Tue. May 21st, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Speakers are convenient, and comfort is not a factor because you don’t have to wear them.
  • A good surround sound speaker system can provide you with an experience that’s almost as immersive as a good pair of headphones.
  • Speakers typically last longer than headphones because they get handled less.

Many gamers feel obliged to use headphones to get the best possible experience. But what if I told you that you could get a quality gaming experience from speakers as well without having to sweat under those cans?

Comfort Is a Non-factor With Speakers

While there are some very comfy headphones on the market, you’ll always be able to feel their presence on your head. Even the lightest of headphones can’t go unnoticed, and I often find that they sit too tight or too loose on my ears. As someone who wears glasses, I find that ear pads range from somewhat comfortable to unbearably painful.

The worst part about wearing an over-ear gaming headset is that your ears get sweaty, especially during prolonged gaming sessions on hot summer nights. Like in-ear headphones, gaming over-ear headphones trap bacteria in and around your ear, which can lead to painful ear infections. You also have to clean headphones regularly to maintain their hygiene.

The right Logitech Z333 speaker on a desk next to a computer.
Ismar Hrnjicevic / How-To Geek

Now, compare that to speakers. You never come into physical contact with your speakers during regular use, so comfort is not a factor. They just sit on your desk or entertainment unit and get the job done. You never have to put them on and take them off. There are no tangled or frayed cables that break down further with each use. Other than the occasional dusting, you never have to clean them, either. Most importantly, speakers won’t give you sweaty ears and “headphone hair” that headphones are known for.

Also, if you enjoy snacking while gaming, you might find yourself wrestling with your headset’s microphone when trying to grab a bite. A standalone microphone with a nice stand combined with a pair of speakers offers superior sound quality and infinite comfort.

I love the convenience that speakers provide. I can just sit down at my desk, turn a game on, and play without having to tether myself to the desk with a pair of headphones. I like to take frequent breaks from my desk, so I don’t have to fuss around with headphones. Though wireless headphones might sound like a solution to many of these issues, they also come with a higher price tag, use lossy compression, and might not last as long.

I Want to Hear What’s Going On Around Me

One thing I never particularly liked about gaming with headphones is that they shut out the world around me. While that’s a great trick for immersion, I’m not a fan of not being aware of my surroundings since it makes me feel uneasy.

I live alone and get the occasional knock on the door from guests or my elderly neighbor, so it’s vital that I don’t miss it. Also, my cat might call me or stir up some trouble, and I want to make sure he gets the undivided attention he deserves. I’m sure that gamer parents can agree that being aware of your surroundings is far more important than immersing yourself completely in a Call of Duty: Warzone match.

You might say, “just grab a pair of open-back headphones,” but the issue persists to a large degree. My current gaming headset has an open-back design, and if I increase the volume by more than 50%, I lose the ability to hear my surroundings. It’s much easier to crank up the volume on my speakers while still hearing what’s happening in and around my house.

Good Speakers Can Create an Immersive Experience

Gamers generally prefer headphones over speakers because of the higher level of immersion they provide, especially if they’re spatial headphones that can reproduce authentic surround sound. Without a doubt, headphones are better at delivering an immersive experience than speakers; that’s not the point I’m disputing.

However, let’s not rush to dismiss speakers for gaming just yet. A good 5.1 surround sound system can provide accurate spatial audio that won’t make you feel like you’re falling behind in multiplayer FPS games.

NZXT Switch Mix set up at a desk with the NZXT Relay Headset and speakers
Jason Montoya / How-To Geek

Additionally, no matter how hard speakers try to reproduce the growl of a bassy explosion, they simply can’t match the depth provided by a real subwoofer. A large subwoofer can reproduce extremely low frequencies of around 20–30Hz without distorting them, resulting in desk-shaking vibrations when explosions go off. This effect immerses you (and your neighbors) in a game like nothing else.

Speakers Can Last a Lifetime

Speakers don’t get handled much, so you’re unlikely to damage them during regular use. You might be able to fry them by running them at above maximum volume for extended periods, but that’s about it.

On the other hand, headphones have to sit on your head for hours on end, day after day. The constant exposure to the oils and sweat from your skin and scalp eventually wears down the headband and ear pads. Also, there’s a good chance that you’ll drop your headphones and break or damage them. I’ve dropped more pairs than I’d care to admit.

I bought my Logitech Z333 speakers at the same time I bought my QPAD headphones (the same model as the original HyperX Cloud). They cost about the same, too. Four years later, the speakers look as good as new, whereas my headphones are slowly disintegrating. The headband is worn out, the plastic now has a sticky rubber coating, and the cables are starting to fail.

A worn-down pair of QPAD QH-85 gaming headphones on a wooden table.
Ismar Hrnjicevic / How-To Geek

It’s worth noting that an exceptionally high-quality pair of headphones might last a few years longer, but they’re still subject to the same wear and tear caused by daily use.

Speakers Are Less Detrimental to Your Hearing

It’s no secret that loud sounds are bad for your hearing, but did you know that you could suffer from permanent hearing damage in less than one hour of listening to music on loud headphones?

I’m not suggesting that loudspeakers can’t do similar damage, but speakers that sit a couple of feet away from your ears are inherently less dangerous than headphones that are strapped to your head. Sound waves coming from the speakers must travel through the air before reaching your ears, so they lose some of their energy.

You sometimes don’t even realize that your headphone volume is too high until it’s too late. You’re focused on hearing enemy footsteps, so you crank it up, but one flashbang later, you’re left with ringing ears. As one Redditor put it, you lose your frame of reference with headphones, making it hard to judge the loudness. In contrast, speakers make it easy to compare your volume level by relating it to environmental sounds.

Headphones and speakers each have their list of pros and cons; Give yourself the freedom of choice by owning both a quality set of speakers and headphones. Speakers throughout the day so that you can enjoy your games without losing out on your surroundings, and headphones at night to avoid disturbing your family and neighbors.

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By John P.

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