Are Headphones Input Or Output?

Are headphones input or output? Modern-day headphones have built-in mics, which makes them both input and output devices.

Headphones are electroacoustic transducers that convert an electric signal into a corresponding sound. Headphones enable you to listen to a song or a video, or any other audio source privately without impacting others around you. Headphones are also called earphones or ear speakers. Everyone loves to hear their favorite music using headphones.

But listening is not the only thing that you can do with most modern headphones. Most are designed with in-built mics, which means that you can also talk into them. This is especially handy when you are using your headphones with your smartphone, and a call comes in suddenly.

So, are headphones input or output? Well, the answer is not so simple anymore. At one time, even the most tech-challenged person would have easily said that headphones are output devices. But these modern headphones are both input and output because they also perform the function of a mic, which is a patently input device.

Are Headphones Input Or Output

What Are Input And Output Devices?

An input device is a device that inputs information to the computer or your smartphone, whereas output devices are devices that receive information from your computer/phone.

The headphones receive information from a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Therefore, you should call them output devices.

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Are headphones Input Or Output?

You will find two types of headphones in the market, one with a microphone and the other without a microphone.

First, I want to discuss headphones that don’t have a microphone built into them. Such a headphone is clearly an output device because all it does is reproduce information from a laptop or mobile phone in the form of sound. It cannot take data from the user to the laptop.

On the other hand, a headphone that has a microphone built-in performs the functions of both input and output devices. The microphone takes instructions from the user to the laptop while the headphone speaker gives the output as sound. 

Are Headphones Input Or Output

How Do Microphones Work?

A microphone converts sound waves into an electronic signal. Then these electronic signals are converted into digital data to be fed into a computer or a mobile phone. 

You will find various microphone types in the market, like moving coil diaphragm microphones, condenser microphones, and ribbon microphones.

  • Moving-coil diaphragm microphones convert acoustic energy into electric energy using electromagnetic induction.
  • Condenser microphones convert acoustic waves into electric energy using the electrostatic principle.
  • Ribbon microphones work similar to moving coil diaphragm microphones, but here the diaphragm is in the shape of a ribbon.

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How Do Headphones Work?

Parts Of A Headphone

#1. Headphone Speaker

The speaker boxes of your headphones provide sound to your ear. A good quality headphone has a better speaker, and it provides you with clear and crisp sound. The headphones which have noise-canceling capability reduce the unwanted ambient sound with the help of active noise control.

#2. Headphone Cushions

The headphone cushions are soft pads that are present on the speaker box of each ear. These cushions reduce the outside noise and grip the head to prevent your headphone from sliding. These cushions provide comfort to the user.

#3. Headphone Band

The headphone band consists of plastic, which runs on the top of a user’s head to hold the speaker of the microphone in place.

#4. Cable

The cable is a long wire that runs from two sides of your headphone so that you can connect them to any device like a laptop or mobile phone. The cable helps in transferring the audio signal of the computer to the speaker of the headphone. The cable connector can be either a mini plug or a USB.

Are Headphones Input Or Output

The Headphone As A Transducer

Headphones take input from your computer or smartphone and output it to your ears. In that sense, they are output devices.

But in the sense of energy conservation, headphones are merely converting electrical energy into sound energy, thus making them both an input as well as an output device. But this is more of a technical observation that may interest an engineer.

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Digital To Analog Converter

Headphones use analog signals to drive their equipment. However, the signal that is produced inside a computer is always digital.

Therefore, there has to be a converting layer between the two. This layer is the Digital to Analog Converter or DAC.

Luckily your computer has an inbuilt sound card that serves as a digital to analog converter. So, you listen to the audio your computer plays whenever you plug your headphones into your computer’s headphone jack.

Suppose your device does not have an audio jack (let’s say that it connects through a lightning port). In that case, there must be a DAC between the headphones and the lightning port.

Are Headphones Input Or Output

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. Is it a headset input, output, or storage?

When you connect a headset to your computer, laptop, or smartphone, they receive the information output from the device, which means they are an output device. But modern-day headphones also have built-in microphones, which makes them both an input and an output device.

#2. What is a headphone out?

The headphone out is a driver who carries enough amplification to drive a set of headphones.

#3. Is headphone hardware or software?

A headphone is an example hardware device because you can physically plug it into any device like a computer, laptop, smartphone, media player, or other device. You have to plug into the device, and they do not require it before use. 

#4. Is audio input or output?

The microphone converts the sound waves into audio signals converted into digital data to be sent to the computer. An output device drives the input of various audio devices like speakers.

#5. Why is headphone an output device?

Headphones receive the information which is out from a computer. So, it is an output device.

Are Headphones Input Or Output

Wrap Up

Headphones have become a vital part of our life. Listening to songs or watching loud videos is not always possible. It may disturb your family members or older adults, or neighbors. 

The headphone is the best alternative option that allows you to listen to the song without disturbing anyone. You can carry them while traveling and listen to your favorite songs for relaxation.

These headphones are an output device that reproduces information from a digital device. But headphones that also function as a mic are both input and output devices.

I hope this article has helped you in knowing something about headphones. Please do share your suggestions for this article. 

Happy listening!