Headphones and headsets are two different yet similar-looking playback devices. The only difference is that, unlike headphones, headsets give importance to the integrated microphone.

In common, they both have speakers to listen to the playback audio.

This article compares headphones and headsets by looking at their parts and differences.

Quick Comparison

Sound IsolationGoodGood
Sound QualityExcellentExcellent
Mic QualityNot goodExcellent
ComfortVery goodGood
A quick comparison of headphones and headsets through some important parameters

Headphones vs. Headsets – Comparison


microphone on headset highlighted
Microphones on headsets are better than the ones in headphones.

Since the mic on headsets is directly in front of the mouth, it can capture voice better than headphones.

Also, headsets have a dedicated microphone housing at the end of the mic boom, which allows headset manufacturers to provide a larger microphone with a wider diaphragm.

This makes headset mics more sensitive and even better at capturing the voice.

Headphones also have models that come with a microphone, but those are in-line microphones, which don’t capture the voice with similar quality as headsets.


Headset and Headphone connection plug comparison
How you connect these devices also has a significant role in the sound quality.

Headsets have separate input plugs/jacks for the speakers and the microphone. This allows headsets to separate the input and output signals effectively.

The speakers on headsets receive an output signal from the device it’s connected to. At the same time, the microphone on it captures the voice and sends it as an input signal to the device it’s connected to.

output and input singnal flow in headsets
Output and input signal flow in headsets (Source: Razer Support).

Concerning the above-given image:

  • Output from headsets = Input given to PC
  • Output from PC = Audio input of headsets

But in the case of headphones (with a microphone), there will only be one plug/jack that carries the input and output signals. This can cause a minute level of latency in headphones.

If you are not using headphones with an inbuilt mic, there won’t be any problem.

Note that headsets are available in different configurations. Some come with a single-line plug/jack, and some with a double line. It varies with the manufacturers.


When considering the comfort of using headphones and headsets, headphones have the edge over headsets.

Headphones don’t have an extended microphone, so they are comparatively more compact than headsets. This design advantage makes them more comfortable to use.


When comparing headphones and headsets with similar features, headsets have a higher price than headphones. This is because of the additional parts headsets have.

Remember, brand value is also an essential factor in price, as it will vary for different manufacturers.

Parts of Headphones

parts of headphones
Parts of headphones

Some essential and prominent parts of headphones are their headbands, adjustment arms, speakers, speaker cups, and speaker cushions.

The headband goes over your head and links the earpieces on the left and right sides of the headphones. The sturdiness and clamping force of your headphones will depend on the headband.

It will also have an adjustable arm to adjust the headband length.

The speaker is housed inside a cup. An exception to this is open-back headphones. Since they have an open back, they lack a proper speaker cup.

The front of the speaker facing the ear will have a soft cushion. It evens the clamping force and allows the headphones to rest on your ear comfortably.

Parts of Headsets – What changed?

parts of headsets
Parts of headsets

Remember, headsets are headphones with an extended microphone that allows them to capture voice at a better quality.

Headsets have similar parts as headphones but with the addition of a microphone and a mic boom.

Mic boom (as seen in the above-given image) on headsets is a flexible mini boom pole that extends the microphone to the user’s mouth to capture the voice effectively.

In-ear Headsets – are they real?

Apparently, in-ear headphones (also known as earphones) with microphone booms have recently come onto the market. They are also known as earsets (named similar to headsets).

Tactile earphone
Tactile earphones from Drown Audio are a worthy mention for earsets (Source: Drown Audio)

In-ear headsets are an excellent alternative to regular headsets as they offer better portability than headsets without compromising voice capture.

In short, in-ear headsets have the advantages of both worlds.

What Should You Choose – a Headphone or Headset?

Headphones and headsets are mainly available in over-ear, on-ear, and in-ear configurations.

On-ears completely encircle your ears and provide some form of passive noise cancellation. At the same time, on-ears allow some sound to enter, thereby providing spatial awareness to the user.

Because of these properties, over-ear headsets are primarily used by gamers and streamers for long-time use, while on-ear headsets are used by people working in call centers, offices, etc.

In-ear headsets isolate sound and are much more mobile than over-ear and on-ear headsets. So if you are looking for a portable setup, go with in-ear headsets.

If you have a separate microphone setup for recording, getting a headset is of little use as you won’t be using the microphone attached to it most of the time. In such situations, headphones will be your best bet.

Headsets are also available with a detachable microphone boom. Brands like HyperX, Audio-Technica, etc., have headphones with such a configuration.

These will be a good option for those who want a headphone that can also be a headset. With such headsets, you’ll get a 2-in-1 deal.

HyperX headset with removable mic boom
HyperX headset with removable mic boom (Source: HyperX)

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best headset?

The best headset you can buy today in 2022 is Sony WH-1000XM5 and WF-1000XM5, Bose QuietComfort 45, Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC, etc.

What are the types of headsets?

Based on the design, headsets are primarily available in three types: over-ear headsets, on-ear headsets, and in-ear headsets. They can be wired or wireless headsets.

How much does a good headset cost?

A good headset can cost anywhere between $50 to $150. The price will vary depending on the features and brand name.

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