Headset Vs Headphones – Which is Better in 2023?

Headset Vs Headphones – Which is Better in 2023? : The debate about whether to use a headset or headphones for gaming has been around for ages. But what exactly is the difference between headsets and headphones? Are there any specific advantages or disadvantages for both audio devices?

The terms headset and headphones are often used synonymously. So many people don’t even know that these are two completely different things. Let’s go through the main differences and talk about some of the other factors (in the gaming context).

Headset Vs Headphones: A Brief Definition

First of all, we should define what both devices are, so that we are talking about the same things.

Headphones do not have a microphone, while a headset has a built-in or installed microphone .

Headsets are usually cheaper and easier to use because they combine audio and speech into one. This makes them perfect for gamers and call center workers, for example. 

Headphones have better sound quality, making them a great option for audiophile music lovers and music professionals (like DJs or sound engineers).

Those are the main differences between the two, but let’s dig a little deeper and compare.

Headset and  Headphones: The Microphone as the Main Difference

When it comes to headsets and headphones, the microphone is the biggest differentiating factor.

If it has a microphone, it’s probably a headset. If this is not the case, you are most likely dealing with headphones.


A headset bundles the microphone and speaker drivers into one extremely convenient package. All you have to do is plug in the headset and you can chat and listen to music at the same time.

That the microphones integrated into headsets are often not the best thing is a completely different story. 

But the fact of the matter is, the mic you get with a gaming headset will underperform when compared to standalone mics (whether it’s clip-on mics like a Mod Mic 5 or a high-end USB mic like the Blue Yeti). 

Nevertheless, there are a few exceptions and the microphones are getting better and better, especially with newer headsets.


Headphones, on the other hand, only have speakers in the ear cup. Perfect for those who want to relax and listen to music – or totally usable for gaming (but more on that later). Because of this, however, more care is put into the design and the focus is on sound quality.

As such, headsets are better in situations where an integrated microphone is more important to you than sound quality. 

Because with headphones you need either a clip-on microphone or a larger condenser microphone. Nevertheless, headphones are better suited for an optimized sound experience.

Sound Quality with Headset and Headphones: Which is ahead?

The second biggest difference between headphones and headsets is clearly the sound quality. And that’s where it has to be said that gaming headsets often fall short, even when compared to a cheap pair of budget headphones. 

Yes, there are definitely some really great sounding headsets out there that will undoubtedly rival mid-range audiophile headphones, but they’re few and far between.

Even a mid-range pair of headphones like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x will sonically sweep away most headsets in a higher price range.

But why is that? Very easily. A headphone only has to focus on one main function – excellent sound quality. Accordingly, more money is left over for higher-quality speaker drivers during production, which is noticeable in the sound.

We’re not saying that the sound quality of a gaming headset is terrible, but you can get better headphones in most cases (assuming roughly the same price range). 

But it also has to be said that the sound quality of current headsets is getting better and better and even mid-range models like a Logitech G Pro X headset sound very decent.

While some high-end headsets can have really good sound quality, most suffer from distortion and poor tuning. In addition, gaming headsets often have a bass-heavy sound profile and midrange and high tones are often over- or under-emphasized.

You will always hear a difference in the trebles , especially since headsets simply lack clarity, volume and accuracy here. This then results in sharp-sounding sibilance, inaudible instruments, and dull-sounding audio.

You will experience a more finely tuned sound if you use dedicated headphones, especially with premium models you will hear a big difference. For this reason, many audiophiles choose headphones instead of headsets.

Facility and Practicality

Third, we have the “comfort factor”. With regard to voice chats such as Discord and Co., headsets are logically much more practical than a pair of headphones due to the integrated microphone.

Some microphone booms are permanently attached to the ear cups on headsets, others (usually higher quality headsets) have detachable microphones. This makes everything even easier, especially since you can use the headset as headphones on the go.

The alternative is to have not only headphones but also a dedicated microphone in your setup. As can be seen in the picture, with USB microphones you usually cannot avoid an installation with an articulated arm and shock mount. 

Because without that, your teammates will quickly run amok in the Discord, especially since your keyboard transmits all vibrations to the microphone on the stand. Not a nice thing, believe us.

Not only does this leave you with the annoying setup, but you also have to bear some additional costs (just to get a microphone to work). 

Because spider, articulated arm, and microphone are again a small chunk of coal. In addition, you now have two devices that can cause problems or break.

There’s also the option of a clip-on mic like the famous Antlion Mod Mic, which can be attached to pretty much any pair of headphones. This turns your headphones into a headset. 

But here too you have to shell out almost 60€ again (or at least 30€ for a V-Moda) and you have another cable that you can mess around with.

Long story short, a headset with a good detachable mic might be the best option in terms of an easy setup. For those who choose to go the “headphones and mic” route

Headset vs Headphones: Value For Money

It’s really hard to compare an (often more expensive) headphone and microphone combo with a $60 headset in terms of value for money. Gaming headsets can simply offer something that most headphones don’t – the attached microphone. 

So if you don’t feel like tangled cables or maybe you’re constantly on the go gaming, then a gaming headset can definitely be your choice.

Still, it’s not impossible to get a good set of headphones and a standalone microphone for the same money. There are many good cheap gaming headphones that could be paired with a cheap microphone.

The bottom line is that it comes down to your personal preferences. If money isn’t an issue, you’re providing audio for podcasts and videos, and you just want the absolute best sound quality possible.

Then by all means get some premium headphones and a good USB mic. If you just gamble and often sit in the Discord, then a mid-range headset could be just your thing.

Conclusion: Headset vs Headphones

Headsets and headphones are two different devices whose names are often interchanged. When considering whether to get a good gaming headset or a pair of “audiophile” headphones and a microphone, it all depends on your intended use and budget.

Both ways lead to the goal, but in the end it comes down to your preference. Should it be pure sound quality or ease of use? When it comes to wearing comfort, there is no difference, as ear pain can occur with both.

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