The Surprising Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Your Headphones

Getting the Most Out of Your Headphones Plus Advances


Whether you're a designer seeking isolation for focus, a commuter looking to drown out the noise, or a music lover chasing the highest sound fidelity, there's a pair of headphones out there tailored to your needs.

Over the years, headphones have evolved from mere audio output devices to tech-driven wearables packed with innovative features. Whether you are a designer working on a critical project, a music enthusiast, or a gamer seeking an immersive experience, the right set of headphones can make a world of difference.

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Behind every silent, iPod-using designer there’s a sociable, creative mind desperate to break out. But when they emerge from the office at the end of the day, how do they bridge the gap between work and pleasure?

What kind of designer are you? I am asking you about what you design. Whether you design websites, company reports, logos, advert calendars. We all have one, divorced it would seem from our real personality.

Take for instance my temporary residence as art director of a medium sized agency in London, where a group of perfectly sociable folks sit in rows, headphones pumping out a barely audible hiss that’s seems to say, “I’ll talk to you only when absolutely necessary.”

However, at the end of the day they all emerge blinking into the light, and they’re different people once again happily traipsing to the nest watering hole for a swift lager-top before heading back home. This completely unscientific analysis of a small sample group proves my hypothesis that designers are actually rather convivial people and, in the right circumstances, can be openly friendly and talkative.

The next day, of course, they return to work and become zombie designers again, but for a while you glimpsed a spark of humanity. This dichotomy between work and pleasure would appear to indicate a generalized Jekyll and Hyde personality schism that afflicts the industry.

The enforced silence is perhaps cultural of self-inflicted, and I know from experience that it’s certainly not universal – I once worked in an agency that was loud, brash and boisterous during work hours. Underneath

This unscientific analysis proves my hypothesis that designers are actually rather convivial people”

There is a desperate yearning to be gregarious that can’t help but bubble to the surface. I think this phenomenon partly explains the runaway success of event such as OFFF and BD4D. The work on display is fantastic, but these events and also an excuse to meet people over a yard of ale at the bar and talk about who’s hot and who’s not.

In short, designers and creative folk, for all their foibles and idiosyncrasies – such as the urge to sculpt their hair into strange shapes and take a fake interest in skateboarding and sneakers – are actually quite normal.

The Social Club

The London Design Festiva l, which dedicates the last two weeks in September to celebrating the capital’s  creativity, reminded me of this. Amid the events dedicated to the “Drama of Dress’’, “Undergr9iund’s Circle Line was the real narrative: a perfectly good excuse to leave the headphones in the office and have a chat with other people who’ve done the same.

The London Design Festival is broad in its scope, so it offers plenty of opportunities to shoot the breeze with furniture designers, architects, branding specialists, fashionistas, creative writers, film and set designers, as well as those concerned with the graphic arts.

There probably isn’t enough inter-discipline dialogue between different strands of creativity, so events such as the London design festival provide a perfect opportunity to really talk to some different people.

And should you falter and suddenly have the urge to listen to some bleepy, lo-fi sonic experimentation that you don’t quite understand but the band has a cool name, then that’s what your iPod is for. On the journey home, slip back into those white headphones and relax into a comforting, catatonic stupor…

Choosing A Headset

If you’re going to do VOIP properly you need a descent headset. It only takes a few minutes speaking into a PC microphone to realize you would be much better with a headset. A headset combines a built in microphone with two headphone speakers. Your options are to connect using Bluetooth or USB. Our preferred option is to go down the wireless route. Since being connected to your PC by a cable is a bit restrictive.

It’s easy to forget you’re wearing a wired headset and reach for a document on a table behind you only to snag your headset’s cable and have it cruelly ripped off your ears. On the downside wireless headsets such as the Plantronics CS60-USB are more expensive than their wired counterparts. Major players in the headset market you need to be aware of are Plantronics, Altec Lansing, and Logitech among others.

Headsets come in shapes and sizes from in-ear headphones to big cams to foldable models for easy transport. Since nobody’s ears are exactly the same shape you need to experiment a bit to find the type that fits you. The more expensive models also feature noise cancelling technology.

This makes a real difference to VOIP activities, so we would recommend headset such as the Plantronics CS670-USB, DSP 400 or Audio 80 if you are shopping on a budget then the Audio 60 might be more up your street.

Advancements in Headphone Technology

Over the years, headphones have evolved from mere audio output devices to tech-driven wearables packed with innovative features. Whether you are a designer working on a critical project, a music enthusiast, or a gamer seeking an immersive experience, the right set of headphones can make a world of difference.

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)

One of the most significant advancements in headphone technology is Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). ANC headphones use tiny microphones to capture ambient noise, then generate a counter-signal to effectively cancel out the noise.

This technology has been a game-changer for people who work in noisy environments or frequently travel. High-end models like the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are renowned for their excellent ANC capabilities.

Bone Conduction Technology

Bone conduction headphones are a relatively new entrant in the market, providing an alternative for those who find conventional headphones uncomfortable or intrusive. Instead of transmitting sound through the ear canal, these headphones deliver sound through the cheekbones to the cochlea, leaving the ear canal open. This feature makes them ideal for outdoor activities like running or cycling, where awareness of the environment is essential. Brands such as Aftershokz have been pioneering in this area.

High-Resolution Audio

As the demand for high-quality audio increases, manufacturers are focusing more on providing high-resolution audio. High-res audio offers better sound quality as it retains the details that are usually lost in digital compression of audio files. Look out for headphones that support high-res audio, like Sennheiser’s HD 660 S or Focal’s Utopia.

AI and Smart Features

With the rise of smart devices, AI-powered features are becoming more prevalent in headphones. For instance, the Apple AirPods Pro offers features like Adaptive EQ, which automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear for a rich and consistent listening experience. Also, Google’s Pixel Buds integrate Google Assistant, allowing you to access a range of functions, like real-time translation, just by a simple touch or voice command.

Battery Life and Wireless Charging

Battery life continues to be a focus, with many wireless models now offering between 20 to 30 hours of usage on a single charge. Furthermore, quick charging features have also been integrated, allowing headphones to provide several hours of playback with just a few minutes of charging. In addition, some headphones like the Apple AirPods Pro and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro also support wireless charging for added convenience.

In conclusion, the headphone market is continuously evolving, with a keen focus on enhancing user experience. When choosing headphones, consider your specific needs and preferences, and take the time to research and try out different models. The perfect pair of headphones can not only provide an excellent audio experience but can also complement your lifestyle and work habits.

Personalization and Sound Profiles

Another trend in headphone technology is the move towards personalized sound profiles. Some headphones, like the Nura Nuraphone and the Jabra Elite 85h, use AI algorithms to analyze the way you hear and create a personalized sound profile that is calibrated to your hearing. This approach enhances the audio experience and ensures that you’re getting the most out of your music or audio content.

Spatial Audio

Spatial audio is a transformative technology that brings three-dimensional sound to headphones. It creates an immersive, theater-like audio experience that makes it seem as if the sound is coming from all around you. This technology is particularly beneficial for movie lovers and gamers who seek a more engaging experience. Apple’s AirPods Pro and Max have been praised for their implementation of spatial audio.


As consumers become more eco-conscious, headphone manufacturers are taking steps to make their products more sustainable. Some companies, like House of Marley, are using recycled or eco-friendly materials in their products. Others are focusing on building durable products that can be easily repaired rather than replaced.

Comfort and Design

While technology and sound quality are essential, comfort and design are equally important when choosing headphones. The trend is leaning towards lightweight, ergonomic designs that can be worn for extended periods without discomfort. Memory foam ear cups, adjustable headbands, and swivel design for better fit are some of the features being incorporated.

Bluetooth 5.0

The latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology offers significant improvements over its predecessor, including better range, increased speed, and a more stable connection. It also allows for multi-point connectivity, meaning you can connect your headphones to multiple devices simultaneously.

Hearing Health Features

Finally, there’s an increased focus on hearing health. Some manufacturers are introducing features that protect users’ hearing health. For instance, Apple’s iOS includes a “Headphone Safety” feature that allows users to set a maximum volume limit. Similarly, the WHO has launched the ‘Make Listening Safe’ initiative, encouraging manufacturers to integrate features that prevent hearing damage.

The world of headphones is broad and rapidly evolving. As technology advances, we can expect to see even more innovative features designed to enhance sound quality, user comfort, and overall listening experience. Whether you’re a designer seeking isolation for focus, a commuter looking to drown out the noise, or a music lover chasing the highest sound fidelity, there’s a pair of headphones out there tailored to your needs.

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