Headphone vs Headset – Know The Difference

The headset and headphone are not similar. They have many differences. The one major distinction is that a headphone has a built-in microphone while a headset has an attached mic. So, a headset serves a dual purpose. You can hear audio as well as speak in the headset. It is best for communication purposes like receiving and making calls. Today we will compare headphones vs headsets to know all the differences in detail.

In 1910, an American engineer Nathaniel Baldwin invented the headphones. Interestingly, Baldwin was prompted by headphones demand in the Navy.

Gradually, some changes were made in their design and headsets also emerged. Since then, they have been improving day by day. Many features have been added to modern-day headphones and headsets.

But, there is a lot more to know about both these devices. Are you keen to know all about the headphones and headsets? Keep reading this article to have all the information about these audio devices.

Headphone vs Headset

We are going to explore their differences and similarities. Moreover, we will also discuss their usage and types. In the end, you will find the answers to your most common queries about headphones and headsets. So, let us compare and contrast their features.

Structure and Design

First of all, you need to understand the structure and design of headphones and headsets. If you have very little knowledge about audio devices, they may seem alike to you. But, both these audio devices differ greatly in their design.



A headset has a pair of earpieces that have integrated speakers in them. A band links the two earpieces. A powerful microphone is attached to the headset.

When you wear it, the mic hangs just in front of your mouth. So, you can easily speak on the mic. The mic is removable and adjustable.

Further, the headsets are highly portable due to their lightweight. They are greatly comfortable and do not exert extra pressure on your ears or head. Because their earcups are generously cushioned and the headband also uses leather.



The headphones also have a pair of earpieces. They may be slightly bigger and heavier than the headsets. Because of their large size, they cannot be stored in your pocket.

Rather you need a carrying case for portability. Headphones also offer comfortability. You can wear them for the whole day.

Headphones are manufactured in varying sizes and colors. They come in white, black, blue, pink, yellow, red and many more. Some are glossy and others are matte.

You can choose your favorite color. Headphones come with a rechargeable battery. You can also detach certain cables from them.

Usage of Headphones and Headsets

Although both headphones and headsets are used to listen to sounds yet their specific purpose is different.


Since headsets have a microphone attached to them, they are more suitable for making calls. Headsets are ideally used in call centers.

Moreover, calling executives also prefer headsets. They are the ideal choice for making video calls and conference calls.

Additionally, headsets are also recommended for gaming as they ensure crisp sound details. Headsets are very popular in the commercial industry.

Professional headsets are specially made for pilots, tank operators, and navel consoles. Sports coaches and gym instructors also use headsets.


In contrast, the headphones come with an integrated microphone. They are best for music lovers.

The headphones are most popular among DJs and music mixers. Because their sound quality is wonderful.

Some headphones do not have a built-in mic. So, you cannot use them for two-way communication. But, they prove the ideal companions for listening to music during traveling.

Related: iPhone Thinks Headphones Are Plugged Solved

Types of Headset and Headphone

Both headset and headphones are available in different types. They are specially designed for a specific purpose.


Headsets are available in different styles and types. Some headsets are noise-canceling and block all the background sounds. They are best for making uninterrupted calls.

While some headsets feature directional characteristics. It means they can deliver omnidirectional, unidirectional, and bidirectional audio.

Headsets are also wired and wireless. Depending on the specific requirement, headsets are divided into further categories.

There are separate headsets for telephone, mobile, and computer. They are designed for each specific device for a better calling experience.


Headphones also come in different types based on their features. For example, there are on-ear headphones, around-ear headphones, and over-ear headphones.

The on-ear headphones are most suitable for outdoor listening. Their ear cushions directly fit on your ears and earcups are relatively smaller. So, the device exerts less pressure on your ears.

But, they have one disadvantage. The on-ear headphones grasp your head with more force. Hence, they are not comfortable enough.

They can also affect your hearing power negatively. Because they transmit sound directly into the ear canal.

In contrast, over-ear headphones feature larger earcups. They cover your outer ear and endure a wider soundstage. They do not exert extra pressure on your head.

Hence they are very comfortable and best for long hours of wearing. However, some users do not find them ideal for outdoor use. Because the bigger size of the over-ear headphones looks odd and cartoonish.

In addition, based on earcup design, open and closed-back headphones are also available.

Two more types of headphones are Circumaural and Supraaural. The Circumaural or full-size headphones have larger ear cups completely surrounding the ears. Their earcups are circular and block outside noise.

Supra-aural headphones come with smaller earcups. They sit on the ears but do not cover them completely. So, they cannot block background noise.

Audio Performance Comparison

Both audio devices deliver good sound quality in their specific field. Their audio performance also depends on the brand, quality, and cost.


Headsets are designed to give mono or stereo sound. The audio performance of headsets is no less than the headphones. But, they are specially designed for making calls. So, may not prove best for listening to music.

More specifically, the headsets deliver excellent mid-frequency range but may compromise on low-frequency range. However, this feature may vary with the brand.

Microphones intelligibility is also important in a headset. Because it is used to communicate with the other person.

Since the purpose of headsets is two-way communication, they have an active noise-canceling function. This feature also affects audio performance.

Related: Best Bluetooth Headset for Calls in Noisy Environment


Headphones are equipped with larger drivers as compared to headsets. Their earcups entirely cover the user’s ear. They deliver stereo sound with enhanced quality.

Especially, their low and mid ranges are outclass. The bass is deeper and gives you a true music effect.

Some headphones come with a noise-canceling function. It blocks all the environmental noise to remove any interference in listening to music.

You can enjoy an immersive music experience with headphones. They efficiently create a personalized soundstage.

Furthermore, headphones offer various sound features for distinct environments. They are not as suitable for calls as the headsets. However, their audio performance is best while playing music.

Connectivity Options

Both headsets and headphones are wired and wireless. Wireless devices feature Bluetooth and can be connected to any device.

While wired option included aux cable. Some headphones and headsets integrate both connectivity options.

Headsets are mostly paired with computers and smartphones for making and receiving calls.

On the other hand, the headphones can be paired with the speakers, soundbars, and other music devices.

Headsets mostly integrate voice assistants. The popular voice assistants are Google, Amazon Alexa, and Siri.

This feature makes control very convenient. You can operate your device by giving voice commands. Some headphones also come with voice assistants which receive voice commands through an integrated mic.

Related: Connect Headphones To The TV Without Headphone Jack

Price of Headsets Higher Than Headphones

The price varies with the brand. Devices with more features have a higher cost.

Headsets are expensive than headphones. The reason is the external microphone added to the headset. This mic is used to convey your voice to the other person on the call.

While headphones come with integrated or no mic. Because they are specially manufactured to listen to music. Their cost is less than the headsets.

FAQs Regarding Headphones vs Headsets

Many questions will blow up in your mind after reading the above comparison of headphones versus headsets. So, we have tried to answer many of these questions for you in advance.

Which is Perfect, Headphone or Headset?

When it comes to sound quality, headphones are always preferred to headsets. Because they deliver excellent music quality. Their main purpose is to help you in listening to music.

On the other hand, the major aim of buying a headset is making and receiving calls. So, they come with an attached microphone. Their sound quality is matchless for calls. However, they can also be used to listen to music.

Choosing between the two totally depends on your need. Whether you want one only for making calls or just for listening to music.

What is the difference between earphones and headphones?

Headphones rest on the outer ear. The pair of earcups are attached together with a headband. They are bigger and heavier.

While the earphones are very small and directly inserted inside the ear canal. They are both wired and wireless.

Do headphones and headsets harm ears and brain?

Excessive use of headphones and headsets caste a negative impact on your hearing power. They do not impact the brain directly rather indirectly.

Any damage to the audio canal may also damage the acoustic sensors leading to the brain. If you listen to music at high volumes and for a longer duration, you may suffer hearing loss. So, you should use them moderately.

For how many hours I can listen through headphones or headsets every day?

While listening through headphones or headsets, you must follow the 60/60 thumb rule. This is a medically recommended practice to protect you from hearing loss. This rule allows you to listen for 60 minutes a day with 60% volume.

The volume and time are inversely proportional in this rule. It means if you increase the volume up to 60%, decrease the time to less than 60 minutes a day. You should use only MP3 devices while listening through headphones.

What is the biggest drawback of headphones?

The biggest disadvantage of headphones is that they exert pressure on your ears and head. They block air passage to your ears.

Resultantly, you feel dizziness and are at a higher risk to develop ear infections. This is because headphones direct the sound straight into your ear canal.

What is the most important thing to consider while buying a headphone or headset?

Comfortability is the most important thing to consider while buying a headphone or headset. If it is not comfortable for you, it can ruin your listening experience.

The next thing is the audio performance as it is the basic purpose of these devices. You should also consider frequency response, THD, impedance, material quality, connectivity, and price.

Related: Fix iPhone Sound not Working Without Headphones

How much does a quality headset or headphones cost you?

The headphones may be as cheap as $50. While professional and commercial headphones may cost up to $1000.

If you are an audiophile, you will love expensive headphones delivering premium sound quality. However, from $100 to $400, you can purchase the best headphones or headsets.

Hi, I'm Noor Alam, founder of SpeakersMag.com. I love music and got my Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering. Now I have started my own blog about music products. Just like you, I also love different music products and in my spare time, I share my knowledge with audio lovers on this site. Read more about me
Hi, I'm Noor Alam, founder of SpeakersMag.com. I love music and got my Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering. Now I have started my own blog about music products. Just like you, I also love different music products and in my spare time, I share my knowledge with audio lovers on this site. Read more about me

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