The dynamics of headphones are changing rapidly. We’ve reached the micro revolution within the past decade and a half. The trend is to make technology smaller and more affordable. I remember when the first cell phones came out. It took practically two people to carry one of those things safely out of a building!  The fact is that everything is becoming portable. And as technology improves, the world seems to want things even faster and faster. We’re no longer a fast-food world, but, rather, a fast-everything world.  Long gone are the days when we’d appreciate the elegance a rotary phone would provide us in being able to talk to people across the continent. Now, we want power in bite size quantities. The one piece of technology that is adapting the world over is the type we attach to our ears in order to drain music out of mp3 players and into our brains. So, in an ever evolving society, what would be the best musical “pipe” to adapt to the fast-paced human lifestyle? On one side of the spectrum, we have ear buds. On the other side of the spectrum, we have over-the-ear headphones.

Ear Buds


  • Light-Weight: Carrying this with you to places will not cause your biceps to explode.
  • Great for running: If you get a good pair, it will stay in your ear for the entire duration.
  • Discreet: At times, nobody will even know you have them in your ears! Also, if you’re at work, you have a much better chance of listening to your music and not getting caught. They can be pocketed.
  • Versatile: You can fold them up and throw them in your gym bag with ease.
  • Anti-theft: Ear buds are so small that it is easy to hide them; therefore, it is a lot harder for a thief to spot them and run away with them.


  • The foams tend to go missing if you’re not careful.
  • Don’t sound as great as over-the-ear headphones selling in the same price range.
  • Can end up annoying the ears more quickly than over-the-ear headphones because they have a more intimate and deeper touch.
  • Tend to go bad pretty quickly if you have a cheap pair.

Over-the-Ear Headphones


  • Bang for Buck: Extraordinary sound for cheaper prices; it is much easier to place strong technology into over-the-ears because they allow enough internal space for placement.
  • Quality: More sound isolation so that all you hear is your music.
  • Uses: Excellent for the studio.
  • Lifespan: Relatively longer than most ear buds.


  • Horrible for running due to the extra bulk.
  • Best used in studios. They just look awkward when you casually wear them on the street nowadays.
  • Less fashionable. It’s much more acceptable for somebody to wear ear buds than it is for somebody to wear huge, bulky, headphones.
  • Easier to steal because they are easier to spot.
  • Much harder to conceal because of their side; therefore, they cannot be easily taken to places.

In the end, it seems as though the only reason anybody would want to buy a pair of over-the-ear headphones is for studio usage and longer lasting lifespan. Otherwise, all roads lead to ear buds. They’re just so much more durable, versatile, discreet, and easier to use; furthermore, most people wear ear buds while listening to mp3 players anymore, so most of the market is in ear buds. Ear buds win.


6 comments until now

  1. I disgree with your asessment of over-the-ear headphone usuage. In the last 2-3 years I have seen more and more (myself included) people using that type in a casual setting. I’m talking coffee shops, internet cafes, libraries, parks. It seems like people are opting for less expensive quality sound over ear bud convenience. I know thats why I bought mine. I do have a good pair of buds though for when i just cant take my cans LOL

  2. Travis N.

    You get tons more bang for your buck with over-ears or even the very similar “on-ear” type head phones. Construction and the design of on ear headphones goes much further than in ear buds. If you look at any given pair of on ear headphones you’ll see the wires is designed with anti-tug techniques so that when stress comes (and it always does) it can survive. Ear buds are just too tiny to have it …so when it happens on those you can kiss you in ears goodbye.

    Another point for on ears is that they keep your ears warm in colder environments …thats a big bonus for cold studios, late night study sessions, cold mornings, cold airplane flights, ect.

  3. I have some anatomical abnormalities in my ear canals and have been warned by an Otolaryngologist (ENT)never to use ear buds to listen to music. He was not enthusiastic about anyone using ear buds. I like the genuineness of sound through my headphones. The bulk is worth the quality of the sound. I have observed that today speed and novelty are more prized than quality.

  4. I have a pair of $10 cans that sound way better than my $200 in ear buds (klpisch x10). now don’t get me wrong, I like the x 10′s for their own depth of sound for an in ear speaker system. however, the can I have that I can take to the gym and use can take all kinds of reasonable abuse and they always sound great and they seem to holding up. the cans are 2 years old and still going strong. the x 10′s already need to be replaced as the left speaker went out. this is a known quality control issue with klipsch. that said, there are times when I find that in ear buds are preferable, such as late night listening. but I definitely need them for treadmill running and the cans have been so great. AND THEY LAST!

  5. But, criticisms of the comparison aside, I’m not a fan of earbuds at all. While at price X earbuds may offer more detail, no earbud can compare to an open-backed headphone (home listening of course). Of course no headphone can fully “externalise the sound” like a speaker but the size of the soundstage of an open-backed headphones compared to earbuds… just no comparison.

  6. Snoop Dogg

    hot diggity dog i love my earbuds dont you dare diss em

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