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The concept of a silent disco was born out of the need to create a fun and enjoyable celebration involving music that did not bother non-participants in any manner. The silent party revolution is here to stay as more and more party-goers are starting to appreciate its benefits. That said, the key to making a silent party great is a quality pair of headphones. And while there are no headphones built specifically for silent discos, certain headphones tend to be better than others for the purpose. Whether you are the host of such a party or simply a participant, a quality set of headphones will improve your party experience significantly. With that in mind, here are a few things you should consider before buying a pair of silent disco headphones.
Audio equipment is an entity that adheres to the law of diminishing returns. That is to say, the returns (as in better sound quality) do not keep pace with the increase in price (cost of equipment) beyond a point. This is why it’s better to work within a price range when looking for a good pair of silent disco earphones. Considering that your new headphones will be subjected to a fair bit of rough use, go for something mid-range. A good pair of headphones will cost you around £20-30. Anything lower and you will have to settle for unknown brands or even knock-offs. And although you can spend more than that, it’ll be tough to discern the difference in sound quality because of the party atmosphere; might be a silent one but it’s still a party nevertheless!
The debate around on the ear vs. over the ear can get vociferous. In on the ear design, the cups of the headphone sit directly on your ear. In over the ear design, the cups of the headphone sit around your ears thus covering them completely. Each design has its own merits. For instance, on-ear headphones are lightweight and portable. It’s easy to see how these benefits would help in a party setting, especially when you get down to shaking a leg or two. By the virtue of their size and design, over the ear headphones are bulkier. This makes them not so portable but on the upside, over the ear headphones offer better sound quality, noise isolation and greater comfort. Depending upon the silent disco you attend and the type of music it’s playing, you can choose either amongst the two.
Music is streamed to a wireless headphone in two ways. One is using IR, or infrared, while the other is using RF, or radio frequency. Like the previous point, both technologies have their respective strengths and weaknesses. IR headphones are excellent when it comes to sound quality and also offer good resistance against external interference. On the downside, they fare poorly as far as transmission distance (typically lower than 10 metres) and the ability to penetrate obstacles (like concrete walls and wooden doors) are concerned. If sound quality and the feature of not being affected by external interference is important to you, and more importantly if the transmitter is in the same room as the party, go for IR headphones.
RF headphones offer tremendous transmission distance (in excess of 100 metres), excellent obstacle penetration, good quality sound (albeit lesser than IR headphones), and decent immunity against external interference. As a bonus, they can also be used to receive radio transmission, a feature not available with IR headphones. This is why RF headphones are deemed to be the ideal silent party headphones. If anything, they are more vulnerable than IR headphones to external frequency disturbances. For most users, the slight trade-off in terms of sound quality is worth the transmission range and penetrability offered by RF headphones.
Headphones with either two or three channels are the norm for silent party events. In addition to the benefits of an on-ear design, headphones with two channels offer better high-frequency performance. This will make vocals sound really good and lively. Three channel headphones, on the other hand, perform better with low-frequency audio and open up your music options. This means tracks high on bass sound great with three channel headphones. The choice here, as such, depends on the kind of music you’ll be playing in your silent party.
One of the most important things you need to consider when choosing a pair of silent disco headphones, durability, in the end, is a function of price. Costlier headphones are made out of better quality materials, which have a direct impact on their longevity. This is also why it’s not fair to expect lower-priced headphones to survive the rough and tumble of silent discos for any meaningful length of time. If budget is a constraint, make sure to pick a headphone that at least has a sturdy headband and robust joints.
As stated previously, headphones are arguably the most essential part of silent disco equipment. When you are out shopping for a pair, use the above-explained points as guiding lights to have a resounding silent disco experience.