The great thing about living in our modern world is that you’re literally inundated with choices. Helpful technology has become a way of life and many of those technologies take advantage of wireless Bluetooth connectivity to make our lives easier. Essentially, you can connect any two Bluetooth devices together without using any wires. These types of devices have been around for a while now, but it wasn’t until recently that it became possible to connect headphones, earbuds, or headsets effectively through Bluetooth with your smart phone or tablet.

If you’ve had enough of wires and want to make the switch to a wireless earpiece that you can use for listening to music or talking on your cell phone, it’s probably a good idea to understand the differences between each type of technology. Headphones, earbuds, and headsets are not the same thing; in this article we explain those differences so that you can decide which product is actually for you.

Traditional Headphones

In the 70s and 80s headphones became commonplace – especially with the introduction of the Sony Walkman. People were absolutely amazed that they could take their music with them in their pockets and listen to their favorite songs any time without bothering the people around them. Headphones may look the same these days, but the technology is very different. The key feature of a headphone is that they sit over top of your ears and are generally designed to cover your ears completely so that you can get the full experience of the sound coming from the speaker drivers built within them.

The reason that some people do not like headphones is because of their bulky nature – they certainly are a lot bigger than earbuds. Since they won’t necessarily fit inside your pocket they’re a little awkward to simply throw in your gym bag when they’re not in use. What’s great about them, though, is that they’re usually quite comfortable and because of their larger ear coverings the speaker drivers can be larger, creating a deeper, richer sound.

If you’re planning on using a new set of headphones for both listening to music and as a hands-free way of talking on your cell phone, you’ll want to pay close attention to the specs on the side of the package. While most headphones do include built-in mikes these days, some of them do not. Needless to say, it would be a bit of a pain to get your new headphones home only to find out that they have no mike and you can’t use it for taking calls. Instead of having to go back to the store and return them it’s best to do your homework first.

The Popular Earbud

It’s becoming a lot more common these days to see people out and about with earbuds in their ears rather than headphones (although headphones have made a bit of a comeback in the last couple of years). This is likely because of their more convenient and compact nature, which makes it easy to simply throw them in your pocket when you’re not using them and pull them out when you want to listen to some music or make a call.

The key difference between earbuds and headphones is that earbuds do not sit over your ears – they sit inside them. They’re considerably smaller and they often sit right inside your ear canal. There are two main types of these – ones that sort of sit lightly inside your ear that sort of hook onto your eardrum, and ones that you actually insert inside the ear canal. For many people they find the ones that sit inside their ear canal to be a little bit too uncomfortable and they prefer to stick with the ones that simply rest on the eardrum.

The main reason for choosing earbuds that sit right inside the ear canal is that you can go to the gym or participate in other strenuous activity and not have to worry about them falling out of your ears from time to time. They also help to isolate the noise around you and make listening to music or phone calls much clearer. I’ve owned both types of earbuds and generally prefer the in-ear canal ones as you don’t have to worry about them falling out while you’re listening to them. Whenever I use the other type I’m constantly having to reinsert them in my ears every couple of minutes. It’s really an individual choice, though, as both types have some attractive qualities as well as some downsides.

Bluetooth Headsets

For many people Bluetooth headsets are where things really get confusing. That’s because headsets can be purchased that sit inside a single ear or as a device that you use in both ears. The single-ear headsets are easily distinguishable and are used exclusively for making calls with your smart phone; they’re not designed for listening to music. There are headsets that do have inserts for both ears and these look very similar in nature to what we’ve described as earbuds above. The main difference is that Bluetooth headsets tend to have a microphone switch on the wire, or on the earpiece in the case of a wireless Bluetooth model, that can be used for answering or muting calls.

Which One’s Right for You?

In reality, these days the line between a Bluetooth headset, earbuds, and headphones has become very blurred. Unless you’re planning on using your new wireless Bluetooth device strictly for making phone calls it’s probably best to avoid the one-ear model, as its use is somewhat limited. Other than that, the choice is between a compact device that sits inside your ear or a bulkier device that sits over top of your ears. These devices all have their features and benefits and it’s really a matter of individual choice as to which one is better.