Updated: 03/05/2023 by Computer Hope
HyperX Cloud headset with microphone

Sometimes called earphones, headphones are a hardware output device that connect to a computer line out or speakers port or wirelessly with Bluetooth. Headphones allow you to listen to audio or watch a movie without disturbing people around you. The picture is an example of a HyperX USB (universal serial bus) headset from HyperX that includes a microphone (an input device), a popular solution for computer gaming.


If you have speakers connected to your computer, connecting headphones to the line out or headphones connection results in sound only being output to the headphones. You must have USB headphones for the sound to be played on the headphones and speakers.

How do headphones connect to the computer?

Today, there are three popular ways that headphones connect to a computer. The first and oldest method is with a mini plug. The second is with USB (some headphones may even use both a mini plug and USB). The third is wireless with Bluetooth. See the following link for help connecting a headset and headphones to a computer.

What are the types of headphones?

Headphones come in several shapes and styles. The traditional style looks similar to those shown above. Headphones utilize styrofoam or soft fabric around the earpieces to comfortably fit around your ear. They also have a plastic or light metal headband to connect them.

Apple Earbuds

The most basic type of headphones, earbuds, are small and fit inside your ear. They are usually shaped in a specific way to be as comfortable as possible. Some earbuds come with several sets of different rubber inserts. Depending on the size of the user's ears, they can choose the size of rubber insert that best fits their ear canal.

What are the parts of a headphone?

Today's basic headphones consist of the following parts:

Headphone speakers

The speaker boxes are what provide sound to each ear. Higher-quality headphones generally have better speakers and provide a more crisp and clear sound. Headphones with noise-canceling capabilities also use the speakers to play back an inverted version of the outside noises to help eliminate them.

Headphone cushions

The headphone cushions are soft pads (often made of foam) covering each ear's speaker box. These cushions help comfort for extended wear, reduce outside noises, and help grip the head to prevent the headphones from sliding around.


The headband is a hard piece of plastic that's often cushioned and runs across the top of the head to hold headphone speakers in place.


For cabled headphones, the cable is a long wire that runs from one side of the headphones to a computer or other device. This cable transfers audio from the computer to the headphone speakers. The cable connector is either a Mini Plug or USB.

When were headphones invented?

The first pair of audio headphones were invented by Nathaniel Baldwin in 1910. The U.S. Navy ordered 100 pairs because they recognized the potential advantages, despite many people being skeptical about their usefulness.

Should I write headphone or headphones?

When describing headphones placed over your head, like the ones pictured at the start of this page, use "headphones" (with the s). The word "headphones" is the singular and plural version because there are two headphones (left and right ear).

When used as an adjective or when describing a single accessory, "headphone" (no s) should be used. For example, wired headphones plug into the "headphone" jack. As there is only one headphone jack, it's singular.

Accessory, Apple earbuds, Hardware terms, Headset, Mini plug, Output device, Sound terms