To this date, there are currently 3 categories of headphones available on the market. This article will help you filter out the category that you would be most interested in.
The categories are:
1) Dynamic Headphones
2) Orthodynamic/Isodynamic Headphones
3) Electrostatic Headphones
The three categories are based on the type of technology used to produce sound from the headphones. The difference is the type of transducer principle used to convert electrical signals into sound waves.
1) Dynamic Headphones Blackpods
Dynamic headphones are using a moving coil driver. A moving coil driver simply means that there is a magnet in the headphone, which produces a static magnetic field. A voice coil attached to a diaphragm is placed in the magnetic field and a current is run through the voice coil making it cause the diaphragm to vibrate and produce sound waves.
Most dynamic headphones need little electricity for it to work. Due to this, the majority of headphones on the market are dynamic headphones. These are used by average music listeners, musicians and professional studio mixers alike. The most popular manufacturers in the music industry that produce dynamic headphones, includine Sony, Beyer, Sennheiser, Grado and Audio-Technica. They can cost $8 or $800 US Dollars (USD) upwards and can be wired or wireless, open-air or closed-back, ear buds or studio-quality.
Pros of dynamic headphones are that they are widely available and are usually cheaper that orthodynamic and electrostatic ones. Since little electricity is needed to drive them, most of them will work with portable devices and computers without a need of a headphone amp. A headphone amp is a miniaturized power amplifier specifically designed to drive the tiny speakers inside the headphones.
The cons are that orthodynamic and electrostatic headphones can beat them in terms of speed and clarity.
Dynamic headphones are the best headphones to start with due to their cost and wide range.
2) Orthodynamic / Isodynamic Headphones
Orthodynamic headphones were very popular worldwide in the 1970s. They are considered by some to be old technology but have a revival now.
Manufacturers include Audeze, Fostex, Hifiman, Kenwood and Dual.
Orthodynamic headphones have flat and bigger voice coils, which cover the diaphragm. This means that the current is better distributed to the diaphragm, which in turn produces sound waves. Bigger voice coils mean bigger diaphragms (even bigger than electrostatic headphones) and that means that more electricity is needed to drive them.
Pros of Orthodynamic headphones are that they give excellent response and sound quality similar to that of an electrostatic.
Cons of Orthodynamic headphones are that they are generally bigger and require a headphone amp to drive them thus they are not portable. They are also generally more expensive than dynamic headphones.