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What Is a VoIP Headset?

What Is a VoIP Headset?

Jay Brant • Dec 28, 2023 •

Here’s a question: What is a VoIP headset?

We talk about VoIP Phones and VoIP Phone Systems and “What Is VoIP?” But you want your hands free while you’re talking to a client on your VoIP phone.

So you need the answer to our initial question: What is a VoIP headset?

It’s a term you see quite commonly. Manufacturers and retailers both call things “VoIP headsets.” But what is the difference between a VoIP headset and a regular headset? Is there a difference?

A Philosopher Wearing a Headset

Headsets for VoIP

The short answer is this: Technically, there is no such thing as a “VoIP headset.” But there are headsets for VoIP.

A headset for VoIP is one that you use with a VoIP device. It is a peripheral that connects to a phone or computer. The phone may or may not be a VoIP phone and the computer may or may not make calls using a VoIP softphone.

You can use a VoIP headset with other non-VoIP devices, like landline phones or cellular phones. Generally speaking, a VoIP phone must connect to a VoIP phone system to function. If it isn’t, all you’ll have is a phone-shaped sculpture sitting on your desk.

Just like you can use a gaming headset for phone calls — including VoIP calls — or listening to music, a VoIP headset is non-exclusive. You can even use a VoIP headset as a gaming headset, if you want.

Let’s explain in detail.

VoIP stands for “Voice Over IP (Internet Protocol).” VoIP is a catch-all term for a variety of standards to enable telephone calls using internet technologies. You can think of it as the internet version of the traditional phone calls that run over the telephone wires you see hanging everywhere.

There are several different standards for VoIP, the most widely used of which is SIP. If you’d like to know more about SIP, check out our blog: “What Is a SIP Phone? An Easy to Understand Explainer.”

A VoIP phone is a telephone that runs VoIP technologies. It’s actually a computer that replicates — and expands on — the form and functions of a traditional analog phone. Most of the time, it has a handset and button-based interface, and it will have audio-enhancing technologies like noise cancellation. If you’ve ever wonder why VoIP phones can support so many more features than landline telephones, it’s because they’re computers.

A computer application that replicates a traditional phone is called a “VoIP softphone” — software telephone. It runs on your PC or laptop and handles VoIP calls.

You can use a VoIP headset with VoIP phones and VoIP softphones.

The key thing to know is this: It’s the phone or computer that is using the VoIP technologies. It’s not the headset.

The headset doesn’t actually use any of the VoIP technologies. A headset takes an incoming call and plays it for you, and it takes your voice as you speak and delivers it to your phone. The phone then relays your voice as a data stream over the VoIP phone system.

In other words, a headset is just a combination speaker/microphone.

A Philosopher Wearing a Headset

VoIP Phone Headsets vs Landline Phone Headsets

Here’s a related question: What’s the difference between a headset for a VoIP phone vs a headset for a landline phone? Can you use a VoIP phone headset with an analog phone?

The answer: It’s all about connectivity. There are headsets that work just as good with VoIP phones as they do with landline phones.

Most landline phones for business will have two jacks on its backside. One of these jacks is for a handset; the other jack is for a headset. These two jacks are the same type of connector, which you’ll see called an RJ9, RJ11, 4P4C or Modular connector. Most of the time we call it an RJ9 jack, so that’s we’ll use for the rest of this blog.

Pretty much every VoIP phone also has the two RJ9 jacks: one for handset and one for headset.

There are many RJ9 Headsets that work equally well for landline phones and for VoIP phones.

However, VoIP phones also support common types of headsets that landline phones, to the best of our knowledge, don’t support: USB Headsets and Bluetooth Headsets. These are just different ways of connecting to the phone.

As you know, USB and Bluetooth are extremely common standards for connecting to devices like computers, smartphones and tablets. VoIP phones are computers, so it makes sense that they can support the standards.

If you have a USB VoIP headset or Bluetooth VoIP headset, you can use it with any device that supports it — VoIP phone, computer, smartphone, tablet and so on. It’s non-exclusive.

Not every VoIP phone supports every method of connecting. Make sure to check the phone’s connectivity options when shopping for your next VoIP phone and VoIP headset. If you want to learn more about headsets, check out our clear, detailed Headsets Buyer’s Guide.