Bluetooth, Earbuds, For Kids, Gaming, Headphones, Headsets, Noise-cancelling

Headphones vs Earbuds (FULL Comparison)

Headphones vs earbuds

Headphones vs Earbuds

You may be wondering which type of listening devices are best to suit your needs: headphones vs earbuds. What’s the difference between headphones and earbuds? Some people would say they serve the same purpose.

Headphones, earbuds and earphones have different designs. Earbuds, on the other hand, are meant to reach your ear canal. The headphones’ ear-cups wrap around your outer ears. Earphones made with silicone, rubber or foam ear-tips can be inserted into the ear canal. They are also different in terms of sound quality, processing ambient noise, comfort and usability.

It can be difficult to choose between headphones and earbuds. You may also feel overwhelmed by all the different brands and their offerings in terms of design and features.  We’ll be breaking down headphones and earbuds in this article.

What are Headphones?

Two small loudspeakers are connected by a band to make headphones. They are worn on top of your head and rest on or above your ears.

They are designed to let one person listen to an audio source privately. Although each pair of headphones might look slightly different, the general design is the same.  There are two options for headphone: open-back or closed back.

What are Earbuds?

Earbuds come in two sizes, each with its driver. Earbuds can be inserted directly into the ear, or they can rest on the inner ear. They can be connected to audio devices via wire or cable, depending on which model. They are small and portable, which makes them unrivaled in portability.

Headphones are superior to earbuds for the same price, in terms of audio quality. Earbuds are smaller in size, which makes them more difficult to store internal components. Earbuds can be irritating for some people depending on how they fit into your ears.

Earbuds and Headphones: What are the Differences?

What are the Pros and Con of Earbuds?

Headphone Sound

Headphones are made with larger drivers. They can be as big as 40 mm to 50 mm and 7 mm up to 15 mm respectively. These headphones deliver a deeper, yet softer, bass, and more consistent performance across the entire audio cycle, including the lows and highs. You can hear music in headphones more clearly. The headphones give you the sensation of being completely immersed in music. You are able to better hear the subtleties of the music and can assess the full musical spectrum.

Noise Canceling Headphones

Earbuds vs. headphones process different ambient noises. Therefore, active and passive noise cancelling are available. This technology is able to identify the ambient sounds outside and transform the sound waves. They block them out. Most active noise cancellation headphones block outside noises. It’s not recommended for running, but for working out.

Comfortable Headphones

High-quality headphones have soft cushions made of premium materials. They should create a snug, but comfortable seal. After wearing them for several hours, you shouldn’t feel sore ears and head fatigue.

Portability of Headphones

Headphones tend to be bulkier. Even though many headphones are small and easily foldable, they can’t compete with earphones which fit into any pocket. The place you wear them will also play a role, so let’s move on to the next point.

Headphones for working out

If you are deciding between headphones for work and earphones, the best choice is the last. They offer a soundproof seal that prevents ambient noise from entering the earphones. This allows athletes to focus on music and exercise. The headset is stable during crunches. They won’t fall off the headset as the workout gets more difficult. However, in-ear headphones might slip out of the ear when there is sweat.


  • Active noise cancelling
  • Voluminous music
  • Improved understanding of the smallest tones, instruments, vocals, and vocals
  • Soft cushions
  • May be foldable and compact

– Cons:

  • Heavy and bulkier designs
  • The headband is not for everyone
  • These headphones will satisfy your desire for high-quality, exceptional headphones.

What are the Pros and Con of Earbuds?

Comfort of Earbuds

Earbuds are meant to fit in your ear canals. They can be wireless or wired. Today, Bluetooth wireless earbuds are very popular.

Sound of Earbuds

Earbuds and headphones have different sound quality. The earbuds are closer to the ear canals so they are more vulnerable to high decibel levels. Music sounds “closer” because it is so close to the ear canals. Although the brand will determine the sound quality, it may be just as good as the headphones. But, you will have more ambient noise.

Earbuds with noise-cancelling capabilities

Earbuds are more prone to ambient leakage that the other two types. The earbuds come without any accessories so there is no way to block outside noise. However, the design was intentional. This type is used mainly by runners who need to be aware and safe around their surroundings. Earbuds enable you to hear what is around you.

Portability of Earbuds

Pairs of earbuds can be more portable than headphones. Earbuds are more portable than headphones because they are smaller and lighter. Some earbuds look like a lighter.

Earbuds for Sports

Earphones are best for running or jogging. Both types can be used for running and at the gym.


  • Wireless and true wireless options
  • Compact
  • High-quality music
  • Super portable
  • Music sounds “closer”
  • Allowed situational awareness

– Cons:

  • Ambient noise leakage
  • Bass overshadowing is possible
  • You don’t need accessories to make your clothes more comfortable
  • Magnetic or clip housings not for everyone

Headphones vs Earbuds: Which Sound Better?


The type of earbud you use will determine the sound quality. It can be excellent and very clean in the best-case scenario.

Earbuds don’t usually have the same impact as larger headphones. The bass tones aren’t as loud and produce the same rumbling feeling.  They have a slightly larger soundstage which gives them an advantage in imaging.


The sound on headphones is more smooth and powerful compared to earbuds. They sound larger, or have a wider soundstage, especially if they are open-back. The closest thing to room speakers is the sound of full-sized headphones

Which is more comfortable?


It all depends on the earbuds. Some people don’t like the way they fit. They can cause excessive pressure in your pinna if they are too bulky. There are exceptions. They are extremely comfortable and don’t put any pressure on the skin.


It all depends on the model. The on-ears are well-made and provide adequate comfort for listening to short audio sessions.  The most comfortable of all are over-ears, especially those that are truly over-ear.

Some models come with smaller earpads, which don’t completely cover your ears and put pressure on the edges of your earlobes.

Which batteries have a longer battery life?


A single-charge battery is not good, but it is improving. The battery life of the earbuds and case can be very high, making them comparable to premium over-ear headphones.


Larger casings provide a longer battery life and a better charge rate.

Are Headphones or Earbuds More Expensive?


Although wired in-ear monitors can be more expensive than larger headphones, they are still relatively affordable.  Premium headphones are often less expensive than premium headphones of the same brand.  Earbuds are generally priced between $30 and $300 for consumer models.


The most expensive headphones for audiophiles are the Sennheiser Orpheus, which costs $50,000.These are made of luxurious materials which can increase the overall cost.  Consumer models start at $30 and go up to $700.

Which are More Portable?


These are so small that you may forget they’re there. They can be tucked in any pocket.  True wireless earbuds (TWS), have an extra charging case that protects and charges them.


The full-size ones are usually the most portable. Over-ear headphones can be bulky so make sure to keep your backpack space free.  Some models come with protective carrying cases and foldable earcups to combat this problem.

Are Earbuds more Durable than Headphones?


Earbuds with a fixed wire are more likely to fail because the cables can break very easily.  Wireless earbuds are very durable, mainly because they don’t have wires. Models such as Jaybird Vista 2 can be fully waterproofed, shockproof, and even splashproof.

They are lighter and more durable than their larger, heavier counterparts if they fall on the ground.  Bluetooth earbuds have one major drawback: the batteries will eventually fail to work.

Silicone tips can be used for many years without losing their quality. Foam tips, on the other hand, are far less durable.


They are heavier and have a greater impact. There’s a greater chance of something breaking because of this.

Affordable ones can snap in half easily with cheap plastic.  After 2-3 years, leather earpads can crack.

Bottom Line: Headphones vs Earbuds

Although the choice between headphones or earbuds can be incredibly subjective, there are some key considerations to consider before making a decision.

Earbuds are usually smaller, easier to use and less expensive than canned ones. Headphones, on the other hand, often offer the best audio quality and noise cancellation, as well as longer battery life, provided you are willing to spend a little more.


They are very effective at isolating your ears because they reach all the way into your ears. They can isolate well, especially if they have multiple flanged tips (Etymotic Research or swimming earbuds).

For those who want to achieve passive isolation, custom-made ear tips are the best option.  Foam tips also block more ambient noise than silicone ones.


Regular headphones have a slight advantage over earbuds, particularly closed-back and leather earpads.

They also have a superior noise cancellation performance than earbuds with ANC.  Noise-isolating headphones are specially designed to block out surrounding noise. These headphones don’t allow for music.

Headphones vs Earbuds: FAQ’s

Which One is Better for Children?

Children might have to follow the same safety rules: the louder and longer they listen to music, they do more damage to their hearing.

Parents should limit how much music they play and how loud. Some devices have parental controls that allow you to adjust the volume.

Earphones and Earbuds: Which Type Is Safer?

Your hearing can be affected by headphones, earbuds, and earphones. According to doctors, the second most common cause of hearing loss is improperly using listening devices. This is not surprising, as it literally blasts music into your ears. Decibel levels are used to measure the damage.

Unsafe sounds are those above 85 decibels. You have a greater chance of hearing damage if you listen longer and louder. Many listening devices can produce sounds exceeding 120 decibels.

Earbuds are placed inside your ears, increasing the volume by about 9 decibels. The volume of headphones is higher than the volume for headphones that are located outside your ears.

On the other hand, earbuds don’t completely block out ambient noise so you would need to crank up the volume to not hear it. In terms of safety, headphones are safer than earbuds. That being said, the volume and listening time are important factors in hearing health.