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Intra, Anti-noise, Sport, Bluetooth? What is your helmet type

Smartphone, tablet, computer, stereo, TV, portable player, all these electronic devices have a headphone jack. In theory, you can connect any model, from the simple pair of headphones to the most sophisticated audiophile headphones. Headsets, there are hundreds of them, in all shapes, sizes and prices.

Image 1: (Comparative) Headphones: which is better?

So of course, there are still many traditional helmets, intended for both the casual user and the most demanding of music lovers. We regularly test them. But for a few years now, the trend has been tailor-made: helmets are now designed to meet a very specific need. If the offer continues to grow, we can however classify these new models in 5 categories.

Ear muffs

Invented by Bose in the late 1980s, the noise canceling headphones were originally designed to reduce the noise pollution of pilots and airport employees. The operating principle is as simple as it is great. A tiny microphone records the ambient sound and transmits it to a processor that analyzes it and generates sound in the opposite phase. Result: the two signals are canceled and the original sound is greatly attenuated. By plane, train or in the street, the results are spectacular, the noises being almost entirely muffled. Note that many users use this kind of headset, not to listen to music, but to limit outside sounds, for example to work quietly during a TGV trip.

Read our guide: Ear muffs: which is better?

Bluetooth wireless headsets

Designed for mobile users wishing to free themselves from audio cables, Bluetooth headsets are meeting with increasing success, even among sedentary music lovers. If the first models of the genre were flawed by their audio quality, behind compared to wired headsets, real efforts have been made by manufacturers to improve this point. Thus, more and more models, including entry-level, integrate the famous Apt-X codec, which considerably improves the audio quality, bringing it closer to that of the CD. Autonomy is also increasing, thanks to the integration of ever more efficient batteries. Thus, some models advertise more than 30 hours of operation. But beware, the full recharge time is related to the capacity of the helmet and can exceed 10 hours!

Read our guide: What is the best Bluetooth headset?

In-ear headphones

These tiny devices penetrate, more or less deeply, into the ear canal. These headsets are fitted with a mouthpiece, most often made of rubber or silicone (often replaceable), which conforms to the shape of the duct, like some noise-canceling plugs. With a comparable result: the intras effectively isolate the user from external noises, which allows them to be used without pushing the volume too much. Bose even offers an anti-noise model. Choose complete kits, which come with five or six different tips, in all sizes. You will have the assurance of obtaining better support, for greater comfort on long durations.

Read our guide: What are the best in-ear costers?

Helmets for gamers

To play in a network while chatting with friends, nothing beats a gaming headset. These models broadcast low branded, even downright intrusive goods. Ideal for being at the heart of explosions or to perceive muted sounds (some even simulate surround sound in 5.1 or 7.1), they are however less comfortable in the musical register, with the exception of contemporary RnB and Rap. If it is still adjustable, the microphone can also be retractable, in order to hide when not in use. Some models have their own sound card, usually integrated in the cable and connect to the computer via the USB port. A helmet for gamers so intended to be worn for several hours at a stretch, it must be very comfortable: the headband must not compress the skull or the ears, and the weight must remain reasonable: no more than 250 grams in weight.

Read our guide: What is the best headset for playing?

Sports helmets

All athletes will tell you: the main characteristic of a good sports helmet is its maintenance. It must be able to follow you everywhere (some are even waterproof to be used in swimming pools!), And stay wisely in your ears whatever your movements. If in-ear headphones are appreciated for their compactness, they sometimes tend to fall too easily from the ear. To overcome this problem, some manufacturers equip the cutters with a plastic rod which comes to wrap around the ear, like the branches of glasses. Another solution, a neck strap connects the two intras and rests on the neck. The latest innovation dedicated to maintenance, the StayHear system, exclusive to Bose intras, consists of a silicone wire whose shape fits precisely into the internal folds of the ear pinna. But the most fashionable trend is the appearance of Bluetooth which frees itself from the wire, for total freedom of movement.

Read our guide: What is the best helmet for sports?

The right price above all?

You are not looking for a specific helmet model, but rather one that offers the best quality / price ratio in your budget? So take a look at the table below. You will find a selection of the best models, regularly updated, and classified into three categories: less than 100 euros; from 100 200 euros, and more than 200 euros.

Our selection of the best helmets under 100 euros

Verdict:

Directly from the professional range of Sennheiser, the IE 40 Pro will suit all those looking for reliable and efficient audio feedback, especially for playing on stage. It offers excellent comfort, with perfect support and good passive insulation. The cable bypasses the pavilion of the ear and you are not afraid of untimely disconnections. On the audio side, the IE 40 Pro returns balanced and precise sound, with well-emphasized bass.

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Remote control Systems Design Bluetooth Storage Pairs of bits Anti noise Sensitivity Frequency response
Two buttons, microphone
Android, iOS
Classic
No
Yes
3
Passive
115 dB
20 – 18,000 Hz

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

Still sporting the same iconic design, reminiscent of the same manufacturer's amps, the Marshall Major III is one of the best Bluetooth headsets. It offers great comfort, with soft pads and a pleasant distribution of pressure on the skull. On the audio side, the sound seems very warm and natural, with bass present. The hands-free kit is really convincing and the autonomy has risen among the records of the genre, with almost thirty hours of wireless listening.

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Manufacturer Product Price Format Open / close Sensitivity Bandwidth Impdance Bluetooth Noise reduction Remote control Microphone Removable cable Weight
Marshall
Major III Bluetooth
89.99
Circum-aural
Open
99 dB
20 Hz – 20 kHz
32 Ohm
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
178g

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

The strength of Plantronics is undoubtedly its compactness / audio quality ratio. Malleable wish, it fits in all pockets. Ultra-light, it can be worn without incident and is kept at ear level by a fairly discreet system of plastic extensions. Finally, on its side, this category of bluetooth headsets for sport is very above average.

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Manufacturer Product Price Format Open / close Sensitivity Bandwidth Impdance Bluetooth Noise reduction Remote control Microphone Removable cable Weight
Plantronics
Backbeat Fit
86
In-ear
close
NC
NC
NC
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
24g

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

After TT-EP01 really stunning and low-cost headphones, which suffered from average ergonomics, TaoTronics refines its copy and offers very attractive in-ear headphones. Around a long mini-jack cable which integrates two remote controls (one for controlling the mobile, another for activating the noise reduction), the headphones offer great comfort. The audio rendering is very clear and balanced and the hands-free kit is particularly effective.

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Remote control System Design Bluetooth Storage Pairs of bits Anti noise Sensitivity Frequency response
Three buttons + two buttons, microphone
Android, iOS
Classic
No
Yes
6 end caps, 6 hooks
Yes
101 dB
20 – 20,000 Hz

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

Popular with the gaming community, the Cloud Alpha seduces with its aggressive design and above all its excellent sound rendering. The manufacturing quality is exemplary, we enjoy great comfort and the headphone comes with many cables and accessories. The HyperX Cloud Alpha is a truly versatile model, which will appeal to both music lovers and players looking for action and precision.

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Manufacturer Product Price Format Open / close Sensitivity Bandwidth Impdance Bluetooth Noise reduction Remote control Microphone Removable cable Weight
HyperX
Cloud Alpha
89.95
Circum-aural
Ferm
99 dB
13 Hz – 27 kHz
65 Ohm
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
336 g

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

Ideal for the most modest budgets, the Plantronics BackBeat 500 displays an excellent quality of finish. The isolation is obviously limited but the headphones return a very good audio quality, with mids and treble very well restored. A compact and elegant model, which also provides Bluetooth multi-point compatibility, and keeps up to eight devices in memory.

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Design Weight Autonomy Active noise reduction Carrying case NFC compatible
Supra-aural
155g
8 p.m.
No
Yes
Yes

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

Are you looking for ambience and precision, with a good quality microphone for dialogue during the game? At this price point, the Roccat Khan Aimo is a great choice. It offers very good general comfort, benefits from a neat construction and presents a perfectly fair and balanced sound rendering.

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Manufacturer Product Price Format Open / close Sensitivity Bandwidth Impdance Bluetooth Noise reduction Remote control Microphone Removable cable Weight
Roccat
Khan Aimo
89.99
Circum-aural
Ferm
99 dB
100 Hz – 10 kHz
65 Ohm
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
275 g

Technical sheet
+

Our selection of the best helmets from 100,200 euros

Verdict:

With their great autonomy, their rac design and their exemplary finish, the Jabra Elite Active 65t are a safe bet for athletes. They offer perfect insulation and offer unparalleled comfort. The audio rendering is particularly flattering given their compact appearance, and you can largely customize it

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Manufacturer Product Price Format Open / close Sensitivity Bandwidth Impdance Bluetooth Noise reduction Remote control Microphone Removable cable Weight
Jabra
Elite Active 65t
174.90
Circum-aural
Ferm
103 dB
20 Hz – 20 kHz
16 Ohm
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
12.3 g

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

A sports specialist, Jaybird brings its Full Wireless intras up to date with the Runs, two lightweight and solid headphones. Compact, they offer great comfort, with numerous tips to adapt to the roof of your ear, while presenting good general insulation. The cutters distill a powerful and natural sound, and the pairing is done in a few moments. A sure value, for a sport practice varies and supported.

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Design Weight Autonomy Receiving calls Carrying case NFC compatible
In-ear
14 g
4h
Yes
Yes
Yes

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

Despite a sound that would gain a little more bass and autonomy that will need to be monitored closely, the BeatsX are very successful headphones, beautiful, practical and pleasant to use. Everything was pretty well thought out, and the W1 chip will eventually convince the most technophobic thanks to its pairing could not be more simple, although it will only reveal its true interest to those who already have a complete Apple environment.

Read the test

Remote control Systems Design Bluetooth Storage Pairs of bits Anti noise Sensitivity Frequency response
Four buttons, microphone
iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Collar size
Yes
rigid case
4
No
NC
NC

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

The first in-ear headphones to be equipped with active noise reduction technology, the QC20 proves to be breathtakingly effective. It does not suppress all external noises, but it transforms them into a kind of discreet breath. The cars pass in a roar, the noise of scooters is similar to that of an electric razor, as for the sound of the subway, it turns into an imperceptible whirring. A small warning is obvious: the QC20 is an intra, it stops outside noise more effectively than a conventional noise reduction headset. However, some people do not tolerate this sound isolation very badly. If you are anxious or anxious, ask to test them before buying.

Read the test

Manufacturer Product Price Format Open / close Sensitivity Bandwidth Impdance Bluetooth Noise reduction Remote control Microphone Removable cable Weight
Bose
QuietComfort QC20
299
In-ear
close
NC
NC
NC
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
44g

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

Worthy heir to the venerable HD-595, this model is aimed at audiophiles looking for a very balanced and detailed sound, but benefiting from a limited budget. Of circum-aural shape, it proves to be really comfortable to use, including for glasses wearers, thanks to its velvet pads that keep the ears warm. The HD-598 is an open headphone. As such, it should be used in a rather quiet place. Moreover, the headphones are supplied with a 3 meter cable terminated by a 6.35mm connector, designed for connection to a HiFi system rather than a Smartphone.

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Manufacturer Product Price Format Open / close Sensitivity Bandwidth Impdance Bluetooth Noise reduction Remote control Microphone Removable cable Weight
Sennheiser
HD-598
170
Circum-aural
open
104 dB
12-38500 Hz
50 Ohms
No
No
No
No
Yes
270g

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

The Bose on-ear Bluetooth headset, which is part of its SoundLink range, was one of the most pleasant to test in our selection. Very light, it tones almost once placed on the ears.

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Manufacturer Product Price Format Open / close Sensitivity Bandwidth Impdance Bluetooth Noise reduction Remote control Microphone Removable cable Weight
Bose
Soundlink Supra-Aural
250
Supra-aural
open
NC
NC
NC
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
152g

Technical sheet
+

Our selection of the best helmets over 200 euros

Verdict:

With its very effective noise reduction, exceptional audio quality and great comfort, the Sony WH-1000XM3 simply stands out as one of the best headphones available today. It offers numerous customization options, ensures an autonomy of around thirty hours and benefits from a premium finish quality. A purchase that will please you for years.

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Design Weight Autonomy Active noise reduction Carrying case NFC compatible
Circum-aural
255 g
30h
Yes
Yes
Yes

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

Equipped with Apple's H1 chip, the Powerbeats Pro are among the most efficient and powerful in-ear earphones for sports. The cutters offer great comfort of use, with excellent support and an exemplary finish. They perfectly resist water and perspiration, a real asset for sports use. Apple's patronage obliges, the Powerbeats Pro are particularly good for iOS and it is possible to interact directly with the voice assistant by saying Dis, Siri. The audio quality is very high, with deep bass and excellent overall balance. A certain investment, for a high fidelity and practical helmet in sports use.

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Type Weight Bluetooth Knobs buttons Handsfree MFI / Android Water / sweat resistance End caps Advanced features Application Autonomy
wireless in-ear
7 g x 2
5.0
Yes
Yes
Yes Yes
Yes Yes
4 x silicone
Apple H1 chip, Siri voice control
no
9 hours

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

A pioneer in active noise canceling headphones, Bose offers one of the most complete models on the market. It offers great comfort and manages to be forgotten, even after several hours of use. The audio quality is high and active noise reduction is perfectly effective. Another advantage is that you can connect several devices simultaneously.

Read the test

Wireless Food Weight Design Interchangeable cable Autonomy announcement
Yes
Drums
235 grams
Circum-aural
Yes
20 hours

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

Presenting an excellent finish, the Momentum True Wireless cutters stand out for their great comfort of use. They are delivered with 4 pairs of different tips which provide excellent support and very good passive insulation. However, you can listen to the outside environment using Transparent Hearing mode, without having to remove them. SBC, AAC, aptX and aptX LL compatible, they offer great listening quality, with rich and precise sound.

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Type Weight Bluetooth Knobs buttons Handsfree MFI / Android Water / sweat resistance End caps Application Autonomy
wireless in-ear
2 x 7 g
5.0
yes (touch surface)
Yes
Yes Yes
Yes Yes
4 x silicone
yes, Smart Control
4 hours

Technical sheet
+

Verdict:

A great specialist in high-end hi-fi headsets, Audeze brilliantly takes on a bold gamble to build a model for players benefiting from the same care. Sober and pure, the design is a frank success, with light materials and a robustness all proof. We also enjoy excellent comfort with thick memory foam pads and, as desired, a wired connection (USB or Jack, compatibility with consoles is guaranteed) or Bluetooth (10 hours of autonomy). On the audio side, the rendering is extremely impressive and versatile, with great precision and richness as well as a very convincing 7.1 spatialization. A must.

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Design Weight Connectivity Autonomy Carrying case Bandwidth
Circum-Aural
350g
Wired (USB-A, USB-C, Mini-Jack) or Bluetooth wireless
10 a.m.
Yes
10 – 50,000 Hz

Technical sheet
+

Technical concepts understand

Image 38: (Comparative) Headphones: which is better?

How? 'Or' What
to choose your headset? This is the whole purpose of this buying guide.
As you probably cannot test all the helmets on the market
(there are several hundred!), here are the characteristics
techniques you must take into account when composing a selection
of models. And then we can?t repeat it enough,
try them. If certain models, notably medium and high-end
strive to reproduce music with the greatest fidlit
others may voluntarily force certain frequency bands,
and especially the bass, for a more impactful rendering. It's the case,
for example, from most Beats headsets.

Sensitivity

This
value, also called sound pressure level, is expressed in
dcibels (dB) for 1 mW of power. It indicates the volume level
sound that a headset is capable of rendering for a given power.
The sensitivity of the headsets varies from around 90 dB, up to over 130
dB. The higher it is, the higher the maximum volume, which
does not in any way prejudge the sound quality. Article L5232-1 of the Code of
public health stipulates that all music players sold on the
French market cannot exceed a maximum sound power of
output corresponding to a sound pressure of 100 dcibels S.P.L.
(Sound Pressure Level). Plugging in a dune headset
high sensitivity (> 110 dB for example) will not increase the
power output of the player, but this will push its
maximum volume without causing saturation or noise
parasites. Be careful though, the agi-son.org website recalls that
costs 100 dB (we are talking here about sound power, no sound level
sound pressure), lasting more than two hours per week leads to
risk of progressive and permanent hearing damage.

Impdance

Image 39: (Comparative) Headphones: which is better?

Express
in Ohms, the limit corresponds to the resistance of the headphones when passing
electrical signal (electrical resistance). The higher it is, the more
it will take power to power it. Some studio headsets or
of living room have an impedance exceeding 300 Ohms. Plug them in
on a Smartphone, and the sound will appear attenuated, felt, even altr,
even if you push the volume down. The reason is that
portable devices do not have the necessary power to
power such helmets. For nomadic use, favor the
helmets with an impedance not exceeding fifty Ohms.
Rest assured, all manufacturers now offer a large
variety of models, including high-end, meeting the criteria of
power of mobile devices.

Bandwidth

The band
busy, or frequency response corresponds to the frequency range
that a helmet is capable of reproducing. Or, to put it more simply,
range of sounds, from the lowest to the highest that it can reproduce with
an identical fidlit. Hifi headphones have a band
bandwidth from 20Hz to 20000Hz, which corresponds to the range of
frequency perceived, on average, human ear. Some
headsets have a bandwidth of up to 40,000 Hz, or even
more, like the very luxurious Ultrasone Edition 10, whose
5Hz 45,000 Hz stend frequency response. Just as headphones
rare for people to even perceive the sonic nuances that it
can broadcast. Just know that less opt for a low helmet
range, or some telephone headsets, you will not find, except
exception, of models whose bandwidth does not stretch by 20Hz
20,000 Hz.

The essential question: what format of headphones?

Image 40: (Comparative) Headphones: which is better?

Headsets fall into three categories. On the one hand the in-ear headphones, intended for nomadic devices, and on the other hand the on-ear headphones (earpiece placed on the ear, the headset rests on the lobe) and circum-aural headphones (earpiece which includes the ear, the helmet is supported on the skull), more versatile. The atria that rest on the roof, the outside of the ear canal have almost disappeared, theiraudio performance as far behind, compare those offered by in-ear headphones of equivalent price.

In-ear headphones

These tiny devices penetrate, more or less deeply, into the ear canal. They are fitted with a nozzle, most often made of rubber or silicone (often replaceable), which conforms to the shape of the duct, as some noise plugs. With a comparable result: intras effectively isolate the user from outside noise. Suddenly, there is no need to push the volume too high in noisy environments. Particularly appreciated by athletes, for their compactness, intras sometimes tend to fall too easily from the ear. To overcome this problem, some manufacturers equip the cutters with a plastic rod which comes to wrap around the ear, like the branches of glasses. Another solution, a neck strap connects the two intras and rests on the neck. But in use, this system is not very pleasant. The latest innovation dedicated to maintenance, the StayHear system, exclusive to Bose intras, consists of a silicone wire whose shape fits precisely into the internal folds of the ear pinna. Please note, not everyone appreciates having an object buried in their ear. Before investing in an intra, it is better to try one, lasting at least an hour, the feeling of embarrassment not necessarily immediate. Another warning, acoustic insulation can be dangerous, especially in the city. Ambient sounds, such as the engines of cars or scooters are so muted that it becomes difficult to determine their origin. It goes without saying that using bicycle intras is unconscious.

Check out our guide to buying in-ear headphones

On-ear headphones

Image 41: (Comparative) Headphones: which is better?

Quite classic in style, these headsets are made up of headphones that rest against the horn. The cushion that envelops them can be made of various materials: plastic, fabric, or even leather. Lighter than circum-aural headphones, they also offer less sound insulation, at least as far as open type models are concerned. Primarily intended for mobile use, they have an adjustable, or even foldable, hoop, most often made of plastic or metal, which guarantees sufficient pressure to prevent them from falling during travel. This advantage can become a disadvantage if the pressure is too great. Again, a trial of a few tens of minutes is essential. There are also supra-aural headphones intended for sportsmen. Very light, they have a wide arch for more stability, even a neck strap. Despite everything, they are less practical than intras, especially for jogging.

Over-ear headsets

These helmets are the largest. Their structure resembles that of the supra-aural models, the difference here, the cushion which envelops the earpiece completely surrounds the ear and rests on the skull. In fact, the insulation is excellent especially if they are of the closed type. These headsets are among the most comfortable for intensive use, but some models can cause overheating of the ear. In addition, spectacle wearers can be inconvenienced by the pressure exerted by the pads on the temples. As always, nothing like an attempt to judge. Note that some models, especially high-end, are quite heavy. One point you should consider if you plan to wear them for several hours at a stretch. If you want to use these headsets on a portable device, pay attention to their impedance. If it is very high, the device may not deliver enough power to power it, which will result in a limitation of the maximum sound volume. In this case, you will need to use a headphone amplifier. Count around thirty euros for a compact entry-level model.

Open helmet or closed helmet?

Image 42: (Comparative) Headphones: which is better?

In closed headphones, the speaker interacts with the small air space that separates it from the ear. The sounds therefore remain confined, which results in significant isolation from outside noise. In open headphones, the reverse, a fraction of the sounds escapes from the back. In fact, the user is more sensitive to outside sounds and in the same way, people located nearby perceive some of the sounds put. If you push the volume a little too much, you risk getting your neighbors to read, especially on public transport. If in the past, open helmets were favored by demanding music lovers, this is no longer as true now. The proof, we find today high-end models of the closed type, like the Audeze LCD-XC (1990 euros), Audio Technica ATH-W5000 (990 euros) or Adle VK-1 (390 euros).

The little details that matter

Figure 43: (Comparative) Headphones: which is better?

Removable cable

Fold, twisted, cracked, pulling the cable of the helmet undergoes numerous outrages which weaken it. As such, it is undoubtedly one of the most fragile parts. Aware of this relative weakness, some manufacturers offer headsets with a removable cable in standard format, which can be easily replaced if necessary.

Removable pads

Other components subjected to strong evidence, the pads of the supra and circum-aural headphones, are sometimes less sturdy than we imagine. Some disintegrate under the acidic action of perspiration (especially those in imitation leather), or tear by force of manipulation. Some manufacturers offer replacement pads, especially on the medium and high-end models. Inquire at the time of purchase, as this possibility is not necessarily highlighted. It may be worth investing in an extra pair at the time of purchase if you think you will need it, because once the helmet is sold, it will be more difficult to get it.

Bluetooth microphone

Some circum and on-ear headphones working in Bluetooth (Beats, Bose, Sennheiser) have an almost invisible microphone because it is hidden in the earpiece. At the push of a button, you can take a phone call.

Compatibility

Many Sony Ericsson Xperia phone users find it difficult to connect a reputable yet compatible headset to their device. After checking (on an Xperia Arc), he knows that indeed, some headsets are not recognized, the telephone displaying the accessory statement not supported. This problem may exist on other models, including other brands. For this reason, make sure that the helmet you want works well with your mobile.

The remote control

Image 44: (Comparative) Headphones: which is better?

More and more headsets integrate a remote control allowing to control the audio player of the Smartphone and even to take a call. In this case, they incorporate a small microphone, in addition to the function keys. But beware, most of these headsets are only compatible with certain brands of phones. So if you plug an iPhone headset into a Sony Smartphone, you will probably hear the sound, but the remote control will not work. This incompatibility is due to the fact that the manufacturers do not use the same standard of 3.5 mm jack. Some, like Sony, Huawei or Nokia adopt the OMTP standard while Apple or Samsung have opted for CTIA. The good news is that there are adapters, sold for around 10 euros, which convert the OMTP format to CTIA, or the CTIA to OMTP. The bad news is that they don't work on all phone models, including the same brand. To try before buying, therefore.