Headset vs Headphones: Understanding the Differences

Do you know the difference between headphones and headsets? You’re not alone if you don’t. In fact, many people use these words interchangeably. But there is a big difference between the two, and there are many things to consider when choosing headphones or headsets. 

This post will help you understand the differences between them so that you can make an informed decision about which is best for you.

Headsets typically include a microphone for making calls, while headphones do not. In addition, headsets can be worn either over or on top of your head, while headphones must be placed in or over your ears. Some people find that headsets are more comfortable than headphones, especially if they plan to wear them for extended periods of time.

Ultimately, the choice between headphones vs headsets comes down to personal preference. Read on to learn more about which one is right for you. 

What Are Headphones? 

Headphones are a pair of small loudspeakers that rest over the ears and behind your head. They’re connected by an elastic band, so they fit comfortably and allow individuals to listen privately. Each pair of headphones may look different, but they all have some standard features such as on-ear or over-ear design units for noise isolation. Noise isolation technology is essential when using headphones in public spaces where people might be distracted by outside noise around them.

Headphones can be classified into 4 types:

  • On-ear headphones
  • Over-ear headphones
  • Closed-back headphones
  • Open-back headphones

On-ear Headphones

On-ear headphones have a unique design that’s perfect for runners. The ear cups rest on your ears instead of sitting in them, which can reduce weight and make these types of headphones safer to wear while jogging or walking outside with friends. 

These headphones are not as comfortable to wear for an extended period of time because they press more force against your head when placed on top.

This design can also make the soundstage come across as sounding confined or cave-like, which is not great if you want your music to sound more natural and open.

Audio from the outside world can easily enter your ears with on-ear headphones. Loud noises that leak inside of these cups can interfere with the sounds of your music and decrease your enjoyment of the listening experience. 

Over-ear Headphones

Over-ear headphones provide a more comfortable and expansive listening experience than their smaller counterparts. The larger ear cups fit naturally around your ears, so you can enjoy long sessions without any discomfort or pain from pressure buildup on top of the headphones.

They are an excellent choice if you want headphones you can wear for long periods of time without becoming uncomfortable or having problems with the fitting. They generally have larger ear cups that sit on top of your outer ears and cradle the entire head with their cushions. 

These big ear cups make this type of headphones less ideal for outdoor use. This is because they block out some ambient noise with their huge frames while also providing an impressionistic experience when listening in stereo mode (which most people do).

The over-ear variety is usually preferred by audiophiles who want immersive audio without any distractions — they provide just enough isolation so you don’t hear everything around you.

Closed-back Headphones

Closed-back headphones have a completely sealed-off ear cup that prevents sound from escaping and reduces outside noise. These types of headphones provide an immersive experience because they allow you to hear everything in perfect clarity while also blocking out other distractions around you.

Closed-back headphones offer better sound isolation, which is great for the listening experience of the person using the device. Plus, it prevents others around you from hearing what you’re listening to.

Open-back Headphones

Open-back headphones have the unique trait of allowing you to clearly hear yourself talk while wearing them. 

Headset vs Headphones

Gamers who spend hours playing video games and want nothing more than immersion typically enjoy using this style because it provides spacious sound without the need to shout when communicating online.

The advantage is most noticeable during noisy situations where other distractions become overpowering such as loud noises or traffic.

What Are Headsets? 

Headsets are a very common accessory for many people. The definition of “headset” is actually very simple — a headset is a pair of headphones that includes a mic (whether detachable or non-detachable).

The most important thing about these devices is their ability to provide clear audio with minimal background noise. They’re meant to function well during phone calls and also when listening to music at home without an amplifying speaker system nearby.

We recommend selecting a headset that provides higher sound production but also is within your budget.  

Headphone vs. Headset Comparison

Headphones are a great way to enjoy your favorite tunes, and there are tons of types on the market. In comparison, headset microphones provide better sound quality and distance from the device while also allowing for hands-free usage in some instances like phone calls, video chats, and gaming.

But that’s not all! There are several differences between the two which make them even more distinguishable. Let’s focus on those factors:

Sound Quality

The most significant difference between gaming headsets and low-end headphones is often the sound quality.

Some outstanding headsets can compete with higher-priced models of headphones, but there are few headsets at a low price point that can compare to the sound quality of cheap headphones. 

Even mid-range headphones from a generic brand will blow away most other types of headsets. This is often because headphones focus exclusively on sound quality, while headsets have a microphone as well that factors into the cost.  

A gaming headset’s sound quality is not great, and if you’re looking for a better audio experience with your game then consider getting a pair of headphones.

The HyperX Cloud II and Krakens offer immersive sound quality that is enjoyable while playing games on a PC — however, they will never replace high-end audiophile models like the Denon AH2000, which costs less than half as much.


For many people, the convenience of having an attached mic is too much to pass up. With headphones, you have to take them off when using your phone or laptop for listening purposes, but with a headset, this won’t be necessary because it’ll already come equipped. A great pair can make all the difference when it comes time for meetings, conference calls, or recording videos.

The debate of whether to use wired or wireless headphones for multiple purposes has been going on for years. However, there is an affordable solution that you might want to consider before making your decision: the boom mic.

Furthermore, a headset with a detachable mic is probably the best option as far as convenience is concerned. 

Check out this guide to learn more about different audio gear.


What Are the Differences Between a Headset vs Headphones?

Headset microphones are used for video conferencing and calls. Headphones have an integrated mic that’s usually hidden or disappears into your ear cup, and they’re used for listening to audio.

Are Headphones Harmful to the Ears?

Loud sounds played for a long time can damage your hearing cells and push wax further into your ears, which can cause an infection. The same goes with headsets, which make it harder to hear things around you while listening closely.

How Long Can You Wear Headphones For?

It’s recommended that you only listen to levels up to 75% of maximum volume for a total time per day of around 60 minutes. This is because the louder the sound, the shorter your duration will be on average. It goes without saying that if you plan on listening all day long, it would probably cause some serious damage. 


Headphones and headsets are both audio devices used to listen to music, but there are several differences between the two. Headsets typically include a microphone for making calls and have a more versatile design that can be used for gaming or other activities.

In terms of sound quality, headphones generally provide better sound reproduction than headsets. However, headsets are more convenient because they don’t need to be plugged into an audio device to work.

Ultimately, the choice between headphones and headsets comes down to personal preference and what you plan on using them for.

Remember that you shouldn’t listen to loud music for extended periods of time throughout the day as it can severely damage your eardrums. Stay safe, and enjoy listening to your tunes with your favorite headset or pair of headphones!

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