|Sports: $25-$100+||Full-size: $50-$250+||Gaming: $100-$500|
The cost of headphones varies according to how and where they're to be used. Well-padded, full-size headphones are designed for extended use at home, while listening to music or playing video games. Lightweight behind-the-neck headphones or in-ear headphones (otherwise known as earbuds) are designed for use while working out or listening to portable devices such as iPods. Noise-canceling headphones reduce background noise, making them suitable for use on flights or train journeys.
What should be included:
- Low-cost headphones cost from $5 to $25. Expect highly portable headphones that offer reduced sound quality compared with full-sized headphones. Earbuds are ultra-compact and lightweight devices that rest in the ear without interfering with hairstyles, earrings or hats. The Sony MDR-EX56LP/BLK , for example, costs $19 to $23 and comes in a choice of sizes (small, medium or large) for a comfortable fit. For those uncomfortable with in-ear headphones, inexpensive over the ear style headphones are also available; the Koss KSC75 stereophones clip over the ear and offer soft foam cushioning for $12 to $20.
- Sports headphones can fit over the head, clip on the ears or fit behind the neck and cost $25 to $100 or more. They should provide a comfortable but secure fit during exercise. Most don't block background noise, making them safe to use outside, while jogging near traffic. The Sennheiser/Adidas PMX 680 cost about $60, are both sweat-proof and water-proof, and feature reflector strips for outdoor jogging at night.
- Full-size headphones feature padded cups that fully enclose the ear and cost from $50 to $250 or more. They tend to be bulky so are less well-suited for use on-the-go. Expect high resolution audio with deeper bass and higher volume than smaller portable models. The Sennheiser HD 448 headphones cost about $90, offer ergonomic design for comfort and include an extension cable. Full-size headphones for professional DJs offer pivoting ear pieces for convenient single ear monitoring and usually fold up for easy transport. Expect to pay $25 to $300 for DJ headphones. The Technics RP-DJ1200 costs $112 to $180 and is splash-proof and sweat-proof for use in hot nightclubs.
- Wireless headphones let users listen to music or TV without being restricted by the length of a cable. Audio can be transmitted through walls and some units offer the ability to add additional headphones so two or more people can listen simultaneously. Some RF models can interfere with cordless phones, though, and the audio quality rarely matches that of corded headphones. The Sennheiser RS120 costs $70 to $130 and includes a transmitter base that doubles as a charging stand for the rechargeable batteries. It can support the use of multiple headphones, which add about $53 each.
- Noise-canceling headphones create anti-noise to reduce background sounds, while noise-isolating headphones seal out background noise like earplugs. Both types are suitable for frequent travelers on planes, trains or buses and range in cost from about $50 to $500 or more, depending on audio quality. The Klipsch Image S4 noise-isolating earbuds cost about $80. The Bose QuietComfort15 noise-canceling headphones cost about $300.
- Gaming headphones offer surround sound for enhanced audio effects and range in price from $100 to $500. The Psyko 5.1 PC gaming headset, for example, costs about $235.
- Some headphones include protective pouches for transport.
- Some wireless headphones include a charger stand and rechargeable batteries.
- Some wireless and noise-canceling headphones require batteries.
- Replacement ear cushions or ear-bud pads cost about $3 per pair.
- Cord organizers that prevent a headphone cord from tangling cost about $6.
- A headphone splitter enables two sets of headphones to connect to a device's single headphone jack and costs about $5 or more.
- Adapters allow mini headphone plugs to connect to stereo jacks, and vice-versa, for a cost of $3 to $10 each.
- Headphone extension cords cost about $12.
Shopping for headphones:
- Sales and specials are common at electronics discount stores. One-generation-old models may be sold at a discount compared to the latest model headphones.
- Cnet offers a buying guide for headphones.
- Some users can be sensitive to noise-canceling or noise-isolating headphones, so try out the devices before buying.
- Compare online prices from sites such as Amazon or J&R.com with those from national retails chains such as Best Buy .
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