1. How do I choose which headphones to buy?
– Headphones for professional use will have a different set of selection criteria than those for home or portable use. There are so many types (home, studio, portable, dynamic, electrostatic, etc.) that many people find the selection process bewildering. More so than with a loudspeaker, the sound of headphones is dependent on the listener. Since headphones are worn, other factors such as comfort play an important role in the selection process. A prospective buyer should regard recommendations as no more than suggestions for information on the unique characteristics of headphone sound fields.
2. How do dynamic (or electrostatic or electret or 4-channel or etc.) headphones work?
– In the past few years, the available headphone technologies have both expanded and contracted. On the one hand, dynamic transducer headphones now dominate all headphone sales, with electrostatic headphones being the one remaining form of audiophile exotica. Competing transducer technologies, such as isodynamic and electret types, have virtually disappeared from the marketplace. On the other hand, there is great demand for noise canceling and surround-sound phones. New developments in headphone design may finally make virtual listening an affordable reality.
3. How do I evaluate headphones, if they sound different from normal hearing?
– Audiophile quality headphones are available for the price of "budget" bookshelf loudspeakers, and deserve the same attention to sound quality that is given to loudspeakers. Because headphones present a distorted perspective, listeners must take into account various psycho acoustic factors when judging sound quality. The good news is that unlike loudspeakers, headphones are not affected by room acoustics and do not require extensive weight-training to lift them. For an in-depth discussion about evaluating headphones.
4. How do I wire a headphone plug or jack?
– The diagram above illustrates how to wire a standard stereo headphone plug. The tip is the left channel, the ring is the right channel, and the sleeve is the ground. Use an ohmmeter or continuity tester to determine the channel designations of the solder lugs. With a headphone jack, insert a headphone plug with known wiring scheme and use an ohmmeter or continuity tester to match the jack connections to the plug.
Note: Headphone jacks are sold in open-circuit and closed-circuit versions. The open-circuit jack is general purpose and has 3 pins for the left and right channels and ground. The closed-circuit jack has extra connections for an external circuit, such as a speaker which is disconnected when a plug is inserted.