Thursday, October 13, 2011


I like to listen to a lot of audiobooks, often while doing chores or out breaking a sweat. The headphones tend to get stuffed in a pocket, get caught on a shelf, and suffer all kinds of abuse.
For headphones, there seem to be a few different categories:
For less than $5, you can get "junk" headphones. These will play back the audio, in a recognizable form, though with discernible quality loss. They wont be able to reach the volume of some other headphones and are more likely to suffer mechanical difficulties.

At around $10, there are "good" headphones. These provide good quality playback and don't need to be cranked all the way up to hear everything.

Above $10, the really nice headphones come in. For listening to audiobooks, these don't really provide much advantage.

I've tried to make sense of the stats, companies just don't seem to be consistent in what they list. It seems that low impedance is better. However, it seems the most valuable is the type of magnet. The neodynium ones are good, while the ferrite tend to be junk. But perhaps just settling on the $10 pair is the way to go.

Sony MDR-J10:
Sony MDR-J10
Driver Unit : 13.5mm
Frequency Response : 20Hz - 20,000Hz
Impedance : 16 ohms
Sensitivity (db) : 104dB/mW
Power Handling Capacity : 1,000mW (EIA)

On the box, these were different::
Power handling: 50 mW (IEC)
Impedence: 16 ohms at 1kHz
Frequency Response: 18 -22,000Hz

Power Handling Capacity : 50mW
Driver Unit : 13.5mm
Frequency Response : 18Hz - 22,000Hz
Impedance : 16 ohms
Sensitivity (db) : 104dB/mW
Magnet Type : Neodymium
These are some of my favorites. They have been durable, and survived an accidental thrashing at Chuck-E-Cheese, numerous falls, and plenty of sweat. The volume range and sound quality are both good, and they stay in the ear well. One pair finally died after the iPod took one too many falls. (Something in the cable seemed to cause the right one to lose strength.)

Sentry 3-pack (walmart)
Headphones Type: Headphones - binaural
Connectivity Technology: Wired
Sound Output Mode: Stereo
Impedance: 32 Ohm
Response Bandwidth: 20 - 20000 Hz
This was a three pack for $10. Junk. The quality and volume range were not great, but the sound quality was ok. All three ones ended up falling apart in various ways. (The over the ear ones actual broke before first use.)

iPod headphones
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
Impedance: 32 ohms
magnet: neodymium
From the listed specs, these are identical to the wallmart ones above. However, in actuality, they have a crisper sound, and a better volume range. They were also more durable. I think a set made it about 6 months before the casing had fallen off and sound quality deteriorated.

Philips headphones (target)
Frequency Response : 12Hz-22kHz
Sensitivity : 103dB
Magnet Type : Neodymium
Impedance : 16 ohms
These are ok. They are better than the junk headphones, but don't have quite the volume range of the Sony. They also lost part of the outer casing for one ear before I remember using them. They are now in storage as back-up headphones.

Maxell PL-1 cheapies (walmart)
Impedance: 32 ohms
Frequency Response: 20-23,000Hz
Anisotropic Ferrite magnet
These are cheapies. They worked for a little while, but didn't have the volume response of others.

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