Why Are Earbuds Better Than Headphones?

Wondering why earbuds are better than headphones? We’ll cover the pros and cons of each and help you decide which is best for you!

Pink headphones on a green background

Since fully wireless earbuds came out they have been all the hype. It didn’t take long for people to love them. Some even jumped the gun, saying earbuds are better than headphones. Are they actually right? Why are earbuds better than headphones?

Earbuds are better than headphones because of their key features. They are smaller, easier to transport, and they offer freedom of movement. Audiophiles prefer headphones for sound quality. 

Things aren’t that simple, it comes down to what you are looking for. We’ll clear everything up.

Earbuds vs. Headphones

It’s hard to say which is better, both have advantages and disadvantages. Earbuds are better in some aspects, headphones are better in others. For instance, a music producer will prefer headphones. A runner will prefer earbuds, however.

So, what you will be using the device for is the decisive factor. That’s what I’ll do here. I’ll compare earbuds and headphones in certain situations. Let’s start.

Man holding earbuds

Earbuds Advantages

Fully wireless earbuds became a thing in 2016 when Apple came out with the AirPods. At first, many just wanted to join the hype. But soon enough, people started seeing the real benefits of owning earbuds.

I think that most of you that are buying earbuds know exactly why you’re buying them. The advantages that come with a pair of earbuds are obvious.

  1. Earbuds are compact. 
    One of the best things about earbuds is that they are really small. Because there are no wires, you can easily put them in your pocket. The technology aims at minimalism, so earbuds are a great achievement.
  2. Free to move around with earbuds. 
    Over-ear headphones can be suffocating, even wireless ones. With earbuds, that feeling is gone. You can cook, wash, and walk with earbuds and you won’t notice them. They are a great choice for those that like to move around while listening.
  3. Great for exercise or running.
    You can say that this is the same as “free to move around” but I wanted to make a distinction. Runners are a big market for earbuds. Many who used over-ear headphones for exercising changed to earbuds when they came out. Earbuds are far better for running than headphones, they don’t get in the way. Also, you’re more aware of your surroundings.
  4. Easy to transport.
    Headphones require a bag. We all know that. You either have them on your head or in your bag. This is not ideal. With earbuds, none of this is necessary. You can just put them in the case and put the case in your pocket. Take care to not damage them though.

Related article – Bose Sport Earbuds Vs AirPods Pro – The Showdown

AirPod Pros on a table

Earbuds Disadvantages

Just to be clear, some wouldn’t consider what follows as a disadvantage. The main reason for that is that with expensive earbuds these disadvantages go away. However, I know that not everyone is willing to spend that much money on earbuds, so here we go.

  1. Not that good at noise-canceling.
    Headphones rely on the cushions of the cans for noise-canceling. While that’s not the only factor, it’s a damn important one. As you know, earbuds can’t have those cushions, so the noise-canceling isn’t as good. Expensive earbuds have impressive noise-canceling though.
  2. The sound quality isn’t as good as with headphones.
    Headphones have better sound quality than earbuds do. The difference isn’t that big though. The average customer wouldn’t notice it with good models. Audiophiles will notice the difference though.

Related article – Why Are My Earbuds Changing Volume?

Okay, time to move on to headphones.

Headphones Advantages

We shouldn’t throw headphones out of the conversation. Even with earbuds getting so popular, many still prefer headphones. Let’s see why that is.

  1. Great at noise-canceling.
    There’s no competition when it comes to noise-canceling. Headphones actively block out any outside noises that you don’t want to hear. This technology has improved a lot over the years. It’s especially good for games where hearing is crucial.
  2. Focus better with headphones.
    Not that earbuds don’t provide that focusing experience, headphones are just better at that. If you want to study or work, headphones offer an atmosphere in which you can easily focus. With headphones, you can have that zone-in experience.
  3. Better sound quality.
    Because headphones are bigger than earbuds, they have more space for improvements. That means bigger drivers that suppress distortion. Also, the drivers have room for bigger magnets that make sound details better.
  4. More playtime.
    This only goes for wireless headphones of course. The same logic applies here. Headphones are bigger so that means bigger batteries. Hence, you can listen for longer periods.

Related Article: Best Over Ear Headphones Under $500

Woman wearing headphones and listening to music

Headphones Disadvantages

Same as with the earbuds, don’t consider this as a really bad thing about headphones. It’s more like they are not suited for some situations.

  1. Bad for exercise and running.
    First of all, headphones are not that comfortable for exercising. The cans will just get in the way, you’ll feel like you have a weight on your head. Headphones and sweat don’t go well together. Sweat can ruin the cushions of the headphones.
  2. Hard to transport.
    What we had as an advantage for earbuds, here we have as a disadvantage for headphones. I don’t have to tell you how annoying headphones can be for traveling. Sure, you can put them on your neck or your ears but after a while that is exhausting.

Now, those were the pros and cons. I don’t want to end it like this. I’m guessing you are thinking about switching to earbuds. So, you may want to know some buying tips besides all this.

You may also like to read Best Headphones For Basketball That NBA Players Use.


It’s not a question of which is better. Both earbuds and headphones have their audience. If you’re thinking about buying earbuds, don’t think about whether they are better than headphones. Think about how you are going to be using them.

Earbuds are a great choice for those that like to listen to music on their daily run. Commuting is easier with earbuds. It’s all about the experience. They are small, and you can do anything while listening. Quality earbuds can have a similar sound quality to headphones too. However, those models are expensive.

Headphones are better for gaming, conference calls, and focusing. Noise-canceling is crucial for these activities. Headsets are great for talking when there’s ambient or background noise.

That’s it. Here’s hope I didn’t make earbuds or headphones fans mad.

Related Article: Best Headsets For Working From Home