I can assume that you have been watching some Esport tournaments and have noticed that gamers wear two headsets while playing. They use in-ear headphones and then have the over-ear headphones on top. There are two reasons for this, and the answer often depends on if you are a pro or not.
Pro gamers use two sets of headphones to block out external sounds. In-ear headphones are used for game sound, while over-ear headphones are used to minimize external noise. They play a soft white noise through the over-ears to further reduce external noises. Non-pros use two headsets while using crossplay; in-ears being for discord while over-ears being for the game.
Are you considering using any of these techniques? There are a few things you should know before making any purchases or before changing your gaming setup. If you want to learn more about choosing which setup works for you, then keep reading.
Do headsets improve gaming?
Compared to using monitors or TV speakers, headsets improve your gaming substantially. Using a headset or earbuds will give you better quality sound and richer experience. Using headsets can also improve your experience and skills when playing multiplayer games.
Headsets improve your multiplayer experience
Apart from giving you richer and better quality sound, headsets and earbuds give you a more accurate sound in terms of directional awareness. Having better directional awareness can be a game-changer, especially in multiplayer shooter games, whether they are first or third person.
Think about how many times you have been hit from the back. Also, think about how many times you heard an enemy player in your vicinity but couldn’t pinpoint exactly where they were. Having a good pair of earbuds or headset will minimize that drastically. You can more accurately pinpoint where your enemies are when they are in your vicinity.
Which is better, headsets, or earbuds?
First, we need to look at the difference between the two. Earbuds are in-ear headphones, and headsets are over-ear. Both offer excellent sound and directional awareness thanks to stereo sound.
Proper gaming headsets do offer more than earbuds. Let’s take a look at some features that headsets offer. The more you are willing to pay, the more features you will get.
- Headsets have bigger drivers, which gives better quality sound than most earbuds.
- Most allow you to control game volume and chat volume separately. This is especially handy if you play with friends.
- They often have better quality microphones. Again, this is for anyone who enjoys tactical team play, or, anyone who likes chatting while playing games.
- Microphone pass-through. Not all headsets offer this, but most do. I still remember using an old mid-range turtle beach headset that offered this.
- 3D audio. The more expensive headsets offer this feature, but it is mostly used in single-player games. It can sometimes be distracting, and it can reduce the accuracy of directional awareness.
- 7.1 surround sound. This is limited to higher-end headsets.
- Wireless connectivity. The range and frequency are often higher in a headset than in earbuds, and this just adds to the convenience.
- Detachable Mic. This allows you to use the headset away from gaming.
- Dedicated mute button or switch. Headsets are easy to mute. Some have a dedicated button, but my favorite is a headset that has the mute built into the mic.
So, in my experience, headsets are better than earbuds. The amount of features they offer, coupled with sound quality, makes them my favorite way to game. I am sure that statement makes you wonder why pro gamers use earbuds, and we will take a look at that in the next section.
Why do pros use in-ears?
A lot of people tend to look at what equipment the professionals use. When you do this, you should take everything they do with a grain of salt. Pro gamers are not like the rest of us. They prioritize differently to us, play differently, and use different setups. Comparing yourself to them can actually harm your gaming experience.
Pro gamers during tournaments
The most common type of pro gamer that uses earbuds is in the CS GO (Counter-strike Global Offence) community. It is mostly for tournaments, though. Like I said above, they use earbuds for game sound and headsets for noise cancellation. Sometimes you might notice that they have a third pair that sits around their neck; this is for sponsorship reasons.
Another Esport game where you might notice this is, R6 (Tom Clancys Rainbow Six Siege). I am sure you have noticed that it is mainly competitive first-person shooter games where this technique is used. The reason for this is simple; in games like that, you need to hear every footstep and not have distractions.
Side note: Rainbow six siege is one of the best FPS games, in my opinion, and I highly recommend that you give it a try if you haven’t already. Just be ready for a big learning curve.
Most of these gamers use a high end set of earbuds like the Razer Hammerhead Pro V2, which is considered to be one of the best in-ear gaming headphones available.
Pro gamers outside of tournaments
This is where it gets tricky. Unless the gamer streams or uploads his content, it is hard to know what they are using. We can be certain that away from tournaments, most pro-gamers use headsets.
The pro-gamer setup
Pro gamers always have the best equipment. That being said, they don’t use it the same way other gamers do. They use the highest refresh rate monitors but only at 1080p, and they have their graphical settings set to the lowest.
Setting their graphics as low as possible gives them higher refresh rates, which is essential to the pros. Every single millisecond counts for a professional, that includes ping. They do not care how good or bad a game looks; they care about performance.
Other reasons why people use two headsets
It isn’t just the professional gamers that use two headsets. Regular gamers are starting to adopt the practice as well. The reason isn’t for noise cancellation, though. It is to accommodate gamers from different platforms now that crossplay is becoming the new normal.
Before we carry on, I want to give a brief explanation of crossplay. Up until recent times, the platform you chose to play on meant you were locked into that ecosystem. Crossplay means that it does not matter what platform you are on; you can have friends and play with them from different gaming platforms.
In September of 2018, Sony caved to pressure from other platforms like Microsoft and allowed for crossplay. The two companies that pushed hardest for this were Microsoft and Epic Games who made the popular game, Fortnite.
Crossplay has relieved the pressure that people get put under to get the same platform as their friends. I think that a consumer-friendly move like that needs to be applauded.
Reasons for wearing two headsets
With the introduction of cross-play, we can now join our friends across all platforms. The problem is, we cant join party chats together, and “in-game” is often terrible. Because of this, we had to “make-a-plan,” so gamers did precisely that.
We use two headsets; one plugged into our phone for discord and the other, plugged into our console for game sound. This allows us to not only play with our friends across platforms but also to chat.
While it takes a little getting used to at first, once you are accustomed to using two headsets, you will barely notice it. And this is what we have to do until discord finds its way onto consoles.
My final notes
The biggest thing that I want you to take away from this article is, do not try and compare the way you play to how the pros do. Now, if you are trying to go pro, then, by all means, go for it.
For the average gamer, just have a setup that suits you and your comforts.
Gaming headsets, in my experience, are better than earbuds. The reason why pros use earbuds is for noise cancellation, and the reason the rest of us do is for using discord while doing crossplay.