Any device used for playing music close to or within a wearer’s ears. Headphone-like apparatuses were developed alongside the telephone and camera in the late 19th century, but the first models designed explicitly for music were produced by the Koss Corporation in 1958. They became a standard jogging and roller-skating accessory in the eighties with the rise of the Walkman. Since the introduction of the iPod and other portable MP3 players, athletes have largely converted to smaller, snugger, action-friendly earbuds and earphones from companies like Jabra and Yurbuds.
How you listen speaks volumes about you.
What they are: Over-the-noggin pads that rest on or cover the ears.
What they’re good for: Comfort, big sound.
Who uses them: NBA players, film editors, subway commuters.
What they are: Narrow nubs inserted directly into the ear canals.
What they’re good for: Ambient-noise cancellation, staying put during activity.
Who uses them: Runners, road cyclists.
What they are: Hard buds that sit just outside the ear canals.
What they’re good for: Portablility, lean budgets.
Who uses them: Hyperfit professionals on walking conference calls, too many Whole Foods shoppers.