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  • Listen While You Work: Great Headphones
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Headphones for Working

Many people like to listen to music while working. Music can serve as a positive motivator to get work accomplished, help filter out background noises, and help pass the time. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of being able to listen to music on their speakers during the work day. Shared work environments make this possibility a no-go.

On the bright side, however, there are a number of different headphones that are great for working. While we won't go into the specific brands -- there are many excellent brands and types of headphones which are worth trying out in person, if possible, since there are many different head shapes and sizes -- it is worth exploring the main *types* of headphones. Each type suits different music-listening needs.


Earbuds are the most portable types of headphones, but often at the expense of audio fidelity. Since earbuds are so tiny, they can be carried around in your pocket, and easily fold or roll up. However, their small size means that, often, high and low frequencies are lost, and the mid-frequencies are accentuated. This results in a tinny, telephone-like sound quality.

If your job involves a lot of moving around, then earbuds might be the best option for workplace headphones. They can leak *some* noise, although if you are listening to your music at a reasonable volume, this should not be a big issue in the first place.

Closed Headphones

The best headphone option when working in a group environment is closed headphones. While these headphones are often more expensive than earbuds, the audio fidelity afforded by closed headphones is much better. This is because they block out most outside noises. It is also very courteous to use closed headphones when working in an open environment, as they will help block noises from *escaping* your headphones. Your coworkers will thank you for not subjecting them to your Metallica album looped on repeat.

When searching for good closed headphones, look for headphones that provide good noise reduction and a good mix of high, mid, and low frequencies.

Open Headphones

While open headphones generally provide excellent audio fidelity, they tend to leak a *lot* of sound. These are often used in music studios when it is necessary to listen to what is going on *outside* the headphones as well as *inside* the headphones. These will probably distract your coworkers too much, though. Don't bother with them at the office.

Most office workers will probably either want to use earbuds or closed headphones. Open headphones will likely not keep out enough sound (in either direction), and will either be distracting to others or will let in too many distracting noises from the outside. You can easily find good headphones for under $200, and decent headphones for under $100. If possible, try out the headphones at the store before you buy them.

Which to Choose?

If you can, try each pair of headphones out before you buy any. If this isn't possible, read consumer reviews. You'll find that headphones are largely a personal preference, but you may find out which ones will suit you best by reading what other consumers have to say.