Choosing the best pair of used headphones is a lot like buying a new set, but there are some unique factors you may want to consider. The first step to take when buying any set of headphones is to think about what you need them for, such as listening to music, playing video games or professional audio work. Earbuds are typically the best choice for enjoying music on the go, while ear pads and full-sized used headphones will typically provide better sound but sacrifice portability. You will also need to decide whether to buy a refurbished unit or a used set from a private party. Refurbished headphones will sometimes come with some type of warranty, and buying a used set may require you to do some cleaning work before you use them.
There are many different factors to consider when choosing used headphones, such as audio fidelity and special features like noise cancellation. Since your personal audio requirements will dictate which of these features are necessary, the first step in selecting headphones is to consider how you will use them. Buying used headphones also adds a few unique points to consider, such as durability and hygiene.
If you only plan on using your headphones to listen to music on a cellphone or other portable music player, earbuds are typically the most compact choice. These headphones usually produce inferior sound to larger ear pads and full-sized headphones, but it is possible to find units with adequate sound reproduction. When buying used earbuds, you may want to look for a set that has removable pads, which are the parts that actually fit into your ears. It is possible to clean used earbuds, but simply replacing the pads can be easier and more hygienic.
You may want to look at used ear pad or full-sized headphones if fidelity is more important than portability. Ear pad headphones typically do not cover the whole ear, so full-sized headphones are the best choice if you need to block all outside sound. Like earbuds, some of these headphones also have removable pads. In this case you may simply remove the used pads, soak them in a cleaning solution, and then re-install them. You may also choose to replace the pads, but either way you will end up with sanitary used headphones.
Another option to consider when looking at used headphones is to look at refurbished units. In some cases, these headphones will have been returned to a store or factory without even having been worn, though that varies from one case to another. When buying refurbished units, it is important to determine what work has been done to them and whether or not there is any warranty available. Those factors, combined with the cost, may help you decide between headphones that are refurbished or simply used.