Gaming Headphones vs Music Headphones: How do they compare?

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Are you trying to understand the difference between gaming and music headphones, but have no idea which ones to buy? Understanding the differences between the two types of headphones will educate you on why you need to pick the right ones for your specific use. For example, you may think that you can get away with using gaming headphones for music and vice versa, but as you’ll see in this comparison guide it isn’t that simple.

In the following sections you’ll find the main features that differentiate music and gaming headphones. Read the entire comparison guide and you’ll be better equipped to buy the headphones that are a good match for your specific needs.

Gaming headphone features


In this section we cover the main features that set gaming headphones apart from the rest of the headphone marketplace. Gaming has exploded in the last 10 years and is now one of the most popular forms of entertainment. However, a top gaming experience involves excellent audio quality and that’s how the gaming headphone market was born. Here are a few key ways in how gaming headphone differs from the rest:

Microphone: an attached microphone is the biggest difference and it’s a feature that cannot be overlooked. Microphones are used to communicate with other gamers, which is important if you want to have a constructive gaming experience. Mics also come in handy when playing co-cop games with friends.

Many music headphones have microphones too, but gaming ones come with a boom. Therefore, audio quality is better and you can enjoy clearer communication. When buying look for a noise canceling mic so that background noise is eliminated.

Surround sound: another standout feature of gaming headphones is surround sound, which gives you the feeling that the audio is occurring all around you. However, the surround sound feature is not the same in all headphones so your experience will vary. Some headphones fall short by creating a sound that feels “fake”, which means you cannot get into the rhythm of the game.

Surround sound is also important for competitive reasons since you will have a better idea of where enemies and danger is all around you. You can potentially avoid other players and dodge attacks via sound alone without seeing visually where the danger is coming from visually.

Bulky: gaming headphones tend to be bulky with an over-ear format and the mic boom adds bulk too. However, this shouldn’t be a problem because you are not going to use gaming headphones on the way to work or at the gym. Whereas, it’s advantageous for music headphones to be non-bulky so you can use them anywhere.

Audio profile: headphones must provide an explosive experience that brings games to life, which means bass is strong. Therefore, gaming headphones have a bass heavy audio profile that sacrifices some of the realism. Music headphones are more balanced since they are designed for use with all genres.

Distinctive visuals: gaming headphones come with visuals that allow them to stand apart from the rest of the marketplace. For example, it’s common to see LED lighting that can be coordinated with your gaming setup.

Bright colors and large gaming brand logos are also featured that add visual style to the headphones. Gamers love brand specific designs if they are fans of that brand. For example, some of the top headphone gaming brands include Logitech, HyperX, and Razer.

Can gaming headphones be used for music?

The answer to this question depends on the brand you have bought from. Brands such as Sennheiser manufacture gaming headphones with drivers that are excellent for music. That’s because they have years of experience in the music marketplace and have transferred that knowledge into their gaming headsets.

However, if you have gaming headphones from a gaming brand, then you may experience a sound profile that is not lifelike. It may drastically reduce music quality – especially if you have high standards.

Music headphones


In this section we will go over the features that music headphones have, which are not important in gaming headphones. Therefore, you may begin to understand why using gaming headphones for music is not the best idea. Here are the top music headphone features to consider:

Portability: many music headphones have excellent portability so that you can use them while out and about. Therefore, you’ll find a mix of on-ear and sleek over-ear models that use lightweight materials.

Bluetooth music headphones are among the most popular because of the wireless connection that’s practical. Bluetooth has advanced significantly and can now provide stable audio over a range of at least 33 feet.

Audio profile: music headphones have considerably advanced drivers that typically output a wider frequency range. Expect audio that has lifelike reproduction and a wide soundstage. Music headphones offer better audio quality since that’s the main feature that matters. Gaming headphones are more about the added features such as surround sound and microphone.

Price: the best music headphones are more expensive than most gaming headnotes. That’s because established brands like Sennheiser, Shure, Audio Technica, and Sony understand the value that they are providing. Also, music headphones have a wider customer base than gaming headphones, which means they can fetch a higher price. However, the gaming industry is constantly improving, which means in the future gaming headphones could rise to the top of the price list.

Can music headphones be used for gaming?

You can use music headphones for gaming, but you’ll miss out on a few key features such as surround sound, a microphone boom, and colorful visuals. Also, you may have trouble connecting the headphones to your console or PC. For example, PC headphones make use of a USB connection, which is typically not included in music headphones so you’ll need to get an adapter. Also, Bluetooth music headphones may also prove to be troublesome when connecting.

Premium music headphones will bring games to life so it’s a great choice. You’ll appreciate the small details of the audio that other headphones cannot provide. Make sure the headphones have a mic, because otherwise you’ll need to invest in a standalone option.


Now that you can see the main differences between music and gaming headphones you can pick the ones that best match your requirements. In some cases the best option might be to buy headphones from both categories. Don’t have a big budget? Don’t worry, nowadays you can buy exceptional music or gaming headphones at under $50.