Headphones vs. Earphones vs. Earbuds
The particular needs of the listener determine the choice of headphone. The need for portability indicates smaller, lighter headphones, but can mean a compromise in fidelity. Headphones used as part of a home hi-fi do not have the same design constraints and can be larger and heavier. Generally, headphone form factors can be divided into four separate categories: circumaural, supra-aural, on-ear earbud, and in-ear earphone.
Headphones are a pair of small loudspeakers that are designed to be held in place close to a user\'s ears. They are also known as earspeakers, earphones or, colloquially, cans.
Both circumaural and supra-aural headphones can be further differentiated by the type of earcups:
They can have headband or clip-on to increase comfort, but they do not form an air-tight seal to the ear canal as they are not intended to go into the ear canal like the in-ear earphones do.
In-Ear-Monitors (IEM’s) differ from Earbuds by the fact that they seal the ear canal completely as opposed to earbuds which simply sit outside the ear canal. By doing this, they are able to achieve better noise isolation and in most cases, more accurate sound due to the more efficient transfer of sonic energy into the ear canal.
Most IEM’s require a good seal for them to deliver the full ranges of sound they are capable of.
Transducer (a.k.a. Driver) Technologies
Balanced armature drivers are common in most high end IEM’s. Although more expensive than dynamic drivers, due to their design they are able to reproduce sound more accurately, especially in the treble region. A typical balanced armature driver consists of an armature suspended between two permanent magnets. A current is then passed through a coil spun around the armature which causes it to become attracted to either one of the magnets. The armature is connected to a shaft which joins onto the diaphragm. It is this movement happens thousands of times per second to reproduce the sound that we hear.
Dynamic drivers in IEM’s work in a similar way to the drivers found in over-ear headphones and larger speakers. The diaphragm is mounted on a voice coil to which a current is applied. The entire section is then either attracted or repelled from a permanent magnet which moves the diaphragm and produces sound. Dynamic drivers are relatively uncommon in IEM’s (although are the staple driver type in ear-buds). Because they are able to move more air, bass reproduction is better than balanced armature drivers, however they cannot move as fast, meaning intricate details (including those within the bass range) may be lost.
Moving armatures are relatively new technology which aims to bring the benefits of fast moving balanced armature drivers with dynamic drivers. Moving armature drivers work in a similar principle to balanced armature drivers, but contain a relatively large diaphragm. A single moving armature driver is able to reproduce audio to the same level of quality found in multiple balanced armature IEM’s.
In-ear monitors (IEMs) are devices used by musicians, audio engineers and audiophiles to listen to music or to hear a custom crafted mix of vocals and stage instrumentation for live performance or recording studio mixing. They are often custom fitted for an individual\'s ears to provide comfort and a high level of noise reduction from ambient surroundings. Read More >>>