800.631.0868  info@hamiltonbuhl.com
 
 

Headphone Buying Guide

 

 

What is a Headphone?

Headphones are devices that allow people to listen to audio without disturbing people nearby. They go over the ears so sound travels into ears instead of the space around them.

 

The Difference between Headphones And Headsets

The difference between a headphone and a headset is that a headset has a mic, and headphones do not. Both headphones and headsets have a set of small loudspeakers designed to go onto the users ear to listen to audio. Headsets are in demand for use where voice response is required, such as with voice response software, gaming, Skype etc. Headphones without a microphone are used for listening to audio using a phone, tablet, computer, CD player, MP3 player and more. NOTE: not all headsets (with mic) will work with cell phones and tablets.


Headset

  • Headphone with microphone for audio and voice
  • Used with computers, tablets and mobile devices and applications like skype or anywhere listening and talking is taking place

Headphones

  • Headphone for audio only without microphone
  • Used with computers, tablets, mobile devices, MP3 players, CD players, cassette players, record players, etc.

 

Types of Headphones

There are three basic styles of headphones: Over Ear headphone, On Ear headphone and In Ear headphone. For more frequent use by multiple users a deluxe headphone will likely be more suitable.

Over Ear Deluxe Headphones

On Ear Personal Headphones

In Ear Bud Headphones

over ear headphone with mic

on ear headphone ear bud headphone
  • Fully cover the ear
  • Usually extremely rugged construction
  • For heavy use setting and long term wear
  • Ideal for grades K-12
  • Deluxe headphones are rugged pieces of equipment that are meant to be used often for long periods of time by multiple users
    • Placed on the ear, it can be more or less rugged depending on brand
    • Perfect for individual use and long term wear
    • Ideal for grades K-12
    • Excellent for personal use due to its light-weight



    • Placed in the ear
    • Less rugged than other styles
    • Made for individual use and short term wear
    • Ideal for grades 5-12



 

 


Types of Audio Plugs

Your choice of audio jacks, also known as plugs, audio connectors, jack plugs, or audio jack plugs, will depend on what you are plugging your headphone into. There are several types of plugs: TRRS, 3.5mm, 1/4", USB or USB-C.

¼" Plug 3.5mm (aka 1/8") Plug Headphone DUAL – 3.5mm Headphone/Mic TRRS – 3.5mm Headphone/Mic USB Plug USB-C Plug

1/4" Plug

  • For use with most jack boxes, cassette players, record players, musical keyboard and any unit with a 1/4" headphone jack

3.5mm Stereo Plug (aka 1/8")

  • For use with most: Computers, CD players, tablets, mobile devices, and any unit with a 3.5mm or 1/8" headphone jack
  • Audio only

DUAL - 3.5mm Headphone/Mic

  • For use with laptops and computers
  • Headphone and Mic function

TRRS - 3.5mm Headphone/Mic

  • For use with tablets, iPads, mobile phones and computers
  • TRRS plug combines the headphone and microphone function in a single plug

USB Plug

  • For use with computers

USB-C Plug

  • For use with phones, tablets, and computers
 

plug-types-d5.png

Stereo VS Mono Headphones

Stereo headphones play back sound from two separate independent channels, a left channel and a right channel. Mono headphones can only play sound from a single channel. It is very important to determine if your audio source is stereo or mono. Using the wrong headphone will cause improper play back or could ultimately ruin your audio source. For example, when a mono headphone is plugged into a stereo source a temporary short circuit is created with one of the sound channels and extended use could result in a permanent short circuit ruining your equipment. There are some headphones on the market that are Stereo/Mono Smart and will automatically determine the type of audio signal and play it back accordingly without the worry of compatibility.

Stereo audio sources include most computers, CD players, mobile devices & tablets

Mono audio sources include most cassette players, record players, etc.


Headphone specifications explained

  • Frequency Response
  • Sensitivity
  • Impedance

The frequency responses is the speed of vibration of physical materials and is measured in term of Hertz (Hz). It represents the most effective range for drivers to provide clear and uniform sound. The normal audible musical frequency among humans is 20 Hz to 20 KHz. This is considered the standard and most headphones offer this range. Earphones with wider frequency range do not necessarily provide better sound quality. Ultra-low and ultra-high frequencies are felt rather than heard.

Sensitivity is a measure of how effectively an earpiece converts an incoming electrical signal into an audible sound. This indicates how loud the headphones will be for a given electrical drive level. The sensitivity of headphones is usually between about 80 and 125 dB/mW. 80 dB is equivalent to heavy city traffic sound from 25-50 feet away, while 125 dB is close to the sound heard in a diesel engine room. Note that at 120 dB, human ear begins to feel pain rather than sensation of sound.

Impedance is the measure of opposition to the flow of current but is much more technical than this. To simplify it we will discuss it in terms of high and low impedance. Headphones are available with low or high impedance. Most headphones with low-impedance (less than 25 ohms) require little power to deliver high audio levels. Low-impedance headphones work well with weak amplification equipment such as portable music players and phones. Low-impedance headphones are more susceptible to “blow-outs” when using more powerful amplifiers. Headphones with high-impedance (25 ohms and higher) demand more power to deliver high audio levels. Thus, they are protected from overload damage and can be used with a wider range of audio equipment.


Headphone Compatibility

Selecting the headphone that is compatible with you audio device will be based on the stereo/mono compatibility and they plug type. The headphone style, ear cushions, type of cord, etc will not be a factor with compatibility

 
Device
(Applicable to most)
Stereo/Mono Type of Plug
Tablet, Mobile Devices, Computers
(With single headphone/mic plug)
Stereo TRRS
Computer
(check compatibility of operating system to headphone)
Stereo USB or 1/8" (3.5mm) or TRRS (depending on mic jack)
iPad/Tablet Stereo 1/8" (3.5mm) or TRRS (depending on jack)
Phone/Mobile Device Stereo 1/8" (3.5mm), TRRS or USB-C (depending on jack)
CD Player/Stereo Stereo 1/8" (3.5mm)
TV Stereo 1/8" (3.5mm)
Record Player Mono 1/4"
Cassette Player Mono 1/4"
*Please be sure to check your device before making selections. Information above is based on general standards.
Check to see if device has stereo or mono output and check to see the size/type of the audio jack; 10/4" 1/8:(3.5) or USB.



Headset Comparison Chart

Model

Deluxe Headsets

Personal Headsets

Trios

Trios Plus

HA5USBSM

HA-66M

HA-66USBSM

HA7M

SC-AMV

SCG-AMV

M2USB & M2USBC

TriosAir

TriosAir
Plus

M1USB & M1USBC

HA2M

HA2USBSM

MS2-AMV

MS2G-AMV

Style

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal On-Ear

Plug Types

TRRS & Dual 3.5mm Plugs (Audio & Mic)

TRRS, Dual 3.5mm Plugs (Audio & Mic) & USB Plug

USB Plug

Dual
3.5mm Plugs
(Stereo & Mic)

USB Plug

Dual
3.5mm Plugs
(Stereo & Mic)

3.5mm
TRRS

3.5mm TRRS

USB Plug (M2USB) or USBC Plug (M2USBC)

TRRS and Dual 3.5mm (Audio & Mic)

TRRS, Dual 3.5mm Plugs (Audio & Mic) & USB Plug

USB Plug (M1USB) or USBC Plug (M1USBC)

Dual 3.5mm Plugs (Audio & Mic)

USB Plug

3.5mm

TRRS

3.5mm
TRRS

Microphone

Gooseneck

Gooseneck

Gooseneck

Gooseneck

Gooseneck

Gooseneck

In-Line

Gooseneck

Gooseneck

Gooseneck

Gooseneck

In-Line

Gooseneck

Gooseneck

In-Line

Gooseneck

Adjustable

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Headband

Padded

Padded

Plastic

Plastic

Plastic

Plastic

Padded

Padded

Padded

Padded

Padded

Plastic

Plastic

Plastic

Plastic

Plastic

Ear Cushions

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Vinyl

Vinyl

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Foam

Foam

Leatherette

Foam

Color

Black

Black/Silver

Gray

Beige

Beige

Gray

Blue

Blue

Black

Black/White

Black/Teal

Black/Silver

Gray

Gray

Blue

Blue

Volume Control

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Storage Bag

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Cord Length

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

4'

4’

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

4'

4’

Cord Type

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Noise-Reducing

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Refresh Kit

*

*

5077

5082

5082

5077

5077

5077

*

*

*

*

5076

5076

5076

5076

Sanitary Covers

HygenX45

HygenX45

HygenX45

HygenX45

HygenX45

HygenX45

HygenX45

HygenX45

HygenX45

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25



Model

Specialty Headsets

Favoritz

Flex-PhonesXL

FLEX2 and FLEX2BK

TPro Series

TP1-USB

TPro Series

TP1-TRRS

Mach Series

M1USB and M1USBC

Mach Series

M2USB and M2USBC

Style

Medium Over-Ear

Personal On-Ear

Deluxe Over-Ear

Deluxe Over-Ear

Personal On-Ear

Deluxe Over-Ear

Plug Type

3.5mm TRRS

3.5mm Stereo

USB Plug

TRRS with 120° Jack

USB Plug

USB Plug

Microphone

In-Line

In-Line

Ambidextrous, Steel-Reinforced Gooseneck

Ambidextrous, Steel-Reinforced Gooseneck

Omnidirectional Steel-Reinforced Gooseneck

Omnidirectional Steel-Reinforced Gooseneck

Adjustable

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Headband

Padded

EVA Foam

Padded

Padded

Plastic

Padded

Ear Cushions

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Color

Gray, Blue or Black

Blue (FLEX2)
or Black (FLEX2BK)

Blue/Black

Blue/Black

Black and Silver

Black

Volume Control

In-Line

On Ear Cup

On Ear Cup

In-Line

On Ear Cup

Storage Bag

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Cord Length

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

Cord Type

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Noise-Reducing

Yes

Yes

Yes, Noise Cancelling

Yes, Noise Cancelling

Yes, Noise Isolating

Yes, Noise Isolating

Refresh Kit

*

*

*

*

*

*

Sanitary Covers

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX45

HygenX45

HygenX25

HygenX45



Headphone Comparison Chart

Model

Deluxe Headphones

Personal Headphones

SC-7V

HA7

KIDS-SC7V

HA-1A

HA2

HA2V

HA2USB

MS2L

MS2LV

KIDS-HA2

Primo

Style

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Deluxe

Over-Ear

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal On-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Personal
On-Ear

Plug Types

3.5mm Stereo

3.5mm Stereo

3.5mm
Stereo

3.5mm Stereo

3.5mm
Stereo

3.5mm
Stereo

USB Plug

3.5mm Stereo

3.5mm Stereo

3.5mm
Stereo

3.5mm
Stereo

Microphone

Adjustable

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Headband

Plastic

Plastic

Padded

Wire

Plastic

Plastic

Plastic

Plastic

Plastic

Plastic

Plastic

Ear Cushions

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Foam

Foam

Foam

Foam

Leatherette

Leatherette

Foam

Leatherette

Color

Gray

Gray

Blue

Gray

Gray

Gray

Gray

Gray

Gray

Blue

Blue, Red
or Black

Volume Control

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Storage Bag

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Cord Length

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

5'

5’

Cord Type

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Noise-Reducing

Yes

Yes

Yes

­—

Refresh Kit

5077

5077

5077

5076

5076

5079

5079

5079

5079

5076

*

Sanitary Covers

HygenX45

HygenX45

HygenX45

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25

The audio signals on all headphones and headsets are stereo.



Model

Specialty Headphones

Flex-PhonesXL

FLEX1 and FLEX1BK

Flex-Phones

Flex-PhonesWireless FLEXW1 & FLEXW1BK

NCHBC1

Style

Personal On-Ear

Personal On-Ear

Personal On-Ear

Deluxe
Over-Ear

Plug Type

3.5mm Stereo

3.5mm Stereo

3.5mm Stereo

3.5mm Stereo

Microphone

Adjustable

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Headband

EVA Foam

EVA Foam

EVA Foam

Padded

Ear Cushions

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Leatherette

Color

Blue (Flex1) or Black (Flex1BK)

Red, Blue, Black, Green or Purple

Blue or Black

Black

Volume Control

Storage Bag

Yes

Yes

Yes

Case Included

Cord Length

5'

4'

5'

Cord Type

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Dura-Cord*

Noise-Reducing

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Refresh Kit

*

*

*

*

Sanitary Covers

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX25

HygenX45

enviro-headphones.jpg
 

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