What is a USB Headset?

B. Miller

A USB headset is a convenient way to communicate with other people through the computer. The headset consists of headphones and an attached microphone that connects to your computer or laptop through a USB port. Various programs will sync up with the USB headset and allow you to speak to your friends, family, or co-workers while you perform other tasks on your computer.

A USB cable connects a USB headset to a computer.
A USB cable connects a USB headset to a computer.

A USB headset is especially beneficial because it generally offers plug-and-play capabilities. This means that in many instances you will be able to connect the headset to your computer and use it immediately without installing any software or having to manually set it up. This makes these headsets a great idea for friends and tech-challenged relatives living in different parts of the world.

USB headsets might help people to voice chat with others online and keep their hands free to type.
USB headsets might help people to voice chat with others online and keep their hands free to type.

The voice and sound quality on a USB headset is generally very good. This is because the signal is digital, which produces a better quality sound. Most USB headsets also feature volume adjustment and mute buttons directly on the headset. Some headsets only require an open USB port on your computer, while others offer the option of connecting to a headphone and microphone jack -- if these features are important to you, be sure to read the packaging and instructions carefully before buying.

You can find a USB headset in either a wired or wireless variety. Wireless headsets are becoming especially popular for situations in which roommates or family members may not want to hear everything, but where you do not want to be tethered to the computer. On the other hand, wired headsets tend to offer better sound quality.

There are many different functions you might use a USB headset for. Voice-over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is currently very popular for internet conferences and web meetings. Many people are also using VoIP in their homes to catch up with friends or relatives who live around the world.

USB headsets also work well for online gaming. Some specially designed headsets also work with specific gaming consoles that allow for collaborative online play. If you travel frequently, you will probably want a headset to listen to music, watch movies or communicate with co-workers on your laptop.

Prices for USB headsets range from the very inexpensive to top-of-the-line stereo quality. These headsets can be found in most electronics stores, computer stores, and online. They often offer a limited warranty, and some offer a trial period with a money-back guarantee.

USB cables are used to connect devices -- such as headsets -- to computers.
USB cables are used to connect devices -- such as headsets -- to computers.

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Discussion Comments


I think it's really important to read USB headset reviews before you buy. I got a cheap USB headset awhile back, and it was just awful. The sound quality was horrible, and the microphone barely picked up what I was saying. It was very frustrating, to say the least.

I bought it on a whim, because the price was right. However, when I realized how horrible it was, I looked online and all the reviews said as much. I was able to take it back, but I would have saved myself a lot of trouble it I had just checked the reviews first!


@strawCake - I never thought of that use for a USB PC headset, but it makes a lot of sense.

I also think the "plug and play" capability of a USB headset is a major selling point. I actually have a printer that still works fine, but I don't have the software to install the program on my current computer. I haven't been able to find a copy of the software online either, so I basically can't use that printer anymore.

This kind of thing would never happen with a plug and play USB headset. Just plug it in, and it works. Amazing!


I have a USB headset with microphone that came with a language learning software package. I personally think USB headsets are practically tailor made for that purpose!

Since it's a headset, you can listen to the program without bothering the people around you too much. Then, when it comes time to practice, you can speak softly into the microphone and the program will still pick up what you said! This is great for people who are learning a foreign language and don't feel too confident about it yet!


I have to travel a lot, so my laptop goes with me just about everywhere I go. I like to take a good USB stereo headset with me as well.

Even if I am watching a movie on the airplane, or listening to music in my room, I like using a headset. Any of the cheaper ear buds always bother my ears, and I don't feel like you get good quality of sound with them.

Sometimes it isn't as convenient to haul around a headset, but you realize how much better quality they are when you have to use something else.


I like to do a lot of gaming, so having a good USB headset is important to me. I have tried both the wired and the wireless, and find that I like the wireless better overall.

I am willing to give up a little bit of sound quality for the freedom the wireless USB headset gives me.

Buying a good headset costs more than a microphone, but once you use a headset, you will never go back to plugging a microphone in your computer.


Using a USB headset is much better quality than a microphone plugged in to your computer. A microphone seems to pick up every little sound or squeak and can be really annoying.

I have a Logitech USB headset that I like to use with Skype. I have found the sound quality to be really good.

The only problem I have with any headset is they aren't very comfortable after a long period of time.

If I am only going to have the headset on for 30 minutes or so, there isn't a problem. If it is any longer than that, I have never found a pair that feels very comfortable.

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