The headset, the headphone, the earphone – devices quite similar in form and function, but with key differences which are worth knowing. Below, we'll take a quick look at what defines each of these as distinct devices and give users a bit of a guide to help them decide which they're looking for.
A headset can be thought of as a set of headphones equipped with a microphone. The headset microphone is either a boom microphone, whereby the microphone is attached to a boom which can be moved at will and positioned as desired, or alternatively it may be a solution incorporating an in-line microphone, whereby the microphone is attached to the cord which connects the headset to the computer or other device.
Headsets are ideal for voice over IP communications with services such as Skype, interfacing with a phone system, playing online games with voice communications, and much more. With a headset, you are immersed within your communications device.
Headphones are, in a sense, the classical forebearer of everything else on this list. In its simplest incarnation, a pair of headphones is two simple speakers attached to a band which goes across the top of the wearers head, allowing the speakers to be positioned over the ears. This provides a personal, immersive listening experience where the sound source delivers its brilliant sonic payload directly into the ears. The experience of listening to headphones is somewhat unique in comparison to traditional speakers, which vibrate large segments of air within a room to recreate sounds.
In contrast, headphones only move a relatively small amount of air around the listeners ear, creating a more confined and personalised sound stage. Headphones are also frequently robustly equipped with noise cancelling features, acting as a sort of auditory insulation, keeping the noise produced by the headphones within the phones muffs while keeping intrusive noises from the outside out.
Earphones, such as the BackBeat GO 2 are sort of the spiritual successor the headphones. Dispensing with the large design of “cans” or padded ear muffs which nestle the headphones speakers in, the earphone is effectively an in-ear speaker. Inserted into the ear canal, earphones provide an even more direct connection to the sound source and move even less air than headphones, since they pretty much only need to vibrate the small amount of air within the listeners auditory canal.
Ear phones definitely cut down on the bulk of traditional headphones, making them great for people on the go and often the selection of athletes, runners and gym-goers rocking their MP3 players while getting some exercise. However, the design of the earphone inherently compromises its possibilities for noise cancelling and can, for some, be a bit of an uncomfortable nuisance since they do introduce a foreign body into the ear canal. For those who like or even prefer the ear phone experience, however, the reduced bulk and ergonomic contours can be quite comfortable.
At the end, it comes down to the intended use and personal preference. Whichever you choose, you'll find a fine selection at liGo's!