Headset vs Headphone and Mic for Gaming

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Updated October 25, 2022

Many gamers have turned to streaming for sharing their content, sparking a debate about whether a headset vs a headphone and mic for gaming results in better videos and audio. Of course, the best gaming headset offers excellent sound quality, microphone quality, comfort, and durability at a low cost compared to buying two separate devices.


  • A gaming headset represents an excellent all-in-one solution for everyday social gamers.
  • If you regularly stream or produce content while gaming, you might want a headphone and a separate microphone instead of a gaming headset.
  • Gamers who use a separate microphone option have more control over the microphone and the game’s sound quality and audio mix.

The major difference between these two setups is that gaming headsets typically have built-in microphones, while headphones may not include a microphone. To explore more options for your gaming experience, check out the differences between a headset vs speakers for gaming.

Differences Between Headphones and a Mic vs a Gaming Headset

Look first for comfort and quality in either your headset or headphones, as a general rule. However, you should also consider what you need from your microphone. You’ll want a decent microphone if you often play online with others or create streaming content.

Insider Tip

A separate microphone and headphone setup let you control the audio mix, making it perfect for streamers.

Read on to discover some considerations for your new purchase. If you decide on a gaming headset, find out more about the various types, including a headset vs earbuds for gaming and headphones vs headsets for gaming.

Audio Quality

Some less expensive gaming headsets sacrifice sound quality to include more features, such as virtual surround sound. More expensive headsets, however, usually still have good audio quality. Game companies also design their audio tracks with heavier bass, and headset manufacturers accommodate this in each design.

Conversely, you might find that a pair of headphones and a separate microphone provide better audio quality within your games and other content. If you purchase a set of headphones with excellent audio quality, like those preferred by audiophiles, you may feel more immersed in your game. A pair of headphones like these works well for multiple uses and provides additional volume control.

Microphone Quality

Just as the many additional features of a gaming headset affect the sound quality, they also affect the microphone quality. Some gaming headsets come with removable mics, while others have mutable ones. Over time, you may experience trouble with your detachable microphone making a lot of sounds because it isn’t connecting correctly. If you have a mutable integrated microphone that folds up, you could find you aren’t muted when you want to be.

When you have a separate microphone and headphone setup, you have complete control over the microphone and often have noise-canceling technology included, regardless of the price range. You can adjust the audio mix so that your microphone isn’t too loud compared to the game or your teammates. You can also use a designated program to improve your voice quality while connected via a cable.


It’s no secret that some headphones can be a literal pain to wear for long periods of time. Gaming headsets often weigh more than traditional music-focused headsets because of their many features. Many are over-ear models that sit with the ear cups around the ear, alleviating the pressure that causes discomfort.

Brands also add design factors, like extra padding materials on the headband and ear cups and volume control, to enhance the comfort of their products. Wireless headphones provide ease of movement over traditional cable-based headset choices as well.

However, headphones are typically classified as on-ear headphones, so the headphone’s ear cups rest on your ear. After a long gaming session, you may notice that the pressure on your ears is too great or that your headphones give you a headache. Moreover, if you have a larger head, you’ll also want the best gaming headset for your big head.


Pay attention to the ear cup design, as on-ear models can cause headaches or ear pain.


When do you need a separate mic?

Separate mics are nice for streamers and players who frequently play online co-op games. They can help reduce background noise while improving microphone quality during each performance.

Is noise cancellation any good?

Ambient noise often leaks into the microphone, which can affect your gaming experience. Invest in a headset with sound cancellation to prevent this.

Do I have to have noise cancellation when gaming?

Noise cancellation is not required when you game, but it can help reduce background noise that interferes with your focus.

STAT: Gaming headsets allow you to more clearly hear your game and your teammates than standard headphones or headsets. (source)

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