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Counterpoint

The Student Site of Castilleja School

Counterpoint

The Student Site of Castilleja School

Counterpoint

Over-ear headphones gain popularity around the Circle

Castilleja+students+discuss+the+pros+and+cons+of+earbuds+v.s.+over-ear+headphones.
Anya Dalal
Castilleja students discuss the pros and cons of earbuds v.s. over-ear headphones.

What’s with the comeback of over-ear headphones? This question has plagued me for the past year, and it addresses the very real resurgence of headphones, both in popular culture and on Castilleja’s campus.

It got me thinking, not just about listening preferences, but also about listening devices in general; headphones and earbuds have become a quintessential part of the modern day teenager’s life, crucial to the art of selective hearing, a temporary solace from the chaos of high school life and, most importantly, a cool accessory that can elevate any outfit. The upward trend in over-ear headphones has made personal listening devices much more visible, and I think it’s time to explore the many nuances in choosing one.

If we think about headphones as the “new kid on the block,” we should confront the established veteran that they’re up against: AirPods. When Apple released AirPods in 2016, they changed the listening device game forever. According to Statista, AirPods now hold 39% of the wireless headphone market in the U.S, and I would say that at least 90% of my classmates own AirPods. And it’s not hard to see why; their sleek design and wireless connectivity make them the perfect addition to any Apple ecosystem.

Apple’s product truly proved to be a feat of engineering when tested by Joanne Zhao ’24. “I am quite surprised by the durability of AirPods, because I got mashed banana all over them and they still work,” she said.

On top of being nearly indestructible, AirPods make carrying your tunes with you effortless. As Lila Cole ’25 pointed out, “You can just toss them in your backpack, put them in your pocket, or keep them on your keychain.” With the debut of AirPod Pros in 2019, which featured new noise canceling and transparency modes, it seemed like AirPods really had it all.

However, in recent months there has been a trend shift towards over-ear headphones, which seem unnecessarily clunky and inconvenient by comparison. Why are they now so popular? Naturally, I turned to the Castilleja community to find my answer. The most commonly cited reasons that I encountered were long-term comfort, overt signaling that you don’t want to talk, and, of course, fashion.

Many seem to find that the convenience of AirPods is outweighed by the comfort provided by over-ear headphones, especially when worn for long periods of time. Cole commented that while she often uses AirPods, she said she prefers Bose over-ear noise-canceling headphones on flights.

Riley Sterling ’24 reflected this sentiment, saying that her Google Acrux Noise Cancelling headphones are “more comfortable long-term, like for studying.” An aspect that adds to this comfort is security. Sterling commented, “I always feel like [earbuds] are possibly gonna fall out,” a liability she does not have to worry about when using over-ear headphones.

Have you ever attempted to talk with a friend who is seemingly headphone-less and able to hear you, only to find that they are actually wearing AirPods obscured by a curtain of hair? Well, it seems that this is an annoyance not only to you, but to your AirPod wearing friend as well. Subtlety, which can lead to interruption, is another drawback of AirPods causing the switch to over-ear headphones, a more visible method of music consumption. Sterling states that headphones are the answer to this dilemma: “People know that you don’t want to talk to them, and it gives you your own little bubble — a people repellent, I would say.”

When asked how she chose her Skullcandy headphones, 7th grader Addie Firman ’29 responded, “I just like the look of them, to be honest.” Firman is definitely not alone. If you have ever donned a pair of headphones, you know that they will immediately make you feel ten times cooler. From the AirPod Maxes of the vanilla girl lifestyle to the black Sony XM5s that complete a downtown girl look, there is no doubt that a trendy set of headphones or earbuds can be the perfect accessory for any outfit. In fact, Teen Vogue went so far as to dub massive over-ear headphones the “new It accessory.”

In a world where AirPods may symbolize convenience and modernity, over-ear headphones have emerged as a counterbalance, prioritizing comfort, uninterrupted solitude and distinctive personal style. This shift in trend invites us to consider the sometimes overlooked world of headphones and earbuds, recognizing them not just as functional devices but as expressive elements of our personal style and sanctuary in the bustling world of high school life.

Whichever option you gravitate towards in the ever-evolving landscape of personal listening devices, remember that life’s too short to be detangling earbuds.

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About the Contributors
Ananya Nukala, Staff Writer
Ananya Nukala ’25 is a staff writer for Counterpoint. An avid reader, she enjoys exploring the power of perspective and storytelling through student journalism. Outside of school she loves laughing with friends, taking her dog to the beach and açaí bowls.
Anya Dalal, Staff Writer
Anya Dalal '27 is a staff writer for Counterpoint. She loves playing sports, especially soccer, and playing with her dog. She also enjoys reading, listening to The Weeknd, making music and eating mint chip ice cream.

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