If you’re in the market for some new audio hardware, you may be wondering if a headset vs. headphones is the right choice. While this may seem like an easy decision, it can become complicated depending on what you’re hoping to achieve with the device.
Are you seeking a simple all-in-one audio device with chat functionality, or the highest quality setup you can get your hands on? With so many options out there and the threat of compatibility issues, it can be challenging to make the right choice even if you do know what device you need.
To help guide you through the process, and get past the headphones or headset debate, here’s a quick guide to get you started. We’ll dive into the similarities, differences, and things to consider when determining which option is right for you.
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Why Use a Gaming Headset?
If you’re looking for a simple, all-in-one option, a gaming headset is your best bet. Traditional headsets have a built-in microphone that’s meant to provide a quick and easy solution for multiplayer chat without the player having to do additional work to use it. These often look like angular PC peripherals, with adjustable mics and sizeable padded ear cuffs that fit comfortably on all head sizes.
Aside from the integrated mic, another primary benefit of these headsets is the available price range. You can find a halfway decent microphone for $15-$20 if you just need a viable option on short notice. On the other hand, you can also spend up to $300-$400 on a name brand device that includes additional sound mixing equipment, replaceable padding, and a slew of other features.
Now the main thing to keep in mind with any gaming headset, both high and low priced devices, is that you are missing out on high-quality mics and audio. These devices are often advertised around specific brand features, while ignoring balanced sound and consistent design quality, meaning that there will be a limit to how useful or clear the device will be. This setup is all about convenience, so as long as you’re looking for something that provides a quick and immediate voice chat experience, and don’t mind a lapse in quality, you can’t go wrong with a gaming headset.
Verdict: A headset is ideal for gamers seeking an all-in-one audio solution with adequate sound output and a built-in mic.
Why Use Gaming Headphones?
If you decide on headphones over a headset, you’ll immediately have a more diverse array of options to choose from. You will have to find both a microphone and a set of headphones to accomplish the chat function of a gaming headset, but you’ll be able to choose an option for both that fits your needs more precisely. This is both a benefit and drawback as buying both can quickly increase the cost, especially if you choose high-quality options for both devices.
Cost aside, the primary benefit you get in exchange is the incredible audio quality. Headphones are designed around audio quality, meaning that you’ll have multiple options that aim for accurate sound that balances all sound levels across the board. Additionally, depending on the brand, you may be able to find a device that accentuates a specific audio specification that you enjoy. This can be increased base, stereo sound, or even the ability to customize the output, beyond a simple external sound mixer.
For the same price as a popular branded gaming headset, like Turtle Beach, for instance, you can find a pair of headphones that are more comfortable, more aesthetically pleasing, and have better audio. Now, the need to purchase a separate mic can push the price over the edge with this option, but for the audiophiles out there, this is easily the best choice. As an added benefit, you’ll be able to actively adjust the stand-alone mic without fear of poor mic placement that’s often experienced with headsets.
Overall, headphones are best for those that are looking for a higher-quality device, are fine with spending a bit more on a separate mic, and are looking for more diverse compatibility with their equipment. Oftentimes headsets are limited to whatever platform it’s designed for, but headphones, especially wireless devices, are more versatile.
Verdict: Headphones are perfect for those seeking a multiplatform device with excellent sound quality, and are willing to shell out a bit more to get there.
Headset vs. Headphones: Which is Better?
After all that, you may still be wondering which option to choose. While there are some distinct differences between headsets vs. headphones, the devil’s in the details. What it comes down to is:
- How much are you willing to spend?
- Do you care about audio quality?
- Do you care about convenience?
- Do you have more than one use in mind?
Answering these questions can help you narrow down your options and make direct comparisons between headphones and headsets. If you’re looking for convenience and ease of use, a headset is likely your best option. If you’re looking for high-quality audio and the ability to use it across multiple devices, headphones are probably your best bet.
Overall what it really comes down to is how much you are willing to spend on a new device. With either option, the more expensive you go, more than likely, the better the device you’re getting. This does somewhat cap out with headset devices that rely on brand over pure quality, meaning that it may make more sense to go for headphones if you’re stuck between two devices at similar price points.
In any case, the best thing you can do is start with the basics of what you need in a headset or pair of headphones, and take your time comparing devices. As we said before, some apparent differences make each device type unique, and it all comes down to what’s right for you.