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.
Three main parameters
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.