Headphones vs. Earbuds: What’s The Difference?

November 17th, 2016

Headphones vs. Earbuds

Though these terms might often be used interchangeably, headphones are designed to be worn on or around the head of a user’s ears, while earphones/earbuds are inserted into the ear canal. So which is better? Like anything, it’s a matter of preference.

Headphones vs. Earbuds

Up until now, headphones and earbuds have been wired. However the whole industry is attempting to go wireless, understanding the value of a cord-free experience. If you’re tired of dealing with the mess of tangled cords, chances are you too are searching to upgrade to a truly wireless experience. So let’s first take a look at some of the coolest wireless headphones and earbuds out there on the market and then discuss the pros and cons for each.



The main difference between headphones and earbuds is that headphones are worn over the ear. Before we take a look at the pros and cons of headphones, check out some of our favorite wireless headphones.

The Beats Studio Wireless Headphones

The Studio Wireless headphones by Beats are one of the most comfortable over the ear headphones out there. They offer excellent sound quality, work well as a wireless headset, and have active noise cancelling technology. Beats claims that the rechargeable battery can give the user up to 12 hours of wireless listening. Although the headphones are quite large, they fold up into a compact form making them very portable. All of these great features come with a hefty price: $380. However, if you’re looking for high quality, comfortable, wireless headphones, and don’t mind shelling out the cash, the Studio Wireless headphones are definitely the ones for you.

Beats Wireless Headphones

The Studio Wireless Headphones by Beats

Bose QuietComfort 25 Headphones

The Bose QuietComfort headphones are marketed as extra comfortable, so if comfort is important to you than these are the way to go. Besides their comfort level, these headphones were engineered to improve sound quality. The Bose QuietComfort are highly effective for canceling out noise; Bose claims they can make air travel quieter and more enjoyable. They are lightweight and fold up, making them portable. The only downside to these headphones is that they are expensive. If noise cancellation is important to you, you can pick up a pair of the Bose QuietComfort 25 Headphones for $299!

Bose QuietComfort 25 Wireless Headphones

The Bose QuietComfort 25 Headphones

Pros & Cons of Headphones

Ever wonder what the pros and cons are of over the ear wireless headphones? How to they compare to wireless earbuds? Let’s find out!



1. Comfort – A well-fitting pair of headphones are very comfortable compared to earbuds. They are usually well padded and do not directly apply pressure to your ear canal. However, there are certain factors, like wearing glasses that can make headphones uncomfortable for some.

2. Noise cancellation – Noise cancellation involves listening for atmospheric sounds like air conditioners or car engines. Headphones are able to cancel out these noise wavelengths and eliminate the sound. Headphones are slightly better at noise cancellation than earphones.

3. Sound quality – There is no correlation between type of headphone or earbud and sound quality. Although certain headphones can be designed to improve sound. It is a pro though, as headphones available today deliver incredible sound.



1. Portability – Although the two headphones mentioned above can fold up, they are still rather big and bulky when compared to any earbuds. They cannot easily fit in your pocket or a small bag. So if you are constantly on the go, headphones might prove to be a problem.

2. Noise leakage – Over the ear headphones won’t completely seal around your ear, leading to some noise leakage, and the disturbance of those around you.

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Unlike headphones, earbuds are inserted directly into the ear canal. They often come in various sizes and are losing their cords and becoming wireless. Read about two of our favorite wireless earbuds below!


Earin defined themselves as the “smallest wireless earbuds available on the market,” and rightly so! Weighing in at 3.5 grams each, Earin is designed to be compact and flexible, while at the same time optimizing acoustics and electronics together. With no cables or unnecessary functionality, Earin is perfect for music-lovers on-the-go! And won’t cost you as much as the wireless headphones; you can grab a pair of these for $199.

Earin – Smallest Wireless Earbuds

Earin Earbuds

Apple Airpods

Apple’s release of their new earbuds, named Airpods, was probably one of the biggest news in the wearable world this year. Removing the headphone jack from the new iPhone showed that Apple is hinting at the need for more wireless technology. With revolutionary technology, the Airpods can sense when they are in your ears and instantly start playing music. They also connect with Siri, allowing you to make phone calls, play music, or ask for directions. The Airpods can recognize when you are speaking and works with a special microphone to filter out external noise. They have an extremely long battery life, improved wireless connection, and can pair seamlessly with any nearby iOS device. In addition, they are small and easily portable. Unlike the Earin, Apple’s Airpods are more affordable, ringing in at $159. With a cheaper price tag and all of its new features, the Airpods are the hottest wireless earbud on the market right now.

Apple's Wireless Airpods

Apple’s Airpods


Pros & Cons of Wireless Earbuds

As with wireless headphones, there are pros and cons to using wireless earbuds. Although it can be a matter of preference, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of both.



1. Portability – Earbuds are definitely more portable than headphones because their small size makes them easy to carry in your pocket or small purse. They are not as bulky as headphones as well. Although earbuds can vary in size, overall they are more portable than headphones.

2. Noise leakage – This differs from noise cancellation. Think of the guy on the bus who blasts his music so loud you can hear every word. Those earbuds or headphones he’s using don’t have good noise isolation; better isolation means those around you are less likely to hear your music. A properly fitted pair of earbuds will give you the best noise isolation.

3. Sound quality – Both earbuds and headphones can offer great sound quality. Sound quality can depend on the type of earbud you choose.



1. Comfort – Comfort level is where earbuds tend to fail. Because you have to place your earbuds inside of the ear canal, it can lead to discomfort as everyone’s ear shapes varies slightly. Earbuds that might be super comfortable for you coworker could irritate your ears. It is hard to find a perfect fit.

2. Noise cancellation – Although headphones tend to perform better in this category, it is possible to find earbuds that also have strong noise cancellation performances, especially with the newer and more expensive ones for sale.


Overall there are pros and cons to both headphones and earbuds, and personal preference will determine which is best for you. If you are someone that values comfort and noise cancellation above all else then headphones are probably the best choice for you. But, if you are someone on the go that wants something that is portable that has high performance, then earbuds, especially with innovative technology like Apple’s Airpods are the best option for you.


Wireless Charging Solution for Wireless Headphones and Earbuds

Wireless headphones and earbuds save you the mess of dealing with tangled cords. These wireless devices are convenient and provide the ultimate listening experience for any music lover who doesn’t want to be tied down by wires and cords. It is therefore natural that a wireless device should be coupled with a wireless charging solution to provide the user with a complete cable-free experience.  By having manufacturers integrate wireless charging into headphones and earbuds, you can charge without even noticing.

Humavox’s Wireless Power Solution for Wireless Headphones and Earbuds

Headphones and earbuds come in different sizes and variations. That is why Humavox’s ETERNA wireless charging platform was created as an elastic platform, able to integrate into any type of device. Humavox’s wireless power technology can be implemented into the smallest of devices with its miniature wireless charging receiver, including ultra-compact and lightweight earbuds placed inside the canal. In addition, the company can tailor-make the charging station to the most convenient form factor of the audio device, whether it be a small box for earbuds or an on-the-go headphone case charger. This way, you can truly count on your headphones/earbuds working when you need them!

Humavox's Earbud Charging Station

An example of Humavox’s Earbud prototype

Read more about Humavox’s solution for wireless charging for headphones and earbuds>>