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5 Different Types of Earbuds: Everything you need to know

The first wireless earbuds began their journey in 2015. Since then, earbuds have got a lot of different types. Here are the 5 different types of earbuds.
Different types of earbuds put on a orange background

With more than 20 years of development in audio technology, from giant big speakers to portable and pocket earbuds, we all have grown up. But, just like the other technologies, earbuds also did not stop there as they kept evolving over time.

The first in-ear headphones were invented in 1891 and the first wireless earbuds began their journey in 2015—get rid of the shackles of cables. Over the next decade, earbuds have been improved and introduced various terms such as battery, true wireless, ANC, and so on in audio technology.

So, whether you’re in the market for earbuds right now or you’re just making plans for the future, we recommend that you educate yourself on the distinctions between each variety. In this manner, you’ll be able to choose the ideal one for you.

Here, in this article, we’ve covered all the different types of earbuds and everything you need to know about them. Without further ado, let’s get straight to the point of difference.

1. In-ear Earbuds

A women wearing in-ear earbuds, a type of different earbuds

In-ear earbuds also referred to as intra-aural or canal earphones, are the first and most popular kind of earbuds. As the name indicates, the in-ear earbuds form a seal that makes complete sound isolation by fitting snuggly into the ear canal. They are lightweight, portable, and widely used by people who value a quiet and cozy listening experience.

Pros

  • In-ear earbuds are discreet and comfortable for extended use
  • Due to the in-ear fit, it creates excellent sound isolation

Cons

  • The feeling of pinched ears may cause discomfort for some users

2. Open-ear Earbuds

An old men wearing open-ear earbuds, a type of different earbuds
(Image credit: zdnet)

Open-ear earbuds, in contrast, rest outside the ear canal without creating a seal. As shown in the above image, this design allows ambient noise to pass through so that users can remain aware of their surroundings. This makes it an ideal choice for running, cycling, or situations where situational awareness is crucial. While having an advantage, open-ear earbuds also come with the disadvantage of sound leakage and less bass output.

Pros

  • Allows awareness of surroundings
  • Ideal for outdoor activities
  • Less likely to cause ear fatigue

Cons

  • Limited noise isolation
  • Sound leakage may disturb others in quiet settings

3. Over-ear Earbuds

A young boy put over-ear earbuds on ears which is a type of different earbuds

Over-ear earbuds, also called circum-aural or earcup earphones, encompass the entire ear. Well, these are not technically earbuds, but as they come with unique offers, it is worth mentioning. As clearly shown in the above image, these rest on your ears rather than inside them. These earbuds typically offer superior sound quality and noise isolation due to their larger size. Over-ear designs are favored by audiophiles and those who crave an immersive listening experience.

Pros

  • Superior sound quality and noise isolation
  • Comfortable for extended use
  • Durable and often feature premium materials

Cons

  • Bulkier and less portable
  • May cause ear fatigue during prolonged use

4. Wired Earbuds

Wired earbuds are the most popular type of earbuds, which connect to devices via a physical cable. These earbuds outperform all other types of earbuds in terms of better sound quality and battery life—by eliminating the power need. The fact that these earbuds come in every price range is another advantage. Wired earbuds are the best option for those who prefer simplicity and don’t mind dealing with cables.

Pros

  • Reliable connection with no battery concerns
  • Often more affordable than wireless counterparts
  • Wide compatibility with various devices

Cons

  • Limited mobility due to the cable
  • Prone to tangling and potential damage

5. Truly Wireless Earbuds

Truly wireless earbuds, also known as TWS earbuds, are a type of earphone that consists of two individual earbuds that connect to each other and to your audio source wirelessly, typically via Bluetooth. The truly wireless earbuds launched back in 2015 and while not the first, Apple’s AirPods (launched in December 2016) significantly popularized the concept. Acoustically, the in-ear type outperforms the semi-in-ear kind in terms of sound quality and noise cancellation. They have no wires connecting the earbuds to each other or to a device that makes a completely cable-free listening experience.

Pros

  • Convenient and cable-free experience
  • Ideal for active lifestyles
  • Increasingly advanced features like touch controls and voice assistants

Cons

  • Limited battery life, requiring regular charging
  • Can be more expensive than wired options
  • They can be susceptible to connection issues, such as audio dropouts or lag
  • Since they are small and individual, they can be easily misplaced or lost

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