LINDY HEADPHONES GUIDE

Headphones come in all shapes and sizes: on ear, over ear, wired, wireless, noise cancelling and more. So how do you know which headphones are right for you and how do these differences impact your listening experience?

Let Lindy help you with our quick headphones guide...

HEADPHONE TYPES

What are Over-Ear headphones?

Over-ear (or circumaural to use the technical term) are the headphones of choice for audio professionals and avid music listeners alike. Over-ear headphones use large ear cups that fully enclose the users ears to provide an immersive listening experience, passive noise isolation and high levels of comfort. There are the ideal headphones for listeners who do not want to compromise on sound quality and who need the additional comfort for extended listening sessions.

Click here to see the Lindy range over-ear headphones.

What are On-Ear headphones?

A more compact design, on-ear (or supra-aural) headphones feature smaller ear cups that fit directly on the listeners ear. These headphones are typically lighter and more compact than over-ear designs. They are perfect for those who require a more compact design that is suited for commuting and exercise.

For an example of on-ear headphones check out the Lindy HF-20 Headphones

What are In-Ear headphones?

The smallest and most portable option are in-ear headphones or earphones as they are sometimes referred to. These headphones sit directly in the ear canal which, when fitted correctly creates a comfortable seal within the ear and provides great audio performance and effective, passive noise isolation. Their small design mean they can be easily carried around in your pocket or bag, making them an ultra-portable option for listeners on the move or working out. 

ABOUT NOISE CANCELLING

What are Noise Cancelling headphones and how do they work?

Noise cancelling headphones block external and ambient noises from the environment allowing you to focus on your music and audio without outside distractions.

Noise cancelling headphones use electronics to reduce the external noise. They work using miniature built-in microphones that monitor ambient sound. The headphone’s active electronic noise cancellation circuitry then generates an inaudible audio signal that is exactly inverse to the incoming noise. This inverse ‘anti-phase’ signal effectively ‘cancels out’ the incoming signal to provide a more comfortable, relaxing listening experience without the disturbance of external noise.

Noise cancellation levels can vary between headphones, but most will remove up to 80 – 90% of consistent ambient noise such as the hum of a plane engine, traffic outside and other lower frequency sounds.

What is Hybrid Noise Cancellation?

There are two main standard active noise cancellation systems in use: feedforward and feedback.  Feedforward noise cancelling headphones place the microphone(s) on the outside of the earpiece, processing ambient noise and cancelling it out prior to the main audio being heard by the listener.  This provides more time for the circuitry to generate the anti-phase signal. It is most effective at mid to high frequencies but can be more sensitive to wind noise because of the external location of the microphone.  

Feedback noise cancelling headphones have the opposing design, with the microphone(s) located inside the earcup and in front of the speaker, allowing the monitored ambient noise to reflect more closely what the listener actually hears. The proximity of the microphones to the ear, however, means processing time is reduced compared to the feedforward design. This means that the feedback method works well at lower frequencies that have longer wavelengths, but is less effective at higher frequency noise (1 to 2 KHz).

A newer noise cancellation technology is available that combines the feedforward and feedback methods and is known as hybrid noise cancellation. This combined microphone system provides a superior range of noise suppression over even more frequencies than that of traditional noise cancellation, regardless of the direction of sound or how the listener uses the headphones.

For headphones with hybrid noise cancelling technology check out the Lindy BNX-100XT and the Lindy BNX-80.

What is Audio Pass-Through?

A unique feature of some noise cancelling headphones is Audio Pass-Through mode. This is a feature that can be enabled or disabled using a button on the headphones to reduce playback volume so you never miss the most important background noise such as in-flight announcements and work conversations.

What is Auto-Pause?

Another useful function available on some headphones is Auto-Pause technology that uses an advanced motion sensor in the ear cup to pause your audio when removing the headphones and resume playback when putting them back on, allowing you to never miss a second of audio playback.

Check out the Lindy BNX-100XT headphones, as seen below, which feature both Audio Pass-Through and Auto-Pause functions.

What are wired and passive modes?

Wired mode support allows headphones to be connected to legacy audio devices that do not support wireless connections using a 3.5mm jack cable. A wired connection can also be used when the headphones’ battery is flat. Similarly passive mode allows headphones to be used without noise cancelling if the battery is exhausted or to conserve battery life. 

BLUETOOTH CONNECTIVITY

As with all aspects of technology, Bluetooth and its standards are constantly being updated, therefore it is handy to know what this means for you and your headphones.

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology which uses radio frequencies to different types of data, most commonly audio, over a wireless connection. This is initiated with an initial process of pairing between 2 devices. Most modern devices support a Bluetooth exchange connection, and this can be checked by looking out for the Bluetooth logo.

Some devices may not always have a Bluetooth connection however, in which case a Bluetooth transmitter or receiver, such as the Lindy Bluetooth Transceiver, is a handy accessory for adding Bluetooth connectivity to your devices. 

Versions of Bluetooth: 4.2, 5.0 and Beyond

In 2014, the last iteration of Bluetooth Version 4.0 was introduced, in V 4.2. This version began to introduce more features that focused on IoT (Internet of Things) technology on top of the standard Bluetooth fundamentals we all know.

Bluetooth 5.0 further developed this, with some stand out advantages including lower battery usage by transferring data faster but using less power, and simultaneous transmission for connecting 2 audio outputs wirelessly to a single audio source where Bluetooth 5.0 is supported. Higher bandwidth and longer-range support also mean devices with 5.0 technology are also less susceptible to dropouts and interference.

In 2020, we have also seen the announcement of Bluetooth 5.2, which introduced LE Audio. This developed a new LC3 low power audio codec which provides high quality audio at even lower data rates, while there were also further developments announced with multi-device transmission, something we should see included in the next generation of Bluetooth devices.

HEADPHONES CARE

Headphones can be a significant purchase and can become part of the day-to-day routine alongside your phone, keys and wallet or purse. Therefore, looking after them will keep them performing at 100% over longer periods of time, while also ensuring they are hygienic and secure.

Keeping them looking as good as new

For ensuring headphones and earphones last as long as possible, and remain hygienic, Lindy recommends cleaning them at least once a week, depending on usage. It is first important to check the IP rating of the headphones, and once known, cleaning the headphones with a dry or lightly damp cloth to remove dirt or sweat, and drying with a separate towel.

Over longer periods of time, it can be beneficial to replace earpads or ear tips where possible to ensure optimum care of the headphones and protect against general wear and tear.

For replacement earpads for Lindy’s award winning BNX-60 Headphones, click here.

Storing your headphones

It is important to store headphones and earphones securely and safely, so they are protected against dust and higher temperatures, and are kept together with their accessories for their next use.

Many headphones come provided with a stylish carry case or bag to house the headphones and all accessories neatly and securely.

For headphones that are provided with a carry case, see here.

Removing the cable

Some headphones are provided with an audio cable for a direct connection to your device. When removing this cable, take care to grip by the plug and not the cable as this can damage the connection of the device as well as the cable. When storing the cable, try to avoid wrapping around the device as this can affect strain relief of the cable over time. It is advised to disconnect the cable and wrap in a figure of eight shape before storing securely in a carry case or bag.

Listen at the optimum and safe volume

Although the thought of blasting music at full volume may appeal to some, this can leave a lasting impact on your ears and hearing. It is suggested that sound levels should be kept between 60 to 85 db to minimise damage, this can be around 60% of full volume depending on the source device. Developments in ANC technology mean external ambient noise can be blocked out, leaving you to enjoy your audio at lower volume levels with the same high performance and clarity.

For headphones with Active Noise Cancellation, see here.