Superior to earphones and earbuds in every sense
By Caroline Ho, Arts Editor
Audially, stylistically, and convenience-wise—headphones beat earphones or earbuds any day of the week.
I’m not going to get into the audio quality aspect here, because obviously there’s a lot of differentiation between brands of headphones or earphones and the amount of money you’re willing to spend. However, whether it’s a $400 Audio-Technica pair or $20 Sony’s, on-ear or over-ear, headphones are more versatile and effective in a lot of ways than anything you stick inside your ear.
First of all, headphones are less potentially damaging to your hearing. Earbuds and especially earphones deliver sound right into your ear canal, so when you listen to something at the same volume through headphone and earphones, the latter causes the sound to reach the delicate parts of your ears a lot more directly and damagingly. If you blast music at max volume you’re going to cause damage no matter what equipment you’re using (please don’t, folks!), but you’re probably more likely to turn the volume up if you’re using a lower-quality pair of earphones with poor noise cancellation or isolation.
Storage and ease of carrying is also a point in favour of headphones. They’re obviously bulkier and harder to stuff hastily into your pocket—but that also means they’re less likely to fall out of your pocket without you noticing. In addition, headphone wearers don’t have to suffer the constant frustration of shedding earphone tips left and right, and being left with mismatching ones that don’t fit properly.
Also, let’s face it, if you’re ever in a situation where you have to borrow someone else’s earphones or earbuds, sticking someone else’s earwax-covered tips in your ear canals is pretty gross.
But wait, you might be saying, if you don’t have a good pocket or case to store your headphones, you’re stuck wearing them when you’re on the go! I’d call this another mark in their favour because headphones also serve as fashion accessories and ear-warmers. If you’re the type to constantly have freezing ears in winter, even with a layer of toque or hood, headphones are great for keeping you both physically cozy and emotionally comforted with music. I’ve also had instances on supremely windy days where headphones have been the only thing preventing my hat from flying off.
The aesthetic of wearing headphones also leads to perhaps the best reason for their superiority: Headphones unequivocally convey a more powerful statement of “Please don’t talk to me.” For those times when you’re not feeling particularly communicative and want to avoid having someone strike up a conversation with you, headphones give off the impression of drowning out the noises of the outside world more than earphones, regardless of how much you can actually overhear. You’d think that earphones or earbuds would get the message across clearly enough, but people can be oblivious to your desire to be left alone. With headphones, I find it a lot easier to walk straight past that person trying to hand you a Scientology pamphlet at the SkyTrain tation and pretend I don’t see their mouth moving. An onlooker could conceivably fail to notice that you have earphones in; it’s considerably harder to miss the headphones.
Lastly, there’s the symbolism and pride that comes with being seen and known as a person with headphones. If you have earbuds in, to a casual passerby you’re probably listening to some catchy songs; if you have headphones, you’re listening to music.