What are Headphone Guides about?
Headphone Guides show you how to choose and use headphones.
Everything you need to know on how to choose and how to use headphones, Bluetooth headphones, noise-canceling headphones and AirPods alternatives, are covered in our headphone guides.
Headphone Guides @GadgetGuideOnline is an online community for sharing news, reviews, updates and guides on choosing and using headphones.
Headphone Guides will help you if you have questions on headphones, both new and seasoned users.
List of recent headphone guides
Here is the list of most recent headphone guides. The complete list of headphone guides can be found in Headphone Guides section.
With Galaxy S21, Samsung released the new wireless earbuds: Galaxy Buds Pro in January 2020 as an upgrade for Galaxy Buds+. This causes some confusions on Galaxy Buds’ lineup because Galaxy Buds Live (released with Galaxy Note 20 in August 2020) is also an upgrade for Galaxy Buds+. So, how about Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live?
This earbuds guide explains the new features of Galaxy Buds Pro (vs Galaxy Buds Live): traditional fit/shape, IPX7 rating, Voice Detect, ambient sound, 360 Audio, Auto Switch. Based on the comparison of Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live, you may also understand which earbuds are the right one to meet your needs.
Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy Buds Live share similar active noise cancelling (ANC), similar battery life, similar audio quality, and similar microphone quality. This guide tries to highlight the new features of Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds Live.
Galaxy Buds Pro looks more like Galaxy Buds+ than the bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live.
The more traditional ear tip design offers a better seal for the earbuds sound from the ambient noise. You can choose the ear tip of different sizes to fit your ear. It also makes active noise cancelling more effective.
But some users may feel it less comfortable compared to Galaxy Buds Live.
The bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live is usually more comfortable for wearing for a long time. But it seems a few owners find the Galaxy Buds Live does not fit their ears well and therefore it may cause pains. The wingtip on Galaxy Buds Live offers minor support, and many owners are not aware of different sizes of wingtips in the box.
Anway, Galaxy Buds Pro returned to the traditional shape and improved the fit and comfort over Galaxy Buds+.
Galaxy Buds Pro improved water-resistant and has an IPX7 rating, which means Galaxy Buds Pro is waterproof and can be submerged in water at a depth of one meter for 30 minutes. This matches water-resistant of Jabra Elite Sport, which is one of the best sports earbuds.
So, it is safe to wear the Galaxy Buds Pro when exercising in the rain. Or if you accidentally drop … Read the rest
The added active nosing cancelling (ANC) makes Samsung Galaxy Buds Live a direct and serious competitor to Apple AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3.
This headphone guide explains the new features and improvements of Galaxy Buds Live (vs Galaxy Buds Plus), and how Galaxy Buds Live stands against Apple AirPods Pro to help you choose a pair of proper wireless earbuds.
Galaxy Buds Live vs Galaxy Buds Plus: the new features of improvements
Galaxy Buds Live share many similar features and controls with Galaxy Buds Plus (Galaxy Buds +). For example, both buds share the 2-way dynamic speaker system tuned by AKG, 3-microphone array, touch panel control, Spotify integration, Qi wireless charging and wireless PowerShare charging. The plugins for these two buds in Galaxy Wearables are very similar as well.
But Galaxy Buds Live comes with some improvements and new features that cannot be found in Galaxy Buds Plus.
In this post, we will focus on these differences.
The No.1 new feature of Galaxy Buds Live is the active noise cancelling (ANC).
Samsung claimed that Galaxy Buds Live received UL Verification for reducing background noise by up to 97% in low-frequency bands.
It is an overstatement, although ANC on the buds is comparable to other wireless earbuds.
In the real world, the top-tier consumer ANC over-ear headphones (e.g., Sony WH-1000XM4, Bose QuietComfort 35) can reduce about 70-90% background low-frequency noise. Wireless earbuds with ANC normally can only reduce about 40-70% noise.
Galaxy Buds Live adopts the open-type design. The buds do not try to create a sealed environment in the ear canal. Instead, there are air vents on the buds so that you will feel quite comfortable even if you wear the buds for extended periods.
Most other wireless earbuds with ANC need the silicon (or foam) tips to create a sealed space. For example, both Apple AirPod Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3 use the silicon tips to help noise cancelling. But for most people, the seal will cause pain and … Read the rest
This sports earbuds guide explains everything you need to know about the Jabra Elite Sport: the outstanding (and unique) features (a no-nonsense review of Jabra Elite Sport), items in the box, the layout of the Jabra Elite Sport buds and the charging case/base, how to use the buttons to control Jabra Elite Sport, how to charge the buds and charging case, how to wear the earbuds properly, how to pair the buds with mobile devices, how to reset the earbuds, how to use HearThrough and SideTone.
For owners of the Jabra Elite Sport, this guide will show you how to use the main features properly and answer questions you may have about the earbuds. For readers who are considering this product, this guide will help you make informed decisions when purchasing a new pair of sports earbuds.
Fitness-focused features of Jabra Elite Sport (A concise review of Jabra Elite Sport)
As one of our favourite sports earbuds, Jabra Elite Sport has some outstanding fitness-focused features.
Heart rate monitor
Jabra Elite Sport has a heart rate monitor. Most importantly, it is quite accurate if you wear the buds correctly.
So, if you need a heart rate monitor with your wireless earbuds, your choice is actually very limited. And this Jabra Elite Sport wireless earbuds probably is the best choice.
Ther built-in tri-axis accelerometer can track your walking or jog very accurately.
Of course, if you want to track or map your run, you need to use GPS on the phone through the Jabra Sport Life app (or some other supported fitness tracking apps).
You can also track reps for some exercises with the Jabra Sport Life app.
You can get “personalized” real-time audio coaching through the Sport Life app.
You can watch the video illustration for some cross-training activities on the phone. It’s beneficial for owners who didn’t have a coach before.
VO2 max measurement
Galaxy Buds+ (Galaxy Buds Plus) may look physically similar (almost identical) to the 2019 version of Samsung Galaxy Buds. But there are many new features and improvements of Galaxy Buds Plus (vs Galaxy Buds).
This wireless earbuds guide explains the five best new features and improvements of Galaxy Buds Plus: longer battery life (11-hour non-stop playtime ), 2-way speaker. 3-microphone system, Spotify integration, and the Galaxy Buds+ app for iOS.
Although Galaxy Buds Plus was announced together with Galaxy S20, it works with all Android devices with Android 5 (Andriod Lollipop) or newer versions and most iOS devices. You can also use Galaxy Buds Plus as a universal Bluetooth headphone on almost all platforms with Bluetooth audio support.
Longer battery life: the best improvement of Galaxy Buds Plus
Samsung Galaxy Buds already has a decent battery time. You can use the buds for about 6 hours in one charge. The charging case offers an additional 6 hours of playtime.
Now, Samsung further improved the battery life for the Galaxy Buds+ for about 50%.
You can continuously use the Galaxy Buds+ for more than 11 hours in one charge. The charging base gives another 11+ hours.
In addition to the longer battery life, Samsung Galaxy Buds+ also charges faster. You can use the Galaxy Buds+ for one hour after charging it for 3 minutes. As a comparison, you need to charge the Galaxy Buds 15 mins to get a battery life of 100 mins.
Anyway, no other wireless earbuds can match the battery life of Galaxy Buds Plus currently. We consider the longer battery life is one of the best new features and improvements of Galaxy Buds Plus.
The tiny Galaxy Buds+ now features 2-way speaker, which is seldom found in other wireless earbuds.
The combination of a woofer for the low and mid-range sound and a tweeter for high-frequency sound technically can significantly improve the sound quality, if tuned properly.
It seems the best (balanced) sound quality can be achieved when you set the equalizer to dynamic for Galaxy Buds Plus.
If you choose the equalizer to normal, it … Read the rest
AirPods Pro is the lastest wireless earbuds offered by Apple. It complements AirPods 2 in the high-end market with some useful new features.
This wireless earbuds guide explains the top 10 new features of AirPods Pro (compared to AirPods 2): active noise canceling (ANC), wireless charging, in-ear design, transparency mode, force sensor, adaptive EQ, Sweat and water resistance with IPX4 rating, ear tip test, secure fit, and a $249 price tag.
Please note, the direct competitor to AirPods Pro is Sony WF-1000XM3, which offers better noise-cancelling and better audio quality (at $229). Samsung Galaxy Buds Live offers similar features with a lower price tag. Samsung Gallaxy Buds+ offers better battery life and cheaper price. Jabra Elite Sport offers a heart rate monitor and a companion workout app (Jabra Sport Life).
#1.Active noise canceling (ANC): the best new feature of AirPods Pro
As explained in this guide in detail, active noise canceling (ANC) uses special sound waves to cancel the ambient noise and therefore gives you immersive and quite listening experience.
Bose and Sony are the indisputable industrial leaders in ANC for consumer headphones. It is unclear whether Apple licensed some technology from third parties or developed their own ANC technology in-house.
If you compare AirPods Pro with Sony WF-1000XM3, Sony is a clear winner in most situations. Please do NOT compare AirPods Pro with the first generation of WF-1000, whose noise canceling was a failure.
Anyway, for many Apple users, ANC is probably new to them. They will enjoy this feature gradually.
#2. Transparency mode
Transparency mode is the opposite of noise canceling. In this mode, you can hear clearly outside without removing the AirPods Pro from the ears.
You can use the force sensor (read on) to switch between noise canceling and transparency mode instantly.
In fact, all noise-canceling earbuds and headphones have this feature.
#3. New in-ear design
This wireless earbuds guide explains everything you need to know about Samsung Galaxy Buds (and Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus): box contents of the buds, the layout of the buds, how to use the buds, how to charge the buds, how to check the battery status, how to pair the buds with other devices, how to use touchpad commands to control the buds. A concise review of the Galaxy Buds was also included.
Of course, some questions you may have on Samsung Galaxy Buds and Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus were also answered. So, this guide covers both Samsung Galaxy Buds and Galaxy Buds Plus (Galaxy Buds+).
Please note, Samsung released Galaxy Buds Live with Galaxy Note 20. Because of the new active noise cancelling (ANC) feature and new design, you may check this page (coming soon) on how to use Galaxy Buds Live. Galaxy Buds Pro was released with Galaxy S21 in Jan 2021 with some new and improved features (compared to Galaxy Buds Live).
What is Samsung Galaxy Buds?
Samsung announced Galaxy Buds, a wireless earbud for Android phones, together with the Galaxy S10 in March 2019.
Prior to Galaxy Buds, Samsung already offered Gear IconX as a fitness (and wireless) earbud.
Galaxy Buds is smaller and lighter by removing the built-in storage and workout-tracking ability in IconX. If you need earbuds for a workout with a heart rate monitor, the best option is the Jabra Elite Sport.
In 2020, Samsung updated Galaxy Buds with Galaxy Buds+ (Galaxy Buds Plus) with longer battery life, better sound and audio quality as explained in this guide. The MSRP price is $149. In many regions, Samsung Galaxy Buds+ is bundled with Galaxy S20 as a free gift.
What devices are compatible with Galaxy Buds?
But this is for “quick” pairing.
In fact, you can use Samsung Galaxy Buds as a normal Bluetooth headset. Therefore, you can use the Samsung Galaxy Buds with most devices that support Bluetooth audio, for example, iPhone, Windows PCs, and laptops.
Unlike AirPods, Galaxy Buds … Read the rest
You need an active noise cancelling (ANC) headphone if you want to block the ambient low-frequency noise, like engine noise in the aeroplane. For example, Sony WH-1000XM (XM1-XM4) series, Bose Quietcomfort series (e.g., 15, 25, 35, earbuds), Apple AirPods Pro, and Samsung Galaxy Buds Live all have ANC.
Active noise cancelling (ANC) is different from noise blocking/isolating, which passively blocks both high and low-frequency noises.
This headphone guide explains what the active noise cancelling (ANC) is and how the active noise cancelling headphone works. It will not only help you understand ANC but also help you choose proper active noise-cancelling headphones.
What is active noise cancelling (ANC)?
Active noise cancelling (ANC, aka active noise control) is a set of audio technologies that actively cancel the ambient noise.
Both the annoying noise and music reach your ear as sound waves transmitted through the air.
So, one simple way to reduce noise is to physically and passively block it. For example, there are many soundproofing materials and technologies.
In the airport, you may notice ground staff are wearing earmuffs to block the engine and other noises. In the shooting clubs, it is also common that earmuffs are used.
Active noise cancelling (ANC), on the contrary, uses negative sound waves to actively cancel the noise.
This means ANC requires at least three components:
- Power source. Active noise cancelling (ANC) always requires a power source to detect and analysis noise and then generate a negative wave.
- Noise detection. Normally, one or more microphones are used to sample the ambient sound.
- Anti-noise sound wave generator. Once the ambient noise is sampled, an active noise cancelling (ANC) system must generate an inverted (negative) sound wave (with similar amplitude) to cancel the low-frequency noise.
When the ambient noise is cancelled, you will get a quieter environment for your music.
Active noise cancelling (ANC) is still evolving, especially on how to sample ambient sound, how to analyze the sampled ambient sound, and eventually how to effectively cancel the low-frequency ambient noise in real-time.
Please note, active noise cancelling (ANC) currently is most effective for low-frequency noise only.
Active noise cancelling (ANC) vs passive noise blocking
As discussed earlier, noise can be “blocked” (passive) and/or “cancelled” (active).
This headphone guide explains the differences in size and sound quality among these 3 types of headphones. Then we explain whether you should get an in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear headphones to meet your needs (and comfort).
Why do you need to know the differences among in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones?
When buying a new headphone, the first question you need to ask yourself is what “size” of the headphone should be.
In the market, there are roughly 3 types of headphones based on their sizes (both wired headphones and Bluetooth headphones):
- in-ear headphone (aka earphone, or earbud);
- on-ear headphone; and
- over-ear headphone.
The differences among in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones are NOT just about the size.
Quite often, a certain type of headphone may be better than others for a special group of users (e.g. people with glass), or better for special occasions (e.g., for running).
So, it is important to know the differences among in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones to get the headphone that is most suitable for you when you plan to get a new headphone.
Size matters: the obvious difference among in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones
Because of the small driver (aka transducer), a unit that converts an electrical signal into sound (air pressure), in-ear headphone is small enough to fit inside your ears.
The on-ear headphone usually uses larger drivers. But the padding is not large enough to cover your ears. Instead, the headphone sits on your ears without fully covering them.
The over-ear headphone has a large enough padding to cover your ear. Manufactures can put larger drivers in over-ear headphones thanks to the additional space.
Sound quality difference among in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones
When sound quality is concerned, size is NOT the major factor.
Many headphone buyers have the wrong impression: the bigger driver means better sound quality. This is wrong.
Large drivers generally can boost high volume (louder) with higher capacity for the bass. But unlike the volume or bass, the sound quality (audio quality) is NOT simply determined by the driver size.
For all headphones, sound quality … Read the rest
Almost all wireless earbuds rely on a Bluetooth connection. So, the guides in this section may partially overlap with the Bluetooth headphone guides section.
Why wireless earbuds?
Although Apple touted AirPods as the futuristic wireless headphone, they are essentially a pair of Bluetooth headphones, just like other wireless earbuds.
Of course, AirPods have a few special (but not revolutionary) features, including:
- The left and right pods are synced individually with iPhone.
- You can double-tap any of the AirPods to activate Siri voice assistant.
- The optical sensor detects whether the AirPods are in your ear, and therefore AirPods can pause the play automatically once they are removed from your ears.
- Simple pairing with iPhone.
- Noise-canceling for the microphone input.
Wireless earbuds including AirPods are facing some challenges, for example
- Pricey. Many wired in-ear headphones can offer batter sound quality at a cheaper price.
- Poor active noise canceling (ANC). Active noise-canceling requires additional power (and chips). Most wireless earbuds (including AirPods) do not have active noise canceling at all. A few wireless earbuds with ANC offer poor battery life and inferior noise canceling (compared to wired ones, or over-ear ones).
- Easy to lose.
- Volume control. Due to the small size, most wireless earbuds do not have volume control. You have to control the volume in the host device (smartphone, for example).
- Play control.
- Product-dependency. AirPods work on iPhone only. Galaxy Buds work best on Samsung phones. Although Galaxy buds and many other wireless earbuds (except AirPods) work just like normal Bluetooth headsets, you may find some wireless earbuds do not work well on some devices.
Anyway, there are plenty of options for wireless earbuds. But it is hard to find one that works well with your device.
This wireless earbuds guide section will cover all aspects related to wireless earbuds: how to choose your wireless earbuds, how to pair and use wireless earbuds, how to choose the best codec for your wireless earbuds, and reviews of wireless earbuds.
List of Wireless Earbuds Guides
We add new wireless earbuds guides regularly.
If you cannot find the wireless earbuds guide you need, or if you have any questions on using or choosing wireless earbuds, please do not hesitate to post your questions in the comment … Read the rest
Some headphones and earbuds may include some special fitness-related features (e.g., heart rate monitor). Some may be just designed for active use. We will try to cover both of them.
Sports headphone can help you enjoy your workouts
Fitness and health are important in your life. Now, almost all smartphones even have a fitness app helping you track your workouts.
And a lot of people like to enjoy music while exercising.
So, here comes the sports headphones, which are specially designed for your workouts.
But there are very a few sports headphone guides.
When using a sports headphone, you want to make sure:
- the headphone fits well and will not fall out.
- headphone cables, if any, do not cause distraction or inconvenience when you are moving.
- you can hear notifications and ambient alarms.
- sound quality is acceptable.
- for Bluetooth sports headphones, good connectivity between headphone and smartphone can be maintained.
This means choosing a sports headphone can be substantially different from choosing a normal headphone.
Sports headphone guides were therefore written to help you:
- choose a sports headphone within in your budget;
- compare different sports headphones;
- find the solution for any sports headphone problems you may encounter.
Although most sports headphones are wireless (Bluetooth headphone), there are some accessories making it easy to use wired headphones when exercising.
List of Sports headphone guides
We release new and updated sports headphone guides regularly and therefore, this is a live list.
If you cannot find the sports headphone guide you want, or if you have any questions on sports headphone, please let us know in the comment box below.
We will find a solution for you. We may also release some special guides addressing your questions and problems.
List of published and some coming-soon sports headphone guides.
1. What is sweat-resistant and waterproofing headphones?
2. How to choose a sports headphone for a workout?
3. The top 5 sports headphones in 2020 under $20
4. The top 5 sports headphones in 2020 under $50
5. The top 5 sports headphones in 2020 under $100
6. The best sports headphones in 2020
Jabra Elite Sport, which was first released in 2016, is still one of the best wireless sports earbuds with a heart … Read the rest
Enjoy your headphone!