Are Earbuds Better for Gaming? (Quick Facts)

If you play PC games, you probably already know how important it is to have a good set of headphones that can block out distractions and deliver unmatched sound quality. 

Can you rely on earbuds for an immersive gaming experience? Or should you stick to gaming headsets? Let’s find out!

What Is the Difference Between Headsets and Earbuds?

A gaming headset is a device that connects to a gaming system, such as the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, via an audio cable. For voice communication with other players, the headset has a microphone, stereo sound for the game, and audio playing on the system.

A gaming earbud is a small device that plugs into your console or PC via an audio jack. It does not have a microphone, but it provides stereo sound for the game and any audio playing on the system.

There are a few things to consider before deciding if a headset or earbud is the right fit for you: 

  • Sound quality
  • Noise isolation
  • Price
  • Portability
  • Comfort

These factors can make or break your gaming experience, so you should consider them before purchasing.

Sound Quality

A top-grade sound quality lets the gamer hear all the minute details and get immersed in the game. It also helps them react quickly when an enemy sneaks up on them or when a teammate calls out orders. 

Generally, headsets have the best sound quality. This is because they have drivers that can produce better sound. Headsets also offer a much fuller sound than earbuds, thanks to their excellent soundstage. 

While many earbuds don’t have the best immersive sound quality for gaming, they do not fall too far behind. Some earbuds have better sound quality than headsets but are more expensive.

Bottom line: Headsets offer higher-quality sound than earbuds. But there are earbuds with good sound quality and additional advantages like portability. 

Noise Isolation & Cancellation

Noise isolation and cancellation allow players to immerse themselves in the game without being distracted by external noise. 

Noise-isolating devices generally use materials that reduce the background noise. For example, headsets have a closed-ear cup design that blocks external noises. Earbuds have a silicon cap that sits on the ear and prevents external noise. 

Noise cancellation, on the other hand, refers to a technology that records the noise around you and transmits it back to the ear with sound waves that cancel out the noise. 

Headsets are better noise-canceling devices than earbuds because their bigger size can fit all the tech that goes into noise-canceling. However, high-end earbuds (like the Apple AirPods Pro) also feature noise-canceling abilities.

Bottom line: The majority of headsets have noise-canceling and isolation features. Earbuds don’t necessarily lack that feature, though. Thanks to technology, we now have earbuds with noise-canceling and isolation capabilities.


If you are on a budget, earbuds are the way to go. You can find a good pair of earbuds for under $50, whereas a quality gaming headset can cost upwards of $100.

But investing in a gaming headset is worth it if you can afford it.


Earbuds are much smaller and more lightweight than headsets, making them easier to pack up and take with you on the go. They are a great option if you do a lot of gaming on your laptop or tablet.

Earbuds are also less conspicuous, which makes them easier to wear in public.


A downside to headsets is that they can get a little uncomfortable after hours of gaming. They are usually too tight on the head, causing headaches and fatigue after prolonged use.

Another drawback is the risk of getting caught up in ill-managed wires, which leads to frustration when trying to move around or play games with quick movements.

Earbuds are less likely to cause pain or discomfort because they don’t pressure your ears. However, after a prolonged period of play, some players might find the proximity to the eardrum uncomfortable. 

Bottom line: Although earbuds are more comfortable than headsets, the final choice should be based on personal preference.

Should You Settle for an Earbud or Headset?

It depends.

First, think about what type of game you play. If you play first-person shooters or other fast-paced games, get a headset to hear every little sound. Many earbuds can’t compete with headsets when it comes to sound quality.

Second, think about the significance of comfort to you. Headsets can be heavy and uncomfortable, particularly if you wear them all day. Earbuds are much more comfortable to wear because they are small and light.

Lastly, consider portability. If you travel frequently or want to fit your gaming supplies in a small bag, earbuds are the best travel headphones to take with you. 

How Do I Know What Type of Headsets or Earbuds to Buy?

What sort of audio quality are you looking for? What qualities do you require? Do you prefer to hear the outside world or want noise cancellation? How much can you spend?

These questions will help you settle on the right choice.

Also, take note of the purpose of the headsets or earbuds. If you want to use them for intensive gaming, buy a pair with noise-canceling features and high sound quality. 

However, if your primary purpose is gaming on the go, it would be best to buy a fairly-priced but highly portable pair of earbuds or headphones.


Are earbuds better for gaming? Well, there is no right or wrong answer. 

It ultimately comes down to personal preference and what will give you the best gaming experience. If you want to hear your game’s audio without distraction, then earbuds might be the better option. 

However, headsets are the way to go if you prefer a more immersive gaming experience where you can feel like you are in the game. Whichever option you choose, ensure it is comfortable and won’t interfere with your gameplay.

Here at Headphone Reviews, we prefer using headsets for gaming but understand that earbuds can be a better option for gamers on the go or with a lower budget. 

Jude is a music and headphone lover. He has tested and reviewed several audio listening devices and enjoys writing helpful tips and information for readers like you.