Almost all mod­ern head­phones are equipped with a micro­phone. Phone head­sets need it for calls, work head­phones for video con­fer­enc­ing, and gam­ing head­phones for voice chats. So what­ev­er head­phones you choose now, most like­ly, you will have to focus not only on the sound qual­i­ty and speak­er char­ac­ter­is­tics, but also on the micro­phone.

Today we will ana­lyze how to choose the right head­phones with a micro­phone.

Pho­to: flickr.com

Three main parameters

Hull design

By type of design, four dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories of head­phones can be dis­tin­guished.

Inserts — the cheap­est type of head­phones, which are now becom­ing less and less pop­u­lar. They are still hand­ed out for free (for exam­ple, on air­planes and long-dis­tance bus­es), but they are almost nev­er bought for per­ma­nent use.

These head­phones have aver­age sound qual­i­ty and no iso­la­tion from exter­nal noise. Nev­er­the­less, the pop­u­lar Apple Air­Pods are made accord­ing to this prin­ci­ple, but they are dis­tin­guished from the rest by cal­i­bra­tion, tech­ni­cal fea­tures and price. So among the lin­ers, they have become an excep­tion.

in-ear head­phones — These are droplets with ear pads. They are now com­mon among smart­phone users. Thanks to soft rub­ber or sil­i­cone ear cush­ions, they sit well in the ear and block out extra­ne­ous noise.

The play­back qual­i­ty of these head­phones is often very high, they trans­mit both bass and tre­ble well. These are Mar­shall Major II head­phones, some mod­els of Beats and oth­er pop­u­lar brands.

Dif­fer­ent types of head­phones. Pho­to: isy.com

On-ear head­phones — these are large head­phones, they are put on over the ear, but soft ear cush­ions do not com­plete­ly cov­er the ear, but only “over­lap” on top of it.

Most often, devices of the mid­dle seg­ment have such a design. They some­times sound good, but iso­la­tion from ambi­ent noise leaves much to be desired. And all pre­cise­ly because of the design, it phys­i­cal­ly trans­mits more sounds than oth­er types. These head­phones some­times have a padded head­band, but can put pres­sure on your ears, espe­cial­ly if you use them for long peri­ods of time.

Over-ear head­phones — the most expen­sive type of head­phones. This includes mon­i­tor devices that are used in sound engi­neer­ing or edit­ing, and head­phones for music lovers, and devices for home cin­e­mas. The full-size ear cups cov­er the entire ear, so they cre­ate com­fort dur­ing long work or rest. The ear cush­ions are soft and very large, and the head­band is almost always soft and cov­ered with a spe­cial mate­r­i­al: arti­fi­cial leather or fab­ric. These head­phones are known for their high qual­i­ty sound.

Emitter type

Pho­to: sony.com Design of dynam­ic head­phones.

Dynam­ic Head­phones work on a spe­cif­ic prin­ci­ple. The basis of this prin­ci­ple is a mem­brane that vibrates under the influ­ence of cur­rent and trans­mits sound. This whole struc­ture is so small that it allows you to cre­ate minia­ture head­phones. This is how most of the head­set mod­els famil­iar to us are arranged. You should not expect pro­fes­sion­al qual­i­ty sound repro­duc­tion from these head­phones, but you can count on the full trans­mis­sion of all fre­quen­cies and high vol­ume.

Rein­forc­ing the head­phones are notice­ably larg­er due to a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent sys­tem. They also have a mem­brane, but it fluc­tu­ates not from the cur­rent, but from the turns of the mov­able arma­ture. In order not to go into the details of the phys­i­cal and tech­ni­cal device, we note that such head­phones pro­vide high sound insu­la­tion, trans­mit sound with high qual­i­ty, but are able to repro­duce few­er fre­quen­cies than dynam­ic head­phones.

Acoustic design

Head­phones open type. Pho­to: headphones.com

In terms of acoustic design, every­thing is very sim­ple and under­stand­able almost “by eye”. Head­phones closed there are no holes on the case. This design allows you to pro­vide high sound insu­la­tion — oth­ers do not hear what is play­ing in the head­phones, and the sounds from the out­side are not audi­ble to those who put on the head­phones.

On the body open The head­phone has open­ings through which air enters the speak­ers. Thanks to this, the head­phones pro­duce a clear­er sound and lev­el out echo waves, but are lim­it­ed in the loca­tion of use. They do not drown out extra­ne­ous noise, in addi­tion, the music you lis­ten to is heard from out­side.

Headphone Specifications

Pro­fes­sion­al mon­i­tor head­phones often do not have a micro­phone. Pho­to: Roland.com

Head­phones have sev­er­al indi­ca­tors that can be found in the descrip­tion of the char­ac­ter­is­tics. To make it sim­ple and clear to choose, we will indi­cate the name of the char­ac­ter­is­tic and note the lim­its with­in which its val­ue should be in order to be able to count on high-qual­i­ty sound.

  • The range of repro­ducible fre­quen­cies. The stan­dard val­ue is 20 — 20,000 Hz. It is in this range that the sounds that the human ear rec­og­nizes are locat­ed. It may change with age, but for head­phones and any oth­er audio play­back devices, it remains the stan­dard. It is not nec­es­sary to look for a wider range, because the like­li­hood that you will dis­tin­guish addi­tion­al sounds is extreme­ly small.
  • Imped­ance. This is the head­phone input imped­ance. The val­ue itself is not very clear, but the main thing is to know which indi­ca­tor is ide­al for your music play­back device (smart­phone, com­put­er, stereo or play­er). When it comes to stan­dard head­phones, 16–32 ohms is the opti­mal val­ue.

Wired or wireless headphones

Mod­ern head­phones can be both wired and wire­less. The only dif­fer­ence is in the con­nec­tion method. If the wired ones are enabled via a 3.5 mm jack, then the wire­less ones are syn­chro­nized with a smart­phone via Blue­tooth or a radio chan­nel. In the lat­ter case, an adapter is used for com­mu­ni­ca­tion, which works via a USB port.

Almost all mod­ern smart­phones do not have an input for wired head­phones, so it is best to choose Blue­tooth mod­els for them. For play­ers or lap­tops, you can still use wired head­phones.

If you set­tled on a wire­less mod­el, you should choose one that sup­ports the lat­est ver­sions of Blue­tooth. Oth­er­wise, inter­fer­ence may occur in crowd­ed places, espe­cial­ly if the phone is in a bag or pock­et.

Moisture protection

Water resis­tance is a fea­ture that is impor­tant for those who buy head­phones for sports or walk­ing. It depends on her whether the head­phones will sur­vive the fall into the water, the ingress of rain­drops or sweat. For the home, such mod­els are not nec­es­sary to choose.

Noise suppression

This char­ac­ter­is­tic is impor­tant for those mod­els in which noise reduc­tion is not pro­vid­ed for by the design. The soft­ware noise reduc­tion of wire­less head­phones affects the bat­tery, but it allows you to lim­it extra­ne­ous sounds.


Head­phones with micro­phone-gun. Pho­to: 9to5toys.com

We choose head­phones with a micro­phone, so we will devote a sep­a­rate item to this device. A good micro­phone should record or catch a voice with­out inter­fer­ence, cut off extra­ne­ous nois­es or sighs dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion.

The micro­phone is usu­al­ly locat­ed either on a wire next to the vol­ume but­tons, or, in the case of wire­less head­phones, on the case.

If the head­phones are large gam­ing, then they may have a gun micro­phone. This is the most advanced option.

Guns are most often con­denser micro­phones. They have wide audio fre­quen­cy and bet­ter tran­sient response and are the ones used for record­ing. These micro­phones are sen­si­tive and com­pact.

radiation pattern

Var­i­ous micro­phone direc­tion­al pat­terns. Pho­to: yourfreesounds.com

The main char­ac­ter­is­tic of a micro­phone is its polar pat­tern. Micro­phones pick up sound in dif­fer­ent ways and from dif­fer­ent direc­tions. The omni­di­rec­tion­al micro­phone picks up ambi­ent sounds from all direc­tions.

The car­dioid micro­phone picks up sound from one direc­tion and focus­es on the speak­er’s voice, par­tial­ly can­cel­ing ambi­ent noise. It got its name from the dia­gram that looks like a heart.

The semi-car­dioid polar pat­tern is best suit­ed for record­ing due to its nar­row pick­up direc­tion.

Do not for­get that head­phones with a micro­phone are best cho­sen, focus­ing on the sound qual­i­ty “on the oth­er end of the wire.” Mar­shall head­phones are dis­tin­guished by high qual­i­ty micro­phones, the same can be said about the pre­mi­um brands Apple and Beats.