Earphones vs headphones: A Guide for making a smarter choice

The rivalry of Earphones vs headphones is very long. Whenever we think of buying one, the thought of considering others indeed crosses our mind. In this article, we are going to make a comparison between earphones or headphones which is better, based upon technical data and user preferences.

If you ever have to choose between the two, you need to understand that the right choice for every individual can be different. So, if you want to make the right choice for yourself, the baseline is the purpose and duration of your usages.

We have compiled all the technical data and presented it as a buying guide for you. Reading it will surely going to help you to decide between earphones or headphones which is better. Here are the primary key considerations for a smarter choice:

  1. Frequency response
  2. Driver size & number of drivers
  3. Noise cancellation
  4. Noise isolation
  5. Comfort
  6. Duration of Usages

Deciding features for choosing between earphones vs headphones

Frequency response

Frequency response is the range of frequency that any speaker can produce. Usually, A human ear can listen from 20Hz to 20 kHz. So, the frequency response determines the lowest & the highest frequencies a speaker will be able to produce. This low frequency enables speakers to have deep bass while high frequency determines its loudness.

So, the Frequency response is one of the critical factors on which the sound quality depends.

frequency response

Earphones –

The frequency response of the earphones is lesser than headphones due to its small size.

Headphones –

The frequency response of the headphone is high, and this result in much richer sound as compared to earphones. The frequency response range of headphones is generally 20Hz to 30 kHz.


In this headphone is a clear winner.

Driver size & number of drivers

Speaker driver is a hardware which is responsible for producing different frequency by moving back & forth to create air pressure changes. It, as a result, makes our eardrums vibrate in the same way. And, This vibration is the sound you hear.

So, as the driver size increases, the lower frequency it can produce, which enables it to deliver deep bass & more precise sound.

Nowadays, multiple drivers are used instead of using a single one. These are a group of few different sized drivers which are responsible for producing sounds of different frequencies. A bigger sized driver is used to make low-frequency sound & a smaller sized driver is accountable for a high-frequency sound.

driver of speakers

Earphones –

Yes, due to the size restriction, the driver size is smaller in earphones. The minimal depth drastically decreases the sound quality as compared to headphones. Even by increasing the number of drivers to compensate size, the result doesn’t have much positive effect on the overall quality.

Headphones –

Driver size is bigger in headphones as compared to any earphone. It results in more depth of sound & clear bass. It also helps the headphone to have a much better response with the original sound quality of the input. So, the resultant sound is much closer to a real-world experience.

Conclusion –

In this feature, the headphones again have a lead.

Noise cancellation

It is something that is going to have a very high impact on your experience when it comes to using it in noisy places. Noise cancellation isolates you from the ambient sound of your environment. There are two ways to achieve it, firstly padding is provided, which reduces the noise by damping it before it reaches your ears. And then, there is active noise cancellation which is done by producing counter sound waves, using the data received by the mic of earphone/headphone.

noise cancellation

Headphones –

Due to more coverage around ears, headphones can effectively provide more padding around your ears. And the active cancellation equipment in headphones is better because there is more room to add the necessary parts in it.

Earphones –

Earphones can also perform well, as latest in-ear earphones can very effectively close your ears & stop any noise from coming in. But, active noise cancellation of earphones is still lagging when compared to a headphone.


The headphones can be better than earphones in this matter. But, suppose your primary usage is in a somewhat quiet environment. In that case, you can go for earphones if it’s other features do match your requirements.

Noise isolation

Noise isolation makes your device soundproof & prevent sound leakage. It is crucial for those people who have to use the device in an environment where other people are present around. Bad noise isolation can heavily restrict your usages if you are concerned about people listening to what you are listening.


Headphones come in all type with bad noise isolation & good noise isolation. But overall headphones suffer in this as the main motive of headphone is to produce high loudness & vibrant sound quality. Cheaper or starting segment headphones generally have complaints of sound leakage. 

Earphones –

Earphones have much better noise isolation. It is also because the loudness of earphones is lesser than the headphones. Sometimes, earphones can also have some noise isolation issues, but it is limited only in local & cheap earphones.

Conclusion –

Earphones have better noise isolation than headphones.


Comfort & ease of use is a feature that everyone looks for while buying. If a product is not comfortable, it can spoil the whole experience. It will not let you enjoy whatever you are listening.


Headphones –

In this criteria, it is not just between headphones or earphones. Here, it would be best if you also consider all the different variations of them. So,

  1. On-ear headphones – In our opinion, it can be one of the most uncomfortable to use among all four varieties that we are going to discuss. The reason being, For holding it properly in its place & for noise cancellation/isolation, it presses against your ears. It may result in a little pain after prolonged usages. Also, sometimes due to movement, it slips away from ears.
  2. Over-ear headphones – These are average in comfort. The general nature of headphones are bulky & among them, over-ear headphones are bulkiest one. And,  as it covers your ears in a hot environment, it can get pretty sweaty & uncomfortable.

Earphones –

Same comes with the earphones also. There are mainly two varieties :

  1. On-ear earphones – These type of earphones are considered inferior to in-ear earphones in terms of design. And then, if the size doesn’t fit in your ear correctly, there is a chance of it causing pain in some region of the ear.
  2. In-ear earphones – It is the best one when it comes to comfort and ease of use. It’s the design of earphones which makes a comfy fit in your ears. You can plug it into your ears and forget.

Conclusion –

In comfort, earphones are better than headphones. It is also worth mentioning that among all, the wireless versions are better than the wired ones.

Duration of Usages

Duration of usage is the reason why many people keep a two-three variety of products for use. So, the purpose of usage is vital in deciding between earphones vs headphones.

duration of usage

Headphones –

Headphones are not for continuous use throughout the day. Until & unless you are a professional and using it for the testing sound quality as a part of your job.

Earphones –

Earphones are for regular usages. It can be used throughout the day for different kinds of works like calling, listening to audiobooks, music & watching YouTube.

Conclusion –

Earphones are best for regular & long time usages. Wired ones are great for a long duration of use if you are on a tighter budget. At the same time, you can also go for wireless one if you don’t mind to charge it 1 or 2 times a day and the budget is not an issue for you. Except this, the battery charge of the latest high-quality wireless earphones can easily last for a day with moderate usage.

Best choice for different types of usages –

Headphones vs earphones for gaming

earphones vs headphones for gaming

For gaming, we recommended you to use over-ear wired headphones. Here are the reasons why-

  1. Earphones are not capable of providing the surround sound & that depth which any game needs. Games like call of duty can’t be played efficiently with earphones as you will never be able to find the direction of the sound correctly.
  2. Now, the choice comes down to over-ear & on-ear options. But, on-ear headphones can’t be used because a game can go on for a few continues hours & as we mentioned earlier, the grip & pressure on your ear can make your ears pain.
  3. At last, wired is first preference in gaming because, in wireless headphones, there is always a delay of few milliseconds in sound relay to your ears.

Headphones vs earphones for gym

earphones vs headphones for gym

For the gym, we recommend in-ear wireless earphones. Here are the reasons why –

  1. In the gym, headphones are difficult to use due to its bulky design. But people do use it due to its loudness over earphones. Even then, we need to realize that headphones can always hamper your movability & be uncomfortable at times.
  2. Now, as we consider on-ear earphones, these are more likely to fall from your ear while you workout. Also, the noise cancellation is terrible in it, which can ruin your music experience. That’s why in-ear earphones are preferred.
  3. At last, wireless earphones need to prefer over wired is because of the risk of damaging the wire during any exercise.
  4. The best option is the neckband type earphones. In this, there will no risk of dropping the earphones or wire obstruction during a workout.

Headphones vs earphones for movies

earphones vs headphones for movies

Wireless headphones are best for this purpose. Here are the reasons why –

  1. Here, Headphones are preferred over earphones because the headphones produce much richer sound quality and bring a theatre-like experience. It also preserves the original quality of recorded sound, so it gives a similar experience of what the intent was at the time of recording.
  2. In choosing between On-ear or over-ear headphones, it is up to you as both will give the same experience. Here, our personal preference is over-the-ear headphones, as they are more comfortable.
  3. Wireless headphones are the best option here because it will provide overall unrestricted movement of the body so that you and relax & watch freely. Also, when you are watching it over Big TV screens, it is not feasible to watch from such a close distance.

Headphones vs earphones for running

earphones vs headphones for running

Wireless earphones, especially neckbands, are preferred choice for running. Although earbuds also don’t fall off that easy, but a neckband does provide some extra safety. Here are the reasons why –

  1. Headphones can’t be used while running. Yes, some headphones are a bit lighter so that they can be comfortable while running. But if you have a better option, why not go for it.
  2. Wireless earphones are the best choice because there is always a chance of you accidentally pulling out the wire. So it is best to go wireless.

Frequently asked Questions

Which is better headphones or earphones?

There is no clear winner between headphones or earphones. It entirely depends on what is your purpose or usage. In one line if we have to say it, headphones are for those people whose primary concern is the sound quality & they use it for a short duration. And earphones are for those people whose primary concern is comfort & movability & also they need to use it for a more extended period of time.

Are headphones less harmful than earphones?

In each ear, there are about 18,000 cilia which are small tiny hair cells responsible for the sound transmission. The loudness of the sound determines the damage any equipment can do to your ears. So, neither headphones nor earphones can be blamed directly responsible for the damage. But yes, if you continuously listen to music at high volume levels, both headphones & earphones can harm your eardrum.

Which last longer earphones or headphones?

Headphones last longer than earphones because they have high structural durability & made to last longer. Earphones are suitable for daily use, but product life is less as compared to headphones.

Which is better wireless earphones or headphones?

Considering everything & keeping a broader perspective, wireless headphones are better than wireless earphones. These are the reasons-
1. The battery life of headphones are more
2. They are more durable and long-lasting.
3. Also, the headphones usually have a much better sound quality than earphones.
But, for people whose usage involves taking calls & using it all day long, wireless earphones are a better choice. Otherwise, wireless headphones are the best.

Are headphones bad for your brain?

Yes, prolonged usage of headphones can seriously damage our brain & ears. Here are the reasons –
1. The loudness of sound is one of the main reason responsible for it. The higher the volume, the more damage it does to ear as well as cells & tissues of your brain. It can result in partial deafness & damage your sense of sound.
2. The second main reason is the duration of usage. Headphones covering your ears can accelerate the production of bacteria in your ears by seven times. The reason for it is that headphones tend to disconnect your ears from the natural flow of air. It can further lead to ear infections in a long time.

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So, now you know that your parents prohibiting you from using headphones all day long, is not at all baseless.

But don’t worry, you can safely keep using it, keep a few little things in check:

1. Keep the volume at moderate levels.

2. Take short breaks every hour.

3. Don’t sleep on your sides while using a headphone.

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