Earbuds vs Headsets | Know the Pros & Cons for Better Gaming (2022)

In my long gaming career and especially in my time as a pro gamer, I have used many headsets and earbuds and have high demands on my sound equipment. Unfortunately, in my best time (about 20 years ago, oh man, I am old), there were no earbuds with good enough sound quality.

With today’s offer, I can understand if you are starting in gaming or if the previous standard headset has broken and you are faced with an extensive range of headsets and earbuds and do not know what to buy now.

I’ll first give you a superficial answer to the question of which is better for gaming:

Standard earbuds mainly have advantages in portability and cost but disadvantages in wearing comfort and sound, while headsets are usually available for more money and can offer a better sound experience in return. However, some disadvantages are no longer significant for very high-quality devices.

So let’s see in detail where the respective advantages and disadvantages lie.

Note: This article was written in English. Translations into other languages may not provide the same linguistic quality. We apologize for grammatical and semantic errors.

Advantages And Disadvantages of Earbuds

Earbuds are in high demand nowadays, and hardly anyone has not used them yet. The success of Earbuds is reflected in the fact that several cell phone manufacturers offer their smartphones with Earbuds in the package.

So, let’s discuss the pros and cons of these earbuds to decide whether using them is a good option or not.

Advantages

Let’s first discuss the advantages of Earbuds that make them so popular and in-demand:

Portability

That goes without saying.

Earbuds are highly portable and, therefore, even fit in the pocket of your jeans.

The more advanced Earbuds are even better for portability, as they are wireless.

Inexpensive to own

Earbuds can be exorbitantly expensive, especially for dedicated gaming earbuds you’ll quickly be in the $100+ range, such as this good model from Razer, the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro, but the most common options available on the market won’t cost you much.

This is one of the main reasons why almost everyone in today’s world has used Earbuds.

Diversity

Since Various companies manufacture earbuds, they are available in different designs and color options.

So, if you feel that a plain white pair of earbuds doesn’t suit your trendy style and personality, you can always buy another one.

Fun Fact for Hardcore Gamers only: Masakari is currently intensively testing the Azeron Gaming Keypad. This innovative input device could be an advantage for FPS games on PC and console. Just take a look at it on Amazon. We will publish a review soon. 

Disadvantages

Now let’s take a look at the disadvantages of earbuds:

Lack of isolation from external noise

Earbuds do not have a mechanism that prevents outside noise from penetrating the person wearing them.

Therefore, you can still hear a lot of outside noise when wearing earbuds. Naturally, this affects the overall listening experience. But again, it has to be said that many good gaming earbuds offer effective noise-canceling, which can compensate for this drawback. I can unreservedly recommend the Bose QC20 Earbuds, which I have been using for a long time, but as always in life, quality costs accordingly, which is also the case here.

Damage to ear components

Some of the newer options can increase sound to levels that could even damage parts in the ear.

The need to increase the volume so much is primarily due to outside noise, which leaves the listener no choice but to increase the volume.

Ear pain

Earbuds are made of hard plastic, and to reduce outside noise, most people press them into their ears, which leads to ear pain. But, again, very high-quality earbuds like the Bose QC20 Earbuds largely make up for this point with the help of silicone parts in different sizes, so there is something to suit every player.

Advantages And Disadvantages of Headsets

Headsets are also in high demand and are seen as a high-quality alternative to earbuds. Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of headsets.

Advantages

Here are some of the advantages of using a headset:

Better sound quality

The overall sound quality of the headsets is much better than other sound devices.

For this reason, headsets are used not only by professional players but also by musicians.

Reduced background noise

Headsets offer background noise reduction due to their unique design, covering the listener’s entire ear.

They have better isolation from the environment, so the overall listening experience is much finer than other audio devices. Furthermore, these headsets are extremely impressive due to the relatively low external interference.

So if you want an experience with minimal background noise, you should opt for a high-quality headset.

No ear pain

Unlike earbuds, headsets do not have to be inserted into the listener’s ears. This results in a much less painful experience.

Disadvantages

However, the headsets also have their drawbacks, which include:

Higher costs

High-quality headsets are very expensive, but even if you choose only a regular headset, you should expect to pay double the amount compared to the usual earbuds.

Less Portability

Headsets are larger than earbuds, and therefore it is more cumbersome to carry them around. Of course, they have a heavier weight, and wired headsets can easily get caught somewhere and fall down and get damaged.

While there are good wireless headsets on the market now, such as the Logitech G733 LIGHTSPEED, they are not as widely available as wireless earbuds, so overall adoption of these components is much lower.

If you want to know if wireless headsets are suitable for gaming, check out this article:

Damage to the eardrum

Since there is much less outside noise when wearing headsets, the sound reaches the eardrum directly. Prolonged listening to loud sounds can damage the eardrum and other ear components.

Perhaps the attentive reader will notice that earbuds AND headsets can cause damage to the ear, so please do not overdo it with the volume. 🙂

However, earbuds are more precarious, but we’ll come back to that later.

Comparison With Focus on Casual And Professional Players

The way casual players and professionals use their gaming equipment is very different.

This is mainly because casual gamers play games only for entertainment, while professional gamers consider gaming a full-time job.

The requirements of professional players are different

This means that even the smallest disturbance can make the difference between winning a title and losing the entire game for professional gamers. On the other hand, Casual gamers won’t worry too much about the game’s sound. Although it is important for them, it is not as crucial as it is for professional players.

What do casual gamers use?

Therefore, casual gamers use earbuds or headsets depending on their preferences. There are even gamers who use speakers for gaming, you can do that, but especially with first-person shooters, you can give up right then because, without a proper spatial hearing, you put yourself at an extreme disadvantage.

What do professional players use?

Here’s what pro gamers use, depending on the situation.

For competitive matches

On the other hand, professional players make sure that they wear earbuds during competitions or high-level training sessions (known as scrims). However, since earbuds are not exactly comfortable and often lead to pain in the ear, many professional players only use them during more demanding games.

For casual gaming

For casual gaming, however, many professional gamers opt for the relatively convenient option of using headsets.

For championship finals (offline events)

In final championship matches, where many spectators are present, the dynamic and the environment change completely for the players. Under such circumstances, the cheers of the spectators are often too distracting for the players. Therefore, professional players use earbuds under headsets in such cases.

Benefits Of Using This Setup

The advantage of this system is that the earbuds provide players with sufficient sound, while the headphones isolate them from background noise.

This type of setup is now considered standard for professional players.

How Much Does The Use of Earbuds Damage Hearing?

Yes, earbuds damage hearing, which several doctors have stated on several occasions.

Input from the World Health Organization

In 2015, the World Health Organization took a serious look at this issue. In particular, it warned that young people who listen to loud music or sounds above 120 decibels for several hours on their smartphones or other audio devices are at constant risk of permanently damaging their hearing.

The worst part is that a person suffering from this problem may not notice it for years because the symptoms are not so severe at first, but the problem becomes more and more concerning over time.

WHO estimates that more than 1 billion people are currently at risk of damaging their hearing through unsafe listening practices.

And according to doctors, using earbuds is one of the most unsafe practices that can significantly damage hearing.

What do the doctors have to say about this?

According to Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri, an otolaryngologist in Indiana, devices like earbuds are the leading cause of hearing loss among Millennials.

He added that in the past, people had portable Walkman devices. However, the fear that the AA batteries would run out too often or that the quality would degrade at higher volume levels kept listeners from turning up the volume too much.

In most modern cases, we have smartphones and high-level fidelity. He further explained that if the Earbuds are placed too close to the ears, the volume can be increased by up to 9 decibels, which can have a negative impact on hearing.

James E. Foy is an osteopathic pediatrician based in Vallejo, Calif. He says that too-loud sounds over long periods can permanently damage hearing.

He adds that hearing loss due to the use of headsets and earbuds over a long period can lead to developmental delays in speech and language.

Why are earbuds so dangerous?

Earbuds are an integral part of everyday life for many people who like to listen to music at high volumes.

Earbuds are placed in the “pinna,” the path connected to the ear canal. This means that the volume of Earbuds, without losing much of its intensity, is directed towards the eardrum.

The high intensity with which this sound hits the eardrum impairs the listener’s hearing.

Final Thoughts

I think it’s become clear that both earbuds and headsets have their pros and cons, and if you have an unlimited budget, you can even eliminate the respective cons for the most part.

If you have ambitions to compete in a professional career, you won’t be able to avoid high-quality sound equipment anyway. Anyone who has played competitive games knows how important sound quality is, especially in first-person shooters.

However, if you are more of a casual player and want to stay within a moderate budget, then it’s personal preference, and hopefully, you can choose the better option for you based on our comparison of pros and cons, but no matter what you choose, do me a favor, think about your ears and don’t overdo it with the volume 😉

If you’re specifically interested in earbuds in relation to gaming, check out this article here, where we go into even more detail about earbuds in gaming:

If you have a question about the post or pro gaming in general, write us: contact@raiseyourskillz.com

Masakari – moep, moep and out!

Former pro gamer Andreas "Masakari" Mamerow has been an active gamer for over 35 years, more than 20 of them in the competitive scene (Esports). In CS 1.5/1.6, PUBG and Valorant, he has led and coached teams at the highest level.
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