A Beginner’s Guide To Picking The Best Headphones

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best headphones for your budget
Credit: Alphacolor / Unsplash

Buying the best headphones in Singapore is like choosing a companion. If you think about it, you’ll probably be spending a lot of time on your headphones. You’ll be using them as you work/study in the office, or when you are travelling on the bus or MRT train. Hence, it’s important to do some research by reading headphone reviews or specifications before settling on one.

Not sure where to start? This guide is meant to make choosing the best headphones a walk in the park for you. We’ll also recommend some of the best headphones for your budget. Simply follow the steps for a better idea of what to get!

Step 1. What Are Your Priorities When Listening to Music?

Firstly, think about what you prioritise in a pair of earphones. There are 4 main factors to consider when picking one:

  • Sound quality
  • Portability
  • Comfort
  • Price

It is impossible to find the best headphones that performs exceptionally well in all 4 criteria. If a pair of headphones is lightweight, comfortable to wear and has great sound quality, it’s likely going burn a large hole in your pocket. Most headphones will do well in 2 or 3 areas, so you should consider which is most important for you.

A Tip For Sound Quality

Sound quality is a very subjective topic because everyone has their own definition of what’s great. A general rule of thumb is that more expensive headphones will have better sound quality. Then again, there are exceptions to this rule.

A better approach would be to think about what kind of music you enjoy listening to, then decide what kind of sounds you prefer. For example, if you enjoy electronic and rock music with heavy drums and basslines, a pair of headphones with stronger bass will suit you better. Likewise, for fans of classical music or acoustic ballads, earphones that emphasise brighter tones will be ideal.

Step 2: Types of Headphones and the Best Headphones for Your Budget

There are 4 main types of headphones for you to choose from in the market. We’ll be going through the pros and cons of each category so you can decide which is the best headphones for you!

In-Ear Headphones

In-ear Headphones
(Credit: unsplash.com)

In-ear headphones in Singapore are very common. There’s a reason why they are so popular — their small size makes them super portable, and they provide decent isolation from outside noise. An added advantage is that some come with microphones for you to receive calls.

Since their design requires you to insert the headphone into your ears, in-ear headphones may be uncomfortable for some. Also, they have the potential to cause greater hearing damage. This is because they produce louder volumes on average compared to other types because the speakers are nearer the eardrums.

SoundMagic E10C: Best In-Ear Headphones Below $100

SoundMagic E10C In ear best headphones
(Credit: eguru)

These are popular budget earphones that provide great sound quality for the price! Bassheads will love the lower end of the SoundMagic E10C.

  • Price: $49.90 — $55.90

1MORE Triple-Driver: Best In-Ear Headphones Between $100-$200

1MORE Triple Driver In Ear best Headphones
(Credit: treoo.sg)

Tuned by Grammy Award-winning sound engineer Luca Bignardi, the 1MORE Triple Driver E1001 comes highly recommended. It delivers amazing sound quality for its price.

  • Price: $169

Shure SE535: Best In-Ear Headphones Above $300

se535 in ear headphones
(Credit: stereoelectronics)

These are one of the best in-ear monitors in the market. For perfect sound reproduction and great sound isolation, the Shure SE535 is hard to beat.

  • Price: $729

Over-Ear Headphones

Girl listening to over the ear headphones
(Credit: Igor Starkov /Unsplash)

If comfort and noise isolation matter the most to you, over-ear are the best headphones for you. These wrap around your ears, providing greater comfort for long periods of use than in-ear ones. It also means that they are very effective in blocking out ambient noise. The isolation can help to protect your ears from further hearing damage and improve sound quality.

Since over-ear headphones are designed to surround your ears, they tend to be more bulky and heavier. As a result, their portability leaves much to be desired. You might also find they tend to attract more stares from others.

Audio Technica ATH-M20X: Best Over-Ear Headphones Below $100

ATH M20X over the ear headphones
(Credit: shopmaxglobal)

Part of Audio-Technica’s professional studio monitor series, the ATH-M20x gives you good sound quality for the price.

  • Price: $78

AKG Y-50: Best Over-Ear Headphones Between $100-300

AKG Y50 over the ear headphones
(Credit: mamamia312)

With a strong bass sound, the AKG Y50 is a pair of stylish headphones with a wireless Bluetooth feature. They are also foldable and smaller than others in the category, which makes them extra portable.

  • Price: $169

Sennheiser Momentum: Best Over-Ear Headphones Above $300

Sennheiser momentum over the ear best headphones
(Credit: sennheiser.sg)

The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 headphones are one of the best headphones available. With awesome sound quality paired with memory foam and leather pads, these are one of the best in the market.

  • Price: $499

On-Ear Headphones

Man using on ear headphones
(Credit: pexels.com)

On-Ear headphones can be seen as an in-between. The smaller ear cups are positioned on the ear, so they are more comfortable than in-ear headphones and more compact than over-ears ones. If you travel a lot and find in-ear headphones uncomfortable, these will be great for you.

However, you should take note that on-ear headphones normally do not provide good isolation. This may be an annoyance if you work in noisy environments. You may have to increase the volume to compensate for the background noise, which damages your ears in the long run.

Sennheiser HD 2.10: Best On-Ear Headphones Below $100

sennheiser hd 2.10 on ear headphones
(Credit: sennheiser.sg)

Sennheiser’s HD 2.10 are lightweight and portable with a decent sound quality for their affordable price.

  • Price: $71

Grado SR80E: Best On-Ear Headphones Between $100-300

Grado SR80E on ear best headphones
(Credit: skmtofficialstore)

These portable open-back earphones have been recommended by many for providing the best bang for your buck. Grado SR80E deliver an amazing sound quality that matches its higher-priced rivals.

Price: $169

AKG N60NC: Best On-Ear Headphones Above $300

 

AKG N60NC on ear headphones
(Credit: imssg)

The AKG N60NC provide crisp sound with a premium look and feel. It has a noise-cancelling feature, as well as 18 hours of battery life for wireless Bluetooth use.

  • Price: $449

Wireless Headphones

With more smartphone manufacturers removing the headphone jack from new phone models, wireless headphones may be a sensible choice for you. These provide the most portability because you don’t need to worry about additional dongles taking up space in your bag. Look out for folding ones to save even more space!

One of the biggest complaints about wireless headphones is the sound quality. As wireless headphones use Bluetooth signals to receive audio from the source, sound quality may be lower than wired ones. Whether this bothers you is another matter, since you may not be able to tell the difference.

JBL T450BT: Best Wireless Headphones Below $100

JBL T450BT wireless headphones
(Credit: rack85)

The JBL T450BT provide thumping bass with an impressive 11-hour battery life for its price.

  • Price: $79.90

Jabra MOVE: Best Wireless Headphones Between $100-300

Jabra move wireless headphones
(Credits: rack85)

Great for both sports and casual use, the lightweight Jabra Move give you crisp sound well worth its price.

  • Price: $138

Bose QC35 Quiet Comfort: Best Wireless Headphones Above $300

Bose qc35 wireless headphones
(Credit: stereoelectronics)

Bose is a brand that is well-known for their superb sound quality, and the Bose QC35 II Quiet Comfort do not disappoint. This is one of the best wireless headphones for its sound quality, long 20-hour battery life and comfortable ear cushions. It even has a dedicated button for Google Home Assistant!

  • Price: $529

Step 3: What Are You Going to Use Your Headphones For?

Now that you know the different types, it’s time to think about which will suit your lifestyle. Here are some common usage scenarios and our recommendations

  • For work: Over-ear headphones are comfortable for long periods of use, and they isolate ambient noise well so you can focus on your work. Try out Beyerdynamic DT 770 over-ear headphones for excellent sound quality and comfort.
  • For travel: In-ear and on-ear headphones are more suitable since they take up less space in your bag. You may consider wireless variants too if you don’t want to deal with tangled wires. The Sennheiser Momentum in-ears are a stylish choice.
  • For sports: You’re going to want waterproof-certified ones so you can wash away your sweat afterwards. Try wireless options like the JBL Under Armour wireless in-ear headphones.
  • For gaming: For gamers, a microphone is essential for team communication. The Razer ManO’War is a great option for gaming.

Step 4: Some Features and Technical Terms to Look Out For

Active vs Passive Noise-cancellation: Active noise-cancelling headphones emit out-of-phase waves to cancel out ambient noise. If you have never tried it before, you’ll be surprised at how effective this feature can be! Passive noise-cancellation refers to headphones with good sound isolation to block out background noise.

Closed-back vs Open-back: You may see this term used for some over-ear and on-ear headphones. Basically, closed-back headphones prevent sound leakage and provide greater isolation. On the other hand, open-back ones tend to have a wider sound stage which tends to sound more realistic, usually at a cost of greater sound leakage.

Drivers: These are responsible for producing the sounds in your earphones. There are different types of drivers that create different types of sounds, which is quite technical to explain.

Ready to start shopping for your headphones? Have a look at the best headphones on offer at Shopee Mall! They are guaranteed 100% authentic and are eligible for 15-day refunds, so you can shop with ease. You can even enjoy free shipping on your orders!

Meanwhile, we have also prepared a guide for the best wireless speakers for travel. Have a look and keep rockin’!

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