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The Informed Shopper

Cox Buying Guides: Headphones


You’ve just downloaded Jay-Z and Kanye West’s new album onto your MP3 player. According to all the critics, you’re now going to enjoy the listening experience of the year, but to help make that happen, you’re going to need a quality set of headphones. Sure, there are lots to choose from, but keep one important thing in mind: Not all headphones are created equal.

Headphones come in all styles, shapes and sizes, each one built for a specific listening experience and targeted at a certain audience. With all this choice, it can be a bit overwhelming to find the right pair for you – a set that provides a quality listening experience and are comfortable to wear. To help you with your headphone shopping, we’re going to provide a breakdown of the different types of headsets available today.


Earphones, or earbuds, are most commonly used with MP3 players. The most basic buds – think of the ones handed out on air flights – are compact, lightweight and relatively inexpensive, but also provide poor to average sound quality at best. The higher priced buds provide better sound performance, and in some models, noise blocking.


Over the ear stereo headphones are most commonly used for at-home listening. Generally, headphones cost more than earphones and offer better quality of sound, and they block outside sound quite well. Consider comfort if you intend to wear them for extended listening times.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

These are a good choice for users who want to enjoy music in busy or loud areas without having to turn up the volume. Noise-canceling headphones help block out outside noise, allowing you to enjoy your music at comfortable levels. Comparatively expensive, yes, but they do offer an exceptional listening experience.

Wireless Headphones

Wireless headphones are convenient for the gym, walking to work or anytime you’re on the go, but the sound quality in the lower-priced sets can, at times, be very poor. There are sets available that offer an excellent sound experience, but generally are quite expensive. 

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