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Difference Between Headphones & Headsets

At its most basic, a headphone is an audio device that’s worn over the head and is connected to a source of the sound. Headphones are designed to cover both ears and to provide a more precise and accurate sound than speakers. They allow you to enjoy the sound without disturbing anyone else and can also be used to block out external noise. 

The essential components of a headphone are the earpieces, typically made from foam, plastic, or leather, and a headband that wraps around your head. The earpieces are connected to the headband via a cable or wire, and the audio signal passes through the cable to the earpieces, thus allowing the audio to be heard.

Headphones: How does it work?

To understand the inner workings of headphones, it is important first to understand the basics of sound. Sound is the vibration of particles in the air that our ears detect. This vibration is caused by the movement of a sound source, such as a speaker, which produces a sound wave. The headphones then detect this sound wave, which converts it into an electrical signal.

The central part of a headphone is the diaphragm, which vibrates when sound waves are sent. The diaphragm is usually made from a thin sheet of plastic or metal. It is then connected to a metal frame and placed in a cup lined with foam or other cushioning material.

The diaphragm is connected to a set of magnets. When current passes through the magnets, it creates a magnetic field that causes the diaphragm to vibrate. The vibration of the diaphragm then creates sound waves that travel through the air and are heard by the user.

The headphones have four main parts: a driver, an amplifier, a cable, and a connector. The drivers are small transducers that convert the electrical signal into sound waves. The amplifier amplifies the signal, allowing it to be heard at higher volumes. The cable then carries the electrical signal to the headphones, while the connector allows the headphones to be connected to a device, such as a smartphone or a laptop.

The drivers are the most critical component of a pair of headphones. They are responsible for converting the electrical signal into sound waves, so the sound quality of the headphones is primarily determined by the quality of the drivers. The amplifier amplifies the electrical signal, allowing the sound to be heard at higher volumes. The cable carries the electrical signal to the headphones, while the connector allows the headphones to be connected to a device.

Headset Introduction

Headsets are miniature speakers for listening to audio from a desktop, music player, or another electronic gadget. In the beginning, headphones were only two speakers—one for each ear—connected by a headband. Despite the continued popularity of this design, many contemporary headsets come in a much more compact form factor that is placed into the ear and is generally referred to as earbuds. 

These days, headphones might be wired or wireless. When compared to loudspeakers, which broadcast sound for everyone nearby to hear, headphones are intended to be used alone. U.S. authorities originated the term in 1910. Primitive headphones served primarily as an earpiece and didn’t have any fancy circuitry.

Working of Headsets

The headphones function similarly to speakers. They use magnetic vibrations. When these magnets vibrate, the air around them shakes, producing sounds. Further, in layman’s words, audio is kept in a digital format in your gadget. 

The digits are sent to the decoder when you press the play button. It takes digital data and transforms it into an electrical signal that may be transmitted to a pair of headphones. The driver unit in the headphones takes in these electrical impulses via wires and processes them. The driver module comes in three varieties:

  1. The dynamic driver
  2. The planar magnetic driver
  3. The electrostatic driver. 

The actual technology behind a headset is based on the same principles as any other audio device. The microphone picks up sound waves in the air, converts them into electrical signals, and sends them to the device through the wire or Bluetooth connection. The device then amplifies the signal and sends it to the speakers. The speakers convert the electrical signals back into sound waves, which the user then hears. 

Difference Between Headphones & Headsets 

In its most basic form, a headset is simply headphones with a built-in microphone. The headset mic could be a boom mic, which would be attached to a flexible arm that could be moved and positioned any way the user saw fit. Alternatively, it might have a microphone built right into the cable. 

This microphone is connected to the cable that links the headset to the user’s computer or other devices. These headsets are great for a variety of situations. They work flawlessly with Skype and other voice-over IP services and may be connected to a traditional phone network. Headsets are the way to go regarding voice chat in online games. When using a headset, the listener is completely submerged in the sound.

In a way, headphones can be the parent of all the other items on this list. At their most fundamental, a pair of headphones consists of two speakers connected by a band. Then, it’s worn across the crown of the user’s head. 

This signifies that the speakers are at ear level. This creates an intimate, all-encompassing listening experience by bringing the source of the sound right up to the listener’s ears. Unlike conventional speakers, which vibrate enormous volumes of air to recreate sounds, listening with headphones creates a slightly different listening experience. On the other hand, headphones only move a small amount of air toward the ear. 

This aids in developing an intimate and private acoustic setting. Typically, the noise-cancelling capabilities of headphones are superior. They insulate your ears from outside noise while keeping the sound from your headphones contained in the phone.

Capabilities of Headphone & Headset 

There is a large variety of headphones on the market, each with its own set of features designed to improve the listening experience in some way.

  • Noise Cancelling: Headphones with noise cancellation technology filter out background noise. To “cancel” the ambient acoustic noise, they use tiny microphones housed within the earpieces to sense the noise around you through active [battery-powered] electrical circuits that amplify, invert, and add back the signal to the music signal. Digital signal processing (DSP) is used by some of the most effective noise-cancelling headphones to improve their isolation capabilities.
  • Wireless: Bluetooth wireless headphones are increasingly popular for use with portable electronics like tablets and smartphones, but there are also wireless headphones explicitly made for use at home (often while watching TV). There are many methods for transmitting a wireless signal. Infrared systems, like those used in TV remote controls, send and receive data using an invisible red lightwave, but their range, reception quality, and compatibility are all severely constrained.

Headphone & Headset Technologies

1. Moving Coil 

When it comes to headphones, the dynamic moving-coil driver is the norm. This device uses electromagnetic induction to transform electrical audio messages into mechanical sound waves. Manufacturers widely use dynamic drivers due to their inexpensive cost and broad frequency coverage. In dynamic drivers, the diaphragm has greater room to vibrate, allowing for more responsive bass without being the cleanest or most detailed option.

2. Planar Magnetic Headphones & Earphones

Isodynamic, magneplanar, and morphodynamic are all names for planar magnetic drivers. The ear cups of headphones that use planar magnetic drivers are typically rectangular rather than round. While open-back headphones are where you’re most likely to find a planar magnetic driver, few IEM releases in recent years have featured one. 

Planar magnetic drivers use magnetic fields to create sound, just like dynamic drivers do. What sets them apart is the diaphragm’s form and how the magnets cause it to move.

3. Balanced Armature

Due to their low size and high efficiency with power, balanced armature drivers have found widespread use. These drivers are designed for usage with in-ear monitors (IEMs). Balanced armature drivers were developed to produce smaller, more easily transportable headphones without sacrificing audio quality. 

The copper coil surrounding the armature in balanced armature drivers is the first point of contact for any incoming audio input. Armament is converted into an electromagnet by the electric current and is attracted to the magnets above and below it.

Right & Left Markings 

As the audio is recorded in two channels, one for each ear, the L and R markings on headphones and earbuds indicate which ear each bud is intended for. Therefore, wearing the right side to the correct ear is crucial to enjoying high-quality sound with any device.


In conclusion, while headphones and headsets may look similar and are sometimes used interchangeably, they are actually quite different devices. Headphones are designed to provide audio listening through one or two earcups, while headsets come with a built-in microphone, noise-cancelling technology, and a boom microphone. This makes headsets better for communication purposes, as they provide two-way communication, reduce background noise, and are more comfortable to wear.

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