How Do Headphones Work?

To put it incredibly easily, your headphone contains a piece of plastic that vibrates in accordance to those frequencies received out of your player it is connected to. The plastic vibrates directly to a metallic coil that’s attached to the magnet, which enables the plastic to create the noise waves that pass into your ear.

That’s it, really. It seems easy enough, but I couldn’t have thought of it.

Jezen Thomas at offers a more thorough justification to us, he says that,

“Earphones consist of a speaker cone, an iron coil, a magnet and speaker cables. When earphones are plugged into a music-playing device like a stereo, electricity is sent along the speaker cables. The speaker cables feed this electrical current through the iron coil, which behaves as an electromagnet. The coil then attracts or repels the permanent magnet, depending on the electrical current sent by the music-playing device. This causes the coil to move, which subsequently pushes and pulls the speaker cone. As the speaker cone vibrates as a result of this movement, it creates sonic waves that resonate through the air and are transferred through small bones and membranes inside your ear”.

Naturally, you have different types of earpieces, but all in all, that is it.

Some earpieces, on the other hand, do present other functions. Noise reducing earpieces, for example, can make a tiny field of white noise round the speaker itself, which acts as something of a vacuum and has the consequence of disabling exterior sound. These earpieces are also better for the health of your internal ear than most other types. Sam Costello at

“The noise around us can contribute to cause us to change how we listen to an iPod. If there’s a lot of noise nearby, it’s likely that we’ll turn up the iPod’s volume, thus increasing the chances of hearing loss. To cut down on, or eliminate, ambient noise, use noise-deadening or –cancelling headphones. They’re more expensive, but your ears will thank you”. 

Chris Woodford, post for ‘Explain That’, supplies an in depth portrayal of the core differences between earphones and audio system. Despite fundamentally working in the exact same method, you will find variations concerning both, it appears. He states,

“The biggest difference between loudspeakers and headphones is, of course, size. A loudspeaker needs to set all the air moving in a room so you can hear the sound it’s making, but the speaker in a headphone only has to move the volume of air inside your ear canal. That’s why it can be so much smaller and more discreet”.

 If, even in the end this tech discuss, you are still excited about considering what is going on in your headphones, the Youtube user Cayde Brown is known for a number of video lessons called ‘Take Apart’, which may be of interest. In a single episode (which I’ll link HERE), Cayde takes a pair of headphones apart and reveals to us precisely how they work.