In Ear Vs. Over Ear Headphones

Written by scott howard
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In Ear Vs. Over Ear Headphones
There is an ongoing debate about the merits of in-ear vs. over-ear headphones. (girl in headphones image by Alexander Zhiltsov from

The advent of MP3 players brought improved means of enjoying portable music. Demand for headphones has consequently increased. From in-ear monitors to vintage over-ear headphones, the debate continues over their respective pros and cons.

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Sometimes called canalphones, this monitor’s intent is to virtually seal the ear canal, closing off external noise like an ear plug. Their size is compact and varied ear tips provide a snug fit.

Pros & Cons

The tight fit allows for listening at lower volumes. Additionally, the audio quality can be quite good. Their negatives include more audible bumps and scrapes called microphonics. In-ear monitors can be unsafe in environments where sounds other than music need to be heard.


This monitor is marked by two ‘speakers’, connected by a band, that fits over a user's head. Ambient noise is greatly reduced by these monitors.

Pros & Cons

Sound quality is their strong suit, as DJs, sound engineers and producers have applied these monitors for decades. Their size, however, reduces their portability.

Safety Concerns

According to Consumer Reports, the headphone maker Monster is using its website to encourage hearing safety, recommending that listeners avoid driving while using headphones and avoid high-volume monitoring.

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