I once talked about how there is a major difference between not understanding and not hearing. Regardless of your level, sometimes when it is hard to hear things you misinterpret this as your listening ability just lacking. I was talking about this in the context of conversation, and all the variables that affect your actual ability to hear something.
But it goes beyond conversation and is relevant any time you listen to Japanese at all.
I want you to try something.
Watch an episode of something normally. Then watch the next episode with your earphones in. Which did you understand more of?
Just like in conversation, even in just watching a video there are things that get in the way of your hearing. Think to your own native language viewing. You’ve seen plenty of material where it was a bit hard to hear (due to excess music, background noise, or any other sound obstacles). Just having the sound closer often makes it clearer.
While you may not always want to have earphones in, when you really want to focus, really want to understand, and want a tiny boost, give it a try.
Anyone have any similar experiences with listening with earphones vs without?