Headset VS Headphones: Let’s End The Debate

People often use the terms headphones and headset interchangeably, but what if we say they mean totally different things? One major difference is that headsets have a microphone, but headphones don’t have it. Headsets tend to be more affordable and convenient to use, which makes them ideal for gamers.

On the other hand, headphones generally offer better sound quality, which makes them a top choice for audiophiles. In this comparison article between headsets and headphones, we will cover everything from their respective looks to which one delivers better sound. The debate between headset vs headphones will conclude here. Let’s dive in!

Introduction to Headsets

Headsets share similarities with headphones, differing only in the addition of a microphone. This microphone allows listeners to engage in online chats or phone calls. The microphone can be detached based on its design and use purposes. Headsets are mainly used as telephone and computer headsets.

You will find wireless headsets on the market equipped with Bluetooth technology. Headsets are basically ear-worn speakers that offer an immersive sound experience with a microphone. Also recognized as head-worn audio devices with a microphone, headsets cater to various communication needs.

Headsets are less common and pricier compared to standard headphones. However, the benefits they offer might justify the cost for some individuals, particularly those who frequently engage in video calls while working or voice chat during gaming. Headsets are a standard choice for gamers involved in tournaments or team play.

Introduction to Headphones

Created with simplicity, a headphone features two speakers connected to a band. When worn, the speakers cover your ears. Headphones provide an excellent musical journey for you as the sound source provides a sonic play load directly into your ears. They vibrate big portions of air in the room, recreating sound by moving small air amounts around your ears.

It aids in creating a confined and personalized Soundstage experience for you. Outstanding audio performance is a hallmark of most headphones. They offer a broad frequency range for the finest sound. There are various types of headphones, like over-ear, on-ear, wired/wireless, and in-ear headphones. 

Each has its own advantages and drawbacks in terms of convenience, sound quality, and price. However, fundamentally, they are similar pieces of tools at their core. So, what works for one person might not be the finest fit for another, depending on individual requirements and likings.

What Is The Differences Between Headsets And Headphones?

Headphones and headsets differ mainly because of the microphone. If there’s no mic, it’s headphones; if there’s a mic, it’s a headset. Usually, gaming headsets come with microphones that aren’t as good as separate ones, such as the Blue Snowball iCE or the Antlion Mod Mic 5. However, there are certainly exceptions. 

A well-known gaming headset, HyperX Cloud II comes with a really good microphone, and it is certainly not the only one. There are other gaming headsets, like the Sennheiser GAME ONE and the Sound BlasterX H7, which have excellent mics. Now, let’s dive into other differences between headsets and headphones.

Noise Cancellation

Active noise cancellation (ANC) technology requires microphones. To make ANC work, you require at least one microphone to catch the outside sounds and do the “noise cancellation magic.” Therefore, for headphones to have ANC technology, they need a microphone. However, that technically makes them headsets.

It means, technically, regular headphones can’t implement ANC. There are some uncommon models, such as the QuietOn sleep earbuds, which have ANC as they come with a mic. However, they cannot take calls or play music. Therefore, technically, they are headphones with ANC.


Headphones are generally more comfy as they sit on the head like a hat. You can easily use them at home with your computer or television, and you can move around with them easily with some songs playing. However, using headphones for extended periods can leave you with a headphone dent, which can make you uncomfortable.

On the other hand, headsets can be created from lighter materials, sometimes comfier than headphone materials, and you can also wear them for a long time. It mainly depends on the design and quality of each headset. 

The majority of the headsets, particularly wireless ones, have mics discretely made into the cups, not adding much weight to the headsets. Gaming headsets come with boom mics that stick out from the headset’s one side. This does not impact comfort but might impact ergonomics in a few models.

Sound Quality

Dedicated headphones usually give you better sound quality than headsets. Even mid-range headphones, such as the Turtle Beach Stealth 450, can beat all pricier headsets. It’s only because headphones focus on one thing, which is to make the sound quality awesome. 

Some higher-grade headsets have good sound quality, but most of the others have problems like bad tuning and distortion. Headsets such as the Razer Kraken and the HyperX Cloud II give you an excellent sound experience and good sound quality overall, but still, they are not as good as cheaper audiophile headphones. 

That’s why many audiophiles often go for headphones rather than headsets. You will find many high-quality headphones in the audiophile market, like monitor headphones. So, if you only care about music and don’t require a microphone, spending a bit more on headphones may be worth it.

Connectivity Options

In terms of connectivity, headphones usually have wires, and headsets generally are wireless with Bluetooth technology. We have yet to see over-ear headphones with wireless connectivity and a microphone. 

Headphone makers decided that manufacturing wireless headphones without the capability to receive calls is not an option. So, every Bluetooth over-ear without wires is a headset. Also, you can find headsets in both wired and wireless connectivity. For example, the HyperX Cloud Stinger gaming headset is a wired headset.

We aren’t saying gaming headsets sound awful, but most times, regular headphones give you better sound. 


The convenience factor between headphones and headsets mainly depends on the user. Headphones are fantastic as you can use them anywhere. You can groove to music while exercising in the gym or jogging; no need to carry around a bulky headset. 

Some new headphones, such as AirPods, come with a small microphone, letting you take calls without appearing like you are carrying a mic. However, these aren’t mainly for gamers. On the other hand, headsets are simply more convenient than headphones because they always come with a built-in mic. 

Some microphones are fixed to the headsets, while others, especially top-quality headsets, have detachable microphones. It generally makes things simpler when you require both headphones and communication. 

The other option often means carrying not just headphones but also a separate microphone, which can be a hassle depending on your use. Now you’ve got two pieces of probably pricey tech to worry about whether something occurs to them. Headsets let you talk without using your hands, which can be useful for doing video calls in the office or gaming online.

Purpose of Using 

Headphones and headsets have a big difference in how and where people use them. Let’s take a look at them:


  • Headsets are essential for reducing background noise with ANC during activities such as traveling or commuting on public transport.
  • They are perfect for daily use because of their versatility.
  • The best usage of headsets is when you are expecting to call someone, such as in the workplace, for online gaming, video conferencing, or homeschooling.


  • Normal headphones are best to use when you are listening to music or doing professional work in a studio.
  • They are best suited for listening without additional features.
  • Headphones are a great choice for enjoying multimedia content, such as listening to audiobooks or watching movies.


Headsets and headphones come in various prices. Usually, headphones can cost more compared to headsets. Comparing a headphone + microphone combo package to a $50 headset is tough when you consider the balance of price and performance. Gaming headsets have an edge because they come with a built-in mic, which most headphones don’t offer. 

If the maximum price of headsets is less than $1,000, then the ultra-premium headphones’ price can reach up to $50,000 or even more. If you prefer less tangled cables or are always on the move, a gaming headset can give you something valuable that headphones cannot. With gaming headsets, you don’t need to deal with extra gear or carry more things than necessary.

However, getting a decent set of headphones and a separate microphone for under $50 is possible. There are many good gaming headphones for less than $50. When you pair them with an inexpensive $10 microphone, this combo may be comparable to a headset in total cost.

It all comes down to personal choice. If money isn’t a concern and you want the absolute best sound quality, choose high-end audiophile headphones and a good separate microphone instead of a headset.

Headsets VS Headphones: The Verdict

In the end, despite the similar appearance and occasional interchangeable use of headsets and headphones, they are completely different devices. People may choose one over the other based on many factors like price, convenience, and the purpose of use. 

For audiophiles who value clear sound with minimal distortion, a good set of headphones is hard to beat for enjoying their favorite music. On the other hand, if you require the combined convenience of speakers and a microphone in a single package, then a headset should serve the purpose well.

Ultimately, your decision comes down to how you plan to use the headset or headphones and how that influences your purchase. Hopefully, you now thoroughly understand the comparison of the headset vs headphones. So, you can now make an informed choice that suits your needs.

David Huner
David Hunerhttps://yourtechscholar.com
I have completed my graduation from The University of Phoenix. Being a graduate, I’ve been writing on tech tips and products for several years. I love to write about all the latest trends in technology, as well as give my personal take on new products. If you’re looking for some inspiration or just want to read more articles like this one, check out our website!
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