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Headphones review methodology

Here's how we break down the scores for our headphone reviews.

Updated

Here at Finder, we rigorously test the headphones we review to determine scores for design, performance and battery life as well as an overall score. Each category is scored out of five, with zero being the lowest possible score.

This is how our reviewers break down each score:


Design

To determine the design score, we consider:

  • Aesthetics. How do the headphones look and feel? Are they available in multiple colours and designs?
  • Materials. What are the headphones made out of? Do they feel cheap or high-quality?
  • Comfort. How do the headphones feel after prolonged use? How heavy are they? Do they stay on when you move around?
  • Functionality. Does the design make the headphones easier or harder to use?
  • Controls. Do the headphones have on-ear controls?
  • Durability. Do the headphones have a waterproof rating? Are they sweatproof?
  • Set-up. What's included in the box? How easy is it to pair the headphones with a smartphone?

Performance

To determine the performance score, we consider:

  • Sound quality. How do the headphones sound? Are they clear? Is the sound well-rounded?
  • Noise cancellation. Is there active or passive noise cancelling? Are there multiple levels of noise-cancellation? How well does the noise-cancellation work?
  • Features. What features are included? Do the features perform as promised?
  • Controls. How well do the controls work? Are they intuitive and easy to use?
  • App. Is there a corresponding app? What can you do with it? How easy is it to use?
  • Microphone. Do the headphones have a built-in microphone? How well does it work during phone calls?

Battery

To determine the battery score, we consider:

  • Battery life. How long can you listen on a full charge? Does the battery life live up to the manufacturer's promise?
  • Charging method. Does it use a micro USB, USB-C, lightning cable or proprietary charger? Is wireless charging available?
  • Charging time. How long does it take to charge fully?

Overall score

The overall score is not an average of the other scores. To determine the overall rating, the reviewer considers the scores for design, performance and battery life as well as the price and how it compares to other available headphones. For example, a pair of headphones could have high scores for design, performance and battery life, but the overall score might be lower because of a high price tag.

When coming up with the overall score we consider:

  • Our overall impression of the product
  • Value for money
  • Design
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • How it compares to the rest of the market

While our ratings reflect the value we give each pair of headphones, there is and will always be a level of subjectivity to each review. If your experience with headphones differs from ours, we'd love to hear from you.

We review the headphones as we get them. Software updates and improvements can occur after the time of review, changing the performance of the device. Where possible, we strive to reflect these updates in our reviews.

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