Yes, your headphones or earbuds matter!
We are often asked if headphone or earbud quality really matters. In short, the answer is - YES! The ability of your headphones to replicate Life Environments Refresh!™ sound will drive the quality of your experience. The great news is quality headphones do not cost a great deal. Even more importantly, with a few insights, making a great headphone choice is pretty simple; we've even specified a preferred model for you if you want to skip the nerdish stuff!
Generally speaking, the proper headphones sound better and clearer than earbuds and have a greater effect. It's simple physics. That being said, earbuds are often more convenient and portable. How you listen will determine the preferred listening device for your particular activity.
Headphones come with a wide variety of sound dynamic properties. In short, you want to remember these headphone tips:
- Never use noise-cancelling headphones. If you purchase them, make sure you can cancel the noise-cancelling function.
- Always use noise-isolating headphones.
- Headphone pads should fit over the ear; not sit on the ear in most cases. These are called closed-design
- Use headphones with a broad dynamic range of at least 20Hz - 20,000 kHz. Cheap headphones don’t offer this and will not reproduce sound well.
- Get headphones with a minimum of 40mm drivers when possible. The bigger, the better in most headphones.
- The best experience comes from headphones that do not “color” the sound. These are often called “reference” or “flat” headphones and are often used in sound studios because they don't emphasize bass, mid range or treble tones.
- Great headphones don’t have to cost a great deal. You can get many for under $100, however spending from $125-$200 is often well worth it in terms of sound quality. you will be using Life Environments to help with sleep, we recommend high quality Bluetooth® (NOT RF, or Radio Frequency technology) headphones with high dynamic ranges and on-ear design that will easily fall off if you fall asleep.
CAVEAT: The proof is in the pudding! If you can get to a store and have your Life Environments subscription, try several on and see how they sound!
Our Top Recommendation...
We recommend Audio Technica® ATH-M50x headphones. We test master all audio using Audio Technica ATH-m50x headphones to ensure the highest acoustic performance. They can be purchased online and run about $125-$150.
Other makes and models...
Audio Technica® ($60-$300)
Most of the ATH series offers excellent value and performance, excellent reproduction and minimal sound coloring. We prefer the ATH-M50x model with a sound quality of 92 out of 100, but here are all AT models we recommend.
ATH-M30x, ATH-M40x, ATH-M50x, ATH-M60x, ATH-M70x
Sony has a wide variety of headphones. Some are excellent; others are poor performers. The best consumer models are older designs that have withstood the test of time with sound quality ratings of 84-89 out of 100.. Here are a few we recommend.
MDR-7506 (Industry standard), MDR-7510, MDR-V6
Sony MDRZX330BT/B Bluetooth Stereo Headset – On ear, but a solid choice for wireless BlueTooth® headphones. Those that might fall asleep while reclining or prefer on-ear designs will find these good choices. What we loved about this set was the weight - or absence thereof. These are super-light and can be worn all day with no worries. Combined with pretty good sound and a decent price, these are solid choices for wireless headphones!
HD280 PRO, HD380 PRO – Industry standard for a great price! We prefer the 380’s because of their flatter response and greater comfort. These headphones off er sound quality ratings of 78-83 out of 100. Not bad at all!
Sennheiser PXC550 – Expensive but pretty good if you turn off the noise cancelling function. These have a sound quality of about 78. Extremely good for Bluetooth® headphones!
AKG® - Not tested.
Beats® - Not recommended.
Beyerdynamic - Some are very good! We like the DT 990 PRO lots, but beware that many of these phones are open backed meaning that sounds will be heard by others. We like the 250 ohm versions, which may be more power than mobile devices can muster. Can be pricey
Bose® - Not recommended.
What about earbuds?
Earbuds offer convenience at the cost of sound quality. As a general rule, even the best earbuds deliver less than 20% of the performance of over the ear noise-isolating headphones. It's simply a physics thing. Apple's standard earbuds that came with iPhones 6-10 series devices have a sound quality score of 16 out of 100 possible points. Not great, but okay. Because you hear sound differently that anyone else, your best bet is to try many different options before purchasing and determine which models sound the best in your ears.
We have not tested Apple AirPods® with Life Environments experiences.
Your device matters too!
Now that you have the perfect headphones and earbuds, it's important to understand that your device has a great deal to say about your sound experience. For most people, a mobile phone or iPad will drive most listening experiences. Others might listen through their work computer or other device. It's important to remember that every devices receives the exact same signal from our servers. What is different is how those devices play sound.
For Apple® IOS users, you will need to go to your Music option in your Settings menu and select the EQ option and choose which preset mix sounds best to you. Unfortunately, we have found no other equalizer apps that allow you to adjust your sound effectively. Android® users, on the other hand, have access to many equalizers that enable tweaking sound to perfection.
If you are an IOS user (iPad, iPhone, Apple, Mac, etc.), you will need to use the internal equalizer application to adjust Life Environments to your taste. This is found in the Settings - Music - EQ menu. For earbuds, we suggest you use the SPOKEN WORD option. For headphones, many prefer the LATIN eq option.
Because Life Environments experiences are streamed from a server over your browser (because additional processing is required), you cannot simply add them to iTunes or other environments or download them to play back. This means you are limited to their default sound options when it comes to mobile devices.