How Do Earbuds Work?

Beth Huston Profile image

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Updated October 9, 2022

The best headphones for your needs can be a struggle to find. However, that can be a lot easier if you are armed with knowledge, like understanding how earbuds work. It’s easier to discern the best wired or wireless earbuds when you know a little more about how they work. Keep reading to find out what makes both wired and wireless earbuds work.


  • All earbuds have the same basic components. For example, the speaker comprises a magnet, a wire coil, and a cone. These work together to power your earbuds.
  • The most basic pair of earbuds are wired. These use a wired connection between the earbuds and the audio source device. They also include a plastic casing.
  • While wireless earbuds are built similarly to their wired counterparts, there is a huge difference. They are totally wireless and use antennae to transmit and receive Bluetooth signals.

Exploring How Earbuds Work

Most people have some questions related to earbuds. For example, you might wonder, “How much are earbuds?” or even “How do earbuds work?” We’ll be answering the latter of those two inquiries today. There are some critical differences between wired and wireless earbuds, so we’ll be delving into the two different types separately to uncover how they work.

Insider Tip

Using wireless headphones means not having to deal with a tangled headphone cord.

Wired Earbuds

All earbuds have similar components in them: a magnet, cone, and wire coil. These parts make up the speaker that powers their audio performance. In wired models, the audio signals travel down the wires connecting your earbuds to your audio source, often a headphone jack. Knowing how to fix a headphone jack will serve you well if you go the wired route.

Wireless Earbuds

Wireless earbuds work a little bit differently. They have the same electronic components as their wired counterparts, but there is a key difference. That difference is in the inclusion of small antennae that transmit and receive Bluetooth signals. Wireless earbuds include Basic troubleshooting is a key skill to have. At some point, you may ask, “Why do my wireless headphones keep disconnecting?”


Listening to earbuds at maximum volume can lead to damage to your ear canal.

STAT: As of 2020, Apple accounted for over 16 percent of the wireless headphones market in China. (source)

How Do Earbuds Work FAQs

What are the advantages of wireless over wired headphones?

There are a few advantages to going wireless. The biggest is that you can skip using a headphone cable, which can get tangled or damaged. Damage like this can render your wired headphones useless.

Why should I keep my volume level low?

Most headphone manufacturers do not recommend listening to your favorite earbuds at a high volume for extended periods. This is because you can cause damage to your hearing.

What should I look for in a pair of headphones?

The first thing you should look for is the overall headphone performance. Audio quality is important, as well, and should be at the forefront. For audiophiles, accurate audio reproduction also makes the list.

How do I connect my over-ear headphones to my mobile device?

You’ll need to open up your Bluetooth settings on your phone and put your wireless earphones into pairing mode. This will initiate the signal transfer between the two, which should work for all wireless devices.
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