I've noticed that the mayority of the well-known brands (Sennheiser, Logitech, Plantronics, Razer, SteelSeries, Audio-Technica, Phillips, etc) tend to make headsets with the microphone on the left, is there any UX related reason for that tendency? If not, what's the reason of that choice?

The position of the mic would be equidistant to the the mouth when placed on the right side, so there's no difference when recording.

My improbable theories:

1) Maybe it could be useful for people who eat (or make something using with their right hand and mouth, like smoking) while wearing their headphones, supposing that the person is right-handed(what it's true in most cases) and the mic is neither in front nor too close to their mouth.

2) I think we usually align our body more to the left side of the keyboard (centered between 'g' and 'h' keys or so, and probably to center of monitor too, to avoid neck tension) for writing comfortably, and right-handed ones place the mouse on the right, so the mic on the left could go along with the "left side weight" and avoiding the possible sensation of the microphone "being in the middle". This theory is enhanced in the case that the cable is not divided in two to reach each side and just reach the side where the microphone is placed, so the cord will hang closer to that side and not centered to your body.

  • 3
    Apple earbuds, one of the most-worn headphones [citation needed] with mic have it on the right.
    – msp
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 10:14
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    rewobs, as worded right now this question is likely to generate a lot of discussion and not many useful answers. Is there a specific problem you are facing regarding the placement of microphones on headsets? Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 13:50
  • my headphones have mic on right. haha.
    – colmcq
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 15:11
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    I've been wearing my Plantronics headset with the mic on the right. I just now noticed I can wear it either way. Maybe some of your data points are ambidextrous headsets that people have chosen to wear to the left? (I'll switch to left - I keep bumping the mic when I go to adjust my glasses with my right hand.) Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 17:04
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    Theory #1 sounds fairly solid. Wires get in the way. Most people are right handed. Put the wires on the left to keep them out of the way.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 17:19

5 Answers 5


The cord on headphones is usually on the left, so it makes sense for the mic to be on the left too so that the mic's cable doesn't have to cross all the way over to the right side, thus reducing the wiring/complexity. That's my guess anyway.

Why the cord is on the left, I don't know.


My thinking is along your theory #1.

As some people have commented, the microphone can also be on the right side, which indicates to me that this isn't an absolute design standard. It seems to be more convenience based then. So what is convenient about it?

As stated in your first theory, it frees up space, allowing for uninterrupted interaction with the face. People naturally eat using their dominate hand, related. With the mic on the non-dominate side, it doesn't impede eating/drinking. I see this being one of the largest factors.

From personal experience, I find that when using a headset, it's dependent on the situation I am in whether or not it being on one side or the other is better. If I am at my computer, I use my right hand for the mouse, and typically rest my head on my left hand. With a microphone that is close to the face, this can be restrictive. However, when eating, it is beneficial.

In the end, it's up to personal preference, which is why a lot of companies make headphones that allow for the mic to turn 180 degrees, to be usable for both kinds of preferences.


There does not seem to be a UX answer as far as I can tell. With a little searching, other people seem to believe it is for right hand dominant users where their right hand is always on the mouse and busy so the left hand is available to mess with the headphones. I would also have to agree with this. It seems there isn't a scientific reason for companies doing this though.


Most people are right-handed, so 90% of headsets are made for r-h people. With right hand you can adjust microphone position more accurate than left.


Most people have their PCs sitting to the right of their monitor which means the cord has to go across ones body/lap to reach the jack, often rubbing against ones chin along the way. Also, every laptop I've ever owned has had its headphone jack situated to the right, creating the same messy problem with left oriented cords.

Now, of course, someone is going to say 'I always have my PC to the left' or 'my laptop isn't configured like that'. But I believe I am speaking on behalf of the majority of people who live in a right-handed world.

  • 2
    This should be a comment, not an answer
    – Devin
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 3:33

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