8 Different Types of Headphones in 2021

Headphones are not particularly a new invention, though the classification of some headphones can still be somewhat confusing to the average user. If you’re wondering which types are good for you, well, you will like to know that there are different types of headphones with something made for everyone.

ProductBrandNamePrice
BeatsBeats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones - Apple W1 Headphone ChipCheck Price on Amazon
SonySony Noise Cancelling Headphones WHCH710NCheck Price on Amazon
Sennheiser Consumer AudioSennheiser HD 569 Closed Back HeadphoneCheck Price on Amazon
Audio-TechnicaAudio-Technica ATH-AD500X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones, Black (AUD ATHAD500X)Check Price on Amazon
MpowMpow H7 Bluetooth HeadphonesCheck Price on Amazon

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If you’ve searched the internet for good headphones, you will know that the number of options that pop up is too many to make a definitive call. To make matters even more confusing, there are terms for each segment – open ear, closed-back, and so on.

Users should be aware that all types of headphones don’t work the same way which makes picking the right kind of headphones that much more important.

To make things easier for you, we’re going to discuss all common types of headphones in detail while also providing an accompanying product to help you see what the market has to offer in each department. It goes without saying that there is usually more than one alternative to a segment of headphones, so we’ll leave it to you to make the call on which offering is better suited for you.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the different types of headphones.

1. On-Ear Headphones

On-ear headphones (also known as Supra-Aural headphones) go over your head and will rest on top of your ears. While this makes it fairly identical to over ear headphones, they’re not the same. The primary distinguishing factor between the two is that on ear headphones are almost shaped fit on top of the ear without any protective cushioning to block out background noise. What this means is that on-ear headphones probably won’t cup the ears like over ear headphones would, and are hence equipped to handle background noise as well.

So if you’re looking for sound isolation by default, these are not the best bet. However, the sound quality and performance will still be on par with the best headphones out there (depending on the model you get), and it’s only a matter of personal preference. On-ear headphones can also be extremely comfortable to wear for long intervals, something that cannot be said about most over ear headphones.

Beats Solo 3

The Beats Solo 3 is perhaps the best example of modern-day on-ear headphones. It comes with a pretty compact and flexible design which makes it easier to carry around. Users will also appreciate the fact that the Solo 3 can work without any wires as it features Bluetooth technology underneath. Given the fact that Beats is an Apple product, the Solo 3 comes with Apple’s W1 chip inside which enables some handy features with iOS devices like iPhones and iPad.

But with that being said, the Solo 3 also works exceptionally well with Android and other devices, so you should have no compatibility issues regardless of the device you own. Though there is no noise cancellation with these headphones, customers say that it can do an excellent job of blocking outside noise by default.

The battery life is perhaps among of the strongest aspects of the Beats Solo 3. The manufacturer mentions that it can run for up to 40 hours on a single charge. Further, a 5-minute charge can eke out nearly 3 hours of playtime on the headphones thanks to the inclusion of Fast Fuel. Prospective buyers will also like the fact that the Solo 3 comes in a wide range of colors to choose from including Club Red, Club Navy, Black, Club Yellow, and more.

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2. Over-Ear Headphones

Also known as circumaural headphones, over ear headphones are slightly similar to on-ear headphones as we’ve touched on above, but serve a different purpose. These headphones usually tend to cup the ears perfectly, providing sound isolation by default with the additional cushioning. It’s also worth noting that these headphones do an excellent job of keeping the music or audio within your ears since there’s little to no sound leakage.

Comfort is another area where over ear headphones shine, particularly if you pick a variant that is considered high-end. However, customers need to be mindful that over ear headphones can also be on the bulkier side given the additional cushioning and the technology inside. This could likely make over ear headphones somewhat uncomfortable when worn for long intervals.

Users also need to be mindful of the fact that these headphones are likely to make your ears sweat since there’s no air getting in. These are available in both wired and Bluetooth variants, as is the case with most headphones today. These types of headphones are preferred by users who want to enjoy music without any background interference.

Sony WH-CH710N Wireless

These over ear headphones serve an excellent purpose while also offering the best noise cancellation in this price segment. Customers will also appreciate the fact that these headphones by Sony are extremely versatile, allowing you to enjoy music wirelessly or with the provided 3.5mm audio cable that can plug into conventional audio devices.

Sony mentions that these headphones can run for up to 35 hours on battery, which is setting a high bar for contemporary wireless over ear headphones selling in the market today. It also comes with microphones that help with crystal clear audio calls regardless of the device or app you’re using. As for sound performance, Sony mentions that these headphones come with 30-millimeter driver units.

In terms of comfort and durability, these headphones come with an adjustable metal slider that can help establish a good fit on your ears. Sony currently offers these over ear headphones in Black and Blue versions. The long list of features makes this among of the best types of headphones in this segment.

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3. Closed-Back Headphones

These are headphones that cover the backside of the headphones completely, thus allowing for better suction and noise isolation in the process. Closed-back headphones are usually sold in on-ear or over-ear variants, so this is an area where different types of headphones overlap.

As you would expect, closed-back headphones usually do a stellar job of making sure the music you’re listening to stays private to you. Since noise isolation depends on the type of cushioning the ear cups offer, it isn’t always guaranteed with closed-back headphones.

These types of headphones are mostly worn by musicians and studio recording professionals who want the best sound with little to no ambient noise. As is the case with other headphones we’ve talked about so far, closed-back headphones are available in multiple shapes and sizes, so the choices are plenty. Here’s the model we prefer.

Sennheiser HD 569

Sennheiser makes quality audio equipment and is a trusted name in the industry for both wired and wireless headphones. These wired closed-back headphones are somewhat traditional in terms of design, and are of the over-ear variety. Its design also means some noise isolation is offered by default naturally. In terms of power, the manufacturer mentions that it runs on 38-millimeter, 23-ohm transducers for optimum sound quality.

There’s also an in-line remote with a microphone and other controls to help you answer calls or switch audio tracks. The steep price tag here is justified thanks to the sound quality and performance it provides.

These Sennheiser closed back headphones come with a 2-year warranty from the date of purchase, which also speaks volumes about the company’s commitment to quality. Despite being somewhat bigger than conventional headphones, the Sennheiser HD 569 is fairly lightweight on the head and doesn’t cause fatigue even with prolonged use.

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4. Open Back Headphones

This is pretty self-explanatory and is considered the opposite of closed-back headphones. These types of headphones usually come with the back portion of the earcups opened or somewhat ventilated for airflow. Needless to say, these types of headphones normally sound much different than conventional closed-back headphones. What this also means is that it creates a more airy sound that spreads to those around you.

This is not ideal in all settings, though open-back headphones are excellent if you want to enjoy your music while also being aware of what’s going on around you. These types of headphones are primarily used in music mixing and studio environments to generate a flat sound. As you can probably imagine, open-back headphones don’t offer a lot in terms of privacy as the music or podcast you’re listening to is also heard by people around you.

Something known as semi-open headphones bridges the gap between closed and open back headphones by offering partial ambient noise isolation while also allowing some room for the sound to leak out.

Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X

These over-ear open-back headphones carry Audio Technica’s new 55mm drivers for the best sound quality and performance. The design here is something to take note of as well, as is the case with most open-back headphones in the market today. Users will be greeted to a 3D Wing Support Housing that can automatically adjust to any head size. The bass performance here is pretty stellar as well.

The raised-fabric earpads are durable and make these open-back headphones very comfortable to wear, even for long intervals. These are wired headphones with the company offering two types of adapters including 1 x 1/8″ (3.5 mm) connector and 1 x 1/4″ (6.3 mm) adapter. Thanks to the lightweight honeycomb aluminum used in its construction, these open-back headphones do not cause fatigue with excessive use.

The single-sided cable with elastic TPE sheath ensures the wires don’t tangle even in the worst of conditions, and hence provide a smooth experience every single time. These open-back headphones offer a frequency response of 5 – 25,000 Hz. Unfortunately, the company doesn’t offer color options with this offering, so the customers are limited to the Black variant.

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5. In-Ear Headphones

In-ear headphones are perhaps one of the most common among the different types of headphones out there, and almost every major electronics manufacturer has one. Just like the over-ear and on-ear headphones, there are several classifications for in-ear headphones, but one common feature here is that almost all of them provide a nice suction inside the ear canal, allowing sound to go through without any of the ambient noise.

The kind of fit in-ear headphones offer depends on the model you choose, but these are highly recommended if you’re looking to workout at the gym or just take a walk as these headphones can stay in place comfortably regardless of the activity. These headphones usually come with a silicone ear tip that allows more protection while also ensuring comfort.

There is some concern with in-ear headphones given that they’re pretty close to your ear drums in comparison with other headphones. However, with decent volume levels, your ears should be completely fine even with prolonged use of in-ear headphones. These can be found in both wired and Bluetooth formats, thus offering you more in terms of choices. Let’s take a look at the best in-ear headphones below.

Sony MDRXB50AP

While the market has a ton of wireless in-ear headphones, we decided to take a look at one of the best and cost effective wired in-ear headphones out there. The company uses 12 millimeter dome type driver units to drive performance and significantly boost sound quality. Customers will also like the fact that these in-ear headphones come with an in-line remote with a microphone along with controls for pause/play as well as answer/reject calls.

The tightly sealed ear canal offers decent sound isolation while also offering extended bass response. Sony offers multiple user replaceable ear tips with these in-ear headphones, allowing you to get the best fit possible. These headphones are available in colors like Black, Blue, and Red.

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6. Bluetooth Headphones

Bluetooth headphones come in many shapes and sizes. As you’ve probably guessed already, the most popular headphones today are categorized under Bluetooth headphones. These are excellent alternatives to wired headphones, as they allow customers to enjoy music without worrying about wires.

However, these headphones are somewhat restricted in terms of range. This means you will always have to be within proximity of the source device to receive unfiltered music playback. Bluetooth headphones can come in open-back, closed-back, over-ear, on-ear, as well as in-ear.

Simply put, Bluetooth tech allows headphones to go wireless and come with a battery on board. While battery life differs from product to product, customers can be assured of getting at least half a day of usage with most modern Bluetooth headphones.

Mpow H7

Among the most comfortable Bluetooth headphones out there, the Mpow H7 comes with a couple of bonus features under the hood that make it stand out among contemporary headphones. Elaborating on the comfort aspect, the Mpow H7 has a pretty lightweight design accompanied by a memory protein ear cups. The design also allows for decent noise isolation, though noise cancelling isn’t present here.

The company mentions that the H7 carries a CVC6.0 microphone which offers significantly improved sound quality during voice calls. These Bluetooth headphones also offer onboard buttons to help you change the music or even answer/reject phone calls.

The onboard battery can reportedly keep these headphones running for up to 25 hours on a single charge, which is pretty incredible compared to other offerings available in the market today.

Buy it Now: Amazon


7. True Wireless Earbuds

These are pretty much like Bluetooth headphones but with a focus on being completely wireless. This classification is necessary because some wireless headphones come with wires. The concept was kicked off by Apple with the launch of the AirPods, although it was later perfected by other manufacturers who also included features like noise cancelling.

These headphones fit snugly within the ear canal, and are hence expected to deliver high-quality sound directly without any obstructions on the way. The sound quality of true-wireless earbuds are generally considered to be among the best thanks to the presence of newer and advanced features.

Customers will notice that true wireless headphones/earbuds also rely on a different charging method. Instead of using a charging adapter and/or a cable, these earbuds come with a charging case, allowing users to place the earbuds inside. This also means users can get more run time out of their earbuds as compared to traditional battery-based wireless headphones.

Anker Soundcore Life P2

This is among the most popular true wireless earbuds out there, popular accessories manufacturer Anker has another winner on its hands with the Soundcore Life P2. These wireless headphones come with graphene drivers that significantly improve the default sound quality. The manufacturer mentions that the use of BassUp technology enhances the bass by up to 43%.

Those looking to use this for workouts will like to know that it’s rated to be IPX7 certified for water/sweat and dust. It fits snugly into your ear canal as you would expect which allows for natural sound isolation. While the battery case can last for up to 40 hours, each charge can allow the earbuds to run for up to 7 hours, which is among the best for these types of headphones. Be sure to check it out.

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8. Noise Cancelling Headphones

These types of headphones come with something known as active noise cancelling or ANC tech built in. These generate a specific sound to minimize the outside noise, and thus providing complete solitude to the listener. There are several types of noise cancelling headphones out there, but the most popular come from manufacturers like Bose, Sennheiser, and so on.

It’s worth mentioning here that though most noise cancelling headphones are wireless, there are a few products that offer a wired noise cancelling experience. Customers should also know that noise cancelling headphones are available in both in-ear and over-ear variety.

With this in mind, let’s check out one of the top noise cancelling headphones available in the market today.

Sony WH-1000XM4

This is one of the newest inclusions to Sony’s long list of active noise cancelling headphones, and it is certainly the best you can find in the market right now. The company mentions that it comes with a 30-hour battery life while fast charging support allows you to get 5 hours of runtime with a 10-minute charge.

Since there are no buttons onboard these headphones, Sony uses a series of touch controls to offer music and other navigational controls. Luckily, it works seamlessly regardless of the device you own. My personal favorite is the wearing detection feature that can automatically pause or play music based on whether your headphones are on or off. Sony sells the WH-1000XM4 in Black and Silver variants.

Buy it Now: Amazon



ProductBrandNamePrice
BeatsBeats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones - Apple W1 Headphone ChipCheck Price on Amazon
SonySony Noise Cancelling Headphones WHCH710NCheck Price on Amazon
Sennheiser Consumer AudioSennheiser HD 569 Closed Back HeadphoneCheck Price on Amazon
Audio-TechnicaAudio-Technica ATH-AD500X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones, Black (AUD ATHAD500X)Check Price on Amazon
MpowMpow H7 Bluetooth HeadphonesCheck Price on Amazon

* If you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.