How Do Headphones Work

How do headphones work? They bring your favorite songs directly to your ear, but few people understand how this happens. Well, you may want to turn down the volume a tad and get ready to crank up the knowledge. Let's take a look at how headphones work.

Cones And Coils
Headphones work just like the loudspeakers on your stereo work, only on a smaller scale. Satisfied? Of course you're not. Here's how loudspeakers work. Sound travels in waves, and something is needed to produce those waves. Speakers of any kind, be they loudspeakers or earbud headphones, have a cone that vibrates to produce sound waves. This cone is made out of a plastic or paper fiber. Behind the cone is a metal coil. When your headphones are plugged into an MP3 player, an electrical signal is being sent through the wires to the metal coil. The conductivity of the metal coil causes it to create an electromagnetic field.

How do Headphones Work: Magnets And Sound Waves
Positioned behind the coil is a permanent magnet. You've probably noticed that, if you let a pair of earbuds dangle, they will appear to stick together. This is because of the magnets in both. When the coil is magnetized, it is either pulled or repelled by the permanent magnet. This motion creates the sound waves that our ears can pick up. New headphones that utilize wireless technology work in the same way. Except in their case, a radio signal is being transmitted to trigger electrical impulses that vibrate the cone.

Okay, now you can crank up the volume again. But not too loud because you know now that headphones send sound waves straight to your eardrums, and long exposure to loud headphones can cause hearing damage. So, rock on in moderation.

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