Have you recently bought yourself a new pair of headphones but you’d like to know a bit more about what’s inside them and how they work? If that’s the case, you’re in the right place. This article is going to tell you everything you need to know. Even if you haven’t just bought some new headphones, you might still want to know what the technology inside does and how they work. Maybe you’re looking for a new pair, or perhaps you’re thinking about repairing some old ones. While repairing headphones isn’t easy, a bit of extra knowledge about what exactly they do and what’s inside them can always help.
While sharing music is fun, especially at concerts or parties—sometimes, you want your own personal party. The invention of headphones meant a lot of personal choice and allowing people to enjoy their own music on the move or when relaxing, without having to disturb other people. While they might have seen like an innovative or unusual idea to start with, headphones are now so commonplace nearly everyone has a pair. But that doesn’t mean everyone knows how they work. Headphones have also revolutionalized music production industries, and you wouldn’t really be able to be a DJ without a pair.
There are a few different types of headphones. These include inner-ear earbuds, as well as larger headphones that you wear outside your ear. You can also get noise-canceling headphones that try and only make noise for the person wearing them without any “lost” noise. Have you ever sat near someone and heard nearly as much of their music as they do? These probably aren’t noise-canceling headphones. In this article we’re going to look at how both inner and outer ear headphones work, as well as a bit on noise-canceling variants. So let’s have a look at how headphones work…
How do headphones work?
To start with, headphones work a little bit like traditional standalone speakers. They use magnetism to turn electricity into sound. However, they differ in that they’re obviously much, much smaller. While a speaker needs a lot of space and will make air move around a room in order to create a sound—headphones simply don’t have this luxury. So they only have space to move air around the inside of your ear in order to make noise instead. Obiovusly, even though some headphones can still pack quite a punch volume-wise, they can’t reach the volumes anywhere close to some loudspeakers for this reason.
Larger headphones are a little bit more like traditional speakers and have a larger area to bounce sound around, like in the area just outside your ear. These are basically speakers mounted on straps, although they’re still small ones at that. If you want to reach higher volumes then you should get a pair of larger earphones. However, these aren’t always as convenient, and smaller earbuds can be more portable and better if you’re on the move.
It depends what you’re using your headphones for and what you’re more comfortable with. Music professional will need more volume and a higher quality of sound, so they would probably use a larger outer-ear pair. If you’re on the move and just want to listen to some music, you can still use these but you might prefer a light and simple pair of inner-ear earbuds.
Headphones of all size will normally have a few small gaps to let air in and out. Speakers are normally built into what engineers call enclosures and have gaps to keep air moving in and out to help create the sound. Headphones work the same way.
You can get closed or open back headphones. Open-back ones will let in more air as they are open at both the back and front. These generally sound better for this reason, but will also leak more noise and could become annoying to those around you. They also don’t block out as much noise from the room you’re in. If this is an issue for you, you might want to consider either closed back headphones or specifically noise-canceling ones.
If you’d like to know a bit more detail about what’s in an earbud, have a look here:
The small earbud actually has quite a lot going on inside it. There’s a magnet and a small coil of two wires making a circuit. One carries electric current inside and one carries it out. There’s a plastic disc with holes to allow sound, behind a small flat cone that’s connected to a thin plastic disc. There’s also a seal and casing on the front and back to keep everything held together.
The wires carry signals from your audio device and the coil helps the unit become an electromagnet when current flows. With the rest of the technology, this makes the system vibrate and create the required sound in your ears.
The technology inside bigger headphones is similar, just bigger.
How do noise-canceling headphones work?
If you’ve chosen to go with a type of headphone that keeps the noise in your ear and doesn’t disturb the people around you, you’ll either have a pair of active or passive noise-canceling headphones.
Both types of headphones carry a structure that creates a barrier and blocks certain sound waves escaping. Passive headphones do even more by also stopping lower frequency sound waves. They do this by creating their own sounds that are enough out of synch with the original sound they help to block them.
When these two waves hit eachother at the right angle and frequency, something called destructive interference happens. This helps block certain noises by canceling eachother out. It’s this technology that creates the noise leakage cancelling effect.
Now you’ve seen how different types of headphones work, you’ll be able to know a bit more about them when you decide which pair to buy. Do you want higher sound quality, and more volume? Or would you rather a pair that were more portable and easy to use on the move? Perhaps you simply want to find the cheapest pair available and don’t mind too much about sound quality or how much they leak into the area around you? All of these are important considerations, and now you know a bit more about the process, you can make a better decision.