The Great Debate: Headphones vs. Earphones

Deciding over which set of cans to get? Check out this list

For the everyman, hearing his news or music on a portable listening device without bugging anyone is all that matters. To him, headphones and earphones are the same thing because they do the same thing. But you, on the other hand, are not the everyman. You are a discerning listener concerned with cranial ergonomics, sound quality, and functionality. And you recognize that the difference between headphones and earphones can make or break your listening experience. Check out this list of sweet head-candy. It might just help you decide on what set of cans to get next. Choices, choices, eh? The simple solution: get a set of both! 

HEADPHONES: Drivers connected to a headband that either go over or around your ears. These are usually associated with enhanced sound staging and an immersive listening experience. 


That “Q” at the end of the model name? That’s homage to Quincy Jones—legendary producer and the mastermind of countless Grammy hits. That this set of headphones is associated with him means they mean serious business. Long story short? These headphones sound like Heaven. You can talk all night about the N90Q’s features like TrueNote (which gives you a custom sound based on your hearing level and the shape of your ears) and three different soundstage settings for an even more sophisticated aural experience. But the simple explanation is always better: these cans are winners. Quincy Jones concurs. 

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

Hands down, one of the most handsome pairs of headphones in the market today. They have that vintage-ish vibe about them, but you know that there’s more to these headphones than their excellent looks. The oversized earcups, leather headband, and brushed metal arms not only look good, but they feel great around your head, too. Expect to have these things on and forget that they’re even there. While excelling in the comfort and looks departments, the Momentum 2.0 also sound good. A kicking bass and bright highs characterize the premium and balanced sound. 

EARPHONES: Compact, lightweight, ultra-portable, and unobtrusive, earphones fit directly into your ears for great listening on the go. 

RHA T10i

Okay, so this isn’t the lightest pair of earphones in the market—in fact, they’ve got a bit of mass to them. But, boy, are they heavyweights in the sound quality department. These are the true audiophile earphones, with extremely detailed sound (characterized by three interchangeable tuning filters—bass, reference, and treble—to suit all your listening needs.) Aside from the great audio, the T10i’s come with several ear sleeves and memory foam tips, so you always have a replacement. And the brushed steel design, aside from looking extremely cool, is functional as it adds toughness to the T10i’s form factor. 

Bowers and Wilkins C5 Series 2

An improvement on the highly-lauded Series 1s, the C5 Series 2 does its predecessor one better by having a better fit around your ears, thanks to improvements made on its customizable fitting feature. Aside from ergonomic improvements, the C5 Series 2 also has upgraded drivers, which produces bright highs, deep lows, and a surprisingly balanced sound. Others may feel as if these cans lack a bit of presence in the mid-to-high ranges, but this may simply be a matter of personal preference. Because, when it all comes down to it, this is a pair that gives very little cause for complaint. 

Words by: Chino Subido

Image by: Getty Images, websites

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