The main difference between Headphone and Handsfree is that the Headphone is a pair of small speakers held close to a user’s ears and Handsfree is a equipment that can be used without the use of hands.
Headphones (or head-phones in the early days of telephony and radio) are a pair of small loudspeaker drivers worn on or around the head over a user’s ears. They are electroacoustic transducers, which convert an electrical signal to a corresponding sound. Headphones let a single user listen to an audio source privately, in contrast to a loudspeaker, which emits sound into the open air for anyone nearby to hear. Headphones are also known as earspeakers, earphones or, colloquially, cans. Circumaural and supra-aural headphones use a band over the top of the head to hold the speakers in place. The other type, known as earbuds or earpieces consist of individual units that plug into the user’s ear canal. In the context of telecommunication, a headset is a combination of headphone and microphone. Headphones connect to a signal source such as an audio amplifier, radio, CD player, portable media player, mobile phone, video game console, or electronic musical instrument, either directly using a cord, or using wireless technology such as bluetooth, DECT or FM radio. The first headphones were developed in the late 19th century for use by telephone operators, to keep their hands free. Initially the audio quality was mediocre and a step forward was the invention of high fidelity headphones.
Headphones are made in a range of different audio reproduction quality capabilities. Headsets designed for telephone use typically cannot reproduce sound with the high fidelity of expensive units designed for music listening by audiophiles. Headphones that use cables typically have either a 1/4 inch (6.35mm) or 1/8 inch (3.5mm) phone jack for plugging the headphones into the audio source. Some stereo earbuds are wireless, using Bluetooth connectivity to transmit the audio signal by radio waves from source devices like cellphones and digital players. Due to the spread of wireless devices in recent years headphones are increasingly used by people in public places such as sidewalks, grocery stores, and public transit. Headphones are also used by people in various professional contexts, such as audio engineers mixing sound for live concerts or sound recordings and DJs, who use headphones to cue up the next song without the audience hearing, aircraft pilots and call center employees. The latter two types of employees use headphones with an integrated microphone.
Hands-free is an adjective describing equipment that can be used without the use of hands (for example via voice commands) or, in a wider sense, equipment which needs only limited use of hands, or for which the controls are positioned so that the hands are able to occupy themselves with another task (such as driving) without needing to hunt far afield for the controls.
Devices that are typically used for handsfree communication use Bluetooth as its wireless technology. They still require a smartphone or other device to initiate a call. These devices include Bluetooth headsets, hands-free car kits (HFCK), and personal navigation devices (PND). Originally introduced as optional features connected by a wire to smartphones or other communication devices, they now generally are available with wireless technology.
Bluetooth handsfree options are now also easily found in any high end automotive as part of the vehicle’s stereo system, or in after market stereo system units. This option utilizes the vehicle’s speakers to transmit the caller’s voice in the phone call and have an embedded microphone in the stereo unit itself, the steering wheel, or use a separate wired microphone that can be placed anywhere in the vehicle.
A listening device placed or worn in the ear, usually sold in pairs
“She handed me one headphone so I could listen too.”
That can be used without using the hands, hands-free.
“a handsfree phone”
A handsfree phone.