Water and oil don’t mix. Wearing glasses with headphones on is similar to this proverb – they simply do not go hand in hand. I’m sure anyone who has tried using his/her glasses with headphones will agree with me on this due to the distraction and the increasing pain and discomfort experienced as the glasses dig into the side of their head while listening to music or sounds.
So, If you’re a professional gamer, studio recorder, a serious headphone user who loves the unlimited sound of music, does that mean you cannot combine your glasses with your headphones? Of course, you can! Just as there are many emulsifying techniques in the cooking world to bring water and oil together, there are also some techniques you can adopt to reduce the pain and discomfort from wearing your headphones with glasses to a more tolerable level.
In this edition, we will talk about the cause and the science behind the pain and discomfort before we discuss how to reduce and avoid these problems. However, we are not going to talk about pierced glasses which is a way of using pain to prevent pain.
Disadvantage of Wearing Headphones with Glasses
Prolong use of headphones with glasses can cause a different kind of pain and discomfort which are not limited to the following:
- Articular chondritis or sore ear cartilage which is caused by the pressure from the use of both items over a long period of time.
- Headaches which is as a result of the pressure exerted on the temporal bone (the bone at the side of the head at the ear region).
Why Does The Use of Headphones with Glasses Hurt?
Here is the billion dollar question – why do we experience pain or discomfort after wearing the glasses and headphones together for a long period of time?
The human ear is unique, just as the fingerprints are unique to an individual. That is why there is no headphone available in the market that is made to fit everybody’s ear. Making a one-size-fits-all headphone is like making a shoe that can fit everybody’s feet. However, some of the factors that have been identified to cause pain and discomfort when wearing both headphones and glasses include:
- The Glasses Design
- Types of Headphones
- Thickness and Materials of The Ear Padding
- The Headphone’s Clamping Force
The Glasses Design
Eyeglasses come with various designs which can have an impact on the wearing experience of their users, especially when used along with headphones. Nowadays, glasses come with different frame sizes, thickness, height and shapes and are made from different materials like rubber, plastic, and metal.
Types of Headphones
The type of headphone being used affects its user’s comfort when combined with glasses. The two types of headphones with comfort issues are those with a band which goes over the head to keep the ear cups in place. These include:
- Over-ear (Circumaural) headphones and
- On-ear (Supra-aural) headphones
Over-ear headphones are often bigger in size with the ear cushions resting over the ears of their users while the on-ear headphones are smaller in size and have their ear padding resting on their user’s ears. On-ear headphones also tend to have a lighter weight when compared with their over-ear brothers, and this might affect their clamping forces and the position of their pressure points. The heavier headphones (over-ear) usually have a stronger clamping force which helps to distribute its weight evenly across its user’s head.
Thickness and Materials of The Ear Padding
The adequacy of the ear cushioning materials (thickness), as well as the kind of material used in making the ear padding, affects the comfort and the wearing experience of the headphone users. The ear padding helps to reduce the discomfort to your ears, which is caused by the clamping force of your headphones.
There are various materials used for headphone ear padding, the common ones include:
Pleather and leather cushions are usually harder compared to the ear cushion made of velour or foam. These ear cushioning materials and their thickness do affect the sound quality and comfortability of the headphone. If the cushion paddings are too thin or not suitable for you, the pressure exerted by the headphones clamping force onto your temporal bone and ear cartilage might be too much since there is less cushioning to reduce the effect of the clamping force.
A headphone with too much thickness and cushion padding will look bulky and will also weigh more. Some users do not like this type of headphone due to the additional weight while some prefer it due to its excellent ear cushioning. So, the decision on the thickness and padding material is based on the user’s preference.
The Headphone’s Clamping Force
The headphone clamping force is what snugs and secures the headphone to its user’s head. It also helps to determine the performance of the listening device like the extent of noise isolation, sound quality and the headphone’s wearing security.
If the strength of the clamping force is low, the headphones tend to fall off your head even with a sudden or slight change in your movement. But if the strength of the clamping force is too high, the headphone will exert more pressure on your temporal bones and ear cartilage which could result in ear soreness and/or headaches. The pressure that will then be experienced by someone who wears both the headphone and glasses will be heightened due to the pressure the user will feel on his temporal bones and ear cartilage as the glasses frames burrow the scalp of his head.
How To Wear Headphones with Glasses
The best way to wear headphones with glasses is to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with wearing the two items together. The following techniques will help to reduce pain and allow you to wear both items together as much as you like.
Go for Eye Glasses with Thinner Frames
Glasses with thinner frames have a smaller surface area so the area of the frames that will be pressed against their user’s scalp will be reduced, the pressure on the temporal bones and ear cartilage will also be reduced. The same cannot be said of glasses with thicker frames.
This might not be the best solution for those who do not want to purchase a new pair of eyeglasses. But if you intend to buy a new pair of glasses in the future, you can consider going for those with thinner frames.
Reduce your headphones clamping force by stretching it out
If the clamping force of your current headphone is too strong, you can reduce it by stretching your headphones out. You can achieve that by placing some books or textbooks together and stretch your headphones over them. However, you should be careful not to overstretch your headphones to avoid damaging the listening device.
Opt for over-ear headphones
If you are a bespectacled user, you should go for over-ear headphone when shopping for the best headphone to use along with your glasses. This is because over-ear headphones tend to be more comfortable than their on-ear brothers. In over-ear headphones, the ear is encompassed by the ear cushioning pad instead of resting on and pressing against the cartilage of the ear as in the case of the on-ear headphones. This will help to reduce the pressure on the temporal bones and ear cartilage which then translates into reduced pain and discomfort.
However, the clamping force in the over-head headphones tends to be stronger since they are heavier than their on-ear brothers, so it is good to put this into consideration when buying your headphones.
Opt for headphones with thicker padding
When selecting a headphone, always go for those with thicker cushion padding. The thicker the cushion padding, the lower the amount of pressure that will be exerted on your ear since the padding will act as a buffer for the clamping force. There are different types of materials used for ear cushions. However, we recommend those that are made from foam.
Other Unconventional Solutions
If you have tried the solution above and it yields no significant positive result, you may have to try the following:
Cut a small gap through the ear padding
This method works for over-ear headphones; it will make the headphone fit you instead of you to try to fit into it. Cut a small gap through the headphones ear padding where the frame of your glasses sits. This will help to reduce the amount of pressure on your glasses frame.
Note: The changes effected by this method are irreversible. So, avoid this method unless your headphones cushioning is replaceable.
Use glasses with Virtual Reality frames
VR frames are narrower and would reduce the pressure on your ear by your headphone’s clamping force. However, this option is very viable if you are okay with its design and aesthetic.
Switch to Prince-Nez glasses
Just like the VR glasses, Prince-Nez glasses is an excellent replacement for the conventional (framed) glasses especially when the use of headphones is involved. These headphones stay on your nose bridge without the stem, making it easier for you to use the glasses with your headphones.
Wearing glasses with headphones is accompanied by pain and discomfort. In this post, we have discussed several methods that you can employ to reduce this pain and/or discomfort and wear your glasses as much as you wanted. If you have tried other effective method which is not included in this post, kindly share it with us in the comment section below.