From the mega-sized headphones of the 70s to the latest trends like the Airpods from Apple, a wide variety of gadgets have been in existence for over half a century now for the sole purpose of listening to music. With the arrival of smartphones, these gadgets began to serve the dual purpose, as a music gadget and as a telephone receiver. The advantage of these gadgets over other music players like a regulation speaker is pretty obvious, you can listen to your music in your own privacy without disturbing others and you can do it wherever you go. Even with the contrasting sizes, headphones and earbuds like the airpods are equally loved and enormously popular. Here we compare wireless earbuds vs earphones vs headphones. Do you think wireless earphones suits you? How are earphones and headphones different? What are their characteristics that you should look into before choosing one? Here we compare the earbuds, earphones, and headphones and by the end of this article, you will be thorough about the differences, pros, and cons of choosing each or any of them.

A Vintage 70's Headphone

A Vintage 70’s Headphone

Headphones can be considered the first generation among these gadgets. They have been in the markets since the 70s, although now they are much smaller in size.

Type of Headphones

There are two types of headphones. The over the ear model and the on-ear model.

The on-ear model is placed on your outer ear without the ear being completely sealed.

The over the ear model completely enclose your ears. They help in blocking out unwanted external noises compared to the on-ear model which does not provide that feature. The superior sound quality of the headphones is their biggest advantage, delivering crisp and crystal clear bass tones. Advanced speaker designs accompanied with excellent active-noise canceling technologies make headphones a hot favorite among the musicophiles.

Arrival of wireless headphones

Headphones can also be classified as Wired and Wireless. Relying on efficient Bluetooth technology, Wireless headphones are getting increasingly popular. With enhanced codec that supports 24-bit music quality over Bluetooth connections and designed to strengthen the SNR(Signal to Noise Ratio) which would result in reduced noise, the latest aptX HD Bluetooth technology is sure to eventually phase out wired headphones from the hands of everyone that owns a smartphone.

Here we list out the pros and cons of wired and wireless headphones is something you might want to check out.

 Sennheiser Wired Headphones

Sennheiser Wired Headphones


Speaking of wireless technologies, the latest trend in this department and the one that took the market by storm was the launch of the Apple Airpods. Despite the initial criticisms, the Airpods have become one of people’s favorite gadget to listen to music in.

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These Airpods fall under the category of Earbuds which are the next generation wireless earphones that completely got rid of any form of chords from the gadget. The general wireless earphones of the past used to have a chord connection between the two earbuds.


                                                                                     SONY Wired Earphones

These advances have also paved the way for truly wireless earbuds to dominate the audio market. You just have to look at the popularity of the Apple AirPods (2019), Beats Powerbeats Pro, and Samsung Galaxy Buds, to understand how successful the true wireless market has become in recent years.

Apple Airpods

Design, Sound Quality, and Noise cancellation are the three major factors that should be considered while comparing the earbuds, earphones, and headphones.


A Wireless Neckband Earphone

A Wireless Neckband Earphone




Headphones are voluminous and score low when it comes to portability. It is not an ideal choice on commute. It won’t be useful if you are going to use it for running, jogging or any physical activity. They are not meant to be used for workouts, the cool and comfy pads that sit comfortably on or over your ear will get wet once you start sweating and will become extremely uncomfortable to wear. They are meant to be used while you are chilling, not while grinding it out.

If you wear earrings or have spectacles, the big bulky headphones will be a nuisance to use. Hence it is obvious headphones won’t be scoring any points for design compared to the other two.


Earbuds are a favorite among users primarily because of its design. It is lightweight, small and once place in your ears, you won’t even notice it and can get on with whatever you want to do while the earbuds continue to pump out that music of your choice.


Earphones are basically earbuds with a couple of entangled chords that connect it to your phones or mp3 players. Far less bulky than a headphone, they are easily portable. But earbuds and earphones are not designed for everyone. People have often complained that prolonged use of earphones begins to hurt their ear canals and for some people, the earbuds simply fall out of their ears. Another minute flaw in their design is that they do not come with cushions as the headphones do.

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Although the earbuds and earphones generally score points on design, their major flaw lies in sound quality in that, compared to the headphones, the earbuds and earphones produce mediocre sound quality. They are also poor when it comes to noise cancellation and you will always have to play your music at high volumes which is not good for your ears.can also rest on your outer ear, but most are meant to be inserted into your ear canal.

The lack of noise cancellation effect although it is a boon for joggers who won’t get cut off from their environments and can remain safe.

wireless earphones are suitable for sports and gym


Judging purely on the acoustic performance of the gadgets, the headphone is leaps and bounds ahead of the earbuds and the earphones. This superior sound quality of the headphones is, in fact, thanks to their bulky design because they are able to accommodate larger drivers compared to the wireless earbuds and earphones.

The drivers in headphones come in sizes generally in the 40 to 50 mm range whereas the earphones are usually equipped with 7 to 15 mm drivers. These large drivers help the headphones in attaining smooth, crisp and crystal clear bass sounds and generally a better overall audio performance throughout the spectrum. If you think your earphones deliver just as smooth bass, it is because you are placing it closer to your eardrum at a higher volume. This is actually not good for your ears.

Is sound quality of wired or wireless headphones/earphones same as its wired counterpart?

In the older days, wireless transmission of audio files to headphones via Bluetooth technology was never efficient. The audio file transmitted would be a compressed version of the original audio. This compression would cause the audio to lower its resolution in turn affecting its quality. Nowadays as the technology developed, the newer Bluetooth versions with advanced aptX HD codecs, if supported by both your smartphone and your headphone, would be able to transmit High Definition sound wirelessly without affecting the quality of the audio.


A crucial flaw that cannot be rectified with the wireless devices is that it is subjective to interference. Any device that emits a wireless signal matching the frequency of the signal of your headphones will cause interference that results in distortions that reduce the audio quality received on the headphone end.

However, this scenario would be a rarity in real life situations and there is no need to worry about it. This problem incase occurs would affect the earbuds more than any other wireless devices since there are two sets of wireless transmissions taking place in the earbuds, one between the earbuds and the smartphone and the other between the left and right earbuds. However, these cases are ipso facto a rarity.

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Headphones vs Earphones – Which can produce more Bass?

The only thing to understand about the sound quality of headsets whether they are wireless, wired, earbuds, earphones, headphones or whatever they may be is that powerful drivers produce powerful bass. At the moment, powerful drivers are large in size and can only be accommodated in larger headphones which gives them an advantage over the earbuds/earphones in terms of sound quality. Sound quality may also depend on how much sealed the headphones fit against your ear.

i.e the Headphones provide the best Acoustic Experience.


Noise cancellation refers to the ability of the listening device whether it is a headphone, earphone or earbud to effectively block all sounds from your surroundings that will allow you to enjoy your music in peace. The better the device encloses your ear, the better noise cancellation you would get. That means in-ear models whether wired or wireless has a distinct advantage over the on-ear models. Noise cancellation can be viewed in 2 different categories.

Passive Noise Cancellation and Active Noise Cancellation.

Passive Noise Cancellation refers to the headphones physically enclosing your ear and blocking out all the external noise whereas Active Noise Cancellation uses techniques from  Signals and Systems Engineering Technology to generate a “mirror image” of the incoming noise and when combined, it cancels each other out. Here no physical enclosure is necessary.

An over-ear headphone can use the Passive Noise Cancellation feature effectively whereas an in-ear earphone can employ the Active Noise Cancellation feature. However including both techniques in the device effectively cancels out all the noise and is a more efficient set up for noise cancellation. The best Noise Cancellation features at the moment are available in Over the Ear models with Active Noise Cancellation features included.

It is best if your reason for buying an earphone or earbud is for running or jogging. You don’t go for the noise cancellation features included in your device as you may not hear any traffic on your way. These Noise Cancelling Headphones could be useful for students. Over-ear Headphone models with Active Noise Cancelling features included is the best choice for Noise Cancelling Headphones. For eg. Sony WH-1000XM3s.


Earbuds vs Earphones vs Headphones. Which is for you?

All the sound receiving devices mentioned here like headphones, earphones, and earbuds are mainly used to listen to music. Depending on where you want to use the device, your choice should vary. Earphones and earbuds are ideal for joggers and runners or for working out in the Gym. They come in wired and wireless models. Headphones are effective Noise Cancelling devices that can be used indoors for peacefully listening to music.

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