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Gaming Headphones vs. Music Headphones: What’s The Difference?

Gaming headphones and music headphones can be used interchangeably in most situations, but your expectations will vary depending on what you’re listening to. Gaming headphones are used when playing video games, but they can also be used for music.

In this article, we go over the differences between gaming and music headphones so that you can make the right choice for your specific needs.

Gaming Headphones vs. Music Headphones: What’s The Difference?

The difference between gaming and music headphones is that gaming headphones provide a slightly higher gaming audio quality than music headphones. Gaming headphones are also heavier and bulkier than music headphones, so they’re not typically used outside of gaming.

After a close examination, you may have realized that gaming headphones tend to be more comfortable because they fit tightly around the head, whereas music headphones can be a little more loose-fitting. Most gaming headphones also have built-in microphones, whereas music headphones don’t necessarily need a built-in mic.

Here are some areas where gaming and music headphones differ the most:

  • Differences in physical appearance
  • Bass performance
  • Built-in microphone
  • Surround sound technology
  • Noise cancelation 
  • Audio quality
  • Portability
  • Price

Gaming Headphones Tend To Be Bigger

Gaming headsets are often bulkier than regular headphones because they need to house massive drivers, built-in mics noise-canceling technology, and other useful technologies to improve your gaming experience. 

On top of that, gaming headphones have visually striking designs. It’s not uncommon to see the branding logo, LED lighting, and futuristic designs on gaming headphones.

On the other hand, music headphones come in much smaller versions, often with a plain appearance, as customers are only interested in audio quality.

Gaming Headphones Often Emphasize Bass 

Bass is an essential feature in headphones. Gamers want to hear the full-range performance of their headphones, and solid bass brings out convincing explosions and opponent footsteps in detail. That’s exactly what gaming headphones are designed for. 

Most music headphones don’t always give priority to the bass. Instead, they focus on the full-range performance of the instruments and vocals, which fall on different ends of the audio spectrum. In short, music headphones have a balanced all-around performance.

Gaming Headphones Almost Always Have Microphones

A gaming mic is used for communication while playing video games and/or streaming. It is typically a small, thin microphone that protrudes from the headphones in front of the player’s mouth. Gaming microphones are often better quality than the generic mics on music headphones because they provide clearer sound and are more unidirectional.

Since gaming headphones are meant specifically for gaming, many times the microphone can be muted by flipping the mic up or using a switch on the headphones. In many cases, the mic on gaming headsets is removable.

Surround Sound Technology Is Usually Better In Gaming Headphones

Surround sound is an essential feature of gaming headphones. It creates a 3D audio experience. This means that you will be able to hear sounds coming from all directions around you. This gives you a feeling of being in the game and helps make the gameplay more realistic.

Music headphones don’t prioritize surround sound because this isn’t as important for listening to music.

Gaming Headphones Have Better Noise Cancellation

Gaming headphones have a bulky active noise cancellation feature that prevents external sound from getting into the game. Active noise canceling works well when playing games because it will drown out unwanted sounds from other home or office areas.

Most music headphones don’t need this feature, although many manufacturers add it.

Are Gaming Headphones Good For Music?

Gaming headphones are not good for music. Although they feature advanced drivers, a broader frequency range, and excellent noise cancellation, these features are specifically designed to make your gaming experience more realistic. These features help users feel immersed in video games, but they aren’t fine-tuned for listening to music.

Gaming headphones are made for gaming and gaming alone. However, it’s quite common to use a pair of gaming headphones to listen to music. After all, you don’t need a second pair of headphones if you already have a working pair of gaming headphones.

It’s best to use headphones for their designated purposes. The boosted bass in gaming headphones results in a low-quality sound produced by the headphones when listening to music. Their bulky design also makes them a little difficult to carry comfortably in public places.

Are Music Headphones Good For Gaming?

Music headphones are not good for gaming because they lack a high-quality mic, and some lack noise-canceling capabilities and surround sound technology. Besides, most are not comfortable to wear for a long time. 

A good gaming experience is all about being immersed in the moment, communicating with your peers, and pinpointing the exact location of your opponent. Gaming headphones are specifically meant to fulfill these needs.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use a high-quality pair of music headphones for gaming. It only means that music headphones are not good for gaming because they are specifically designed to be used for listening to music.

Can You Wear Gaming Headphones Outside?

You can wear gaming headphones outside if you want. Gaming headphones can cancel out the noise from the outside environment. But since they’re bulky, expensive, and easy to damage, it’s probably a good idea to leave them back in the house.

You probably want to take your headphones everywhere if you’re an avid gamer. Some people love the peace and quiet of their noise-canceling gaming headphones in public places.

Besides, the noise-canceling feature can land you in danger. For example, they may drown out the sirens and horns from oncoming vehicles, which would lead to an accident if you’re not attentive to the surrounding environment.

Best Headphones For Music And Gaming

There are so many great headphone options that it can be hard to know where to begin. Thankfully, we’ve come to your aid with this list of the best headphones for music and gaming. All of the headphones listed below are available on Amazon.com.

Best Gaming Headphones

Most Comfortable: Astor A10 Gaming (Gen 2)

Best Noise Cancellation: Bose QuietComfort 35 Gaming Headset

Best All-In-One Gaming Headset: Wireless JBL Quantum 800

Lightweight And Affordable: Razer Kraken Gaming Headset

Best Music Headphones 

Best Value Noise Cancellation Headphones: V- MODA Crossfade M100

Most Comfortable: Sennheiser HD 280 PRO

Wireless Headphones With Alexa Voice Control: Sony WH-1000XM4

Affordable Studio Headphones: Sony MDR7506

Whether you’re playing games on your laptop, gaming on your console, or listening to music on your desktop, these headphones should provide the perfect listening atmosphere.

Final Thoughts

It is always good to have two different types of headphones – gaming headphones and music headphones. This is because one headset will not provide for both needs. Your budget shouldn’t trouble you, as there are affordable, high-quality headsets available for your needs.

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👋 Hey There, I'm Eric!

Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers and viewers of streams answer some of the questions they may have regarding live streaming. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.