Headphones vs. Earbuds: What’s the Difference?

By Akshara Bala Nov 23, 2020

We often use ‘headphones’, ‘earphones’ and ‘earbuds’ interchangeably. After all, they all serve the same purpose, right? Not quite! Digging deeper, there are a host of differences that you’ll come across when you compare headphones vs earphones (earbuds), for they are designed for different purposes. 

1. Headphones

Simply put, the difference between headphones and earphones (or earbuds) rests in where they lie on/in our ears. While headphones are worn on or over the ears, earbuds rest inside the ear canal. 

Headphones, in turn, can take the format of on-ear headphones or over-ear headphones. While the on-ear variety rests on top of your ear, the over-ear variant is far larger and engulfs the entire ear. From an opinion point of view, we’ve found that the over-ear headphones are a lot more comfortable for the long-haul. And, it’s for the same reason that our flagship headphones, the PLAYGO BH70, sport an over-ear design. 

Pros of Headphones

1. Comfort

The big advantage when comparing Bluetooth headphones versus earphones is the comfort that they offer. For those that have sensitive ears, the idea of earphones resting inside the ear canal may not bode too well. With headphones, however, you can be sure of a comfort fit, without any pressure on your ear canal. 

2. Blocking ambient sounds

Headphones are designed with full ear cups in order to block ambient sounds, so they do not interfere with your listening experience. Additionally, our PLAYGO BH70 headphones come with Hybrid ANC (Active noise cancelling) for an immersive audio experience, complete with a luxurious over-ear leather pad.


 The larger built of the PLAYGO BH70 helps house the battery and ANC systems, at the same time, it is light enough to keep you on your feet.

3. Superior sound quality

Ask any audiophile and they will vouch for the superior sound quality of headphones, in general. With the driver size being larger, what headphones offer is consistent sound production. Compare the 40mm drivers of the PLAYGO BH70 with the 10mm of the PLAYGO T44. Especially when it comes to capturing bass tones, headphones appear as clear winners! Headphone users also enjoy a larger soundstage. In the BH70 for instance, the larger EBEL drivers and APTX help deliver superior HD Audio. 

Cons of Headphones

1. Not suitable if you are on the go

To put things in perspective, Over-ear Headphones are not designed to be portable. The sole concept and design are based on delivering an out-of-the-world immersive audio experience for gamers and music-lovers alike. If you need a listening companion particularly when you are on the go, the truth is, these headphones aren’t your best bet. Compare these to earbuds like PLAYGO T20 or the PLAYGO T44, that are designed for portability, to know the difference! 


The primary difference between headphones and earbuds is that while some earbuds can rest on your outer ear, most are meant to be inserted in your ear canal. This of course comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let us look at them in some detail.

Pros of earbuds

1. Light

The big advantage of earbuds is that they are light and portable. If “travelling light” is your mantra, here is a travel companion that helps you live it, is style. Simply put them in your pocket or toss them in your bag, they hardly occupy any space.  


Ultra-light is in the name of both the PLAYGO T20 and PLAYT44 Earbuds. Irrespective of time and place, portability and a true wireless interface is in their form-factor.

2. Noise leakage

Choose a high-quality earbud and you are guarding yourself against noise leakage! For instance, the PLAYGO T20 comes with (Environmental Noise Reduction). The snug-fit silicone cups of the PLAYGO T20 are designed to block ambient noise. While it doesn’t give you the precision noise cancellation like the PLAYGO BH70, let’s just say that it gets the job done. 

3. Listening experience

While the sound quality cannot compare with what a high-end headphone can deliver, depending upon the quality of earbuds you choose, you can look forward to a great listening experience! The PLAYGO wireless earbuds like the PLAYGO T20 and T44 come with 6mm and 10mm audio drivers respectively, for a premium audio experience.

Cons of Earbuds

1. Comfort

The big disadvantage with earbuds is that prolonged use can cause discomfort. Finding that perfect fit could often be an issue. Although to be fair, every person’s experience of comfort tends to differ and you need to see what works best for you!

2. Noise cancellation

Typically earbuds aren’t built to house ANC systems. Even if they do come with ANC systems, they are nothing compared to the quality the ANC headphones have to offer. What that means is that you tend to crank up the volume in a bid to reduce the impact of ambient noises. While it serves the purpose for a couple of hours, we suggest you invest in Hybrid ANC or ANC headphones for the best results.

Well, while the jury is still out on headphones vs earphones, it clearly is a matter of personal preference. Simply rank sound quality, portability and comfort for your individual lifestyle and you will have your answer! Whatever be your choice, here’s to musical times from World of PLAY!

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