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Headphones vs. Headsets: What’s the Difference and Which Should Your School Choose?

When it comes to choosing audio devices for your school, you may be wondering about the difference between headphones and headsets. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice ultimately depends on your school’s specific needs and budget. In this article, we’ll discuss the technical differences between headphones and headsets, as well as their functionality, cost, and usage in school environments.

What are Headphones and Headsets?

Headphones are simply audio output device that are worn over the ears or inserted into the ear canal and do not include a microphone. They’re commonly used for listening to music or other audio in private settings, such as on a commute or in a library. On the other hand, headsets include both a headphone and a microphone and are used for communication purposes, such as for phone calls or gaming.


Headphones are primarily used for audio playback and do not include a microphone for recording. They’re best suited for tasks that require private listening, such as studying, taking online courses, or watching videos. Headsets, on the other hand, are designed for communication purposes and are ideal for video conferencing, online gaming, and making phone calls.


Headphones tend to be less expensive than headsets, since they don’t include a microphone. This makes them a more affordable option for schools on a tight budget. Headsets with high-quality microphones can be more expensive, but are worth the investment for tasks that require clear communication.

Usage in School Environments

Both headphones and headsets can be used in various school environments, including classrooms, computer labs, and libraries. Headphones are a great option for students who need to listen to audio recordings or watch videos in private, without disturbing others. Headsets are ideal for online learning, as they enable students to participate in video conferences and online discussions with clear audio input and output. They’re also useful for special education classrooms, where students may require assistive technology to help them communicate.

USB vs. 3.5mm Connectors

When it comes to choosing between headphones and headsets, another factor to consider is the type of connector. Headphones and headsets can come with either a USB or 3.5mm connector.

USB connectors provide a digital signal and are capable of transmitting high-quality audio. They’re often used for gaming headsets, since they can transmit both audio and microphone signals through a single cable. USB connectors also allow for easy plug-and-play connectivity, without the need for additional drivers.

On the other hand, 3.5mm input ports are universal to many devices and transmit sound directly from the audio source using analog. 3.5mm is the standard connection option and is universal to most devices. They deliver a high-quality analog signal.

Ultimately, the choice between headphones and headsets, and between USB and 3.5mm connectors, depends on your school’s specific needs and budget. For most K-12 applications users will not experience a difference in sound quality.

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