Are Headphones Better Than Earbuds?

Woman using earbuds during outdoor workout

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There are pros and cons to headphones and earbuds, and your preference and intended use will play a large role in your decision. Looking for lightweight, travel-friendly, and sweat-resistant? Ideally, you should purchase a pair of truly wireless earbuds. Do you want the best possible sound, or do you want to reduce noise? An over-ear headphone could be a better choice.

In this case, there is no right or wrong answer, and with the different brands and budgets, there is something suitable for everyone. Due to technology growing, there is always a good selection of budget and quality headphones and earbuds to buy. For your convenience, we have separated these two popular product types so you can decide which one is most suitable for you.

The choice isn’t about which is best since headphones and earbuds differ greatly. By looking at a few aspects, including important features, how comfortable they are, and how they look, it will be easier to decide which is right for you.

Considering Earbuds?

In general, earbuds are made of plastic and come in one size that fits all. Due to different ear shapes, these features may result in an unreliable, irritating fit, leading to them often falling out, particularly during physical activity.

With earbuds, more background sounds can enter your ear since they sit just out of your ear canal. While walking through the city streets, hearing your surroundings is easier with earbuds. In the case of sound quality, earbuds don’t offer the best sound quality due to lower bass levels caused by ambient noise. Furthermore, your music must be loud enough to drown out the sounds around you.

What About Headphones?

Rather than using in-ear headphones, opt for over-the-ear headphones. Over-the-ear headphones don’t direct sound straight to your eardrums. Earbuds are not as comfortable as over-the-ear headphones. Furthermore, you can often find a noise-canceling option on higher-end headphones, so you won’t have to increase the volume as much as you do with earphones.

Who Should Use Earbuds?

Perfect for Active People

In terms of size and elegance, wireless earbuds are ideal for working out. Runners and weight lifters won’t have to worry about them getting in the way. Several models are designed for those who work out by lifting weights and running. These types can handle sweat and rain better. Even more mainstream wireless buds have multiple tips that come with the earbuds, so you can find one that you can wear comfortably.

Good Portability

In terms of wireless options, both headphones and earbuds can be used for commuting, although earbuds are more convenient because they can be removed and reinserted more often. Their design has specifically been tailored to make them portable and much lighter.


Working out with headphones on is gross. While working out, true wireless earbuds are hard to beat. Earbuds are lightweight and wireless, so they won’t fall out of your ears no matter what you’re doing. A lot of them are waterproof.

A Chargeable Case Is Included With Some Types

There are a lot of good wireless earbuds on the market – such as the Samsung Galaxy buds plus, which have a charging case. So long as you keep the case plugged in at home to charge every so often, you will be able to charge the buds. It’s one of the best features of wireless earbuds.

Several Options Are Available to You

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to choosing wireless earbuds. Some are designed specifically for Apple, and others are compatible with Android devices. To ensure you choose the right earbuds, research the market before choosing. There is truly something for everyone due to the sheer volume of choices!

Cons of Earbuds

  • There can be discomfort associated with earbuds.
  • Losing or breaking them is easy.
  • They don’t offer very good sound quality.
  • The search for comfortable and secure-fitting earbuds can be challenging.
  • Earbuds cause ear problems such as irritation and infections more than headphones.

To get the best, most accurate sound possible, you should consider investing in a good pair of headphones. Wireless headphones (especially over-ear models) have bigger drivers and provide a wider soundstage allowing you to hear every detail. A top-of-the-line pair of headphones is also fitted with several advanced features, such as the Sony WH-1000XM4s, with enhanced audio quality and the capability to optimize your music files for the best audio experience.

While AirPods Pro provides excellent noise cancellation, Bose 700s are a little better at insulating your ears from unwanted noise, as they feature over-ear designs that provide better sound isolation and ambient noise.

woman with white headphone smiling

Who Should Use Headphones?

Battery Life Has Been Improved

As far as headphones are concerned, larger headphones tend to last longer. In most cases, wireless earbuds are rated to last between five and six hours on a single charge, whereas most top headphones can last well beyond 24 hours. Consider the Sony WF-1000XM3 earphones, which lasted approximately six hours, compared to the WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones, which lasted 30 hours.

Also, think about the additional charge your earbuds will receive from their charging case, usually between 10 and 20 hours. On the other hand, if you listen to music continuously, you will find that headphones are much longer lasting than their miniature counterparts.

You Don’t Like the Feeling of Buds Inside Your Ear

Despite some people’s preference for the smaller-sized and slimmer profile that earbuds provide, traditional headphones also provide a more comfortable and secure fit. Earbuds often fall out of people’s ears, so they opt for headphones. Should you prefer not to have something sitting directly inside your ear during your listening sessions, an on-ear or over-ear headphone will be more suitable.

Better for Children’s Ears

Children’s ears continue to develop until they reach their teen years, making it unwise to put audio sources directly into their ears. That’s good news for headphones.

Sound Quality

Sound quality has improved in earbuds, and some are better than over-ears. However, headphones generally have more powerful drivers and intricate components to provide a more immersive listening experience.

More Comfort

If you’re an audiophile who listens to music constantly or spends most of your time on video calls, earbuds are uncomfortable to wear all day. Headphones are going to be more suitable.

Cons of Headphones

  • Wearing them might make it difficult to hear what’s happening around you.
  • Headphones can be big and bulky.
  • The cost of headphones is higher than that of earbuds, which means they will cost more if they break or become lost.

Is One More Comfortable Than the Other?


In some cases, yes. Fit can be an issue for some people. It can be hard to find a pair that has a perfect fit. Your pinna, or outer ear, may become overly pressured if they are bulky.

Exceptions do exist, of course. Some are extremely comfortable, don’t put any pressure on your body, and are light enough, so you don’t notice that they are in your ear.


The model also plays a role in comfort levels.

  • On-ear headphones provide decent comfort and are easy to wear for short or long periods.
  • The most comfortable headphones are the over-ear models, especially those that truly fit over the ears.
  • The earpads on some models don’t completely cover your ears, which puts pressure on the edges of your earlobes.

Which Headphones Are the Most Harmful?

As for sound, earbuds can present a slight problem since specific frequencies are boosted at a higher level. Further, earbuds cause earwax to be redirected back to the ear, making it difficult to clean itself naturally. As a result, bacteria can grow in your ear canals, leading to infection. If you are prone to ear infections, it is advised that you choose headphones instead to avoid any lasting damage to your ear canals.


In general, earbuds are smaller, less expensive, and better for workouts than their headphone counterparts. Alternatively, headphones provide better sound quality, noise cancellation, and longer battery life – if you are willing to spend more. It’s really up to your preference as to which type to wear. There is no right or wrong answer.

All headphones will have similarities and differences, from active noise cancellation to larger drivers, ambient sound, and comfort levels. As long as you take the key factors of what you want in a set of headphones into account, you will find a pair of headphones that suit you.

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