What Are Headphones?

Updated: Jul 27, 2022 3:25 PM
what are headphones

There’s no search quite like the one it takes to find the best headphones. It’s a big deal; selecting a pair of headphones can make or break your daily music binge. And because of this, you need to ask yourself specific questions. So, before fretting over queries like how to fix a pair of headphones or how should I wear on-ear headphones, ask yourself this: what are headphones?


  • Ear headphones are audio devices that go over the head and have two cushioned speakers, one for each ear.
  • They are great for casual listening or high-quality studio environments.
  • Headphone speakers are better for producing a fuller range of sound because they have a bigger driver than smaller earphones.

And suppose you want to get hyper-inquisitive over other types of listening devices. In that case, you can also read our article covering what are earbuds.

Headphones Explained

We all know headphones exist because that’s how we can sink into our own private heaven while listening to the voice of Nina Simone or Andrea Bocelli. But when defining headphones, we have to get technical.

Insider Tip

Many headphones now come with dedicated equalizer apps that allow users to adjust the frequency levels of their headphones. You can use these to enhance overall sound quality.

There are a few different types of headphones, which is where the debates like over-ear headphones vs on-ear headphones come from. But certain parts comprise the essence of what makes a pair of headphones.


Essentially, headphones are two speakers (also known as drivers) that sit by the ear, take an electric or wireless audio signal, and translate it into sound waves through the speakers. They come with various sound quality, frequency ranges, and styles. And If you want to learn more about wireless headphones, you can check out our article that explains what Bluetooth headphones are.

One area that headphone speakers excel in is bass quality. Because the speakers are much larger than earphones, the bass is much more present, even at lower volume levels. In addition, because headphones are built to exercise a wider frequency range, they are often used in studio environments. If you want to know more about this, you can read our article on what monitor headphones are.

We also have articles covering specific models, like our Ferrari by Logic3 Scuderia p200 Classic black over-ear headphones review.


While headphones are better than in-ear options for avoiding ear damage, listening to loud music for too long through headphones can still lead to permanent ear damage.


Another distinguishing factor about headphones is that they have two cushions covering each speaker. Cushions enhance comfort and provide a seal, so the audio doesn’t escape, and external noises don’t leak in. They also help with grip, so the audio device doesn’t slide as a user moves their head.


Depending on what type of headphones you get, they may come with features like active noise cancelation. This feature can further eliminate ambient noise, so you don’t feel the need to turn the music up to the maximum volume. And conversely, some features enhance the flow of ambient noise. You can look into our article that explores what ambient mode earbuds are for more on this.

STAT: 87% of headphone users primarily use your headphones for music. (source)


When were headphones invented?

The first set of headphones came in 1910 by the inventor Nathaniel Baldwin.

How long can you wear headphones without getting ear damage?

Medical experts say that following the 60/60 rule (listening at 60% volume for 60 minutes at a time) is best to make sure you don’t contract ear damage.

Can sharing headphones cause sickness?

It’s never a guarantee, but sharing headphones increases the likelihood of introducing yourself to bacteria and other fungal infections.

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