Back in the 1960s, serious headphones were a big deal. In fact, the bigger the headphones, the more impressed friends and neighbors were. Headphones as big as the fluffiest earmuffs were the “in” thing back then. Fast forward to today, and the smaller the better! Yesterday’s headphones are today’s earbuds.
Yet these days, the challenge is not really the size — rather it’s whether your earbuds should be wired or wireless. Some swear by wired while others would never be caught wearing anything other than wireless.
No matter the opinions, deciding between wired and wireless earbuds will typically come down to five areas:
- sound quality
- flexibility and movement
- battery life (for the earbud and the device)
The advent of wireless headphones and earbuds brought spotty audio. In the early days, there was a discernable difference between wired and wireless sound quality. Lately, especially over the last two to three years, the sound quality of wireless earbuds has rivaled those of the wired variety. It’s nearly impossible to tell whether sound is coming over a wired or wireless earbud, thanks to the latest in Bluetooth technology.
Flexibility and movement
With wired earbuds, it may be a bit of a hassle to workout, enter and exit vehicles and handle everyday chores while being tethered to a device. Wired earbuds can be notorious for getting stuck in the most annoying places, whether it be furniture, the car door or your clothes. Wireless earbuds provide the greatest flexibility, since there is no worry about accidentally pulling out a bud because the cord got stuck on something. You can also walk around a room or to other parts of a house with wireless earbuds, since most remain connected up to distances of 30 feet.
Being mindful of how much batter life is left in a pair of earbuds is only a concern for wireless users. Battery life can last anywhere from about 5 hours to several days, depending on use. While this is great for many, it can catch some users off guard. There’s nothing more bothersome than listening to your favorite tune only to have it cut out during the best part because you forgot to charge the earbuds sufficiently. Wired earbuds never need charging and will never cut out unless the thing they’re plugged into dies.
Wired earbuds simply connect into a device via an ‘aux in’ or 3.5mm headphone socket. It’s that simple. It’s true that the latest devices are incorporating sockets that are not standard 3.5mm, but most still feature this. No matter the socket, once wired earbuds are plugged in, the listener is set. With wireless earbuds featuring Bluetooth or even wi-fi connectivity (assuming there is wi-fi available in the area), there may be challenges with initial pairing as well as losing the connection once successfully paired. Technology has come a long way in the last several years but losing a wireless connection can still occur. With each passing year, this occurrence becomes less frequent.
For some, cost may be a factor when deciding between wireless and wired earbuds. Wired earbuds can be expensive, but the most affordable can be purchased for no more than $10. Wireless earbuds, on the other hand, are typically more expensive than wired. The best wireless earbuds can start at just under $50 and can include makers such as Skullcandy and JBL while the more expensive earbuds, such as Apple Ear Pods or Bose Wireless Headphones can start at $150 and go significantly higher. The more expensive versions will offer a few more features and exhibit the most futuristic designs.
When deciding between wired or wireless earbuds, the decision should really boil down to one thing; what’s important to you. If you never want to lose audio connection, don’t mind being tethered to your device and lower prices are more attractive to you, then wired earbuds may make sense. If having the utmost flexibility when listening to audio, sporting advanced technology and price is less of a concern, then wireless may be your best bet.