As you price out your new set of cans or latest in-ear buds, a big question is what the main differences are between a set of headphones that will cost you a hundred bucks versus one pushing three hundred. Marketing aside, there are usually a few key differentiators.
First, there is the driver. Most headphones use a dynamic driver made of a voice coil, a diaphragm, and a magnet. These can lose definition at higher volumes so the material and engineering can be key. We see a difference in materials used, which can create better sound. Jumping up to the next tier of headphone could switch to a planar magnetic driver or a better material, such as beryllium in the dynamic driver itself.
Aside from that internal sound quality, we see a better external sound quality. This is purely visual and has as much importance and value as you put on it. If you don’t care that your headphones have brushed metal accents, then it won’t make as much sense to jump up to those pricier headphones. The material the headphones are made of can make an impact on sound and resonance, but it is a more subtle difference.
Most people would be right to assume that the largest difference — whether from the design, the drivers, the materials, etc. — is going to be sound quality. Users will likely notice some sloppy bass and less designed mids and highs when choosing a cheaper set of headphones. This is purely a generalization, but it holds true quite often.
Noise cancellation can also be a factor here. If you are looking for headphones for a bus, a plane, or other environment with monotonous low frequencies, then ANC headphones can be an easy upgrade. Try Phiaton’s CURVE BT 120 NC, for example, with ANC, fast charge and excellent sound quality – all for under $100. If neckband earphones are more your style, try Phiaton’s BT 100 NC which features, IPX4 sweat and water resistance and Everplay-X cable so you can continue to use them even when the battery reaches 0%.
Other interesting features to keep in mind as you shop for your latest pair include:
- aptX Technology: In short, Qualcomm aptX increases digital streaming efficiency and improves the overall dynamic range. Phiaton’s BT 220 NC and BT 100 NC noise cancelling wireless earphones include aptX, and are both priced at under $85.
- Audio transparency: This convenient feature gives you the ability to hear your surroundings without having to remove the earphones. Find it in Phiaton’s 900 LEGACY true wireless earbuds with a charging speaker case.
- Multipoint connection: Are you constantly disconnecting from one Bluetooth device in order to connect to another? Multipoint connection allows you to connect any two Bluetooth-enabled devices simultaneously, saving you valuable time. Check it out on Phiaton’s CURVE BT 120 NC, BT 150 NC and BT 100 NC wireless sport earbuds.
- Advanced audio coding: AAC is an audio coding standard for digital audio compression. What this means to you, though, is higher quality sound, like that found in Phiaton’s 900 LEGACY and BOLT BT 700.
Lastly, there is marketing. Marketing can easily improve the perceived value of a product. Not just the promotional marketing but the packaging and accessories that accompany a product that do little than to just make the product feel more premium, regardless of whether it is or isn’t. Keep a keen eye when looking for differences to denote what is marketing versus what is a real benefit.
So, is it worth the price difference to opt for a $300 set of headphones over a $100 set? That is going to be up to the user. There will be a more high-quality design and potentially better audio, but will that be enough to push you toward the pricier set? If you are looking for ANC, then the jump can be more justified over a normal pair. For others, the difference is your own perceived value on those differences.
By Andrew O’Hara
May 7, 2020