Headset vs Headphones For Gaming – Which Should I Choose?

Headset vs Headphones For Gaming

Today we compare a headset vs headphones for gaming to help you get the best sound experience possible...

Do you spend long hours playing games? Do you often get disturbed by background noise when playing at home or in a gaming center? It's high time you invest in a quality headphone or headset. If you're confused about which device is a better purchase, then this article is for you.

The main difference between gaming headsets and headphones is the presence of a built-in microphone. A headset is basically a set of headphones with a mic attached. The two devices share fairly similar features that the terms are often used interchangeably. Each device has its pros and cons. In this read, you will learn the factors to consider in your purchasing decision.


Headset vs Headphones For Gaming convenience

Headsets are appropriate for games that require interaction with multiple players. A two-in-one gaming device spells great convenience and keeps your focus on the game. They are easier to carry around, too, than having separate microphones and headphones. If you’re competing in another region, headsets should come handy for you.However, if you're an occasional multi-player, then you can consider buying headphones than headsets as most solo players often do. 


People think that gaming devices are exclusively for gaming. Contrary to this belief, headphones are ideal for streaming and headsets for work communication , too. These gaming devices are designed ergonomically, so users experience increased comfort even with long hours of everyday use.

Both are practical purchases. The decision to buy then depends on your lifestyle. Do you often stream movies for long hours? Do you need a built-in microphone for your online meetings? Or do you already have a working microphone that can be paired with other devices? Think through these questions, then you’ll be able to narrow down your choices.

Sound Quality

Gaming headphones receive higher ratings for sound quality than gaming headsets. Gaming headphones have at least 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound, which means that there are multiple audio channels inside the device from left to right, top to bottom. These channels enhance the fidelity and depth of the sound output that the gamer experiences.

On the other hand, headsets often have excessive bass, which causes virtual explosions louder and drown out other less prominent sounds like footsteps or gun clicks in videos. In gaming, nearly all sounds are critical. So if you're new to using headsets, you should be aware of these audio tendencies.

Noise Isolation

Headset vs Headphones For Gaming sound isolation

Gaming headphones have a better noise isolation effect than their standard counterparts. While headsets share similar sound features, their sound quality appears compromised due to the sound input from the built-in microphone. If you have tried riding in a helicopter, you can attest to the quality difference caused by frequent input noise interruption. Other players' voices or your voice can overwhelm the sound.


Is it better to buy a separate microphone instead of a headset? Again, the answer largely depends on the gamer's preference and habits. If you don't mind bringing bulky devices with you or you are frequently at home, then buy two separate devices. While gaming headset microphones have noise cancellation, they tend to filter low-pitched sounds like loud typing less effectively. When you try to speak through it, your voice comes out stuffy or muffled. If you're keen to buy a separate mic, be wary of its positioning. Rotating microphones are convenient to flip and mute, whereas the bending ones are easy to position to pick up your voice minus the unnecessary murmurs. 

In summary, in terms of sound quality, headphones fare better. But this implies you need to invest in a separate microphone if you intend to use it for multiplayer games. Headsets, meanwhile, are ideal for competing gamers. The audio quality may not be that enriching as that of the headphones, but you can further enhance it using in-game surround-sound settings. Another option is to buy headsets with detachable microphones.

Regardless of your choice, there are other purchasing factors you must consider, too. The article sums up what you need to check prior to buying either headphones or headsets.

how to choose Headset vs Headphones For Gaming
  • Device compatibility

Check the device connectors. Devices with 3.5 mm connectors fit most gaming devices, such as consoles, PCs, and phones. USB headsets or headphones, meanwhile, fit select devices, such as Xbox One or Playstation. One connector is not necessarily better than the other. You just have to ensure proper fit.

  • Controls

When buying gaming devices, check where the audio and microphone controls are positioned. Often, they are placed on the earcups or along the wire. Again, there’s no universal answer in terms of ease of use, since each player has his or her own preference. But it’s critical that you know your gaming habits.

  • Software requirements

Other brands require software installation, which should be fast and easy. Since some software requires specific device settings, it’s best to check system compatibility to avoid returns.

Also, compatibility and connectivity are important for long hours of uninterrupted playing. Double-check the dongle on wireless devices. It must be user-friendly, well-built, and tight, lest it falls off and causes interference.

  • Battery life

Gamers are likely to invest in wireless headphones or headsets for easy control during rough plays. Normally, a single charge powers a battery for 15 to 20 hours. If your game time is longer than this, you are better off with a battery reserve. Or you can take charging breaks in between. The longer the battery life, the better. If wires don’t trouble you, then choose corded audio headphones or headsets to do away with charging.

  • Comfort

In general, gaming headphones or headsets are more comfortable than the ordinary ones. They are designed ergonomically for greater comfort over long periods. But still, not all audio devices are made equal. So before buying, try the headphones or headsets on and see if they fit just right. Also, check for quality. Well-built audio devices shouldn’t creak when you are moving around. 

Simply put, selecting between headphones and headsets is a matter of user preference and gaming style. An avid gamer who engages in multiplayer quests will likely need a headset for collaborative interactions. A regular solo player, based at home, will likely benefit from using headphones with slightly better audio quality.

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1 comment

Dirk-Jan August 20, 2021 - 9:11 am

I find that even for a 2021 article, the information is not really up to modern day standards. Most (consumer) headphones, including the high end Sony WH-1000 series, Bose 35 series, JBL, Beats, and more have all got built-in microphones. Not in front of the mouth, but in the earpiece and they work very well. Some gaming headsets use the same type of mic, like Sony’s Gold Playstation headset for PS4. So there is no need to purchase a separate mic if you buy a good set of (non-gaming) headphones unless you manage to buy a set without a built-in mic like some studio headphones.

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