Why have over-ear headphones become a thing?

Most of us have a preference for either headphones or earphones, but these are based either on comfort or sound quality. But, there are many other criteria that should be considered while shopping for an earphone or headphone, like health. Yes, these devices can easily damage our hearing capabilities and even cause hearing loss in some cases.

Why should you go for over-ear headphones rather than in-ear ones?

In general, over-ear headphones do not pose a risk themselves; the risk lies in the volume and the amount of time you spend listening to music, the risk is exactly the same when you are listening to music using speaker stands and brackets. While both earphones and headphones present the risk of high decibel levels, earphones are likely to cause more damage.

Since earphones sit right inside your ear, they naturally increase the volume by about nine decibels. On the other hand, headphones sit on the outside of the ear, therefore there is less amplification. This is the reason why most doctors recommend headphones rather than earphones.
Additionally, earbuds and earphones do not block out background noise. So naturally, most of us will amplify the volume up to unsafe levels. There are also a lot of cheap earphones with uneven levels or distorted sounds that will lead us to increase the volume too high levels.

Over-ear headphones are very comfortable and come with a large amount of padding, which provides a better fit by positioning perfectly over the entirety of your ears. Full-sized headphones provide great bass, noise isolation, and better sound clarity as well.

Specialty features

Apart from the general and medical factors, there are a few other features that are included in over-ear headphones like:

1. Noise cancellation

Noise cancelling headphones sample the noise and sound around you and play its inverted version of the sound in your ears, thereby cancelling the incoming noise around you. While it is very effective, these units can be on the expensive side, which you will have to keep in mind if you want to purchase noise cancellation headphones. For these types of headphones, you will need some batteries. It is best if you buy full-size headphones because they will give you the best noise cancellation.

2. Noise isolation

This term is often confused with noise cancellation headphones. Noise isolation headphones block out a majority of the noise by creating a seal in and around your ears. This physical seal keeps the music in and around your ears and unwanted sounds out. Of course, they are not as effective as noise cancellation headphones, but are cheaper and do not require batteries.

3. Wireless

Wireless headphones do not have wires and let you roam around cable-free. Most of these wireless headsets are fitted with Bluetooth capabilities. They not only eliminate the hassle of wires but they also allow you to skip, pause, or play music right from your headphones. This type of headphone is mostly used by people who love to exercise since there are no wires to get tangled up.

The rise in the popularity of headphones

In 1981, the new Sony Walkman allowed people to withdraw in their own private musical worlds. At that time, the role of the headphone was changing very radically, right from homely use to the public arena. Wearing headphones became cool when portable music arrived. For the next three decades, there were not many changes in the scenario of headphones. They were just used to listen to music.
The rise in the popularity of headphones started in 2012 when there was a chain of tech events, like the smartphone war when Apple’s iPhone 5 went head-on with Samsung’s Apple killer, the Galaxy S3, when Sweden-based music app, Spotify, entered the markets of the USA, etc. At that time, more and more people were buying smartphones but did not want to wear white earphones.
This gave an idea to headphone brands, like Skullcandy and Beats, to trumpet it as a fashion trend. These companies leaped into the limelight and saw skyrocketing numbers in terms of revenue. Earlier, headphones were seen more as an object just for listening to music, except by music producers and audiophiles who were willing to throw in money for high-ended ones.
GQ declared in mid-2011 that the high-styled headphone, which is not a fashion accessory at all, makes as much statement as anything else that you are wearing. All these events led to a 32% revenue spike in the retail headphone industry in 2012 and raised the market to $1.37 billion. Beats, one of the pioneering headphone companies, saw an annual growth of 8.4% in the past five years.

According to many analysts, headphones became something desirable and essential in the terms of accessories that you would want to own, like a tablet or smartphone. Thanks to this upsurge, headphones improved in the terms of engineering and design over the course of time. Today, low-costing headphones give customers a lot more than what they used to previously.
Today, people do not have to settle for earphones and earbuds that are fitted with covers that will eventually die with a few weeks’ use. Today, even the cheaper headphone models are fitted with shiny features, like adjustable cords, in-built microphones, rubber gel pads, etc.
Industrialists and manufacturers have also gained by the sudden upsurge of the headphone market. Once they were just limited to selling at local electronic stores. But now, with the emergence of online shopping sites, kiosks, and retailers, they can now sell their wares more easily to the masses. There are several airports that offer headphones to weary travelers when they need them.

Final thoughts

In the end, headphones are way safer for our ears than earbuds or earphones, since headphones effectively cancel out noise from the outside and we can listen to our music at a normal volume level. Headphones also offer superior and better sound quality than earphones. Also, we cannot ignore the fact that headphones rest on the out ear and do not seal the auditory surface, unlike earphones that are meant to enter the ear, leading to partial deafness in the long run.

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