Is A Headset An Input Or Output Device?

With more and more people enjoying music in their own personal bubbles thanks to headphones and headsets, the question may arise as to what a headset is and if it is an input or an output device. In this article, we’ll cover what type of device a headset is and fill you in on the answer to this question. Let’s jump right into it.

So, Is A Headset An Input Or An Output Device?

The short answer to this question is a headset is BOTH an input and an output device. If you are wondering why it is both an input and output device, then we have to break down the parts of a headset to see why it makes for an input device and an output device, all at the same time.

What is a headset?

In its raw form, a headset is a device that composes of 1-2 speakers or earphones/monitors for listening to sound played by another device and a microphone, typically placed on an extended boom, to record sound which is sent to a processing unit like a computer.

While a headset is technically composed of a headphone, be careful to use the word headphone interchangeably. Headphones do not come with microphones, so to refer to a head-worn sound device that comes with the microphone, you should call it a headset.

How The Parts Of A Headset Make It Input And Output?

Now we know what a headset is and the parts that is it made up of, let’s see how those parts make it an input and an output device:

Input part of the headset

The input part of the headset is its microphone. The microphone collects sound via its capsule and converts it into a digital signal which is then sent or input into a computer or receiving device. This part of a headset is how it functions as an input device.

Output parts of a headset

On the other hand, the headset also comes with 1-2 speakers that “output” sound that is generated from another device. It converts the digital signal into mechanical pulsations of its diaphragm to make audible sound. This is how the headset functions as an output device.

Can A Headset Function As An Input And Output Device At The Same Time?

Yes a headset can function both as an input and output device at the very same time. This is possible because the data lines and cabling of input for Microphone and output for the speakers are separate. This means that you can make a recording using the microphone and send out sound to the computer for storage or processing while listening to your favorite music on the speakers at the very same time. The possibility to have these incoming and outgoing signals happen at the same time is thanks to the type of jack the headset has.

Types Of Headset Jacks

Headsets typically come with a 3.5mm jack. As more and more devices are moving to a combined jack to save space, the old system of 2 TRS (Tip, Ring, Sleeve) plug in jacks — one pink for microphone signal and one green for audio speaker signal — is starting to disappear. It is replaced by a unified jack containing both signals in its bands. This unified jack is called a TRRS (Tip, Ring, Ring, Sleeve) jack and it is the type of jack found in most modern computers as well as the smartphones that still come with a headset jack.

You will be able to differentiate both types of jacks by the number of rings dividing each section. TRS jacks typically come with two dividing lines resulting in three separate sections, while TRRS jacks come with three dividing lines resulting in four separate sections.

What Is Audio Input Vs Output?

To simplify this, we can say that input audio is audio sent INTO a processing device like a voice recorder or a computer. Output audio is sound that is sent OUT from a playing device like an mp3 player, a radio or computer and can be listened to from speakers.

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What Is The Main Difference Between An Input And Output Device?

When it comes to audio, the main difference between an input and output device is the direction of the sound. Input devices typically send the sound that they’ve recorded into a device that processes it.

Output devices, on the other hand, take the digital signal sent by a sound player and convert it into audible analogue sound. So they output the sound being sent from the playing device.

It’s important to know the direction of the signal. Once you know this, then you will always be able to point out an input or output device.

Is A Headset A Transducer?

Yes, a headset is a transducer in both directions. A transducer is a device that converts one energy type to another. In a headset, the conversion of energy usually comes in the form of digital energy converted to sound wave or acoustic audible energy. The headset does this in two directions. The microphone converts analogue spoken form energy into digital energy which is sent to a computer, while the speakers convert digital sound signals into acoustic or audible one.


We hope this article helped clear your doubts about which type of device headsets are. Once you’ve broken down the individual parts of the headset, you will be able to pinpoint which part of it makes it an input device and which part of it makes it an output device. We’ve also learned that because these two input and output signals are separate, the headset can act as an input and output device at the very same time.

Thanks for reading this far, all the best wishes.