Buying Guide: Earphones and Headphones

A lot of people today own either an earphone or headphone. These have become more popular with the advent of digital music players, video players and radios on mobile phones and other handheld devices. In fact, earphones are now popular accessories to these devices. In this article, we present you with some suggestions and advice concerning what to look out for when buying an earphone or headphone.

Difference between Earphones and Headphones

There are different types of earphones and headphones. For the purpose of this guide however, we will categorize them all into two broad groups – Earphones and Headphones.


They are also called “earbuds” or “in-ear headphones” and were introduced into the market some years after the introduction of headphones. They are different from headphones because they are inserted directly “inside” the outer part of ear (i.e. ear canal) rather than “over” it. Hence they are usually smaller and lighter than a typical headphone.

A type of earphone or earbud
A type of earphone or earbud


  1. Due to their sizes, earphones are very portable and can be easily carried in pockets.
  2. They do not disturb users’ hairstyles or interfere with wearing glasses or earrings.
  3. They are less expensive compared to headphones


  1. Earphones sound quality are often inferior to that of headphones especially when it comes to rendering bass sound.
  2. Some people are uncomfortable with inserting them inside their ear for a short or any duration of time.


A typical headphone consists of essentially two small speakers attached to a headband. The headband fits across the top or back of the user’s head, and the speakers rest upon/over the ear rather than inside it.

A typical headphone with headband and large ear speakers
A typical headphone with headband and large ear speakers


  1. Have superior sound quality compared to earphone especially when rendering bass sound
  2. They are better at filtering and keeping out ambient noises


  1. Typically, larger and bulkier than earphones and therefore not as portable
  2. Usually interferes with users’ hairstyles, glasses or earrings
  3. They are more expensive compared to earphones

Buying an Earphone or Headphone: Things to Consider

When shopping for an earphone, we recommend that you consider the following factors.

A. Types and Purposes

Why do you need one and where will you need it? Answering this question will help you determine if you need an earphone or a headphone. It will also allow you determine the most suitable type of these products to use.

  1. In-ear Headphones: These are lighter and portable versions of a typical headphone. They are smaller and lighter. They usually do not come with a headband and are very effective at sealing out ambient noise. Good for use in gym or when traveling.
  2. Earbuds: These have the common features of a typical earphone. They do not however completely block out outside sound. Good for situations where you want to be also aware of the sound of things going on around you. For example, jogging or walking on the street and listening to music but also keeping aware of sound of car horns and passersby.
  3. Home or Studio Headphones: These are typical headphones with large speakers that partially or complete cover the outer ears, preventing or allowing little ambience sound. Focus more on sound quality rather than portability. Good for use at home or in studios.
  4. Noise-cancelling Headphones: These are headphones that reduce unwanted ambient sounds using active noise control rather than soundproofing which is used by other normal headphones performing the same function. These headphones are most suitable for use in air travel.
  5. Wireless Headphones: are basically headphones without a wire attached. Many of the other types of headphones also come in wireless form too. They are usually powered by Bluetooth and therefore require battery and attendant charging.

B. Sound Quality

This is a key and important feature to look out for. Depending on its primary purpose, do your best to test the sound quality of the various model you see to determine which suits you most. Please note that the quality of the audio you are playing will also affect the sound output of the headphone or earphone.

C. Comfort

You need to ensure that whichever type you go for, it has to be comfortable to wear. Ensure that they fit well and that they do not bring you pain.

D. Price

Sometimes, the most expensive headphones may not necessarily fit your need. So determine what your day-to-day needs are and buy only products that meet the identified needs.

E. Brand

There are many brands of headphones and earphones in the country today. Some of them are from known and popular brands like Samsung, Sony, LG and Beats.  We recommend considering these one first based because of their track record.

There are however some other not-too-popular brands too that manufacture quality earphones and headphones. Some of them include Havit, Huawei and others.

Typical Costs

Good Earphones cost between N1,000 and N3,000. Those from known brands such as Samsung can cost as much as N9,000 to N12,000. Headphones cost typically range from N4,000 to N8,000. Those with more popular brand names sometimes cost even more than this.

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