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Crisp, clean, and clear: New headphones make Hi-Fi mobile

The explosion of portable audio products continues to make music more mobile. Find out what to watch (and listen) for when shopping for new headphones.

These days, you’re more likely to hear music from mobile electronics — like smartphones, MP3 players, tablets and ultrabook computers — than from traditional sources like a living room or bedroom stereo. As this trend progresses, the large, powerful speakers of the past continue to lose ground to smaller wearable headphones that pack a big punch. Here are some headphone features to consider as you look to build your new mobile Hi-Fi:

Headphone Sound

The most important factor to consider when weighing your headphone options, the sound quality of wearable speakers has improved dramatically in recent years. So if you haven’t tried out new headphones recently, get ready to be blown away. Since everyone responds to sound a bit differently, go with what your senses tell you. Try out a variety of headphones, and pick the ones that hit all the right notes for you. The best audio experiences combine clean, powerful lows with crisp, clear high notes and silky smooth mid-range tones.

Headphone Style

You may not immediately think of headphones as a style accessory, but they are wearable, after all. Depending on the style of headphones you select, they may well be the most noticeable accessory you’re wearing. Luckily, today’s offerings provide a wide variety of design and color stylings — from retro to ultramodern, geek to sleek and everything in between.

Wireless Headphones

When your music is mobile, why tie yourself down with wires? The latest Bluetooth wireless technology sounds so good, you no longer have to choose between quality and mobility.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

With noise-canceling headphones, you no longer have to turn the volume up in order to shut the noise out. The latest “active noise-canceling” technology actually produces sound waves that dampen ambient noise to deliver a cleaner, clearer listening experience.

Headphone Types: In-Ear, On-Ear and Over-Ear

Currently, there are three main types of headphones: in-ear (sometimes called “earbuds”), on-ear and over-ear (sometimes called “around-ear”). Each type affects sound, looks and comfort. In-ear headphones (or earbuds) are the smallest of the three and usually rest just inside the opening of the ear canals. On-ear headphones are the next larger size and rest on top of the ear, without enclosing it. The last type of headphones, over-ear (or around ear), are the largest of the three and cup your entire ear. Opinions vary widely on which of these headphone types sound, look and feel best, so give all three a try and decide what works best for you in the situations you’re most likely to use them.

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