Difference Wiki

Headphone vs. Headset: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 12, 2024
Headphones are audio devices worn on the ears for listening to sound. Headset is a combination of headphones with a built-in microphone.

Key Differences

Headphones are designed solely for audio output, providing sound directly to the user's ears. Headsets, in addition to delivering audio, also include a microphone for audio input, making them suitable for two-way communication.
Headphones focus on delivering high-quality sound for music and audio listening, while headsets are optimized for communication, often used in gaming, teleconferencing, and customer service environments.
Headphones can range from simple earbuds to sophisticated noise-cancelling models. Headsets, on the other hand, are often designed with functionalities like voice clarity and noise reduction for the microphone.
In terms of connectivity, headphones may or may not include wireless capabilities. Headsets, however, frequently feature wireless technology, Bluetooth connectivity, and compatibility with various communication devices.
The design of headphones emphasizes comfort and sound quality for prolonged use. Headsets are designed to balance comfort with the functionality of the microphone, often adjustable for user preference.

Comparison Chart

Primary Function

Audio output for listening to sound.
Audio output and input for communication.


Consists only of speakers.
Includes speakers and a microphone.


For music, movies, and personal audio.
For gaming, calls, and professional use.


May include wired or wireless options.
Often features wireless and Bluetooth options.

Design Focus

Comfort and sound quality.
Balance of comfort, microphone clarity, and usability.

Headphone and Headset Definitions


Often used for private listening without disturbing others.
He used headphones to watch movies late at night.


An audio device combining headphones and a microphone.
He wore a headset for his customer service job to talk to clients.


A device with two speakers worn on or around the ears for audio.
She wore her headphones while jogging to listen to music.


Suitable for teleconferencing and virtual meetings.
She used a headset for clear communication during video conferences.


Can be wired or wireless, depending on the model.
Her wireless headphones connected via Bluetooth to her phone.


May offer features like noise reduction for the microphone.
His headset had noise reduction, making calls clearer in noisy areas.


Varies in style from earbuds to over-ear models.
For long flights, he preferred noise-cancelling over-ear headphones.


Commonly used in gaming for interactive communication.
Gaming enthusiasts often use headsets for multiplayer online games.


May include features like noise cancellation.
She bought noise-cancelling headphones to focus in noisy environments.


Often wireless for ease of movement and multitasking.
She preferred a wireless headset to move freely during conference calls.


A small speaker that is worn over or in the ear, often as one of a pair connected by a wire attached to a band running over the head


A headphone or pair of headphones, usually equipped with a microphone.


A cushioned speaker placed on, over, or inside the ear, normally used in left/right pairs.
Some joggers wear only one headphone in their ears, to enjoy music while paying attention to their environment.


A pair of headphones or earphones, or a singular headphone or earphone, typically with an attached microphone.


Electro-acoustic transducer for converting electric signals into sounds; it is held over or inserted into the ear;
It was not the typing but the earphones that she disliked


Any electronic device worn on the head.


(cycling) On a bicycle, the system of bearings that connects the fork to the frame.


Receiver consisting of a pair of headphones


What makes a headset different from headphones?

A headset includes a microphone for speaking, unlike headphones.

Are wireless headsets reliable for professional use?

Yes, modern wireless headsets are reliable and widely used professionally.

What is the main purpose of headphones?

Headphones are primarily used for listening to audio.

Can headphones be used for phone calls?

Yes, if they include a built-in microphone.

Are headsets comfortable for long periods?

Modern headsets are designed for comfort during extended use.

Can headsets be used with gaming consoles?

Yes, many headsets are compatible with gaming consoles.

Can headphones connect to various devices?

Yes, headphones can connect to different devices via wired or wireless connections.

Are there headphones specifically for sports?

Yes, there are sports headphones designed to be sweat-resistant and secure during physical activity.

Do all headsets come with Bluetooth connectivity?

Not all, but many modern headsets offer Bluetooth connectivity.

Are there headsets designed for office environments?

Yes, there are headsets specifically designed for office use, focusing on call clarity and noise reduction.

Do all headphones have noise-cancelling features?

No, noise-cancellation is a feature specific to certain models.

Is a headset necessary for online gaming?

A headset is recommended for interactive communication in online gaming.

Are over-ear headphones better for sound quality?

Over-ear headphones often provide superior sound quality and comfort.

Can headsets reduce background noise during calls?

Many headsets have features that reduce or cancel background noise.

How should I care for my headphones to ensure longevity?

Keep them clean, store properly, and avoid exposing them to extreme conditions.

Do wired headphones offer better sound quality than wireless?

Wired headphones can offer superior sound quality, though wireless technology has greatly improved.

Is it possible to repair headphones if they break?

Some headphone issues can be repaired, depending on the damage and model.

Can headphone usage damage hearing?

Prolonged exposure to high volumes can potentially damage hearing.

How long do wireless headsets typically last on a charge?

Battery life varies, but many can last several hours to a full day.

Are there headsets that can translate languages in real-time?

Some advanced headsets offer real-time translation features, though they may require specific software or apps.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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