Updated: 07/06/2021 by Computer Hope
HyperX Cloud headset with microphone

Sometimes referred to as earphones, headphones are a hardware output device that plug into a computer line out or speakers port. 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 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. To have the sound output for headphones and speakers, you need to use USB headphones.

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 another soft fabric around the earpieces to provide a comfortable 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 you with a more crisp and clear sound. Headphones with noise-cancelling 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) that cover the speaker box for each ear. These cushions help provide 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 of them because they recognized the potential advantages, despite many people being skeptical about their usefulness.

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