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Wired vs wireless headphones: which ones should you choose?

Wireless headphones and earbuds are all the rage but are they the right choice for you? Check our guide on wired vs wireless headphones and learn the answer.

With so much awesome content out there we all spend a lot of time using headphones. So, a good pair of headphones is almost as essential as the equipment you’re using with them.

We can all agree on that.

But, the debate of wired vs wireless headphones is still a hot topic among tech nerds and novice internet users alike.

So, let’s settle this once and for all. Below is everything you need to consider when deciding between wired and wireless headphones separated into helpful categories people often use when making this important choice.

Comfort

Working in a crowded office or taking a long flight? You want your headphones to be as comfortable as a fluffy pillow on your ears. For this reason, many people prefer the old-school style headphone over earbuds.

You can get wired or wireless versions of either headphones or earbuds, but it’s more common to see headphones with a wire. A common complaint with earbuds is that they are less comfortable to wear for long durations of time.

Wireless headphones are usually built with a lighter weight as well which can increase overall comfort. You also may prefer the wireless version if you want to be able to move freely while using your headphones.

So in this regard, there is not a clear winner in the comfort category. Choose a pair that has significant padding and has adjustable size to ensure they fit appropriately.

Price

The cost of headphones has more to do with the quality of the product than whether they are wireless.

Generally speaking, wireless headphones are going to be more expensive than wired headphones. This is because wireless headphones rely on Bluetooth technology. Either way, you can expect to pay more for a higher-quality pair of headphones.

Wireless headphones start at about $10-$15 while wireless headphones usually cost $20 or more. Higher-end wireless headphones can cost thousands of dollars. You’re paying for the convenience and the technology when it comes to wireless headphones.

Ultimately, your price to quality ratio is better when you buy wired headphones, but it all depends on the features that are most important to you.

Compatibility

Compatibility refers to the ability to use your headphones and your computer, phone, or other devices together.

For wired headphones, this means that the pieces literally have to be able to fit with each other (with or without an adaptor). For wireless headphones, you have to consider system compatibility.

For example, if you have an older device and brand new Bluetooth headphones, they may not be compatible.

If you don’t want to be stuck asking why won’t my AirPods connect to my Mac – do your research before making a purchase. A quick search online or question to a store clerk should clear things up for you.

You can also look at customer reviews of various products to see if anyone has mentioned compatibility issues in the past. Again, there is no clear winner here as long as the headphones you choose can be used with the device you intend to use.

Sound quality

Wired vs wireless headphones sound quality is another hotly debated topic. Wired headphones will generally produce better sound quality.

Wireless headphones support fewer kilobits per second (kbps) which is a measure of bandwidth and relates to overall sound quality. Interruptions in the connection between your wireless headphones and another device can disrupt the sound or cause poor quality sound.

If you mostly use your headphones for leisure, both wired and wireless headphones will provide good sound quality. If you depend on headphones for your occupation or if you are hearing impaired, you may want to research the highest-rated headphones specifically for sound quality.

The winner in this category is probably wired headphones, but as long as you get a high-quality pair, the sound should be good.

Convenience

Many people prefer wireless headphones because they allow you to walk, run, jump, and generally move freely while using them. When you’re plugged in with wired headphones you don’t have that convenience or flexibility.

However, unlike wired headphones, wireless headphones require charging. There is high variability in the battery life among wireless headphones, but with wired headphones, you don’t have to worry about recharging at all.

As far as the convenience conversation, it depends on how and when you use your headphones the most. If you want them for exercise, wireless is going to be ideal. But if you want all-day use at work or on a plane, wired headphones are the way to go.

Keep in mind that different wireless headphones also have a different range where they can be used. Higher-quality wireless headphones will allow you to travel further from your device with the same connection and sound quality.

If you choose wired headphones you will also want to look at the length of the wire. A longer wire will allow you a bit more flexibility than the shorter variety.

Appearance

Headphones can also be a fashion statement. They are a functional accessory that you still want to look good.

Most headphone brands come in various sizes and colors. Shop around to find your style before purchasing.

Appearance is a matter of personal preference for headphones, but some people prefer a discreet earbud over large over-the-ears headphones.

Wired vs wireless headphones: Resolved at last?

So there you have it. The essential pros and cons of wired vs wireless headphones. Now comes the time to weigh which features are most important to you.

Consider your budget and when and how often you plan to use your headphones before making your purchase.

You can check out customer reviews or ask for recommendations from friends or coworkers. Whichever headphones you decide on, ask about a warranty. If you spend significant money on these headphones, you want to be sure it’ll be worth it.

Shop with confidence, and enjoy your new wired or wireless headphones!

Photograph by Florian Schmucker