Headphones vs. Headsets – What’s The Difference?

If you are looking to buy some headphones or a headset for yourself, you need to be properly aware of the distinctions between these two.

For a lot of people, headphones and headsets can be the one and the same thing. And due to this lack of knowledge, these types of people can end up buying something completely different than what they had intended to.

So, to help you avoid this sort of situation, we’re going to be looking at a detailed analysis of headphones and headsets. We’ll list out some of their main differences so that you can buy the right product for yourself.

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What Is The Main Difference Between Headphones and Headsets?

Headphones are basically defined as an audio output device that features two earphones joined together with a strip or a band that is placed on top of the head.

Okay, that was a strange and weird definition. Let’s start over.

Basically, the main difference between headphones and headsets is the presence of a microphone. That is pretty much it.

A headphone has the standard look of a pair of large earphones joined together with a band. On the other hand, a headset has pretty much the same look except that it also comes with a pre-installed microphone.

The microphone is usually placed on one of the earphones (typically the left one). Some headsets have a long and bendy microphone that comes right in front of the wearer’s face, whereas some headsets have discreet and even completely hidden microphones that are installed somewhere inside the device.

Let’s look at some distinctions between headphones and headsets in more detail.

Headphones Versus Headsets: What is The Difference?

1. Usage

The first thing that is different between headphones and headsets is the purpose for which they are used.

Headphones come without microphones, and hence, they are used purely for listening purposes. They can be used by right about anyone who wants to listen to audio.

On the other hand, headsets come with built-in microphones as well. They are typically used for communicative purposes since they can be used to receive and send audio simultaneously.

For example, headsets are typically used by telemarketers since they have to make calls all day, and they really can’t afford to keep holding an earpiece to their heads for that long.

2. Design

While this is not a consistent and absolute difference that you can find between headphones and headsets, it is still something that is found…often.

Headphones usually have a large and bulky design, and the earphones are designed to envelop the ears when worn. This is to provide a more immersive listening experience.

Similarly, the strap holding the two pieces together is often quite wide in headphones.

On the other hand, headsets can also be found in small sizes. Although they can be found in the same form factor as headphones as well, they are generally on the smaller side.

If you were to do some browsing, you’d even find some headsets that have small wad-like earphones that barely sit on top of the ear holes. Yes…those sorts of things exist.

Essentially, headsets are not designed to give a very mind-blowing listening experience. Rather, they are made for a specific purpose, i.e., to provide the user with the capability of hearing as well as sending audio.

That does not automatically mean that all headsets have a lame output quality. It simply means that if you were to buy a headphone and a headset for the same price, you would get a better output quality from the former since it focuses only on giving audio rather than receiving it. The headset will make up for that since it will come pre-equipped with a microphone.

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3. Comfort

This is also something that is different in headphones and headsets.

Generally, since headphones have a big and broad form factor, and they are made to envelop the ears when worn, they are relatively more comfortable than headsets.

On the contrary, if you choose a headset that has a thin and spindly design, you won’t be able to wear it very comfortably.

Should I Buy a Headphone or a Headset?

It mainly depends on what you want to use them for.

If you are looking to buy something only for listening purposes, you will be better off buying a headphone. As we mentioned earlier, since headphones only provide audio output, they give better sound quality as compared to headsets in the same price range.

But, if you need to buy a device for listening to audio as well as sending audio (for purposes such as voice calls etc.), you should buy a headset instead.

Some Suggested Products

Before we wrap up this post, we do want to suggest some products that you can check out to get started. If you don’t like our recommendations, you can always browse the internet to find the product of your choice.

1. Sony MDR-ZX110 (Headphone)

The Sony MDR-ZX110 is an excellent headphone that you can buy if you are looking for something under $20. These headphones come with a nice and comfy design and are available in three different colours. The available colours include white, black and rose.

Thanks to the padded ear pad construction, you can easily wear these headphones for long periods of time without worrying about getting your ears sore.

Furthermore, the Sony MDR-ZX110 comes with a swivelling ear cup design, which makes them easy to store when not in use.

2. Koss KPH7 (Headphone) – Budget Pick

While the Sony MX is affordable and all, the Koss KPH7 takes it a step further.

These headphones are available just for $5.99. Since they are ‘headphones’, they don’t come with an in-built mic.

The Koss KPH7 has a very minimalistic and comfortable design. Although they are not like the normal heavy and bulky traditional headphones, they are still very comfortable and convenient to wear due to their slim and lightweight construction.

These headphones come with an adjustable band on top, which makes them easy to wear for people of all ages and sizes.

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3. Logitech H390 (Headset) – Runner Up

The Logitech H390 is an excellent headset that comes with a sleek and aesthetic design and a conveniently placed microphone.

When you want to speak into the microphone, you can simply slide it down. And when you’re done using it, you can simply put it back in place.

Unlike usual headsets and headphones, the Logitech H390 does not come with a standard headphone jack. Rather, it uses a USD-A port.

You also get the buttons for increasing and decreasing volume right on the cable itself.

This headset comes with a very premium look, and it definitely looks worth more than just $25, which happens to be its price on the official Logitech store.

4. Logitech H540 (Headset) – Best Overall

Although the Logitech H540 comes with a larger price tag than the H390, it has a much more comfortable and aesthetic design.

The ear pads on this headset are particularly made for comfort. Unlike normal headsets and headphones, they don’t have a recessed cup. Rather, they sit flat on the ears, which can be very comfortable considering the lightweight construction.

Like the H390, the H540 also has an adjustable mic and a USD connection. The buttons for increasing and decreasing volume are found on the back of the ear pad.

The price of the Logitech H540 is $49.99 on the official website. This is a bit on the costlier side, but it does come with some excellent features that make it worth the money.


The main difference between headsets and headphones is the presence of a microphone. Other than that, the general design and construction of both devices are more or less the same.

If you want to buy something only for listening to audio, buying a headphone can be a good idea. Headphones generally do better than headsets in the same price range because they don’t come with an in-built microphone.

However, if you need to buy something for making voice calls and communicating with other people, you should go for a headset.

Right in the last section of the above article, we also gave some suggestions that you can check out if you want to make a purchase right away. Let’s recap those really quick.

The Koss KPH7 is a nice option for people looking for some affordable headphones, whereas the Sony ZX provides a heavier and more durable body in return for a higher price.

As for headsets, both the Logitech H540 and H390 are great choices. You can choose from both of them depending on the amount of money you are looking to spend.

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