What is the difference between the headphone formats?

If you’re looking to buy a headset and did a quick search on the internet, you must have noticed that there are several brands and options. What is the best choice for your need?

One of the features to consider is the fit of the earphone in your ear. There are four types: atrial, intra-aural, supra-aural and circumaural. Each has its advantages — and price ranges.

Headphones were also the subject of the latest Tilt Lab Day, which elected the best models in four categories. Check out the list of winners and watch the awards in the video at the top of this page.

Image: iStock

Fone auricular

Also known as “earbuds”, they are the most common and also the cheapest. It is usually the type included in the purchase of a smartphone.

They are not introduced into the ear canal: they only reach the outer ear, only on the surface of the ear.

Because they are more comfortable, the earphone is usually used by those who are not used to the earphone.

But it has its downsides. For example, there are few options with Bluetooth. Most still wear strings, which can wear out quickly or pull them out of the ears with a slight tug. (So ​​they’re a pretty bad option for anyone listening to music while exercising.)

The sound quality is also often inferior to rivals.

JBL Endurance Race TWS headphones - Disclosure/JBL - Disclosure/JBL

JBL Endurance Race TWS headphones

Image: Publicity/JBL

Fone intra-auricular

They are similar to earphones, but have a tip (usually silicone) that is inserted into the ear. They reach deeper into the ear canal, improving the acoustics of the sound.

This fit also reduces external noise. Car noise, people talking or background music will interfere less with the playlist or podcast you’re listening to.

In this model, versions with Bluetooth already predominate, therefore more suitable for use on the move.

Disadvantages: some people claim to be uncomfortable with the format, especially those who need to use it for a long time. And, as they are located directly in the ear canal, prolonged use in the long term can cause hearing problems.

HyperX Cloud Alpha S Headphones - Disclosure/HyperX - Disclosure/HyperX

HyperX Cloud Alpha S headset

Image: Disclosure/HyperX

Fone supra-auricular

Popularly known as a headset, this type of headset has many options on the market, wired or Bluetooth.

One of the great advantages over the previous two is comfort, as it is over the entire ear and is padded. On the other hand, it is heavier and more difficult to carry.

It doesn’t always work in the gym: sweat can ruin the pads and, depending on the model, the most intense movement can remove it from the ears. (It’s a good choice for games or the office, for example.)

Despite being more expensive than intra or earphones, its cost-benefit is better, since the sound quality is usually much higher. In addition, the design provides greater sound insulation.

However, a warning: not every “arc” phone is necessarily good. Models with fun prints or made for kids often feature more basic audio technology hidden in the headset design.

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Headphones - Disclosure/Sennheiser - Disclosure/Sennheiser

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones

Image: Publicity/Sennheiser


They are popularly known as headphones and are called circumaurals because of their shape, which surrounds the entire ear of people. With this, it offers the best possible acoustic insulation and a lot of comfort.

The audio quality also surpasses all previous models, being a favorite of gamers or those looking for a more premium product. (Like the above-ear, it is not as recommended for physical activity.)

Speaking of “premium”, you can already imagine: the problem here is the price. There are options that exceed R$ 3 thousand.