Why eSports Pros Use Earbuds AND Headphones

by Josh Koop | Last Updated:   2 months ago
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Among various esports tournaments, the LAN events are the most explosive and exciting because of the live audience. If you follow LAN events, you will notice that pros use an earbud and a headphone at the same time. But, why do esports players do that?

This is exclusive to LAN tournaments because LAN events are held in front of a live audience. The roar of the crowd can literally impair your hearing. So, the pros use earbuds to listen to in-game as well as other necessary sounds while the over-ear headphones act as a noise-canceling device.

There is a broader explanation to why do esports players use earbuds and headphones. Both the earbud and the headphone have different roles and both are equally important.

The process of noise-cancellation is also pretty interesting. So, keep on reading to learn every bit of this piece of gaming culture.

Benefit Of Using Earbuds Under Headphones At LAN Events

If you follow esports and watch various tournaments, you have definitely noticed that the players wear two sets of listening devices. One is an earbud, the second one is an over-ear headphone that covers the whole ear.

The model of the earbud or the headphone might vary based on the teams, tournaments, or sponsors. But all the pros follow the same fashion nonetheless.

You may or may not have noticed that esports pros only wear earbuds and headsets in LAN tournaments. LAN tournaments are held in arenas in front of active crowds.

The roaring crowds can become an issue. The loud noise can make it difficult for the pros to focus on the game.

In first-person shooters, players require pin-drop silence to hear every footstep to figure out where the enemy is coming from. In loud LAN environments, it is impossible to concentrate. Hence, the idea of using earbuds and headphones has come.

The players use earbuds to listen to everything they need to hear. On top of that, they act as a physical barrier to external noises. The over-ear headphone is for noise-cancellation.

It uses active noise-cancellation technology to block all the external sounds and help the pros listen better.

This is the summary of why esports pros use both earbuds and headphones. The earbuds and headphones each have a different purpose which I will discuss below.

Use of the Earbuds In eSports

The main purpose of using earbuds is to listen to sounds. They also block external noise slightly. Here are three main reasons for using earbuds:

Listening to in-game Sound

In-game sound is so important in esports that it can single-handedly determine the outcome of a match. A friend of mine and I used to think that speakers are the best for listening to in-game sound, headphones are luxury.

But then we were kids and only played single-player story-based games.

But now I play both and I can’t think of a minute without my headphones. Especially in competitive shooters, you can figure how far or where an enemy is, from which direction you are being shot at, etc. from the sound cue alone.

To make sure they get a flawless audio cue, esports players use top-quality earbuds.

Listening to Voice-comms

Team voice chat is your eyes and ears in the game. It’s equally important as in-game sounds. Communication over voice plays an important role in setting up strategy, giving callouts, etc. The frag and refrag potential depend solely upon voice chat.

The earbuds make sure the players get a crisp and clear voice communication experience.

As a Microphone

You will see streamers use separate microphones and headphones for streaming. This is to ensure that the audience gets a studio-quality voiceover. These microphones are often very expensive and do their job well.

But in esports tournaments, there is no need to use a separate microphone. In fact, tables in esports events lack additional space to put one.

Although not all earbuds have a built-in mic, the ones that pros use during tournaments are high-end and have a high-quality built-in mic.

The over-ear noise-canceling headphones do not have a functioning mic most of the time, so the players talk to fellow teammates, coaches as well other team staff via the earbud microphone.

Use of the Over-Ear Headphones In eSports

The main duty of the over-ear headphones is to block unwanted noises. They do it by, well, blocking the noise and breathing in white noise. What is that? Keep on reading:

Block Crowd and Other Noises

Crowds are the heart of any sports tournament so I won’t be biased blaming it all on the crowds. Besides them, there are other noises from commentators, camera crews, other players, etc.

As esports tournaments take place in confined arenas, crowd noise can be unendurable for the players.

The over-ear headphones block the noises in two ways. They act as a physical barrier to block the sounds. This is passive noise-cancellation. Its impact is negligible due to the intensity of the noise in the arena.

That’s where active noise-cancellation comes in. The microphones in these headphones detect the frequency of the noise, then emit an opposite sound wave of the same frequency to cancel the incoming sound.

Active noise-cancellation is way more effective than passive noise-cancellation.

Pump White Noise

If the crowd is specifically noisy, then the headphones pump in white noise through the earpieces.

White noise is made of every audible frequency that the human ear could hear. You can compare it with white light which is made of all visible spectrums of light.

It sounds like a mild buzzing noise that is continuous. So, no matter the frequency of the external sounds, the white noise muffles everything so that the pros can listen to the only sounds they need to hear.

You might ask why the white noise isn’t muffling the earbuds’ sounds. It is because the earbuds go directly into the ear. The sounds go into the ear canal before interfering with the white noise. Thus, the players listen to every important sound cue while all the other noises in the environment are cancelled out.

Some Pros Use A Third Headphone: Why Is That?

You might often see that pros use a third headphone during LAN events. They wrap it around the neck as there is no room to wear them on their heads.

Although it is uncommon, you might have seen it if you religiously follow eSports. Despite being a casual esports follower, I saw it probably in one CS: GO tournament.

There are two reasons behind the third headphone. First, the players use the mic of the third headphone, or rather the headset for in-game voice chat. The mics usually have a flexible arm so that the mouthpiece can be directed toward the mouth for better quality voice chat. The second reason is sponsorship.

The third headset has sponsors’ stickers all over it to display. The headsets usually have large ear cups to accumulate more stickers. The players wrap it around their neck in such a way so that the camera can easily capture the sponsor brands.

Conclusion

As a regular esports follower, watching pro players wearing 2 or even sometimes 3 audio devices can really be confusing to the regular video game enthusiasts. So, it is natural for some to wonder, why do eSports pros use earbuds and headphones at the same time.

But after going through the entire article, I hope you now have a good idea of why that is. Sometimes it’s for cancelling out the screams of fans, sometimes for better mic quality and sometimes for just sponsorships.

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