Headphone and earphone history

Headphone and ear phone history
In the 70’s, large headphones were very popular.  In the 1980s, this started to change when portable music players (Sony Walkman) began to hit the market; the size of headphones began to get smaller and more portable. In 2001 Apple introduced the iPod, this device would go on to revolutionise the way we listened to and purchased music forever.  Apple included a pair of funky white ear buds in every package.  This led to a demand for ear buds by music listeners on the run, worldwide.  Today, ear buds are ubiquitous and can be seen in the ears of people of all ages.

The Difference between Earbuds / Earphones and Headphones

The first thing that buyers should understand is the difference between earbuds and headphones. Before smaller and lighter earphones were introduced to consumers, everyone used headphones. Headphones are made up of two small speakers attached to a headband. The headband fits across the top the user’s head, and the speakers rest upon the ear and emit sounds from outside the ear. Early headphones were heavy but over time they became slimmer and more compact. Headphones connect either by wires or Bluetooth to a source such as an audio amplifier, radio, CD players, mobile phones or Mp3 players.

Ear buds, also known as earphones, are designed to fit directly into the ear canal. Their very design assists with noise cancellation. They are small and unobtrusive. With the invention of the iPod, earphones have become a must have accessory in their own right.  Some earbuds are minimalist and designed to be unseen by the public, while others are decorated with custom moulded earpieces, rhinestones and bright colors so that everyone will notice. Earbuds can be a combination of headphone and microphone which allows you to speak on your mobile phone while using them.

Open-Cup and Closed-Cup Headphones

Headphones rest on your outer ears. Some models cover the entire surface of the ear, but don’t entirely seal them. These models are called Supra-aural.  Over the ear models, on the other hand, fully enclose each ear. The biggest advantage with headphones is that they deliver superior sound quality, especially when reproducing bass tones. Headphones can also block out ambient noise, such as that encountered when travelling on airplanes or walking on a busy street. Headphones that seal out ambient noise and prevent others from hearing your music are called “closed cup” headphones.
Open-cup headphones do not seal out external noise and are prone to sound leakage. Open cup models are quite affordable, however, and can be purchased for an average of R 300.00.   Closed-cup models start off pricier, and can run as high as R 5000.00 per pair.  Closed-cup models are expensive because of their top-quality design. An example of closed-cup headphones are the Beats by Dr. Dre, which contain an advanced speaker design, powered amplification, and excellent active-noise cancelling.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Headphones

Headphones aren’t always ideal, users can find them bulky, and not easily portable. For this reason  runners usually choose ear buds rather than headphones. Some headphones can get hot and sweaty too, especially when you are exercising.  Some users find that headphones interfere with their glasses or earrings and messes up their hair.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Earbuds

Earbuds can also rest on the outer ear, the Apple earbuds are a good example of this.  Most are meant to be inserted into the ear canal. Typically, ear buds are less expensive than headphones as well as lighter and less bulky. These features make earbuds extremely portable. Because earbuds sit in the ear canal, they don’t affect hairstyles, or interfere with glasses or earrings.
Unfortunately, earbuds deliver inferior sound quality compared to headphones, especially when it comes to bass tones. Also, they don’t filter out external noise very well, so ear bud wearers tend to crank up the volumes, which can disturb those around them or wreck their own hearing. Some people find earbuds bother their ear canals, too. while other simply can’t wear them because they constantly slip out of their ears.