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Recognizing the Different Types of Headphones

10 RateBy Jack Burden

There are three main types of headphones, and their names relate to how they fit over the ears. Each headphone type has its special attributes and drawbacks.


  • Supra-Aural
    • Also Called: On-ear, open-back, open-air headphones
    • Sit over the ears with soft padded ear cups.
    • Don’t block ambient noise.
    • Leak music for others to hear.
  • Circumaural
    • Also Called: Closed-back, around-ear headphones
    • Create a seal around the ears, blocking out a lot of ambient noise.
    • Don’t bleed music to the outside.
    • Higher sound quality.
    • Usually heavier, bulkier, and less comfortable to wear for extended periods.
  • In-ear
    • Also Called: Earbuds, canal headphones
    • Sit inside the ear, either at the outside (earbuds) or inside the canal.
    • Canal headphones create a tight seal within the ear, improving sound quality.
    • Vary in how well they fit and stay in place.
JB Burden JB Burden has been reviewing, and researching TVs and Electronics for more than 9 years. His topical “interests” include pixel orbiters, louvered screen filters, and in-plane switching panels… among other things. See more about JB

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