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Earphones vs Earbuds vs Headphones: What’s the Difference

Do you want to enhance your sporty lifestyle by working out to the beats? That’s why buying earbuds, earphones or headphones is now on the agenda?

By: Alexander Malamud date 11 / 28, 2019
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Updated: May 12, 2020

Do you want to enhance your sporty lifestyle by working out to the beats? That’s why buying earbuds, earphones or headphones is now on the agenda? Then, you need to understand what is the difference between all the types of devices.  Also, you need to know the main characteristics to pay attention to in the first place when surveying the products, such as:

  • Sound
  • Noise-cancelling quality
  • Comfort 
  • Portability
  • Fit for sports

Keep reading and by the end of this article, you’ll get a clear idea which type works best for you. Let’s get started right now.

Table of content

  • Pros and Cons of Headphones
  • Pros and Cons of Earbuds
  • Pros and cons of earphones
  • Earphones, Earbuds, Headphones: Which type Is Safer?
  • Which One Is Better for Children?
  • Conclusion

Pros and Cons of Headphones

Comfort Headphones

Headphones, earbuds, and earphones typically differ in design. The ear-cups of headphones embrace the outer ears, whereas earbuds are supposed to enter your ear canal. However, they typically do it without accessories. These are earphones that come with foam, silicone or rubber ear-tips also to enter an ear canal. Obviously, their sound quality, the way the ambient noise is processed, wearing comfort, and usability are different as well. 

Look at TREBLAB Z2

Sound 

Headphones feature larger drivers - from 40 mm to 50 vs. 7 mm to 15 mm of the earbuds or earphones. Thus, they deliver deeper and meantime softer bass and steadier performance in the overall audio cycle, from the lows to the highs.  Music in headphones sounds more voluminous. It gives the feeling of total immersion into music. You can better catch the tiniest tones and assess the width of musical mix.  

Noise-cancelling 

Earbuds vs headphones process differently the ambient noise. Hence, there are passive noise cancellation and active noise cancellation. The technology identifies the ambient sounds outside and transforms the stage of the sound waves. The latter block them out. Headphones use mostly active noise cancellation, which means they do not let any external noise creep into your listening experience. (In the following chapters, we’ll see why it’s beneficial for working out but not for running.)

Comfort 

High-quality headphones contain soft cushions made from premium materials. They are supposed to provide a tight but comfortable seal. After wearing them for a few hours, there shouldn’t be any sore ears or head fatigue. 

Portability 

Headphones are obviously bulkier. Although a lot of headphones are compact and foldable, yet they cannot compete with earphones whose carrying case fits any pocket. However, it also depends on where exactly you’re going to wear them, which brings us to the next point. 

Headphones for workouts

For Sports 

When regarding earphones vs headphones for workouts, the last ones are definitely an ideal choice. First of all, they provide that kind of seal that doesn’t allow ambient noise. So, an athlete can focus more on music and exercise. The headset doesn’t move during push-ups. Headphones are sweatproof. They do not slip off the headset when the workout gets tougher, while in-ear earbuds might slide off the ear when sweat gets there. 

Look at TREBLAB BT5

Pros:

  • Active noise cancelling
  • Voluminous music 
  • Better grasp of tiniest tones, instruments, and vocals
  • Soft cushions
  • Might be foldable and compact 

Cons:

  • Bulkier and heavier design
  • Headband not for all

If high-quality, amazing headphones is what you’re after, then these must be definitely your endgame. Take a look:

TREBLAB Z2 - the brand’s flagship product, ideal for workouts, with high-end materials and excellent sound

TREBLAB E3 - advanced wireless headphones with whooping 50 hours of playtime, quick charging and multi-function ANC

TREBLAB BT5 - wireless headphones with powerful bass, sweatproof and with premium materials

Pros and Cons of Earbuds

Comfortable earbuds

Earbuds are supposed to sit in your ear canals. They might be wired and wireless. Nowadays, wireless Bluetooth earbuds are mainstream. 

Sound

Earbuds vs headphones sound quality is not something diametrically opposite. Since the earbuds are so close to the ear canals, they are more exposed to the decibels high levels. So, the music sounds “closer”. The sound quality depends on the brand, but it might be as good as the headphones’ one. Except, there will be more ambient noise allowed. 

Noise-cancelling

Earbuds usually allow more ambient leakage than other two types. Since they come without accessories, theoretically there’s nothing that can hinder noise from outside. On the other hand, it was made on purpose. This type is mostly used by runners who need to be aware of the surroundings for safety measures. Thus, earbuds allow hearing what’s around. 

Comfort 

Headphones or earbuds - which ones are more comfortable? Since they differ in design, it’s up to a user to decide. Moreover, it depends on the sport. As for earbuds, usually they come without ear-tips. The issue is that they easily slip off since they are only available in one size.

Portability 

A pair of earbuds are more portable than the one of headphones. Basically, earbuds are much lighter, more compact and their carrying case can fit any pocket. Some earbuds’ case looks like a cigarette lighter. 

Look at TREBLAB XFIT

For Sports 

Earphones are mainly designed for jogging or just having fun outdoors. However, it depends on your preferences since both types are used at a gym and for running.

Pros:

  • Wireless and true wireless options 
  • Compact
  • High-quality music 
  • Super portable
  • Music sounds ‘closer’
  • Allowed situational awareness

Cons:

  • Ambient noise leakage
  • Overshadowing bass (possible)
  • No accessories for a better fit
  • Clip or magnetic housing not for all

Here are true wireless earbuds that yet come with accessories because Treblab wishes the best to its customers. Check them out:

TREBLAB xFit - compact, super portable true wireless earbuds, with true-HD sound and three sizes of silicone ear-tips

TREBLAB X5 - flagship TREBLAB stellar products, often dubbed AirPods killers due to high-end audio performance, durability and meantime affordable price

Pros and cons of earphones

Pros and cons of earphones

To be honest, here at Treblab we use earphones and earbuds interchangeably not because we don’t know the difference. According to our data, our customers do not tell apart that much the two types. In order not to confuse them, we prefer speaking the same terms and language. Yet, let us make clear the things for hypercorrect people.

Look at TREBLAB X5

Noise-cancelling

Usually, it’s passive noise cancelling but some brands release in-ears with an active type. Passive noise reduction is achieved naturally thanks to accessories that sort of “seal out” the ear canal and do not allow sounds to creep into. Yet, external sounds manage to intervene. Besides, outside noise’s decibels might be significantly higher and ‘prevail’ music inside the ears.

Sound

The audio reproduction does not differ too much, except there’s passive noise isolation thanks to ear-tips and other accessories that allow a tight seal in the ears. Passive type of noise reduction is less secure and lets some ambient noise in, which is also great for situational awareness. Moreover, sometimes deep and driving bass can overshadow noises and the music in general can sound pretty decent.

Comfort 

Compared with the earbuds, this type comes with accessories. These are silicone, foam or rubber ear-tips of different sizes. So, by trying on different-size ear-tips, one has all the chances to find the most convenient fit. They also might have ear-fins and ear-hooks for a snugger hold. Some even have adjustable ear-hooks that bend and take the shape of the outer ear.  

Portability

The difference is not big between earbuds and earphones here. Both can be true wireless and just wireless. When true wireless, the case is usually tiny and fits in a pocket. When the buds are linked with a magnetic housing or a cable, the carrying case is bigger. However, users can always put it in any bag. 

Pros:

  • Ear-tips, ear-fins, ear-hooks to ensure a snug fit for any ear size
  • Passive noise isolation
  • High-quality music
  • Portable

Cons:

  • Clip or magnetic housing not for all
  • Passive NC still allows noise leakage

TREBLAB is well known for the lineup of true wireless and wireless earphones that feature the latest technologies and work with any budget. Pick your ideal pair here:

TREBLAB XR700 - wireless earphones that come with adjustable ear-hooks for even better fit, amazing audio quality and a long battery life is guaranteed

TREBLAB XR800 - another pair of amazing Bluetooth earphones with the whole pack of ideal headset for running: sweatproof, with accessories and solid battery life

Earphones, Earbuds, Headphones: Which type Is Safer?

Earphones, Earbuds, Headphones: Which type Is Safer?

Earphones, earbuds or headphones can affect your hearing. Doctors say that the second leading cause of hearing loss is an improper use of listening devices. It’s not surprising since it’s literally the blast of music right into your ear canal, sometimes at the highest volume.  The damage is measured with decibel levels. The sounds higher than 85 decibels are unsafe. The longer you listen and the louder the volume is, chances are bigger to damage the hearing. A lot of listening devices deliver the sounds above 120 decibels! Herewith, earbuds sit inside your ears and already increase the volume of about 9 decibels. Headphones are outside the ear, so eventually there’s more need to crank up the volume. From the flip side, since earbuds do not block entirely the ambient noise, you’d want to turn up the volume not to hear it.  Therefore, when regarding over-ear headphones vs earbuds in terms of safety, headphones are found safer. However, hearing health depends on the maximum volume and the number of listening hours.

Which One Is Better for Children?

Which One Is Better for Children

The same safety rules might be applied for kids - the more and the louder they listen to music, the more damage they cause to their hearing health. That’s why parents should control how much time they listen to music and how loud. Some devices feature parental control that allow managing the volume level. 

Conclusion 

difference between earphones, earbuds and headphones

Type 

Pros 

Cons 

Conclusion 

Headphones 

 
  • Active noise cancelling
  • Voluminous music 
  • Better grasp of tiniest tones, instruments, and vocals
  • Soft cushions
  • Might be foldable and compact 
  • Bulkier and heavier design
  • Headband not for all

Ideal for workouts to concentrate and isolate yourself from someone’s grunts at benchpress 

Earbuds 

  • Wireless and true wireless options 
  • High-quality music 
  • Compact
  • Super portable
  • Music sounds ‘closer’
  • Allowed situational awareness
  • Ambient noise leakage
  • Overshadowing bass (possible)
  • No accessories for a better fit

Ideal for commuting on running when an athlete needs to be aware of the surroundings to enjoy music and stay safe

Earphones 

  • Ear-tips, ear-fins, ear-hooks to ensure a snug fit for any ear size
  • Passive noise isolation
  • High-quality music
  • Portable
  • Clip or magnetic housing not for all
  • Passive NC still allows noise leakage

Ideal for running, jogging, working out - any type of exercise, provided this type of design is convenient. 

As you can see, the difference between earphones, earbuds and headphones lies in design and comfort of use, sound, the kind of noise cancelling, portability. However, the biggest advice here will be to focus on your needs and decide accordingly. Headphones are mostly used for exercising at a gym, while earbuds and earphones - for running. However, all might be used vice versa if a user finds it comfortable during the physical activity. 

TREBLAB’s lineup of earphones and earbuds

TREBLAB’s lineup of earphones and earbuds is widely in demand amongst runners as well as hardcore gym rats. It provides in-ear earphones with different-size ear-tips, ear-fins, and custom ear-hooks so that everyone can find their ideal fit. The earbuds are also worth being taken into consideration. As for over-ear headphones, the TREBLAB Z2 deliver True-HD sound with deep bass; feature active noise cancelling for a total noise isolation, and assure a comfortable hold. The ear-cups are made of high-end material (Alcantara). No ear fatigue guaranteed!

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