Earbuds Vs Headphones

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Updated October 3, 2022

The best headphones have great sound quality, fit comfortably in your ear canal, and help block ambient noise leakage. However, how do they compare against over-ear models? Today we’ll compare a pair of headphones vs. earbuds. This should help you decide which model will suit your needs better. We’ll compare wireless headphones to the best wireless earbuds and more.


  • Having excellent sound is essential to most people. While a pair of earbuds might have immersive sound, they can’t compete with the powerful drivers of over-ear headphones.
  • Another critical factor is ambient noise cancellation. In this arena, open-back headphones are going to be the winner. They’re excellent at canceling external noise.
  • Finally, we have wireless listening. Wireless headphones are a great choice, but they don’t come wireless as a standard. Wireless earbuds, on the other hand, are readily available.

Comparing Earbuds and Headphones

Comparing over-ear headphones vs on-ear headphones can help determine which type suits your personal preference. The difference between them is how they work. Over-ear headphones sit comfortably over your head, while earbuds fit snugly in your ear canal. Beyond that, there are a few more differences, which we’ll go over below. If you want a more pointed comparison, read our article comparing headphones vs. earbuds for working out. This is especially useful for the athletes out there.

Insider Tip

You can buy a pair of headphones that features active noise cancellation to drown out natural sound in your environment better.

Audio Quality

There is a massive difference between earbuds and headphones regarding their audio quality. This comes down to the comparison of earbuds vs. over-ear headphones. While earbuds have come a long way as an audio device, they still can’t match the powerful drivers of over-ear headphones. You’ll get far better sound quality in these types of headphones because of their larger drivers.

Ambient Noise Cancelation

There are plenty of in-ear models that cater to those looking to cancel out ambient sounds. However, open-back design tends to do more for it. This makes open-back headphones the winner in this category. You’ll be able to get a better model for a lower price.


Listening to headphones or earbuds at a high volume level can damage your ear canal.

Wireless Listening

While wireless headphones exist, they tend to be more premium headphones. This makes them pricier than wireless earbuds. Battery life is another crucial component to consider. The two tend to tie there. Overall, earbuds are probably the better choice. There are many types of earbuds available to purchase, so do plenty of research before investing. You might also want to compare ear pods vs. earbuds.

STAT: According to a 2017 Statista survey, 87 percent of U.S. respondents use their headphones to listen to music. (source)


What is the difference between earbuds and headphones?

In-ear earbuds rest in your ear canal. They tend to be a little snug so that they don’t fall out. On the other hand, headphones go over your ears with adjustable bands.

What are open-back headphones good for?

Open-back headphones are fabulous for several reasons:

  • They sound more natural
  • They have excellent active noise cancellation
  • They have better audio quality

How do I use the wireless connection on my pair of headphones?

All wireless models will feature a way to pair with your device. You’ll have to follow the directions to pair them using the Bluetooth area in your device’s settings. Most wireless models use the power button.

Are high-quality headphones worth the investment?

This is a matter of preference. Premium models offer far more significant benefits but can get pricey quickly. However, regular headphones provide enough for the average listener at a lower cost.
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