Looking for your next earphone but not sure what to look out for? Fret not, we're here to help you with that. This buying guide is a simple guide for people who want to get a pair of earphones but have no idea what to look out for. Let's get started!
Updated on : 6/1/2020
1) What Resonates With You?
One very important point that I need to drive it into you is that : SOUND IS SUBJECTIVE! I cannot stress this enough. Do not blindly get an earphone without trying as what may sound good to others, may not be good for you. Also, everyone has a different perception of sound : I may find a particular earphone bassy but someone else may think that the bass is just nice. Personally, I am quite used to high levels of treble but most people are unable to stand that much ringing in the sound. Hence, go for something that sounds good to you even if not many people agree with your choices, it's your money anyways :)
2) Ease of Maintenance?
Whenever your earphone spoils, most of the time it is due to a breakage in the joints of a cable or a damaged cable. Unless you left your earphones in the washer, then in that case, check out my recommended list of earphones to go for here. Hence, look for an earphone that has detachable cables and with commonly used sockets.
Look for sockets commonly used such as the standard 2-pin (0.78mm) or MMCX (like those used in Shure earphones) as there are many aftermarket cables available for those online.
Following 2 pictures are a 2-pin socket on the left and a 2-pin cable on the right.
On the left is an earphone fitted with an MMCX socket, and an MMCX cable on the right
Do take note that some companies may outfit their sockets with slightly different dimensions/shapes so that consumers have to get their particular brand of products. For instance, KZ uses a 2-pin connector but in 0.75mm instead of the usual 0.78mm, resulting in 0.78mm 2-pin cables being unable to fit in entirely when trying to fit into the 0.75mm sockets.
3) Musical Genres
As with different genres of music, different earphones perform better under specific genres as they each have a different sound characteristic. Hence, they might perform better for one genre but not for the other. Find something that caters to the genre that you mostly listen to or a good compromise between all the genres you listen to.
4) Try All, Buy One
Most people would be in a rush to purchase the first earphone that pleases them but you should always try out multiple offerings from different earphone companies before making the purchase. In fact, even give yourself time to decide before purchasing it, head back to the store 1-2 days later and try again and you might be surprised at how your initial impressions of the earphone may be different than what you perceive now. There have been many instances where (even till now) my first impressions of an earphone were good but went back several days later and realised I didn't like them as much.
5) More Is Not Always Better
Many people think that an earphone with more drivers in it is always better but I'm here to tell you that this is not the case. It's always about how these companies make use of the drivers to achieve the sound. I have heard single driver earphones sounding better than earphones with multiple drivers. Another point to note is that just because something costs more, does not mean that it should be better. Hence, as mentioned in point 4, try more before deciding on an earphone.
Given the many choices of earphones these days, I hope that this would clear some doubts and guide you in the right direction in looking out for the right earphone. Special thanks to Scott for helping me with the points and direction of the content for this page.