The decision to purchase either headphones or headsets can be confusing. This article discusses the differences between headphones and headsets to help make that decision easier.

Headphones vs Headsets

Music is life for many people. Sitting down and listening to a few tunes after a long day at the office or during your commute offers relaxation. Who would think of working out without music?

There are many misconceptions about listening devices, especially regarding headphones vs headsets. Some people think these two are the same, but this is not true. There are many distinctions between the two, and understanding these will allow you to choose which one will make your favorite music sound the best.

Below, you will learn some differences and similarities to understand better how each device works. So, let’s get started.

What Are Headphones?

Headphones are preferred by many music lovers because they offer such an immersive and personal experience. Headphones feature two small speakers that are attached to a band you wear over your head.

The vast majority of headphones produce massive sound by moving small amounts of air to create sound in your ear. With the use of magnets, headphones vibrate the air to create sound.

Headphones offer superior sound and amazing bass. One of the reasons headphones are so beneficial for transferring music to your ears and immersing you in the sound is because they help block out ambient noise in the room. Headphones cancel both active and passive background noises so all you hear is the music.

Today, music lovers have many headphone options available, including the following.

  • Close-backed headphones are the most popular because they block out room noise and allow you to experience every minute sound in the song. Musicians and producers typically use these types of headphones.
  • Open-back headphones allow some sound to escape because the headphones are not covered. This type of headphone is often used by those who mix and remaster music.
  • On-ear headphones are made about the size of your ear and fit nicely on top of them. These are also known as supra-aural headphones.
  • Over-ear headphones often get confused with on-ear headphones. Unlike on-ear headphones, these fit over your entire ear and go over the edges of them.
  • In-ear headphones are becoming increasingly popular. These small headphones fit inside your ears and are often called canal phones.
  • Earbuds often get confused with in-ear headphones, but these sit in your ears without going into the canal.
  • Bluetooth headphones are available in different styles and do not require any wires because they operate on Bluetooth technology.
girl wearing headphones

What Are Headsets?

Headsets look very much like headphones which is one of the reasons the two are so easily confused. The key difference between headsets and headphones is that headsets have a microphone attached to them.

On some models, the microphone can be removed. Headsets are used in different ways, including gaming, chatting online, and phone use.

The sound quality of headphones often depends on the size. Larger headsets have bigger drivers, and bigger drivers offer a better level of sound with perfect crispness without compromising portability.

man wearing a headset using a laptop

What Are the Differences Between Headphones and Headsets?

At first glance, headsets and headphones look very similar. The following offers information on some of the key differences between the two so you will not become confused when purchasing a pair.

  • One of the main differences between the two is that headsets have a microphone that is typically attached to a boon to bring it close to your mouth.
  • Headsets are usually used for playing games, watching television, or talking on the phone, while the purpose of headphones is to listen to music or other audio.
  • Headsets are generally less expensive than headsets but with so many types available, this is not always the case.
  • Headphones are normally larger and heavier than headsets
  • Headphones have better sound quality

Headphones vs headsets – Differences table

HeadphonesHeadsets
PriceMore expensiveless expensive
MicrophoneNoYes
UseMusicGaming, call centers
SizeLargerSmaller
WeightHeavierLighter
ComfortMore comfortable Less comfortable
Sound qualityBetter qualityLess quality

Headphones or Headsets: Which Should You Buy?

Which one you should choose depends on your needs. Will you be using the device more for work or pleasure? Do you need a microphone or will you only use the listening device to listen to audio?

Reasons You Should Consider Buying Headphones

Headphones are available in many different types, including wired and wireless. These listening devices are highly portable and can be used to listen through just about any audio jack.

You can plug headphones into your home stereo, cell phone, car radio, television, tablet, laptop, and computer. If you do not need a mic to talk to others, headphones will be a perfect choice.

Reasons You Should Consider Buying a Headset

If you want a dual-purpose listening device, a headset will be a perfect fit. Headsets allow you to talk to others through recordings or live.

You can also hook headsets up through any audio jack. Headsets are commonly used for gaming and call center work, though they have other purposes.

headset laying on a keyboard

What Should You Look for in Headphones?

  • First, choose a type that includes in-ear, on-ear, and over the ears.
  • Select headphones with the largest driver you can afford for better sound.
  • You should also consider the sensitivity level of the headphones. Go no lower than 85 dB/mW.
  • You will need to factor in the impedance of the headphones to ensure your device will power them effectively.
  • Frequency response is also an essential factor. If you prefer a lot of bass, choose a wide frequency range.
  • You will also need to decide on corded or wireless.

What Should You Look for in a Headset?

  • Noise isolation is one of the most important features of a headset. This feature is especially important when gaming so you can tell where sounds are coming from.
  • The headset needs to be adjustable to fit all heads. Since people often wear headsets for long periods while gaming or on the job, it is important to choose adjustability.
  • Consider the clarity of the headphone mic. Clear communication is essential when using a headset.
  • Make sure the headset is compatible with your devices.
  • You also need to ensure there is a low input lag.
headphones laying on a laptop

Final Words

While they look very much alike, you can always tell the difference between the two because headsets have a mic that typically folds away or is removable. Both allow you to listen, but only headsets allow you to talk.

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