There are things to look for in earbuds especially when we are in a very noisy setting.
A typical earbud or in-ear earphones or IEMs (in-ear monitors) won’t always work on blocking the outside noise. There are several factors that would make a basic in-ear earphone a noise canceling one.
When headphones become bulkier and less handy, it is smart for us to invest in high-quality in-ear earphones that can help block out the chaos and noise.
It’s super handy and functional, something to carry around whenever and wherever.
Instead of simply getting what’s on top of the list of the hottest and the best earbuds for a noisy environment on the market, choosing something that considers all the necessary parameters to find what’s perfect for us is much better.
1. Driver Type
When it comes to earbuds, there aren’t a lot of choices for what driver types are used. There are only two driver types choices for this one, the dynamic or balanced armature. Each of these driver types has their own advantages and drawbacks.
For in-ear earphones, the dynamic driver is the most common since it is the cheapest to manufacture between the two. Dynamic driver is simply a mini version of a typical loudspeaker which comes with a moving voice coil and a magnet to cause vibration in a diaphragm to create a sound.
Simply put, with a dynamic driver in an in-ear earphone, there is an excellent bass response.
However, it will be at the cost of high-frequency detail.
On the other hand, while the balanced armature driver has the same setup, it has a stationary voice coil. The armature that is supported between two magnets and a voice coil is frictionless, thus causing the diaphragm to move.
This is a configuration that gives an excellent electric efficiency to balanced armature drivers. It is also the reason why it can produce a more detailed sound.
However, it also comes with a price since it lacks the means to produce a natural bass.
In short, when choosing a driver type for in-ear earphones, the dynamic drivers will be cheap and come with great bass while balanced armature drivers are a bit more expensive and come with excellent high-frequency detail.
Having that said, there are also earbuds that feature a combination of both dynamic and balanced armature drivers which can deliver the best of both worlds.
2. Passive vs. Active Technology
Passive or active technology is an important feature when choosing earbuds.
In a passive noise canceling earbuds, there is a sound absorbing material that can reduce the noise from the environment.
On the other hand, the active noise canceling technology is not limited to the materials used and the physical design of the in-ear earphones. Instead, it uses additional components to reach its noise-canceling technology such as an electronic circuit, microphone, batteries, and an internal speaker.
Simply put, with an active noise cancellation technology of in-ear earphones, it can be used without the need to listen to music to block the sound from the environment.
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3. Noise Isolation vs. Noise Cancellation
When choosing the best earbuds for noisy environment, another feature to consider is choosing between noise isolation and noise cancellation.
Noise-canceling in-ear headphone uses a microphone to listen to outside noise, process it and then creates inverse waves which it then feeds back to the earbuds. With this fancy process of creating inverse waves, the ambient sounds are canceled.
However, this technology is not quite perfect and only works best in canceling low droning sounds like air conditioners as well as car and airplane engines.
When it comes to midrange sounds, this kind of earphone can only minimize the noise and not cancel it altogether. Sadly, it won’t be able to reduce or cancel crying babies too.
On the other hand, noise isolation in-ear earphones feature a physical barrier between the noise from the environment and the ear. While it is not enough to cancel noise altogether, it muffles the sound from the surrounding perfectly. The rate of outside noise that a noise isolation earbud can reduce is entirely based on the seal and fit it can create in the ears.
Simply put, with noise isolation, it can reduce the sound of the environment perfectly well but can often have huge earplugs to do so. For noise canceling earbuds, some are rechargeable or will require batteries. The quality of this kind of earbuds also vary a lot, but they are more comfortable to use.
4. Wired vs. Bluetooth Wireless Design
Traditional in-ear earphones feature that familiar cord that is used to connect to an audio device. But sometimes, this cord becomes tangled and is quite messy, and that’s when Bluetooth wireless in-ear headphones come as a better option.
With Bluetooth technology, there has become a greater variety of wireless noise canceling and noise isolation products.
But with extra technology advancement, Bluetooth wireless in-ear earphones come a little more expensive than wired in-ear earphones. The connection can also sometimes be buggy depending on the audio device’s quality. Bluetooth headphones will also require battery or charging.
But, there are also truly wireless earbuds that are more convenient and lightweight than Bluetooth wireless earbuds. But like any wireless earbuds on the market, it requires a battery for use.
5. Battery Life
When choosing the best earbuds for a noisy environment with the wireless feature, whether its Bluetooth wireless or truly wireless, the battery life of the earbuds is another factor to consider.
What good would a noise canceling or noise isolation in-ear earphone be if it loses power in the middle of a busy and noisy road early of the travel?
When shopping for wireless in-ear earphones, it’s best to consider one with at least 12 hours of battery life. This way, the cans will only require charging every few days.
A microphone is a great feature for noise canceling and noise isolation in-ear earphones. It doesn’t only help block out the noise of the environment; it also allows answering calls while on a busy and noisy area.
While the main purpose of earbuds is to reduce or cancel the noisy environment, it pays to have some extra feature that can be possibly used in a way.
Having microphones in earbuds make way for portability in making and receiving calls, record audios, and make podcasts while on the go.
Microphone quality of earbuds should include filtering of noise, clarity of sounds, audio transmission, and stability in a recording.
7. Quality of Sound
With noise canceling or noise isolation earbud, the main purpose is to block or muffle outside noise, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of the quality of sound. Earbuds will also be used in listening to music, eBooks, and other audio files.
As such, the audio quality of a pair of earbuds including its clarity and sensitivity should be top-notch. High-Resolution audio is always better than an earphone with standard audio.
The frequency response of the earbuds should also be considered. It determines the frequency range that it can support and reproduce.
8. Ear Tip Material
The ear tips of in-ear earphones can be made from various materials: silicone, rubber, and foam.
Silicone ear tip is considered superior in its kind because of its durability, comfort, and hygiene. Most in-ear earphones already have silicone tips except for the cheapest options which feature rubber tips.
Silicone ear tip also has varying designs and comes with double or triple flange design which helps boost the mechanical sound damping and the bass significantly. But, these multi-flanged silicone ear tips can be uncomfortable for others, especially for long-time use.
Foam ear tips, on the other hand, are less durable but also come quite expensive than silicone tips. But, when it comes to noise isolation, they are the best option since they snug perfectly to the shape of the ear.
9. Fit and Comfort
An earbud that is comfortable for use for long hours is always great. It’s perfect for long and noisy traffic, something that can’t strain the ears.
The fit of an earbud is also an important matter, especially when using it while being active. For one, when running and trying to block outside noise with in-ear earphones, it should snug perfectly well in the ears without a case of not staying in place or falling out of the ears. In this case, wireless earbuds can offer more mobility.
Simply put, an earbud fit should not be loose in the ear but shouldn’t also be too tight that it becomes uncomfortable after hours of using it.
10. Warranty Status
The best noise canceling or noise isolation in-ear earphones will come at a price. Spending money on cheap version won’t be as effective, so it’s smarter to invest in good ones. And since it can be quite an investment, a guarantee or its warranty status will ensure that it’s worth its price.
With the right driver type, IEM technology, quality, and other features, there will be no worries in answering calls, listening to music, or simply blocking out the noise in a busy and noisy environment. With this list of parameters of things to look for in earbuds at hand, buying in-ear earphones is not just beneficial but also worth it.