A very common question when buying new PC headphones is whether it is better to opt for a model that connects to the computer through a USB port, or if on the contrary it is better to buy headphones with an analog 3-jack connection. , 5mm, such as the Denon AH-D5200.
As is common in the world of technology, neither option is clearly better than the other, but depends on many factors that cannot be generalized. Next, we explain the differences between USB headphones and 3.5 mm jack , as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
USB headsets have become very popular in recent years, especially within the gaming sector. The main characteristic of these models is that they connect to the computer using a digital interface, the USB port .
However, speakers that include headphones need an analog signal to function, as no speaker is capable of operating using a digital signal. This forces headphones that use a USB interface to come with a DAC inside.
A DAC (Digital-to-Analog Conversion) is a small device that is responsible for converting a digital signal into an analog one . In this case, the audio files that are sent to the headphones from our PC are digital, and the DAC of the headphones is responsible for converting them into an analog signal that the speakers can use.
These headphones have several important advantages. The first one is that they do not suffer from electrical noise . Electrical noise is that little buzz you have heard a few times when connecting a wired headset to your phone, and it can be really annoying. Electrical noise is typical of analog signals and does not occur in digital ones.
Another advantage is that you do not need your PC to have a sound card, since the headphones already come with the audio system they need to work. However, all motherboards have a built-in sound card, so this advantage is of little use unless the audio system built into your motherboard has crashed.
Finally, the sound system built into USB headphones is generally accompanied by management software . This software allows you to apply various effects to the sound of the headphones , equalize your sound, activate virtual 7.1 surround sound and much more. They generally offer many more options than sound cards built into motherboards.
But not all is good in USB headphones. Their main problem is that the DAC they include is usually of poor quality , this is done with the aim of keeping a manufacturing cost as low as possible. The DAC involves adding one more component to the headphones, forcing manufacturers to cut down on quality to maintain a tight selling price.
The speakers are another point that is often sacrificed in these headphones . USB headphones are very focused on the gaming sector, a public that tends to focus more on aesthetics than on specifications. Manufacturers know this, which is why they bet on striking designs and even put many colored lights on their USB gaming headphones. All this costs money, and you have to cut somewhere so that the manufacturing price is not too high.
Its last disadvantage is that, if you have a high-end sound card in your PC, you will not use it with a USB headset , so you will be wasting it. Your brand new Sound Blaster will be dead laughing inside the PC.
Headphones per 3.5 mm jack
The 3.5 mm jack headphones are connected in an analog way to our PC , so they directly already receive an analog signal that the speakers can process. For this reason these headphones do not include any type of DAC inside, but rather use the PC's sound card.
These headphones have many advantages over USB. The first one is that they can be used in all kinds of devices that include a 3.5 mm jack connector . Computers, tablets, smartphones, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, radios and many more. USB headphones can only be used on PC, greatly limiting your enjoyment possibilities.
We continue to see its advantages. These headphones have fewer components, which means that every one of the dollars it costs to make them has been invested in what really matters . Quality of the speakers, resistance of the cable, comfort of the headband, high quality ear pads ... all these are aspects that are much more taken care of in this type of headphones.
Their third great advantage is that they use the PC's sound card. If you have a high-end sound card, you can get all the performance out of it with 3.5 mm jack headphones, which will allow you to enjoy the best sound quality. Just keep in mind that the headphones and the sound card have to be of similar quality. There's no point in using a $ 400 headset with an integrated or a $ 20 dedicated sound card.
As for the disadvantages of 3.5 mm jack headphones, the main one is that they are sensitive to electrical noise , something that is often found in low-quality sound cards.
The other disadvantage is that they need the PC's sound card to work , so if it breaks you will have to buy a new one. They also depend on your sound card software to manage sound effects, something that can be good or bad depending on how complete your sound card is and what it can do.
Both types of headphones have their strengths and weaknesses. When choosing, you should take into account their strengths and weaknesses to choose the model that best suits your needs . With a USB headset you forget to worry about electrical noise and the sound card of your PC, although in return you will be receiving less quality for your money. On the other hand, a 3.5 mm jack headphones can give you better performance, as long as the sound system of your PC is up to par.