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Earbuds vs Headphones: Is one truly superior?

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Eliot McDonald
Student wearing headphones but also browsing different types of earbuds.

The world of headphones can be confusing to the untrained eye and for good reason. One may think that earbuds are worse, considering their smaller size. On the flip side, somebody might think that headphones are worse because of their bulkiness. 

With technology being innovated on the daily, the old assumptions on this field of technology should be forgotten. 

Starting off, the versatility of earbuds are unmatched. With the introduction of wireless earbuds into mainstream pop culture, you cannot go anywhere without seeing somebody wearing some or carrying them.

Whether you want to block out the world, listen to music, or listen to a podcast, wireless earbuds have you covered with a portable and simple design. 

Where I think wireless earbuds fall short is in the exercise department. In my experience, the sleek design of these new age earbuds such as Beats Studio Buds and Airpod Pro’s are in lieu of functionality and security whilst in the ear.

 Too many times I have tried working out with these earbuds, just for them to fall out of my ear mid set because I wasn’t sitting there with my face relaxed, which seems to be necessary for them to be truly secure. 

Headphones on the other hand are the exact opposite. The earcups completely cover your ear and with a bar over the top of the head it is very hard for a pair of well made headphones to fall off. 

The only downfall of security during use is that most quality headphones are going to be slightly heavy. That does not mean they are uncomfortable for the average user, but it may be less than ideal for somebody who uses them all day. Though, for the average consumer who uses them only a couple hours a day this does not pose an issue. 

Noise cancellation is another factor in play with this topic. I think that over ear headphones absolutely shine over all competition. Noise canceling in earbuds are commonplace nowadays, but even the top of the line Airpod Pro 2’s can’t cancel the noise like a pair of good headphones can. 

When moving throughout the world with headphones on, most want to be immersed in their own little world, blocking out the distractions of the loud gym or busy city around them. Headphones do this to the fullest extent that earbuds cannot reach. When you look at the top of the line headphones, such as Sony XM5’s or Apple Airpod Maxes, they are truly undefeated in noise cancellation.

Even though earbuds are beaten in the category of noise cancelation, the portability trait comes back into play. Often one does not plan to need a form of earbud or headphone and not everybody has a bag with them everywhere to carry clunky headphones. In these situations the slightly worse noise cancelation of an earbud can be superior. It can quiet down the surrounding noises to a mumble which is sometimes all you need to focus on a task. 

Though I have just scraped the surface of this deep comparison iceberg, I can easily say that both devices have their uses in life. I do not think that one could live without the other. 

Earbuds are incredibly compact and advanced for their level of portability and sound design in such a small package. In the case of headphones being better, they are clunky and annoying to carry all the time. But when you have a way to carry them, such as a bag, they cannot be beat in sound or noise cancellation.

 Personal sound technology will evolve over time to where some of these issues may not be an issue in the future, but for now, I think there is no debate. Earbuds and headphones are situational, at its simplest definition.

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About the Contributor
Eliot McDonald
Eliot McDonald, Broadcast Editor
Junior Eliot McDonald is the staff videographer for the Prowler staff  but also loves writing articles of many kinds. In this coming year of Journalism, McDonald wants to expand his repertoire of writing styles, get more involved with school events, and help new journalism students produce the best media they can for The Prowler. Other than subjects that reside under the label of “English” McDonald loves to study History and Social Sciences. Outside of school, McDonald enjoys soccer for a club team in the fall and he also plays for the highschool soccer team in the spring. In addition to soccer McDonald is big into the world of physical fitness and weightlifting. When not in soccer season he likes to powerlift and plans on eventually competing in a powerlifting meet when time permits. Whilst on breaks from school, such as summer break, McDonald loves going to his family's beach house. When at the beach he loves to fish, swim, and bike. McDonald is ecstatic to continue his work in the world of journalism under the guidance of his peers and teacher, Ms. Mary Holton.

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