Headphones and headsets are two different devices.
It's important to learn the basics before buying wireless headphones for a laptop.
Sony creates some of the best wireless headphones for laptops.
Audio is a vital yet often overlooked aspect of using a computer. Everybody takes it for granted, ignoring sound options until they realize how often they use audio features on their laptop. Wireless headphones for laptops provide more freedom than their wired counterparts. Wireless headphones aren't limited to only working on your computer. From your phone to your gaming console, wireless headphones are versatile machines.
Just as people argue over the difference in sound between a vinyl record compared to a CD, users debate the sound quality between headphones. Whether it's an argument about wired versus wireless headphones for laptops or earbuds versus over-the-ear headphones, there's a lot to know. The plethora of brands further makes it difficult to choose the right pair for you. Where do you start?
People often use the words "headphones" and "headsets" interchangeably. However, they describe two different devices. While calling them by the wrong name doesn't change their function, precise language helps when searching for an item online or in person. If you tell a salesperson you want headphones when you mean a headset, it leads to confusion.
The term headphones strictly refers to the audio device that allows users to listen to music, podcasts, and even video games without offering any sort of communication aspect. There's no microphone. Headphones offer better audio quality than headsets since the manufacturer's focus is solely on sound quality.
On the other hand, headsets come equipped with a microphone. These devices work best for gaming because they allow you to communicate with your friends. A headset provides a cheaper alternative to buying a separate microphone altogether. Headsets are usable with dedicated microphones, but they don't offer the same quality of audio as dedicated headphones.
How To Decide
How do you choose what kind of listening device to purchase? Do you go with headphones without a microphone and headset, or are earbuds the best option for you? It's overwhelming making decisions, especially when those decisions cost money. Some wireless headphones cost more than $100, so avoid buyer's remorse with the following tips.
Learn The Basics
Even before you decide what you need headphones for, learn what you need to know about the different types. Knowing the basics helps narrow down the kind of headphones you want to buy.
For example, what do open-back and closed-back mean? This alone changes everything!.
Closed-back headphones use ear cups that completely enclose the ear, reducing sound escaping from the headphone while simultaneously preventing external noise from interrupting your experience. If you anticipate being in a noisy environment or want an immersive experience, closed-back headphones are the best option.
Open-back headphones use vents along the ear cups that allow air and sound to pass through. This generates noise audible to those around you as well as yourself. While not as popular as closed-backs, open-back headphones produce the best audio because sound engineers don't concern themselves with keeping the audio confined to a closed-ear cup.
This style of headphone/headset not only covers your entire ear, it rests comfortably around your ear, minimizing sound leakage. The superior acoustics and comfortable fit circumaural headphones provide make them the number one choice by audiophiles and musicians who favor audio quality over anything else with headphones.
If you ever wear a pair of headphones that feel uncomfortable or simply sit on your ear as opposed to around it, those are supra-aural headphones. By definition, supra-aural means "above the ear" because these sit on your ears. They do not have the best sound clarity, despite being the most widely-used style of headphones.
As the name states, these headphones don't go over the ear or on the ear, but in it. This creates an intimate relationship between you and the audio. Moreover, it provides the ultimate portability option for headphones that no other subset beats. Just slide them into your pocket and take them out whenever you need.
With the popularity of Apple's iPhone and other products, earbuds, especially wireless earbuds, dominate the market as the most popular audio device. They provide solid sound quality but lack the comfort circumaural headphones provide.
Decide Why You're Using Them
Finally, the type of headphones you want comes down to what you need them for. Will they be for some light music or podcast listening while you're in the office or classroom, ignoring pressing tasks? Are you looking for a quality gaming headset that helps in the communication department? Once you know those answers, narrowing down the style and brand becomes simple.
Best For Gaming
Gamers purchase either headphones or headsets, depending on the intensity of their gaming. Logitech's G435 Lightning sits at the top for gaming headsets.
Logitech G435 Lightning
Logitech creates some of the highest-quality peripherals for computers and consoles out there. Its G435 Lightning, compatible with computers, Xbox, and Playstation, utilizes beamforming microphone technology over the typical boom mic found on gaming headsets.
Furthermore, this headset comes equipped with Bluetooth technology that pairs with your phone. This allows you to take a call while simultaneously gaming with your friends. This circumaural style headset feels like a cloud sitting on your head. That's thanks to the comfortable fabric around its ear cups and headband along with its lightweight form factor.
Best For Music
Many trusted brands exist on the market when it comes to headphones for music. It's no surprise that Sennheiser takes the cake after being in the business for nearly a century.
Sennheiser Momentum 4
Sennheiser originated in 1945. In the time it's been around, it's learned a thing or two about manufacturing audio devices. The Momentum 4 comes a long way from its predecessor (the Momentum 3), improving its battery life in a major way. It now exceeds 60 hours of constant use.
Moreover, the Momentum 4 allows users to activate its transparent mode to take in more ambient sound. This gives you the ability to hear more of your surroundings while listening to music. It also allows you to create custom sound profiles in various apps. This personalizes the Momentum 4's settings based on your listening habits.
Best Noise-Canceling Headphones
Noise-canceling technology rose to popularity after Bose created the first noise-canceling headset in 1979. Sony now produces some of the best headphones with this technology.
Sony's newest headphones might not hold up to the battery life of Sennheiser's Momentum 4, but 32 hours ranks up there. Not to mention it only takes three hours until fully charged. This WH-1000XM5's beautifully encapsulates what users want from the noise-canceling variety.
Apple popularized gesture technology with its phones, but Sony took it a step further by incorporating that into its 1000X-series of headphones. Hold your hand over the right ear cup and it pauses your music, allowing you to hear your surroundings or have a conversation. Move your hand away from the ear cup and your music resumes.
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Bose might not be on top, but they continue to produce quality products in the noise-canceling department. The 700 has a sleek and lightweight design yet remains solid. Bose kept these headphones sturdy by constructing the headband out of metal, an important feature since it cannot fold.
Where Sony installed gesture technology in its headphones, Bose utilizes three buttons in the 700 headphones along with some simple "touch" abilities. Tap the ear cup twice and it pauses/plays your audio. Unfortunately, it's too sensitive at times and sometimes pauses music even if you don't tap the ear cup.
When constantly on the move, earbuds provide a superior portability option. Every year major brands improve the technology within these tiny devices, bringing them closer to their circumaural sibling.
If you prefer earbuds over headphones but want some with solid noise-canceling features, Sony's little earbuds fit the bill.
Sony pulled out all the stops with the XM4 by implementing technology that pauses whatever you're listening to the moment you begin talking. Once a few seconds pass without you speaking, your music resumes. Better yet, during the time your music pauses, you clearly hear the world around you.
Apple AirPods Pro
Apple wasn't the first company to utilize wireless earbuds, but it certainly did it in style while simultaneously making it mainstream.
The second generation of AirPods continues where the first succeeded while improving other features. The transparency mode works wonderfully, allowing you to hear those around you without removing them from your ears. Furthermore, Apple implemented gesture technology into the newest generation of AirPods. Hands-free remains an option by utilizing voice commands for Siri.
Even though knowing the basics about audio devices seems daunting, it better prepares you for the overwhelming number of headphones on the market. When you're ready for new headphones, decide their primary function and what style you prefer. While your favorite streamer uses a premium pair that they brag about all the time, you might not find them particularly comfortable. They also might be out of your budget.
Wireless headphones not only immerse you in your music or video game, but they also free you from using them only with your laptop. They allow you to take a call from your phone while you listen to enemy footsteps in Halo Infinite.
Now that you know the basics, you're better prepared to make an informed decision about your next pair of headphones, headset, or earbuds.