80s Headphones

80s Headphones

The most widely used and iconic style headphones in the 80s would have been a headband pair with foam padding. A budget-end Sanyo or Toshiba stereo cassette player, in the style of a Walkman, usually came with this type of headphones. At one time the circulation of these headphones were in their millions all around the world.

This design was the early beginning of the high-performance dynamic drivers we find today. These drivers use the same principle as a loudspeaker, consisting of a permanent magnet (typically neodymium), and a voice coil actuated diaphragm. However, the diaphragm is an extremely light plastic material. A lighter material vibrates faster and therefore these types of headphones have a better high frequency response. Today, some of the high-end drivers go as far as to use copper-clad aluminium wire (CCAW) for the voice coil, making the diaphragm even lighter.

Walkman Style 80s Headphones

Most people did not realise that these headphones had matched impedance with the stereo cassette player they had bought. A 32-Ω voice coil was common because a powerful amplifier IC such as the Sanyo LA4520 usually drove it. However if you were to use these headphones with a different cassette player expecting 8-Ω, coils then it will not sound as good.

Headband Headphones
Foam Covers

Do you remember washing these foam covers on Sunday? A young whippersnapper getting ready for college on Monday, and you had to have the Walkman ready for use in the bus...


These drive units produced a unique sound of the 80s, which many people recognise, which is why many still use them. Listen to one of your 80s mix tapes, and travel back in time to the 80s. :-)

Walkman Style

Dynamic Drivers
Side View