Whether you need to replace old headphones/earphones or simply want another pair to swap to for different situations, the choice becomes easier if you know what you’re looking for. You probably have a particular style in mind (e.g. in ear, on-ear headphones, over-ear headphones) and an idea of the colorways to best match clothing and personal style. Yet, long-term happiness with your headphones is also dependent on features– after all, fashion can’t compensate for underperforming hardware. If you’re not sure where to start, here is what to consider before you start shopping.
Low latency Bluetooth headphones. If all you do is listen to music, then latency may not be a big deal. But those who would use headphones wirelessly to play games and/or watch movies can certainly understand the importance. The aptX codec for Bluetooth supports Low Latency, which reduces the wireless audio delay to under 40 ms. Without it, the audio fails to effectively synchronize with video. The catch? Bluetooth aptX Low Latency needs to be on both ends of the wireless connection (i.e. your smartphone/tablet must also have it).
Not all headphones and mobile devices feature Bluetooth aptX Low Latency, but the ranks have been steadily growing over time. There’s a good chance that your next smartphone will support aptX Low Latency, so choose new headphones that already have it! In the meantime, you can upgrade your device with a Bluetooth aptX adapter, which plugs straight into a headphone jack. The other benefit of having Bluetooth with aptX? Audio streams with “CD-like quality,” so you’ll hear all your music has to offer.
Active Noise Cancelling Headphones. Contrary to popular belief, headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) technology aren’t just for passengers in planes, trains, or automobiles. They’re good for anyone who would like to minimize the effect of ambient/environmental sounds. Maybe the local coffee shop you sit in to read/study is more popular than normal. Or maybe you live on a busy street, or have noisy kids playing around in the adjoining room. One flip of that ANC switch helps to bring about a peaceful bliss so you can focus on what’s important in the moment.
Multi-point Bluetooth Connectivity. Of all the bonus features you can get on headphones, such as smart sensors, touch controls, or a compact/folding design, multi-point connectivity is arguably the most useful. It’s one of those conveniences – the kind that’s quietly appreciated when present and vociferously missed when not – that fits so well in modern mobile lives. Simply put, multi-point connectivity lets headphones pair and be used with two Bluetooth-enabled devices simultaneously. So let’s say you’re listening to music on your tablet when you get an incoming call on your smartphone; multi-point connectivity lets headphones seamlessly transition back and forth between the two. No awkward fumbling necessary. You’ll feel like a pro.
Not many headphones/earphones include all of the above, but the good news is that Phiaton has you covered. The Phiaton 900 Legacy Digital Hybrid Noise Cancelling Headphones, BT 120 NC neckband earphones and BT 220 NC earphones are among the few that pack those features (and more) at a great price. Since these headphones also fold up compact, they’re easy to bring wherever you go.
By Stan Goodner
Updated March 22, 2021