Monday, June 29, 2015

The Specifications for Monaural Earphones

Headphones and earphones come in many shapes and sizes.

It is important to buy a set of monaural earphones that are comfortable and fit properly. With monaural earphone units, it is possible to achieve good sound quality, but they must fit properly to achieve this. Loose fitting monaural earphones will diminish the overall quality of the sound. Look for monaural earphones that come with multiple fitting options, or have cushioned moldings that will adjust to your ears. Monaural earphones have two designs: single cup that attaches to one ear and two cups that attach to both.
Sound Quality

Technical specifications can help you rule out lower quality monaural earphones, but it is still much more important to listen. Low-quality earphones will have a poor frequency response, low impedance, and poorly constructed drivers. No set of monaural earphones will sound the same to everyone. While the specifications are interesting and can help give you a general overview, there is no substitute for trying the monaural earphones on and listening to the quality of the sound.

When evaluating monaural earphones keep in mind that there is a break-in period. In general, you should be listening for the following: Is the sound clear? Do you hear any distortion? Listen to the bass sound. You want monaural earphones that are not fuzzy or muddled. The highs and lows shouldn't become tinny or thin. There should be an even tone throughout the highs and lows.

Frequency Response

This is the sound spectrum or range of frequencies that the device can produce. Practically speaking, humans have the ability to hear between 20 hertz and 20,000 hertz. At the lower levels, the sound is felt more than it is heard. This specification isn't all that important in monaural earphones, it becomes more important with loudspeakers. For the most part, you can ignore this specification.


With monaural earphones, the only real drawback to having a low impedance is a shorter battery life on the device. The level of impedance is an indicator of how much power is required. A higher impedance will draw less power. With monaural earphones, this specification isn't as significant as other specifications. According to Raymond Yu of Gear Diary, anything up to "32 ohms" will not require auxiliary power. Anything higher and auxiliary power is required. The sound quality is more important than this specification.


Sensitivity is the loudness of the monaural earphones. When looking for monaural earphones you should look for a high number but don't get anything above 85 decibels if you value your hearing.


This is a complex subject, but the basic rule of thumb with all audio equipment is that the more drivers there are the better the sound will be. In monaural earphones that have multiple drivers, each driver is given its own domain of sound. In this way, you can have a driver for bass, mid-range, and treble. Of course, this will be expensive because it is hard to cram all those drivers into single monaural earphones. To be fair, it is possible to create high-quality single driver monaural earphones, but they are going to cost you.

One final note about drivers. There are basically two types - Dynamic and Armature. Dynamic drivers require a burn-in (playing) time before they are able to reach their peak state. Armature drivers are more stable and still improve with time, but do not require a break in period. Many users view the Armature drivers as better drivers since they are ready to use out of the box.

Noise Isolation

This is an important consideration. It basically just tells you how much outside noise is blocked. The higher the number the greater the amount of outside noise is cut. Practically, you can cut up to about 26 decibels of outside noise with monaural earphones. Noise cancellation is not the same thing as noise isolation. With noise isolation, you are just blocking sound. Noise cancellation, on the other hand, emits a tone to create a barrier of sound. Noise cancellation can distort the sound, so noise isolation is generally the preferred solution.