What are the pros and cons of in-ear and over-ear headphones?

Which headphones are better? The small in-ears, the large over-ears or the more compact on-ears?

by Redaktion 3 months ago

What are in-ears?

In-ear earphones are placed directly in the ear canal. This means that very little power is needed and the built-in diaphragms only need to be moved slightly to achieve acceptable volume levels. Sometimes in-ears are used with ear buds (the most famous example being Apple’s white AirPods). In this case, the earbuds tend to “hook” into the ear, which some people find more comfortable.

What are the benefits of in-ear headphones?

The advantage of in-ear earphones is their size: they are small and lightweight. Their design means that they are usually easy to grip – ideal for sports activities. They are also easy to store. When you’re not using them, they fit easily into a jacket pocket. Thanks to their design, in-ear earphones fit directly into the ear canal or, in the case of ear buds, directly in front of the ear canal. This means that very little power is needed and the built-in diaphragms only need to be moved slightly to achieve acceptable volume levels.

The disadvantages of in-ear headphones compared to on-ear or over-ear headphones

In-ears place the sound source very close to the eardrum, which sounds very direct and close, but also carries the risk of hearing damage and too much isolation from outside noise. This can be life-threatening, especially in traffic. Inexpensive in-ear headphones, in particular, do not offer the depth and spaciousness of over-ear headphones. Also, active noise cancellation is usually not as effective as ANC in on-ear or over-ear headphones.

What is the difference between over-ear and on-ear?

Over-ear headphones are circumaural and have larger diaphragms. On-ear headphones have cushions that sit on top of your ears.

The advantages of over-ear or on-ear headphones

Over-ear headphones, or circumaural headphones, and their smaller brothers, on-ear headphones, have larger drivers or membranes. As a result, the tonal range – especially in terms of naturalness – is greater. These designs mean that the air in front of the ears and the earcups have a greater influence on the sound image. As a result, the sound is more spatially differentiated, and classical or jazz recordings, in particular, create a wide stage in the head on which we can precisely locate the individual instruments. It can be said that listening with large headphones is closer to our natural hearing. Another advantage is that passive noise cancellation is better with over-ears.

What are the disadvantages of over-ears and on-ears?

For some, the size and weight may be a disadvantage, but pressure is also a factor not to be underestimated: if the headphones are too tight, there is an uncomfortable feeling of pressure that can be painful. Heat build-up can also be a problem during long listening sessions. Especially in the warmer months of the year, wearing over-ears or on-ears can become a sweaty affair and spoil your enjoyment of the music.

However, it cannot be said that one design is superior to the other in terms of sound. Both in-ears and over-ears offer excellent sound quality.

Read More:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Similar Reviews

Bluetooth by Pete Schloßnagel 1 month ago

Huawei FreeBuds 5

True Wireless EarBuds with noise cancelling and an unusual design

The new Huawei FreeBuds 5 are anything but ordinary: open construction, eye-catching design, plus Hi-Res Audio including LC3, LHDC and LDAC and specially adapted noise cancelling with three microphones each. This sounds impressive on paper, but in practice, the FreeBuds 5 might not be everyone's...


Bluetooth by Dirk Duske 2 months ago

Tribit FlyBuds C2

True Wireless EarBuds with high-resolution sound and long runtime

The Tribit FlyBuds C2 deliver a very homogeneous natural sound image, support the aptX audio codec and last up to 40 hours. Thanks to four built-in microphones and noise cancellation, they are very suitable for making phone calls even in noisy environments.


Bluetooth by Ulf Kaiser 4 months ago

1More Aero

Affordable True Wireless earbuds with ANC

The 1More Aero excel with convincing noise cancelling, really good features and an attractive price. These EarBuds are aimed primarily at daily commuting, office and leisure use. The sound quality is acceptable but not aimed at listeners with high demands.


Bluetooth by Numinos 5 months ago

SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS

Inexpensive Bluetooth earbuds with LDAC Hi-Res Audio

The SoundPEATS Air3 Deluxe HS offer an astonishing number of features for their price of just under 50 euros: Thanks to LDAC, these headphones with a semi-ear-bud design also transmit Hi-Res Audio. A low-latency gaming mode can be activated as an option, and automatic wearer...


Bluetooth by Maike Paeßens 7 months ago

Nothing Ear (stick)

Lightweight True Wireless earbuds with high wearing comfort

With the Ear (stick), Nothing have added True Wireless earbuds with a half-in-ear design to their range, and these can be worn comfortably by those with sensitive ears. In addition to Bluetooth 5.2 standard, these earbuds support the high-quality audio codec AAC, and the sound...