Headphones and headsets may be very similar upon initial inspection, but there are key differences that you need to know before you start to consider buying one. You don’t want to make the mistake of buying one when you likely would have benefitted from the other.
We’ve listed what each of them is used for, the main difference between headphones and headsets, and wrapped it up with some frequently asked questions.
Read on to discover which ones are right for you:
What are Headphones used for?
If you’re finding that your earphones are hurting your ears while you’re watching Netflix or you’re looking for reliable audio equipment to take with you while you’re traveling, then you may be in the market for a set of headphones!
The standard headphones are more durable than earphones, consisting of two cushioned speakers connected with a band over the top of your head. Headphones unlock a beautiful sound stage for you to experience music through.
What are Headsets used for?
Headsets are extremely similar to headphones and it’s no surprise that the two often get mixed up with each other. The key difference between headphones and headsets is that headsets come with a microphone built-in.
If you have a device like a tablet or a laptop that has a bad built-in microphone or none at all, the headset is one of the best ways to increase your listening experience and also have a quality microphone to use on your next Zoom call.
Differences between Headphones and Headsets?
We’ve covered the basic differences between headphones and headsets, but if you’re still uncertain which you should buy between them, read on! We’ll be chatting about the differentiating factors between the two that might sway your mind to purchase one over the other, including price, comfort, and sound quality.
When it comes to price, a quality pair of headphones are usually more expensive than a headset. If you’re new to the audiophile world, which is what the community who are committed to having the best audio devices call themselves, then it can sometimes be overwhelming.
In general, however, you can find a decent headset for about $50 or less. If you’re on a budget, then the headset is an optimal choice as it comes with a microphone built-in. If you’re planning to spend over $50 at a minimum, then you can purchase a pair of headphones and then also buy a stand microphone for about $20.
What you’ll purchase depends on what you’re going to be using the device for. If you’re planning to get a pair of headphones for your child who plays Roblox, then a gaming headset is likely your best bet.
Comfort is a big factor in determining whether you should purchase a headset or headphones. You’ll be wearing the device for multiple hours while you’re listening to music or reading comics, so you’ve got to make sure that your pair of headphones or headset is comfortable.
Headphones tend to offer more quality comfort head cushions due to their higher price point. If you invest in a mid-range or high-end pair of headphones, you’ll happily be able to wear them for hours and hours and experience minimal strain on your ears.
If you’re planning on using them for a few hours every day, and if you’re not too interested in spending a lot on a pair of headphones, then you’d get the most out of a headset and its built-in microphone.
The design of your headphones and headsets is also an important factor to take into consideration when choosing which will benefit you the most.
Most headphones and headsets look fairly similar, with a band connecting two sets of ear cushions, but headphones tend to be bulkier than headsets. Headsets come in a larger range of sizes based on their price, so there are more options to choose from.
The customizability of headphones is another element of design that makes headphones so much more expensive than headsets but this element won’t impact the choice of a majority of consumers unless you’re a real audiophile.
Finally, you also have the choice of wired and wireless headphones and headsets. Wireless headphones are usually more expensive than wired ones but allow you to move around freely and continue to listen. Wireless headsets are also very useful, letting you listen and speak without having to stay near your laptop or tablet.
If you’re in an industry that is primarily at a desktop, like 3D modeling, then wired headphones or headsets are the way to go but if you’re more active like in engineering, wireless will be the best!
Sometimes the most convenient devices are the best way to go and with headphones and headsets, that can be the case.
The device with the highest convenience factor would be the headset as the built-in microphone saves you the time and money of shopping for a standing microphone if you don’t have one.
Headphones are also extremely varied in design, hardware, and price points and it’s easy to get sucked into a rabbit hole of research on what brand of headphones are the right fit for you. And since headphones don’t come with a microphone, you’ll have to repeat this process for a standing microphone too.
That being said, if you’re willing to put in the time and research and don’t need it anytime soon, a pair of headphones will last you longer than a headset.
Next to price, sound quality is the most important factor to consumers when deciding if they should buy a pair of headphones or headsets. When it comes to headsets and headphones, headphones reign supreme when it comes to sound quality at all price ranges.
While headsets aim to provide the ability to listen and speak, they sacrifice sound quality to do so. Headphones are specifically made for listening and their technology makes them a superior choice for streaming videos or music.
If you’re planning to get a present for your teenager and are unsure whether to buy a headphone or a headset, they’ll likely appreciate a headset more due to its built-in microphone. They’ll be able to chat online in addition to having a better audio experience than in-ear headphones.
We’ve often seen a few questions come up quite often, and decided to bring them all into one place and answer them. These may be questions that you’ve also been thinking about when figuring out the difference between a headphone and a headset, so read on to have them answered.
Should I get wireless headphones?
Wireless headphones can be a great addition to your life, especially if you’re a particularly active individual. A pair of wireless over-ear headphones are great for being able to stand up and move around while still being able to hear that lecture or song.
What’s more, if you’re planning on traveling then wireless headphones will be an amazing complement to your trip – no tangled wires or awkward movements at all!
If you are willing to pay for the premium that is a pair of wireless headphones, then they are well worth it.
Are headsets better than earphones?
While more expensive, headsets offer better sound quality and come with an easy-to-use integrated microphone.
One of the biggest perks of having a headset is protecting your ear canal, which earphones can sometimes cause hurt if used for a prolonged time. The headset covers the outer ear, blocking external noise while keeping your ears free.
If you’re planning to use audio equipment for a long time, such as drawing using Adobe Illustrator, you’re better off with a headset or headphones.
How do I work my Bluetooth headphones?
This depends on the device that you are using it with. Connecting Bluetooth headphones to a laptop or tablet will be different from connecting them to a phone.
However, they should all follow the same basic steps. The basic steps for all of them would be to open up the Settings of the device you are trying to connect your Bluetooth headphones to and make sure your Bluetooth is on.
From there, you can manually add your Bluetooth Headphones to the device or connect to them automatically with the click, tap, or press of a button.
Headphones and headsets can often be difficult to choose between, especially if you don’t have prior experience with them or are planning to purchase one for a friend, but this guide has hopefully cleared up the differences between the two for you.
And at the end of the day, many of the differences between the two will due to personal preference – your child who loves ABC Mouse would prefer a cheap headset compared to an artist who wants comfortable headphones with superior sound quality while they work on art.
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.