How Earbuds Work And More – Understanding the Tech Behind Earbuds

white earphones

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Everyone today owns a pair of headphones or earbuds. Some audiophiles even have multiple pairs to enjoy entertainment in different settings. However, did you ever stop and wonder how earbuds work or how they evolved to the devices we use today? But before you seek answers to those, there is another pertinent question that you must ask. Here’s more about how earbuds work.

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What Are Earbuds?

Earbuds are similar to earphones but they rest just outside the ear canal. They sit at the center of your outer ear and in some cases are considered better for your ear health as compared to earphones. Earbuds are basically tiny speakers that sit inside your ears and provide the same effect as listening to music on loudspeakers in a noise-free environment might feel.

There is no mystery revolving around earbuds or headphones. They have been systematically developed over the decades. The 70s saw monster sized headphones that literally enveloped the entire ear. In the 80s, developers came out with portable music players. This meant that headphones had to shrink in size to match with music on the go. And that was the starting point of the earbuds which we use today.

Apple brought a marginal breakthrough in this segment. In 2001, Apple came out with sleek and striking iPods. These were the first iPods, and they instantly became a rage. There was a white pair of elegant and striking earphones that came with the package. This was when the race to modern earbuds started.

Suddenly, everyone wanted to listen to music on players and earphones were ubiquitous. Even today Apple is ahead in the game by launching AirPods. This brings us to the next question.

woman listening to music in bus

How Earbuds Work

It is a wonder that earbuds sound so good, as they consist of only a thin cord, minuscule earbuds, and very tiny speakers. These petite compact pieces of technology are a necessity for many people today who are music lovers or seek entertainment ‘on the go.’

Each ear has a very thin conical membrane known as an eardrum. These thin membranes vibrate when there is a change in air pressure. These vibrations and changes in air pressure are referred to as sound.

Emphatically, earbuds are nothing but small speakers that produce sound by vibrating eardrums with sound waves. However, there are various components to an earbud that is important to know before completely understanding how earbuds work.

Exterior Earbud Shell

This holds all the important components that are used inside an earbud in place. The front side of an earbud shell has holes to let sound waves pass.


They place a very tiny magnet in the back of exterior earbud shell. This is useful in providing a magnetic effect.


The diaphragm is made of very thin flexible plastic material. This is located right in front of the earbud shell.

Metal Coil

A metal coil is placed right behind the diaphragm. This is useful in conducting an electrical current.


The earbud cord is what is used to plug the earbuds into your music device. There are however, wireless options available in the market today. In most cases, your earbud shell might have a foam or soft padding to make the experience more comfortable.

The metal coil gets charged whenever you plug in your earbuds to your music player due to an electrical current flowing through earphone wiring. This charge, in turn, makes the diaphragm vibrate by creating a magnetic effect the moves back and forth.

You would have noticed holes in the front of your earbuds shells. This is to allow sound waves created by quick air movements to escape into your ear canal. And this is how you can hear audio from your music player.

If you are an audiophile who likes listening to the low frequency, then you should go for earbuds that have a slow vibrating diaphragm. Higher the diaphragm vibration, higher the pitch will be detected by your eardrums. Volume played is determined by the combined force of sound waves and diaphragm vibrations.

color blue earbuds

Advantages Of Earbuds

Earbuds are a necessity today with more and more people seeking entertainment while traveling or commuting. There are a lot of ways that earbuds can be beneficial:

1. Portable and Non-Bulky

Earbuds are highly portable devices. You can simply bunch them up and keep them with your pocket change. Many even come with their own carrying cases which do not allow the cords to get tangled. Earbuds also make great companions when you step out of the house without carrying a bag. You can simply let the wired ones fall around your neck like a necklace. Earbuds are tiny and absolutely non-bulky. You do not have to worry about them as they are not big enough to cover your entire ears.

2. Fashionable

Many people worry about every aspect of their clothing before stepping out of their homes. Everything needs to match right from the shoes to bag and even spectacle frames or sunglasses. Earbuds are great for people who do not want to ruin their get up as they are tiny enough to fit innocuously inside the ears. With an absolute wireless pair like the AirPods, you do not even have to worry about a dangling wire.

3. Colors and Variety

There are many types of earbuds available in the market in varying shapes and sizes. There are also different types of earbuds; wired, wireless, ear pods without wire. You can pick your match from the wide variety available on sale. In fact, earbuds have become a fashion statement on their own, a lot like headphones.

4. Noise Cancellation and Sound Isolation

Mostly earbuds today come with noise cancelation and sound isolation technology. Earbuds sit right outside the ear canal which makes this technology function better than a headphone in the same price range.

5. Water Resistant

There are some models of earbuds that are waste-resistant and splash proof. This enables your earbuds to be highly portable. You can even listen to good music in the rain with a high-end model designed to be water-resistant.

6. Inexpensive and Affordable

In comparison with headphones, earbuds tend to have a better technology and features than them in the same price range. However, where sound quality is concerned headphones are always better than earbuds.

7. Great Companions for Workouts and Runs

The best buddy to any run or workout session is music. However, you would have noticed that earphones keeping dropping from the ears and headphones keep slipping. With earbuds, you will never have this problem. Perfectly fitted earbuds will never slip or drop out from the ears.

8. Music Increases Motivation

Earbuds let you hear your favorite tunes privately while performing a number of chores and tasks. Music sets the mood and helps keep you motivated by boosting your energy levels. You also get an optimistic boost that can help you complete the most difficult tasks and achieve the hardest goals.

9. Earbuds Provide Privacy

By wearing earbuds, you provide a clear signal to people that you are engaged. This allows you to enjoy your privacy while you listen to your tunes or complete your tasks. They can also work as props if you want to pretend to be busy.

10. Comfort

Earbuds are the most comfortable as compared with every other type of listening device. A perfectly fitted earbud pair is not heavy on your ears like headphones; nor does it hurt your ear canals like earphones. This is why many companies provide multiple ear tips so that you can find your best fit.

cool black earbuds

How Earbuds Work vs. How Headphones Work

Headphones and earbuds work differently although on the same principle. Headphones tend to rest on the outer ears. Some like Supra-aural models can cover your entire ears.

Headphones are big, bulky and not too portable. If you are using headphones, you will always have to carry a bag to keep the headsets in. They are also not very strong and are prone to damages.

Earbuds are light, non-bulky and very portable. They are the first choice among runners and people indulging in fitness routines. In fact, wireless earbuds can also be used easily by people practicing yoga.

Headphones provide unmatched sound quality. Their sheer size provides for bigger speakers in the shells. Earbuds, on the other hand, lose out on the size part. Tiny speakers provide good sound quality; however, they cannot match with bass provided by headphones.


There are several benefits to how earbuds work. Many people prefer earbuds over headphones and other listening devices. People who want a good listening experience on a budget should opt for earbuds.

Earbuds protect the ear canal as they function at low volumes and do not fit inside the ear canal. This makes them a perfect candidate for people who suffer from common infections or hearing problems.

Earbuds are also a great option for individuals who cannot sport big headphones like professionals or executives. Earbuds provide a more personal and private listening experience than bulky headphones.

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