How to Buy Used Headphones

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Headphones are a nearly ubiquitous piece of audio equipment, used by audiophiles and casual listeners alike. Essentially a set of private speakers that fit on, in, or over the ears, headphones allow users individual listening. At home, headphones can be used when listening to music, or watching films or television, without disturbing those in the immediate vicinity. And with the ever-increasing portability of audio devices, many people use headphones to listen to music during their commutes. Headphones can also be perfect travel companions, blocking out noise and letting the listener relax with their own music or film selection.

As with all audio equipment, quality counts. Choosing a set of higher-quality, or even audiophile-grade headphones can make a significant improvement in sound production. Buying used headphones is a more affordable way to upgrade one’s listening experience. Before doing so, however, buyers should know what kind of headphones are right for them, and how to look for a used pair that are in excellent condition.

Consider Intended Use and Price Range

The first step when purchasing any kind of headphone is to decide on what the main use of the headphones is. Heavier, more substantial models are well-suited for at-home listening, whether to films, television, or music. Lightweight headphones may be more practical for use with portable audio devices, such as an iPod,MP3 Player or portable CD player.. Certain situations may dictate choices about particular features; for example, sound-cancellation is a good option for frequent airplane travel. In general, buyers should have their intended use in mind when comparing different kinds of headphones.

Prices for used headphones vary; there are plenty of inexpensive models, while higher-end headphones may be something of an investment. Consumers should set a price range for their used headphones to help narrow their choices.

What to Look for When Buying Used Headphones

In addition to product specifications and features, discussed below, shoppers should learn to look for signs that used headphones are in excellent condition. Misuse can result in damage to the headphones’ structure, resulting in poorer performance.

In general, buying from a reliable source is a good way to ensure that the headphones have been cared for properly. A knowledgeable seller should be able to accurately assess the condition of the headphones, and give a detailed description of them. In addition, if buying online, shoppers should examine pictures closely for any signs of damage, such as cracks in the ear pads, a worn or bent cable, or corrosion on the connector.

It may be advisable to check with the seller whether the headphones come from a smoke- and pet-free environment. Smoke smells can be particularly difficult to get rid of, and pets may leave allergenic dander, which for some may be problematic.

Finally, some audiophiles consider it a positive indication if the used headphones still have their original box.

Replacing or Repairing Headphone Parts

Used headphones may sometimes require replacing or repairing one more of its parts. Replacement ear pads, headbands, and even speakers are available for some models. Certain repairs, such as cable damage, can be made fairly easily. Before purchasing damaged headphones, consumers should verify the costs of any repairs or replacement parts.

Different Kinds of Headphones

There are several different types of headphones on the market. The selection of a headphone style should be directed by intended use and personal preference.

Ear-Cup Headphones

Ear-cup,, or over-the-ear headphones, are ideal for use at home or work. They cover the ear completely with a soft ear cup for hours of comfortable listening. In addition, this design seals out a good deal of background noise for more isolated sound. Noise-canceling headphones do so completely, and are particularly good for airplane travel or other circumstances when there is a high level of noise.

There are two kinds of ear-cup headphones, closed-back and open-back.. Closed-back have higher sound isolation and a more powerful bass sound; open-back headphones’ sound is more open, but there is some sound and noise leakage.

Ear-Pad (On-Ear) Headphones

Ear-pad headphones fit on the ear, but do not cover it completely. Therefore, they are generally an open-back design that does not have much isolation. Because they are lighter in weight, ear-pad headphones are more portable, making them a good choice for high-quality performance when travelling, working out, or at home.


Earbuds fit into the ear; they are highly portable, lightweight, and less expensive to produce, making them a popular choice. Ear-canal headphones,, also called in-canal earphones, are a specific type of earbud featuring a plastic or rubber piece that sits in the ear canal, cancelling out noise and sealing in sound. These are an excellent choice for commuting and travelling.

Wireless Headphones: Infrared, Radio Frequency, and Bluetooth

Wireless headphones are very convenient for times when the listener needs more freedom of movement, or when a cable may be in the way. There are three types of wireless headphones, classified according to the way in which the sound signal is transmitted: infrared,, radio frequency (RF), and Bluetooth.. With infrared wireless headphones, the signal is sent via an infrared light signal, which requires that there be no obstructions between the wearer and the transmitter. RF headphones use radio frequency waves, allowing the user more freedom of movement; for example, they could be in another room. However, RF headphones are more susceptible to interference. Bluetooth headphones use Bluetooth technology to transmit a wireless signal from other Bluetooth-equipped devices. The sound quality with Bluetooth headphones, however, is lower than that of infrared or RF units.

Headphone Features and Specifications

Consumers may find it helpful to have some familiarity with the most common features and technical specifications associated with headphones. The following chart outlines frequent terms in product descriptions.

Feature or Specification

Description and Comments

Dynamic Driver Driver (speaker) features a cone diaphragm and a voice coil; most common type of speaker
Electrostatic Driver Instead of a cone, the driver diaphragm is a thin piece of Mylar with variable electrostatic charge; known for producing excellent, detailed sound, particularly at high frequencies; however, can be quite expensive
Dual-Cabled Two individual cables running from connector, one to each speaker (left and right ears)
Single-Cabled Single cable runs from connector, with three cores to carry the signal to each speaker; more common, since it is easier to add volume control, etc., onto the cable itself
Connector Joins the cable to the audio device; may be straight or L-shaped, which is more durable for daily portable use; connector size (diameter) must be compatible with audio device, so buyers should check ahead of time; gold-plated connectors resist oxidation and have low resistance for a durable, high-performance connection
Circumaural Ear Cups Ear cup can be rotated away from ear 180 degrees, for one-ear listening
Coiled Cable Allows length when needed, and otherwise retracts to prevent tangles
Remote Control For convenient volume adjustment and other controls
Microphone Can double as headset for mobile phone
Collapsable Headphones fold for easy storage and portability
Clip-On Earbuds or ear-pad headphones that clip over the ear for a secure fit; can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods but useful for short durations, such as during exercise
Weight The lighter the earphones or headphones, the more comfortable they are to wear for long periods
Frequency Response The range of audio frequencies the speakers are capable of producing; lower frequencies indicate bass sounds, while higher ones are high-pitched treble sounds; generally, the human ear is capable of detecting frequencies between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz (20 kHz)
Distortion Indicates how accurately the speakers reproduce sounds; lower distortion is better, around one percent; buyers should keep in mind that the human ear generally cannot detect distortion under one percent
Sensitivity Indicates how loud the speakers can be, measured in decibels (db); higher sensitivity means the speaker can produce more sound with less power; for portable use, look for sensitivity of at least 90 db
Impedance Measures the amplifier’s resistance in ohms (Ω) to an electrical current; higher impedance rating means more resistance, indicating that more power may be needed to operate; impedance for headphones is usually around 100 ohms; impedance is more of a concern when plugging several headphones into one device, but less important for portable listening

These terms may help buyers compare different headphone models. The can also help guide consumers in assessing which features are most important for them.

Finding Used Headphones

Used headphones are often available where used audio equipment is sold; for example, at local audiophile events. Consumers interested in purchasing used headphones in person may want to check local listings and look at notices on online audiophile forums. Alternatively, there are numerous online audio suppliers who sell used equipment. Websites like eBay also have a wide selection of quality used headphones.

How to Buy Used Headphones on eBay

You can find a broad range of used headphones on eBay’s online website. To begin, go to shop’s home page and type in keywords, such as used earbuds“, into the search bar. You can then further refine your search results according to brand, seller location, product features, and more. For additional information, visit eBay’s Search Tips page.

Once you’ve found a pair of headphones you’re interested in, take a few moments to examine the product details. There should be a clear description of the item’s condition, as well as photos. Note the seller’s return policy, and also what the shipping costs and conditions are. If you have any questions, you can contact the seller through eBay.

Finally, get to know a bit about the seller. Check their feedback rating, and look over comments left by previous customers. This gives you an idea of how reliable and knowledgeable they are. Top-rated sellers have a strong record of providing excellent customer service.


A good set of headphones can make a big difference in one’s listening experience. Buying used headphones can be an excellent way to get a quality product and save money. One part of the buying process is deciding which type of headphones to look for, based on intended use, whether it be for home, travel, or other particular situations. Then, there are certain steps consumers can take to find headphones that are in good condition. Good communication with the seller is important; they should provide detailed information about the headphones’ condition, along with pictures, if purchasing over the Internet.

Consumers have their choice between different headphone styles: ear-cup, ear-pad, or earbuds, and whether they are wired or wireless. The size, weight, and design of these different types make them more suitable to certain types of use. In addition, headphones come with a wide range of features for improved performance and more convenience. Informing themselves about what to look for in used headphones, as well as available features and technical specifications, helps consumers find a pair that are just right for them.

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