Featured image of post How to choose headphones so as not to "suffer"?

How to choose headphones so as not to "suffer"?

Headphones or earplugs are so small, but the price can be as high as thousands or even tens of thousands of yuan. Are they worth the price? How to choose a headphone product that is really cost-effective?

For HIFI enthusiasts who like to “listen while walking”, a pair of high-quality headphones or earplugs is essential equipment. Whether it is the “first burn” who has just entered the circle or the “old burn” who has been in the rivers and lakes for a long time, they have never stopped researching headphones. All kinds of earphone products are filled in the cabinets of online and offline audio equipment stores, such as wired, wireless, in-ear, head-mounted and so on. There are so many earphone products that we are often overwhelmed. Do you still remember the model of your first pair of earphones or earplugs? On what grounds did you decide to “take him home”? I believe everyone’s reasons are different.

What exactly determines the price of a headset product?

Broadly speaking, there are two main factors that determine the selling price of a commodity. The first is cost. The second is the relationship between supply and demand. The relationship between supply and demand is often determined by the overall consumer market. We will not include it in the scope of the discussion for the time being. Let us mainly talk about the manufacturing and R&D costs of headphones.

Speaking of this, many people will have doubts. For such a small thing, earphones seem to be cheap to manufacture. But in fact, it is more complicated to answer the question of the cost of headphones, and it is much more difficult than imagined.

The cost of a “regular” headset

I believe that many friends had the same experience as me when they were young. When I was shopping, I saw all kinds of earphone products on the street stalls, all of which were very cheap, and the most expensive ones were only in the early 30s. There are also many imitation products of famous brand earphones. For us when we were young, the appearance of these imitation products is quite attractive. Of course, the price is more attractive. I remember that I once bought a pair of “Sony” rear-mounted headphones at a street stall, and the price was only 30 yuan. It looks like the latest design style at that time. Insert it in my “NEC” portable CD player, and listen to it all the way, it’s really flattering in my heart!

These very cheap ordinary headphones mentioned above have almost zero research and development costs. Because both the sound unit and the earphone wire can be purchased directly, and the shell of the earphone can also be purchased directly. The manufacturer simply assembles these parts together and then sells them with outer packaging. Therefore, the manufacturing cost of these “ordinary headphones” is approximately equal to the purchase cost of parts, the most expensive part of which is the sound unit, but these cheap headphone products usually do not use high-quality sound units, so the relatively “primary” sound quality is these Features of cheap headphones. Of course, there will be a huge difference between “yes” and “no”. For us who had empty pockets when we were young, such a pair of cheap headphones is also a “baby” in our hearts.

The cost of middle and high-end earphones of regular big brands

Next, let’s take a look at the differences in the cost of headphones from regular big brands. In order to experience differentiation and provide a better listening experience, the headphone products of major manufacturers usually use relatively advanced headphone sound units. Whether it is a self-developed sound unit or a purchased sound unit, the cost will not be very low. However, the cost composition of self-developed and purchased sound units will be different. Self-developed sounding units usually have a relatively high R&D cost. Once the R&D is successful, the manufacturing cost will be relatively “low”. Some leading enterprises will choose this production mode. But if you purchase a ready-made sound unit, although there is no research and development cost, the purchase price will be more expensive, because the actual manufacturer must set the price according to the standard of the finished product.

In addition to the “sound-generating unit”, the core component that determines sound quality, the earphone products of regular major manufacturers usually also design different styles of earphone appearance, in order to carry forward the meaning of the word “high-end”. Don’t underestimate the fact that anyone can do exterior design. You must know that those who can take up the design position in an enterprise are not “fuel-efficient lamps”. The cost of hiring them will be very high, especially for big brands.

Also as a listening playback device, there is a huge difference in cost between speakers and headphones. That is, there are very few celebrity endorsement products in the sales of speakers. The earphones are different. Because the audience of earphones is larger, they are more inclined to young men and women who pursue fashion, and celebrities are often invited to endorse them. The endorsement fee of a star is not a small sum, and the sales of a small manufacturer for several years may not be worth the endorsement income of a top star for a year.

Headphones are so small, so is the cost lower than speakers?

The truth is often different from our original imagination. The main components of the small earphones in our hands and the floor-standing speakers placed in our homes are sound units. In principle, the cost of sound units of the same quality will not differ much. Even most of the time, the research and development cost of the micro sound unit of the earphone is higher and more difficult. This is a bit like the CPU, the core component of a computer. Due to its small size, the requirements for the manufacturing process are very strict. Or, we can take a more appropriate analogy, clocks and watches, the same mechanical principle, regular size clocks will be much easier to manufacture than watches.

That’s why, in the market, there are many manufacturers producing and selling high-priced small-brand speakers, but high-priced earphones are only produced and sold by regular large manufacturers. The reason is very simple, as we mentioned above, the R&D and manufacturing costs of the miniature sounding unit of the earphone are not “affordable” for small brand DIY manufacturers.

What factors determine the cost of the sound unit?

Since the sound unit is the most important and the most expensive part in the headset. So, what kind of sound unit will be expensive? I believe this is the most concerned issue of many HIFI enthusiasts. After all, the price range of earphone products from regular major manufacturers is also very large, often rising from a few hundred yuan to tens of thousands of yuan. No one wants to spend unjustly money to pay for the manufacturer’s gimmicks.

Let’s first take the sound unit of a conventional-sized speaker as an example to talk about the most critical point in its cost. We have all experienced that it is not very difficult to make the speaker sound. The handset of an old-fashioned telephone can also make a sound, and its price is very cheap. Indeed, the sound unit, also known as the speaker, is a very mature technology. This technology also appeared far earlier than the birth of display technology. Building a speaker that can produce sound is relatively easy in today’s industrial system. However, light can not meet our needs of “listening to music”. Music contains far more kinds of sounds than people’s ordinary conversations. A low-quality speaker cannot fully emit the sound waves of all the frequency bands originally owned by the music. Therefore, the more the speaker produced by the manufacturer can emit sound in more frequency bands, the more “advanced” it is, and the higher the cost will naturally be. Just like the more colors a liquid crystal display panel can display, the higher the cost.

Let’s have some more interesting knowledge. The wider the frequency covered by the sound emitted by the sound unit, the higher the manufacturing cost, which is easy for us to understand. But in fact, it is easier, or much easier, to make a speaker emit a high-frequency sound than to make it emit a low-frequency sound. Some old audiophiles may have heard the saying “bass is expensive”, this statement has a scientific basis. From the manufacturer of the sounding unit, in order for the speaker to emit “bass”, it is necessary to “stack” the sounding unit. Moreover, if the bass is “low” to a certain extent, the manufacturing cost of the sound unit will increase geometrically.

The saying “bass is expensive” is more appropriate if it is placed on the product of headphones. To make the small-sized micro-sounding unit emit a real “bass”, the difficulty of research and development and the cost of manufacturing are further increased. The sounding units of big-brand headphone products should also pay attention to “durability”, and the sounding units should be small in size and not easy to break. This is also to further raise the threshold for R&D technology.

This is also a good explanation. The entry-level earphones of some imported big brands are not expensive, maybe around 300 to 500 yuan, and the appearance is also very beautiful, but the advertisements usually only advertise that the treble output of these models is very good. , for the bass, the phenomenon of “not mentioning a word”. Some HIFI enthusiasts may think that some similarly advertised “bass” capabilities appear in the advertisements of some domestic earphones at the same price. Does it mean that the technology of domestic earphones has overcome the difficulty of high manufacturing cost of “bass”? No, we all know that if certain products are only sold domestically, the promotion of the merchants can be “slightly modified”. However, the products of some major international brands need to be sold globally, so their promotion of products will naturally be relatively “honest”.

Is there any trick to choose earphones?

The answer is: yes.

Now that we understand that the core of the manufacturing cost of headphones is the sound unit, and the cost of the sound unit is the most expensive “bass”. Then, we can choose the most cost-effective headphones according to the different preferences of the type of music we listen to. Generally speaking, if you like to listen to “female voices” or more melodious melodies, then you need to choose headphones with better treble. Headphones worth 10,000 yuan, because those headphones are expensive in “bass”. If you like to listen to “heavy metal rock music”, then the entry-level headphones of a few hundred yuan may not be able to meet your needs. And if you like to listen to “female voices singing heavy metal rock”, then you may really need a high-end headset to meet your needs.

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