time I listen with them, and the outside noise just blocks the music out altogether!

I actually read a study that said headphones are less damaging for your hearing than earbuds, under the same circumstances!

I'll try to find the link to the article if I can.

EDIT- Okay, here's the big ol' poll.

Feel free to continue posting, but please vote as well.


  • Isolation earbuds are probably the best. They completely block out external noise and provide portable private audio.

    Headphones are only useful in stationary places, like homes and recording studios. I wear a giant pair of monitor phones when we record the show. These things would never leave my house.

    Every kind of earpiece has a different use and purpose ;^)
  • When worrying about damage to hearing there are two main factors you have to worry about. The first is obviously decibel levels. The second factor is duration of listening. A sound of incredibly high decibel levels is bad. A very large number of decibels over a long period of time is very bad, like a rock concert. Lower decibel levels over a long time can also be bad.

    Now, as for headphones, blocking out external noises is indirectly important to hearing loss. You see, the major cause of hearing loss with earbuds is not the fact that external noises are not blocked out. It is that people wearing earbuds crank it up to block out external noises.

    So if you're sitting quietly in your house listening to earbuds at low volume, you're ok. If you are out on the street listening to earbuds at low volume, while loud trucks drive around you're probably ok. Of course, you won't actually be able to hear the music in that situation since the trucks will overpower your music. If you crank up your earbuds to overpower the trucks, then you're in for trouble.

    If you have isolator earbuds like mine or if you have big noise cancelling headphones you're fine as long as you keep the volume down. The isolation of those devices allows you to still hear the music at safe decibel levels since outside noises are blocked out.

    The reasons digital audio players like the iPod get a bad rap is obvious. They come with earbud headphones that do not block out outside noises. They allow you to crank up the volume to levels that are unsafe for earbuds. Because they store so much music and encourage things like podcasting, people are listening to audio on their DAPs for longer durations than they ever listened to walkmen, discmen or minidisc players.

    I hope this is educational.
  • Earbuds aren't created to let you listen to music in privacy. Part of the reason I always wear earbuds is because I can still hear outside sounds. I can turn them up to a level where your basic bird chirps aren't going to interfere with my music, but still be able to tell what people are saying to me. It's really useful when doing something like painting, where you want to have the music but don't want to block out if someone should want to talk to you. With either regular headphones or isolation earbuds, even if you're not actively playing any music, you cannot hear outside sounds. With earbuds, you can even carry on a conversation while still having background music.
  • Well, I love my studio headphones, and due to the noise reduction, I can turn the volume down a bit, resulting in less hearing loss (I also don't listen as long as most other people).
  • edited July 2006
    Studio headphones seem to be a pain in the ass when you want to do anything but listen to music. They're so heavy and big. I can't seem to lean on pillows or walls comfortably with them on. I also hate to adjust them.

    On the other hand, they're awesome because they're practically indestructable and people with funky ears can use them.
    Post edited by Ametto on
  • Ugh, Earbuds kill my ears when i try and sleep with them, but then so do headphones ^_^
  • edited July 2006
    See, but they have these things. They're kind of like headphones except that they don't actually touch your ears.

    They're called airquotes speakers airquotes

    I've had some good luck with them, you might want to give them a shot ~_^
    Post edited by Phantasos on
  • Ya Wai!!
  • For anyone having trouble wearing headphones while laying down, I have something to teach you. There is a very old piece of technology that might interest you. It is perhaps as old as the 1960's or 1970's, I'm not sure. But it has been in the Radio Shack catalog as long as I have been alive.

  • edited July 2006
    Phantasos, speakers have this ability that allows other people to hear it, even when they are sleeping.

    Scott, that thing is awesome.
    Post edited by Ametto on
  • I prefer big headphones simply because I'm anti-social and don't like listening to people talk to me.
  • edited July 2006
    Phantasos, speakers have this ability that allows other people to hear it, even when they are sleeping.

    Scott, that thing is awesome.
    Tis true, tis true. When I lived in the dorms I used to try the same trick with headphones in bed to much pain and frustration. That pillow speaker looks pretty cool, though. Has anyone here ever used one?
    Post edited by Phantasos on
  • Phantasos, speakers have thisabilitythat allows other people to hear it, even when they are sleeping.

    Scott, that thing is awesome.
    Tis true, tis true. When I lived in the dorms I used to try the same trick with headphones in bed to much pain and frustration. That pillow speaker looks pretty cool, though. Has anyone here ever used one?
    Yes, I've used one. It works.
  • Ever heard of a speaker hat?
  • Is it anything like a meat helmet?
  • I bought a pair of Ultimate Ears Superfi 5 Pros ($249ish) and these in-ear monitor earbuds are entirely worth it. If they're uncomfortable, you don't have them in your ear right.
  • I will take buds when I can get them, mostly due to my circumstances. Say someone wants to talk with me: It is very easy to quickly remove the buds simply by pulling them out of your ears by the cord. Headphones, while they do result in noise reduction, are big and bulky and require more physical effort to remove (even though they may be more comfortable). However, I seem to have bad luck with buds. As of right now, I've worn out too many pairs of buds to count, and I think it's because of a problem with the wiring. Even my iPod headphones are now dead. I haven't ever had a pair of headphones (other than ones that absolutely sucked) break on me, so that's to their credit.
  • Is it anything like a meat helmet?
    It's a beanie with two headphones sticking out of the sides.
  • Rooster, maybe they break because you remove them by yanking on the cord instead of removing the actual speaker from your ear. There's only so much stress those connections are designed to withstand. One pull too many and the connection's shot resulting in your wiring problem (it it were actually a manufacturing problem why would you be having the problem across the board?).
  • In my opinion it's all about the convienience. Earbuds are easier for me since all I have to do is just toss them into my computer bag or backpack and I don't have to worry about making room for them.
  • I have forever preferred old school headband style headphones, Sony makes a pair with one wire that gets loud enough for me to hear over traffic and doesn't get crazy tangled. Come to think of it, I need to get another pair
  • Sony makes a pair with one wire that gets loud enough for me to hear over traffic
    That will destroy your hearing fairly rapidly.
  • There probably isn't much chance of this but anyone know of noise cancelling headphones for a 2.5mm socket? I looked on the Etymotic site (among others) and it seems that all of their stock are for the 3.5.

    It's true that I could get a 2.5-3.5 converter but I've bought several and they seem to ruin my headphones reasonably quickly.

    One of the few drawbacks of my otherwise very useful imate.
  • edited October 2006
    Rym, it's just barely, sometimes I need to press the headphone against my ear to hear stuff(including GeekNights) at max volume. What would you suggest so that I can save my ears and yet listen to my podcasts during my mega long walk to school? Also..I had to edit my post and then all of a sudden the quote thing got all messed up and it showed code, why did that happen? I edited the post again, obviously
    Post edited by Hitman Hart on
  • I've been recommending them for awhile now, and I continue to do so. The Etymotic 6isolator earphones are the best thing to go with an iPod or other portable music player. They're relatively expensive, but they are worth it. There are few products out there which are so portable yet also protect your hearing so well.

    You stick these things into your ears, and it almost completely blocks out all external noises. Loud air conditioner at work? Loud bus on the street? You won't even notice them if you're wearing these babies. As a result, you can turn the volume on your DAP way down and still hear everything loud and clear. With the Apple earbuds I had my iPod volume around 80% of the max. With the 6is I keep the volume lower than 15%. My hearing is now safe from being damaged by loud podcasts.

    This of course all assumes that your hearing isn't already damaged. If you get headphones like this, and you find yourself turning the volume way up, then immediately turn it off and go see an ear doctor.
  • The damage comes mostly from trying to cover ambient noise with your music/podcast. It doesn't seem that loud, and even though you might make it just barely listenable, you're compounding the external noise and doing a lot of harm. The music is now louder than the ambient noise, and both are entering your ear.
  • All right, looks like I should investigate getting myself some isolating headphones, thanks guys. I don't think my hearing is screwed yet because I can still keep it pretty low when I'm just using it around the house
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