Useful Tips to Improve Your Headphone Experience in Any Situation
To take full advantage of your headphone, in any given situation, you must know these tips.
- Improve the Fit and Comfort of Your Headphone
- Sleeping with Headphones
- Improve the Sound of Your Headphone
- How does the Fit impact Sound Quality?
Improve the Fit and Comfort of Your Headphone
If you own a pair of In-ear (earphones/earbuds) type headphones then you may have experienced that the earpieces occasionally fall out of your ears or, at the very least, become loose. Well, you’ll be glad to know that there are a few things you can do to not only improve the fit but also the comfort of in-ears.
On the other hand, when it comes to On-ear and Over-ear headphones, the actions you can take to improve the fit and comfort are fairly limited. Nevertheless, they’re effective. When you move a lot, you also tend to sweat, and this is where you start facing issues with the fit.
Improve the fit and comfort of In-ear (earphones/earbuds) headphones
For in-ears, accessories like ear-wings and custom eartips help tackle this quite well. As you’ll soon find out, there are a couple of variants for eartips that you can choose from – foam and custom (silicone or acrylic).
Invest in foam eartips
Foam eartips are a great alternative to silicone eartips (that come included with the headphone). Upon switching to foam eartips, you’ll notice the improvement in terms of comfort, passive noise isolation, and the in-ear fit.
Comply and Evidson are some brands that make good quality foam eartips and they’re also relatively affordable. The one downside of these eartips is their durability. Unlike silicone eartips, foam eartips degrade faster. Also, like silicon tips, foam tips offer various sizes. So pick the ones that fit your in-ears perfectly.
How to achieve optimal fit with foam eartips
You’ll be surprised to learn how much of an impact does the fit of a headphone impact the sound. So it’s important to get the right fit. Once you have replaced the silicone tips with foam tips, follow these steps:
#1 – Squeeze the eartips with your fingers.
#2 – Place them inside the ear canal.
#3 – And then let go.
The foam tips will reform to fit the shape of your ear canal, giving you a snug and comfortable fit.
Note: Some people say that foam tips tend to reduce the bass response slightly.
Get custom moulded eartips
Companies such as Adv-sound or Decibullz offer services that let you order custom moulded eartips. You get the inside of your ears scanned, send the images to them, and then you can customize the eartips to look how you want them to look.
The wonderful thing about this method is that the eartips are designed uniquely to your tastes and measurements. However, custom moulded eartips are quite expensive. And that’s the only drawback of this method. Within this, you can choose between DIY or Non-DIY custom moulded eartips. DIY eartips cost less, compared to the non-DIY variants.
Improve the fit and comfort of On-ear and Over-ear headphones
When it comes to on-ear and over-ear headphones, the quality of the earpads is what determines the stability and effectiveness of the fit and comfort. Fortunately, replacing the earpads is possible and also easy with most headphones (on-ear and over-ear). However, it is not as easy as changing the eartips of in-ear headphones.
If you are looking to change the earpads of a specific headphone model, then you can find several tutorials online that guide you through the whole process. But before you begin, you must have replaceable earpads and they must be the right size for your headphone. Unlike eartips, earpads are model-specific, meaning that there is no one-size-fits-all.
You can find these replaceable earpads quite easily as most headphone brands sell them. You may also find different types of earpads for the same model of headphones.
If you can find velour earpads for your headphone then we highly recommend getting those. As opposed to leather and other materials, velour is incredibly soft, providing great comfort. This will also aid in passive noise isolation. Combining both of these qualities greatly enhances your experience.
Sleeping with Headphones
You start to value sleep a lot more as you get older. But the older you get, the less you tend to sleep. So, regardless of your age, if you are planning on sleeping with your headphones while listening to music (on/off) then these are the things you need to know.
Sleeping with headphones on is a great way to release and let go of all the stress that one experiences in a day. You can enjoy your music and fall asleep without obstructing others’ sleep cycles. Most over-ear and on-ear headphones aren’t an ideal choice to be sleeping with as they’re quite bulky.
In-ear type headphones are a bit forgiving. After a while, you may find that the headphones start sliding over your ears and onto your face. They may even fall off, causing damage to them. Or they may restrict your head movement, preventing you from sleeping on your side, giving you a stiff neck the next morning.
You’ll be relieved to know that there several ways to wear your headphones that don’t end up damaging you or your headphone, while in bed.
Why would you want to Sleep with Headphones?
As we mentioned earlier, they’re ways to get a good night’s sleep with headphones on. But before we get into those, let’s talk about the list of benefits that you get from doing so.
#1 – In many cases, as various studies have shown, listening to the right type (genre) of music relaxes your body by reducing stress. And you can take advantage of this in various situations. It does so by slowing down your heart rate and in turn, breathing. This allows you to let go of all the stress that builds up throughout the day, which lets you sleep peacefully and quickly. Patients experiencing insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also benefit from this.
#2 – Dopamine, sometimes called the “reward” or “pleasure” or “feel good” chemical, is released when you listen to music. When you eat good food or hit a goal, your brain releases dopamine. When you achieve a goal that you worked hard for, your brain releases dopamine. Similarly, when you listen to any audio content (music, podcast, etc.) that you like, your brain releases this chemical. This “feel good” sensation lets you fall asleep easily and smoothly.
#3 – Sleeping with headphones also prevents loud and unnecessary noises from disturbing you while you’re trying to sleep. By blocking them out, the number of times you wake up in the middle of the night significantly reduces. For commuters, active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones prove to be quite convenient.
Ways to Sleep with Headphones
These are the ways to make sleeping with your headphones on, more comfortable and convenient. Let’s begin.
Sleeping Pillow with a Hole – This pillow was designed to serve people that have recently undergone ear surgery. And even those that experience ear pain. As the name suggests, the is a hole in the center of the pillow. This hole is where your ear rests in or in this case, the earcup of your headphone.
People that sleep on their side can greatly benefit from this pillow. If you use wired headphones then make sure to route the cable under the pillow and then through the hole. Doing so will prevent you from getting entangled with the cable.
Travel pillow – Travel pillows are, as the name implies, are pillows that are made for easy storage, ideal for travelling. During flights, if you want to get a quick nap in, then these work great. A frequent flyer must-have. Looks for a travel pillow that gives a snug fit around your neck, one that supports your head and your headphones as well.
Get headphones designed to be worn while sleeping
Manufacturers, noticing the demand, have designed headphones for sleeping. These types of headphones have a small form factor so that you feel anything pressure on your ear.
Headband Headphones – Upon first glance, these look like regular sports headbands. But hidden within the layers of fabric is a pair of slim speakers. The speakers can be removed and must be before being washed. Some recommended brands are CozyPhones, Jarvania, SleepPhones. You can use these headphones while working out and for sleeping as well.
Discreet Earphones – Wired headphones that are usually small in size. This type of headphones are usually in-ears and have a small form factor. Some have soft silicone eartips that match the shape of your ears. Some recommended brands for people that want to sleep with headphones on are Bedphones by Moonbow, QuietOn sleep-earphones.
True Wireless Earbuds – True Wireless earbuds are another type of headphones that you can consider wearing in bed. Using these gives you a better audio experience and comfort as well. Some models even provide active noise-cancelling or ANC for short. If you’re going to be using them to fall asleep then these are a good option. But if prefer letting the music play even after you have dozed off then note that you may run out of battery life.
Sleep in a different position
The simplest and most affordable solution is to change the position that you sleep in. Most people would try this but will soon find that practising this is harder than it seems. Because most of us move our body during our sleep and also because we’re used to sleeping a certain way. Sleeping on your back is the most ergonomic way as the headphones stay parallel to the pillow.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Sleeping with Headphones on
Generally speaking, listening to music makes us feel relaxed. And this lets us sleep peacefully. So now, let us outline the advantages and disadvantages of sleeping with headphones on.
Blocks out loud and unnecessary noises – Most urban cities can get pretty noisy, regardless of the time of the day. It can be the sound of traffic or construction or noisy neighbours. All of these noises are filtered when you use a pair of headphones, especially those headphones with ANC.
Let’s you enjoy content (audio and video) peacefully – We have probably mentioned this a bunch of times that listening to relaxing music, and music in general, puts one in a calm state. Research has shown that listening to music 45 minutes before bedtime helps people fall asleep faster.
Consuming content like audiobooks, podcasts, ASMR videos, etc. not only help you sleep better but also are educational. Scientists listening to music that falls between 60 to 80 BPM (beats per minute) puts you asleep faster. The song “Weightless”, is called the most relaxing song ever.
Supports your mental well-being – A study shows listening to music improves a person’s ability to deal with stressful situations and events. Other similar studies have found that patients with depression-related insomnia benefit from listening to music. And it also eases the symptoms of PTSD. Shedding light on what was mentioned earlier, music also promotes the production of dopamine.
Causes wax buildup – In-ear headphones or earphones may cause wax buildup. Since the headphones go inside your ear canal, it blocks air circulation that may turn the soft wax into hard wax. Which, if not treated, will cause harm to your hearing and may even need medical attention.
Swimmer’s ear or Otitis externa – “Swimmer’s ear is an infection in the outer ear canal, which runs from your eardrum to the outside of your head. It’s often brought on by water that remains in your ear after swimming, creating a moist environment that aids bacterial growth.” – Mayoclinic.org.
Can cause Necrosis – Necrosis is the technical term used to indicate the permanent death of tissue cells. The chances of this happening are extremely low. But the possibility exists. A result of this condition is partial or complete hearing loss. And ear amputation in worst cases.
Accidently getting strangled by headphone cables – The likelihood of this happening is low as well. But it’s better to stay safe and use wireless headphones. However, if you do use a wired headphone then makes sure to route the wire away from your neck.
Hearing loss from loud music – You may have found that a lot of things can cause hearing loss and that it can be temporary or permanent. Generally, it is said that it’s best to keep the range of volume between 85 and 110 decibels. And for headphones, to not exceed 60% of their full volume capacity.
Inability to hear important sounds – If you end up sleeping in your headphones, you may unintentionally miss important sounds like alarms, sirens, SOS calls, etc.
Learn more – How to Use Headphones Safely – The Ultimate Guide
Improve the Sound of Your Headphone
There are a few options that let you improve the sound quality of your headphones. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use higher quality music formats. MP3 and M4A are the most common music formats. Switching these formats for FLAC will instantly make the audio quality better.
Using higher bit-rate audio files will also have positive noticeable differences. Spotify and other similar streaming services offer a variety of audio qualities to choose from. Ranging from very high-quality which is 320kbps to low (24kbps), on Spotify. In addition to this, you can experiment with the following methods.
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Consider getting a Headphone Amplifier
A headphone amplifier is a quick and easy way to improve sound quality. This also allows you to amplify the volume of your headphones if they have a low volume. You’ll instantly notice the improvement in quality and loudness. If you use a headphone that high impedance then that could be the reason why the headphones’ volume sound low.
Most smartphones, tablets, and even laptops don’t possess enough power to bring out the peak performance of such headphones. This is when an amp is the most useful and has the most impact on the sound. One thing to keep in mind is that the amp’s impedance range should cover the impedance of your headphones.
Let’s say the amp you chose has an impedance of 16-150 Ohm. Now, given the amp’s impedance range, you can use headphones with 16, 32 and 80 Ohm impedance. But using the same amp for headphones with a higher impedance than 150 Ohm would be unsuitable.
The only available amplifiers are wired. Meaning that headphones with 3.5mm and 6.3mm wired connectivity can use them. There have been rumours of wireless headphone amplifiers but nothing concrete just yet.
We will discuss what a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) is next. But for now, know that you can get a headphone amplifier and DAC in a single unit as well.
Invest in a DAC (digital-to-analog converter)
A lot of the music that you hear today is digital. When it comes to wired headphones, digital music signals need to be converted to analog signals. This makes them playable for wired headphones. The DAC (or the absence of it) determines the conversion quality. Any decent DAC will make your music sound more complete and precise. Effectively closing up the gaps and inconsistencies in the track.
How does the Fit impact Sound Quality?
The fit of the headphones and how it prevents sound from leaving or entering the earcups is what we refer to as the ‘seal’. The better the seal, the better the passive noise isolation. The sound quality also greatly depends on this.
If you experience that your headphones (especially in-ears) don’t produce enough bass then this could be one of the reasons.
Most headphones manufacturers provide you with silicone eartips. You can try different eartips sizes and even experiment with foam eartips. It is important to find the right size of eartips that fit your ears the best. You may even look into custom moulded eartips.
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