What Is The Difference Between Headsets, Headphones, And Earphones?

What Is The Difference Between Headsets, Headphones, And Earphones?

The headset, the headphone, the earphone. All devices quite similar in form and function, but with key differences that are well worth knowing. Below, we'll take a quick look at what defines each of these distinct devices, and give users a bit of a guide to help them decide which they're looking for.

Related: Top 10 Best Corded & Wireless Headsets

The Headset

A headset is essentially a set of headphones equipped with a microphone. The headset microphone may be a boom microphone, whereby the microphone is attached to a boom which can be moved at will and positioned as desired. Alternatively it may feature an in-line microphone. This type of microphone is attached to the cord which connects the headset to the computer or other device.

Headsets are ideal for a wide range of uses. They are the natural choice for voice over IP communications with services such as Skype, as well as interfacing with a phone system. Headsets are also perfect for playing online games with voice communications. With a headset, listeners are immersed within their listening experience.

The Headphones

Headphones are, in a sense, the forebearer of everything else on this list. In their simplest form, a pair of headphones is two simple speakers attached to a band. This then goes across the top of the user's head. This means the speakers are positioned directly over the ears. This provides a personal, immersive listening experience where the sound source delivers its brilliant sonic payload directly into the ears. The experience of listening to headphones is somewhat unique in comparison to traditional speakers, which vibrate large segments of air within a room to recreate sounds.


In contrast, headphones only move a relatively small amount of air around the listeners ear. This helps create a more confined and personalised sound stage. Headphones usually also offer better noise cancellation. They act as a sort of auditory insulation, keeping the noise produced by the headphones within the phones muffs while blocking intrusive noises from outside.

The Earphones

Earphones, such as the BackBeat GO 2 are the spiritual successor the headphones. Dispensing with the large design of “cans” or padded ear muffs which nestle the headphones speakers in, the earphone is effectively an in-ear speaker. Inserted into the ear canal, earphones provide an even more direct connection to the sound source. They move even less air than headphones. This is because they only need to vibrate the small amount of air within the listeners auditory canal.

Ear phones definitely cut down on the bulk of traditional headphones. That makes them the ideal choice for people on the go. They are therefore the typical choice for athletes, runners and gym-goers rocking their MP3 players while getting some exercise. However, the design of the earphone has a knock-on effect on noise cancelling. What's more, some people find them uncomfortable to wear since they sit within the ear canal. For those who like or even prefer the ear phone experience, however, the reduced bulk and ergonomic contours can be quite comfortable.

At the end, it comes down to the intended use and personal preference. Whichever you choose, you'll find a fine selection at liGo!

Check out our full selection of headsets here.

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