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What Are the Different Types of Dynamic Headphones?

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  • Written By: M. Kayo
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2016
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Dynamic headphones are the most common type of headphones and vary widely in price and quality of sound. As is the case with most products, the more expensive dynamic headphones will likely produce a higher quality sound experience. Some of the cheaper dynamic headphones, however, may also provide very good sound quality. The more popular types include single ear, supra-aural, and circum- aural. designs. In 2011, prices for dynamic headphones range from $8 to $800 US dollars (USD) or more.

Single ear dynamic headphones combine the input for both left and right stereo channels into a single miniature loudspeaker, also known as an earbud, and are used by people like bicyclists, runners, drivers, and motorcyclists who need the other ear to listen for traffic or to communicate with others. These single earbuds have a switch that allows them to work with both stereo and mono sound output. Some models can be used in stereo or mono modes without a switch, although these headphones can be more costly.

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Supra-aural dynamic headphones, also known as on-ear, or open-backed, headphones, are designed to be worn for long periods of extended listening. Audio engineers, producers, and ordinary people who enjoy listening to good music for hours on end are likely to use this type of dynamic headphones. Thick, cushioned pads rest comfortably on the outer part of the ears and position the mini loudspeaker in the dynamic headphone very close to the ear without actually making contact. Supra-aural headphones are typically comfortable and less prone to gather heat, but they may be less powerful and unable to isolate noise as well as circum-aural headphones

Full-size, circum-aural dynamic headphones, also known as over-the-ear headphones, are designed to completely cover all parts of the ear rather than just resting on the outer ear. The biggest difference in this type of dynamic headphone is in their ability to effectively block out any outside noise. Sound quality, especially at maximum volume, and deep, rich bass production are hallmarks of this type of headphone. Due to their larger size, these headphones are less portable and may be rather cumbersome for some people. Circum-aural headphones can also interfere with glasses or earrings and may also become uncomfortably hot, causing the ears to sweat.

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