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Headset vs Headphone: What are the differences?

Headset vs Headphone: What are the differences?
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The battle between headset vs headphone is constant because companies and stores often interchange them, but there should not be. These two are used depending on what the person wants to use them for. One of the reasons why we buy headsets and headphones is because we want to listen to something. Whether it be watching movies, playing games or listening to your favorite song, both headset and headphones allow us to do that.

While the difference may not be so huge, it would be better to define which is which because technically they are not really the same. Headsets and headphones are now part of our daily lives, especially with the younger generation. Try sitting down in a street corner and watch the people passing by, you will see most people, if not all, are wearing a headset or headphones. These devices help us create our own little world so that our busy life is more bearable.

The Difference: Headset vs Headphone

The key difference is that a headphone is a portable speaker that you can wear. It is designed so we can closely listen to music or watch a movie without disturbing other people or letting them know what you are listening to. On the other hand, a headset is basically a headphone with a mic that allows users to speak. You can make and receive calls without having to use a physical telephone or cell phone.

Headphones produce better sound quality because they are designed for media use, like listening to music and watching a movie. Whereas, headsets are ideal to use when conversing and gaming because of their better noise-canceling feature.

Headset vs Headphone: The History


The first basic headset was invented by Nathaniel Baldwin in 1910. Before the modern times, headsets are mainly used by aviation people that is why two pilots started Plantronics, one of the leading headset brands, in 1961. These two pilots felt the need for a lightweight and comfortable cockpit headset; as a result, Plantronics MS-50 was created. And until now, it is the most widely used headset in commercial flights.

Plantronics made headset advancements during the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. And now, a lot of companies have followed the steps of Plantronics in creating innovative headsets because the demand for it is constantly evolving.


The headphones evolved from the earpiece which was first used in 1881 by telephone operators. The earpiece weighs 10 pounds, and it rests on the shoulders of the person using it. In 1910, Nathaniel Baldwin made the first headphones in his kitchen. His invention was not patented, so a lot of companies copied and improved what Baldwin created. Throughout the years, it has evolved to a lot of different things. We now have a lot of designs, styles, colors, and features to choose from.

Types of Headsets

  • Telephones headsets were made to replace the handset of a telephone. This allows users to have their hands free while talking to someone on the telephone. These type of headsets are mainly used in call centers.
  • Computer headsets generally have two connection types, the 3.5 mm and USB. These headsets are commonly used in computers for gaming or video calls.
  • Mobile phone headsets are most often connected to cell phones so we can answer phone calls hands-free. Now that most cell phones have music players, these headsets also double as headphones.
  • Wireless headsets, as the name implies, are headsets that do not have cords. It is connected to a device using a wireless technology which is usually Bluetooth. Wireless headsets allow users to walk around, as far as 30 feet, while talking to someone.

Types of Headphones

  • Earbuds headphones were the first type of non-bulky headphones. A lot of people love to use it because it is extremely portable and lightweight. This type of headphones sits outside the ear of the user, so noise canceling is impossible.
  • In-ear headphones may look similar to earbuds, but they are different. This type of headphones, on the other hand, sits inside the ears, so it is good in canceling outside noise.
  • Closed-back headphones are headphones designed to completely block outside noise. This is highly preferred by musicians during recording sessions because of its ability to cancel noise.
  • Open-back headphones are headphones that create an airier sound. These headphones are most often preferred by audio engineers because of the sound leakage it creates.
  • Wireless headphones are headphones that don’t have cords, basically. It often uses Bluetooth ( to make a connection to a device. The downside of these headphones is that the sound quality may be poor at times because of some factors that may interfere with its wireless connectivity. The sound quality is not as great with wired headphones.
  • Noise-canceling headphones are popular among frequent fliers because of its ability to block, if not, reduce noise during air travel. People with autism and auditory processing disorder, who are highly sensitive to noise, use this type of headphones because it allows them to have silence despite their noisy surrounding.

 Choosing Which is Best for You

Choosing between a headset vs headphone should depend on what you are going to use them for. So, here are some of their pros and cons.

Headsets Pros

  • It is built-in with a microphone for hands-free calls
  • It doubles as headphones too.
  • Most headsets are noise canceling.

Headsets Cons

  • Its audio quality when it comes to music might not be great for some because headsets are really designed for calls.
  • They have very limited designs.

Headphones Pros

  • It produces better sound quality.
  • Headphones are widely produced, so you have more choices.
  • Headphones have aesthetically pleasing designs, so they are more stylish to wear.

Headphones Cons

  • There is no built-in microphone.


Headsets and headphones have their own advantages and disadvantages because they are different pieces of equipment. The important thing is, now we know what their differences are so we can choose which is the best for our needs.

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