Why Buy a VoIP Headset?
The primary purpose of a VoIP headset is to provide the audio quality of headphones with the convenience of a hands-free communication device, allowing you to type or take notes while you chat over the internet. This makes VoIP headsets ideal for call centers and businesses where softphone applications and unified communication services are the primary form of communication with employees and customers. They are also the primary device for telecommuters who work from home but need to stay in contact with people at work.
VoIP headsets aren't just for communicating over the internet. They allow you to listen to music or audiobooks with high-quality audio when you're not chatting. They allow you to communicate with other's when playing online games. They are ideal for software that converts your speech to editable text. You can also use VoIP headsets for recording podcasts or for dictating notes.
The Plantronics Blackwire 700, Plantronics .Audio 995 and Jabra UC Voice 750 are great examples of VoIP headsets because they have the best audio quality and the comfort features that make these headsets you can wear all day. If you're interested in learning more, you can read articles on VoIP headsets in our learning center.
VoIP Headsets: What to Look For
Audio quality is paramount. This applies to both the speaker and the microphone. You need your VoIP calls to be clear and your music to be full and rich. In addition, the microphone should have the frequency response range and the noise cancellation technology to make sure that your caller hears you and not your office. Finally, the headset should have features that make it easy to use and the comfort to wear all day long.
Below are some of the criteria you'll want to consider when choosing a VoIP headset.
Speaker Audio Performance
The speaker's ability to reproduce sound is at the core of what makes a good VoIP headset. This begins with the speaker's frequency response range – the range of audio wavelengths that a speaker is capable of reproducing, measured in hertz. The best USB headsets have a frequency range that can produce bass frequencies as low as 18Hz and frequencies as high as 22kHz.
Most VoIP headset have two headset options: Stereo and Mono. The stereo headset has two speakers that cover both ears while the mono headset only has one speaker. If you're looking for the best overall audio, the stereo headset is the best choice. It's like the difference between seeing with one eye or both. However, those around you may find it difficult to get your attention when you're wearing a stereo headset. For this reason, some offices prefer mono headsets because you can respond to side conversations.
You should also consider a UC headset with acoustic shock protection. While the technology may differ from headset to headset, the idea is the same – a sort of internal circuit breaker that suppresses against potentially dangerous spikes in the decibel level. These acoustic spikes can range from feedback to pops caused by the USB connection. People who wear VoIP headsets for much of the day are particularly susceptible to acoustic shock and can experience symptoms such as tinnitus, headaches, nausea and permanent hearing damage.
Microphone Audio Performance
Without a microphone, a VoIP headset would just be a set of headphones. The microphone is what turns the headphones into a hands-free communication device. Like the speakers, the microphone has a frequency response range. The difference is that while the frequency range of the speakers represents what the speakers can reproduce, the frequency range of the microphone represents what the microphone can capture and transmit.
The best VoIP headsets have a frequency response range of 20Hz to 16kHz. This wide of a frequency response range makes it ideal for most voice applications like speech-to-text software, podcasts and VoIP calling. This is because it reaches the full range of the human voice. Many UC headsets are only optimized for VoIP calling, which uses a wideband frequency of 100Hz to 7kHz.
The most important headset feature is the wireless option. Cords are cumbersome. With the average USB headset cord being eight feet long, cords can easily tangle and catch in the wheels of your chair. Also, cords keep you tethered to your computer. However, a wireless headset gives you the range to roam without the noose. In addition, some wireless headsets have the ability to pair with your mobile devices, which means you can take the audio quality of a VoIP headset wherever you go.
The best VoIP headsets have the volume and call controls on the earpiece instead of the cord. This makes the headset easier to use because you don't have to search the length of the cord for the controls every time you want to answer a call or turn up the volume. In addition, your VoIP headset should be optimized for unified communication services and softphone services like Lync, Cisco and Skype.
Most VoIP headsets have the headband style, which has two major pressure points – the vertical pressure of the headband on top of your head and the horizontal pressure of the earpieces pressing against the side of your head. The best UC headsets use a circumaural, or closed-ear, design. This design closes around the ears with the cushions pressing against your head instead of your ears. This also enhances the audio experience by letting less external audio frequencies reach your ear.
In addition, the headband should be padded to ease the vertical pressure. Even the lightest headsets can cause the top of your head to feel sore after hours of use. If you have a sensitive head or you want to avoid messing up your hair, some headsets have different wearing styles, such as the neckband or ear hook. The neckband style wraps around the back of your head while the ear hook is reserved for mono headsets that fit onto one ear with a hook for stability.
Help & Support
For many businesses, your VoIP headset is the primary means of communication with clients, other employees or managers. If it stops functioning properly, you'll need a manufacturer with the resources available to help you get back to work as soon as possible. This means that the best USB headset manufacturers have multi-year product warranties, 24/7 telephone support, downloadable manuals and guides, compatibility guides, FAQs pages and audio glossaries.
With more and more of the world's communication moving to online formats, you want a VoIP headset that enhances your online communication experience instead of discouraging it. This requires a great audio experience, features that are easy to use and comfort that lasts all day.
The Plantronics brand has been associated with the manufacturing and creation of some of the best headsets since the 1960s. When Neil Armstrong uttered those famous words on the moon, "That's one small step for man – one giant leap for mankind," he did so through a Plantronics headset. While the Plantronics Blackwire 700 series hasn't been to the moon and back, it has the all-day comfort, versatile connectivity and audio quality to make it one of the best VoIP headsets.
The most important characteristic of a VoIP headset is the quality of the sound. This applies when you're listening to music, watching movies, playing games and when you're video chatting with someone over Lync or Skype. With a 50 mm audio speaker that can produce frequencies between 20Hz and 20kHz, you get a speaker that is capable of reproducing the average range of human hearing. This equates to rich bass and crisp highs. In addition, the stereo models offer calling that has much more depth and clarity than the mono headsets.
Protecting your ears is also important. Extended use of headphones can cause ear fatigue, especially if you listen to music or audio at high decibels. To protect your ears, the Blackwire 700 series USB headset has the SoundGuard technology. This limits the overall volume to 118 decibels. It also detects and dampens sudden acoustic bursts. These bursts can come in the form of pops caused by electronic overload passing through the USB connection, or as overjoyed screams of family members while on Skype.
The SoundGuard doesn't just protect your ears, it also ensures better audio quality over the life of the headset. Speakers create sound by vibrating and moving the air. The higher the decibels, the more vigorously the speakers must move the air. This movement damages the speakers over time, which causes distortion in the audio. SoundGuard technology helps keep the speakers from clipping – distortion caused by a speaker pushed beyond its capabilities.
The Blackwire's microphone has a frequency response range of 100Hz to 8kHz. This range reaches well beyond the minimum requirements for wideband audio, making it ideal for VoIP calling. It's also good for recording audio notes or podcasts. In addition, using this microphone with speech-to-text software allows you to dictate your notes into an editable text format.
The microphone comes with a digital equalizer that filters out background frequencies so that the receiver can hear you over background noises. The noise cancellation technology isn't as robust as a standard Bluetooth headset, but it's very effective at eliminating background noise in your home or office.
One of the reasons the Plantronics Blackwire 700 is the best USB headset is it combines the reliability of a corded connection with the versatility of wireless. It connects to your computer via USB port so you can Skype or play online games. However, it also connects to your phone or other A2DP devices with Bluetooth. This means you can use the VoIP headset to make mobile phone calls and stream music.
The Bluetooth connection gives you 33 feet of freedom while the USB cord keeps you tethered to a computer. The USB cord disconnects from the headset at the controls, allowing you to use your headset wherever you go, but also gives you the reliability of a connection when you need it. The controls have a clothing clip, which keeps it easily accessible so you don't have to search the length of your cord for the controls every time you need to answer a call or pause a song.
Of course, you don't actually need the controls to answer a call. The Blackwire, like many other Plantronics devices, has smart technology that answers a call when you put on the headset and hangs up when you take it off. In addition, the plug-and-play feature means that you don't have to worry about installing software just to operate the headset. You only have to plug it into your computer. The Bluetooth connection is equally easy to set up.
Plantronics optimized the Blackwire 700 series for UC services – unified communications programs that streamline the way businesses communicate. These services include instant messengers and softphone applications like Avaya, Lync, Skype and Cisco. In addition, you can purchase the model in a stereo or mono version. While the stereo version provides a much better audio experience, some offices prefer mono headsets because you don't have to take the headset off your ears every time a co-worker or customer needs to talk to you.
If you often make extended calls, you need a headset that's comfortable to wear for long periods. Comfort begins with the ear pad design. The design of this headset is on-ear instead of closed-ear. Closed-ear is preferred because it puts the pressure around the ear. The on-ear design puts the pressure on the ear, which can cause ears to get sore after long chatting sessions. In addition, the closed-ear design offers a better audio experience because it doesn't allow much external sound to interfere with the listening.
An often-overlooked comfort feature is the headband pad. After hours of wearing a headset, you'll notice that the top of your head where the headband rests can feel sore. A headband pad helps prevent or minimize this soreness. The Blackwire headband has some padding, but the padding isn't significant enough to make much of a difference.
Plantronics has one of the best support systems for UC headsets. Blackwire 700 series headsets come with 24/7 support and a two-year warranty. In addition, if you want to learn more, there are community forums, a knowledgebase and an extensive glossary of terms to help you understand your product and troubleshoot any potential issues that you come across.
The Plantronics Blackwire 700 is the best VoIP headset because it offers high-quality audio with the SoundGuard protection, which protects your ears from potential damage. With Bluetooth and a detachable USB cord, it offers a versatility that other USB headsets can't match. The only downside is the on-ear design and the slight padding in the headband, which can cause ear and head soreness when used for long durations.
The best VoIP headsets provide headphone quality audio with everything you listen to – music, movies, podcasts, games and VoIP calls. VoIP headsets also need to be easy to operate and comfortable to wear for hours at a time. With a wireless option, a thick headband pad and a closed-ear design featuring speakers that have a wide frequency response, the Plantronics .Audio 995 earns a top spot in our reviews.
With a name like .Audio, you should expect great sound. The audio response frequency of the Plantronics .Audio 995 reaches a low of 20Hz and a high of 20kHz. This covers the average frequency range that the average human can hear, making it a great headset for listening to music or for playing online games. This also makes it ideal for VoIP calling because this is more than three times the frequency range of wideband audio.
There are ten .Audio models available in the series – 995, 955, 655 DSP, 648, 628, 626 DSP, 478, 400 DSP, 355 and 326. The major differences between each of these models are wearing style and comfort features. The 995 headset is the top end model with the best audio and best features. The only type of model missing from this series is a mono headset. Each headset comes in stereo, which is the best choice for audio quality. However, some offices prefer mono headsets because the open ear allows employees to respond to people who need their attention in person.
One of the audio features that the series is missing is an acoustic shock protection system. If you're wearing your USB headset for hours at a time, then you're very susceptible to experiencing acoustic shock – a sudden increase in the decibel level that can cause hearing damage and other symptoms like tinnitus and headaches. Acoustic shock protection keeps these acoustic bursts from reaching dangerous decibels.
The Plantronics .Audio 995's microphone has one of the best frequency response ranges. It can capture frequencies as low as 100Hz and as high as 10kHz. This frequency range is 3kHz over the maximum wideband audio for VoIP calling. This means that you'll get a natural voice tone for calls and better voice quality for speech-to-text software.
To optimize your voice for VoIP calling, the Plantronics .Audio USB headsets have an internal noise-reduction system to filter out background noise so that your callers hear your voice over whatever's going on around you. Whether you're in a noisy call-center or you're at home with a toddler, your voice will cut through it all.
One of the best features of the Plantronics .Audio series is the wireless 995 headset. The .Audio 995 uses a Wi-Fi USB adapter that connects the headset to your computer. This wireless freedom means that you can wander around your home or office while you're on a VoIP call. Not only does this give you the freedom to roam, but it also eliminates the hassle of a cord that can tangle and catch under office chairs.
In addition, the controls are on the headset. This is an upgrade over a headset with the controls on the cord because the headset doesn't move. Unless you have a clothing clip, in-line controls move every time you move. So when you want to turn up the volume or mute a call, you have to find the controls. On-ear controls are easier. The headset also has a quick mute feature that mutes the audio when you move the boom microphone upward and unmutes when you pull the microphone back down.
While most UC headsets only control volume and call functions, the .Audio 995, .Audio 655 DSP and .Audio 355 have controls that will control your audio tracks. This means that you can skip, play, pause and rewind your music directly from the headset.
The Plantronics .Audio series has a wide array of wearing styles to fit your desired comfort. The .Audio 648 headset uses a neckband style, which is great for avoiding your hair with a headband. The .Audio 628, 626 DSP, 478, 400 DSP and 326 models all use the on-ear, or supra-aural, design. This places the earpiece on the ear. This generally equates to a lighter headset but leads to sore ears after several hours because the pressure of the earpieces presses against the ear, which is made of soft cartilage.
Fortunately, the .Audio 995, 665 DSP and 355 models use a closed-ear, or circumaural design. This design closes around the ear, which places the pressure against your head. You can wear headsets with this design for hours without ear soreness because there is nothing pressing against your ears. In addition, the circumaural design adds to the audio quality because it lets less external noise reach your ear. Also, the headband pads are thick, which greatly softens the pressure of the headset over the span of the day.
All the UC headsets in the Plantronics .Audio series come with a two-year warranty. Plantronics also offers 24/7 phone support, downloadable guides for all the headsets and a glossary for unfamiliar audio terms.
The Plantronics .Audio 995 is one of the best VoIP headsets because it offers great audio for both you and your caller. It doesn't matter if you're listening to music or on Skype with an overseas business partner, the speakers have the frequency response range for the best audio reproduction. In addition, the wireless option and the on-ear controls that allow you to control your music tracks make this one of the easiest headsets to use. The only flaw is the absence of an acoustic shock protection system.
The best VoIP headsets combine the audio quality of headphones with the advantage of a hands-free device that allows you to type, take notes or play games as you chat with people over the internet. The Jabra UC Voice 750 is a USB headset with the all-day comfort, professional design and audio quality.
Highest Speaker Frequency Response Lowest Speaker Frequency Response Highest Microphone Frequency Response Lowest Microphone Frequency Response
Earlier models of the Jabra UC Voice series prioritize voice quality for VoIP calling over other audio applications like music and video. These VoIP headsets are specifically for call centers where the majority of the headset's use is for calls on UC platforms like Lync and Cisco. However, the audio response frequency of the Jabra Voice 750 model reaches a low of 20Hz and a high of 20kHz. This covers the average frequency range that the average human can hear, making it a great headset for listening to music or games when you're not on a call.
There are two models available with each model in the series – mono and stereo. The stereo option is the far better choice for an all-around quality listening experience for both VoIP calling and other audio because it provides depth to the sound. However, stereo headsets can cause you to become unaware of your surroundings. Mono headsets, which only have one earpiece, are often the preferred choice for office environments where you need to have an open ear available to co-workers or clients.
Another part of the audio quality is the PeakStop protection. This is an internal EQ system designed to recognize and suppress sudden spikes in the decibel level. This helps to prevent acoustic shock, which can damage your hearing and cause other symptoms like tinnitus, nausea and headaches.
The Jabra UC Voice's microphone has a frequency response range that is consistent with wideband audio. The low frequencies start at 100Hz and the highs end at 6.8kHz. This is the average frequency range for a USB headset. However, the best USB headsets have a range that starts as low as 18Hz and extends to as high as 16kHz – the average frequency range of the human voice. So while the UC Voice's microphone is excellent for wideband audio, it's not ideal for text-to-speech software or vocal recording for podcasts or audio commentaries.
To optimize your voice for VoIP calling, the Jabra UC Voice 750 has an internal noise-reduction system – an active EQ filter that recognizes the background frequencies and filters these from the audio – so that your callers hear your voice over the cacophony of your office or home. In addition, the microphone has a windscreen that absorbs the sound of your breath on the microphone. It also helps to minimize percussive sounds like "P" and "K," which can cause the audio to clip and distort. It also reduces sibilance – a hissing sound caused by "S" and "Sh."
A downside to the headset features is the lack of a wireless option. The Jabra UC Voice 750 is marketed as being a headset for mobile employees but keeps you tethered to your computer or laptop with a cord. The nine-foot cord can easily get tangled and caught under desk chair wheels. In addition, the in-line controls mean that you have to search the length of your cord to answer a call or mute a call. Fortunately, the Jabra UC Voice has a clothing clip for the control interface so that you can immediately access it when you need it.
If you're using your UC headset for work or telecommuting, then you'll be wearing it for hours at a time. The Jabra UC Voice is designed with this in mind. The earpieces and headband pads are made of a soft leatherette material. The one downside to the design is the on-ear speakers. This design places the horizontal pressure of the headset on the ear, which can cause soreness from all-day wear. A closed-ear design is preferred because it places the pressure on your skull instead of the cartilage of your ear.
All the UC headsets in the Jabra UC Voice series come with a two-year warranty. This is the industry standard. Jabra also offers great support services. You can find all the guides and manuals for the headset, and you can consult the glossary and FAQs page for unfamiliar terms and answers to common questions. The only help service that Jabra lacks is 24/7 phone support.
The Jabra UC Voice 750 is one of the best VoIP headsets because it has the frequency response range for optimal audio reproduction – 20Hz to 20kHz. This allows you to use it like headphones for listening to music and for playing games. Also, with the PeakStop protection and comfort features, you can wear this headset all day with the confidence that a sudden acoustic burst won't damage your hearing. However, while the microphone has an excellent noise cancellation system, the frequency response range is only average.
In 1958, John Koss invented the first stereo headphones. Since then, the Koss Corporation has built a reputation on high quality audio reproduction through headphones. The Koss SB49 USB headset is no different. With an audio frequency response range that starts at 18Hz and reaches as high as 20kHz, it has one of the widest frequency responses for VoIP headsets. This represents the range of what the average human can hear, which means that you can expect a high quality listening experience with all of your audio, whether it's VoIP calling or your favorite album.
A flaw with the audio is the lack of an acoustic shock protection system. This internal filter suppresses spikes in decibel level caused by such issues as feedback, connection issues, electrical surges in the computer and other abruptly loud noises passing through the speakers. The problem with lacking this protection is that acoustic shock is common among people who use VoIP headsets, particularly for long periods. These sudden noises can damage your hearing and cause symptoms like nausea, headaches and tinnitus.
For the microphone, the Koss SB49 has a bendable gooseneck boom mic with the widest frequency response capabilities of any UC headsets we reviewed. It can pick up lows of 100Hz and pick up highs of 16kHz. With the average human voice having a frequency range of 18Hz to 14kHz, this microphone is designed to pick up more of your voice than other VoIP headsets. In addition to being ideal for VoIP calling, this frequency range makes it a great headset for recording vocals for podcasts and other applications, like speech-to-text software.
The microphone also comes with an internal noise cancellation system that will reduce background noises, allowing your caller to hear your voice over the noise of your office. In addition, the microphone's outfitted with a windscreen, which reduces percussive sounds and sibilance to provide a clear voice. Some hard consonants shoot air over the microphone in such a way that it distorts the audio or causes hisses. The windscreen absorbs the air so that all you hear is the voice.
One of the downsides to the SB series is that it doesn't include a wireless option. The cord is nearly 10 feet long, which is longer than most USB headsets by almost two feet. However, this also means that you have more of an opportunity to get tangled or to catch the cord under the wheels of your chair, which can easily damage the cord. The cord does feature a 3.5mm stereo jack adapter option for plugging into your PC's sound card instead of using a USB port.
For comfort, the Koss SB49 has a circumaural earpiece that closes around the ear with thick cushions covered in leatherette. This closed-ear design is ideal for all-day wear because it puts the pressure of the earpieces against your head instead of your ear. This design is also favored for audio because it lets less external noises reach your ear, which equates to less interference with the audio. In addition, the thick headband pad alleviates the vertical pressure placed on top of your head.
While most UC headsets come with a two-year warranty, the Koss SB49 comes with a limited lifetime warranty. This guarantees that the headset will be free from defect for the life of the product.
The Koss SB49 is among the best VoIP headsets because it has the audio frequency response range to be your primary set of headphones in addition to having one of the best microphones for a VoIP headset. While it may lack acoustic shock protection, it does have the all-day comfort and lifetime guarantee to make it one of the best VoIP headsets.
The audio quality of the Logitech B530 makes it one of the best VoIP headsets because it has the frequency response range that you need for an optimal listening experience with VoIP calling and other audio. The low frequencies start at 20Hz while the high's reach 20kHz. This is the same frequency range of average human hearing, which means you'll hear what you're meant to hear with this VoIP headset.
Despite having great audio quality, the speakers lack an acoustic shock protection system. This internal filter suppresses sudden increases in the decibel level caused by feedback, connection issues and other abrupt, loud noises passing through the speakers. These sudden noises can damage your hearing and cause symptoms like nausea, headaches and tinnitus.
For the microphone, the Logitech B530 has an unbendable boom with a frequency response range that's capable of picking up sounds starting at 100Hz and ending at 10kHz. This exceeds the range for wideband audio used in VoIP calling by 3kHz. This makes it ideal for text-to-speech programs and minor audio commentary recordings for podcasts. In addition, it uses a unidirectional noise cancellation filter that reduces the background noise around you so that your caller can hear you clearly.
The headset features controls on the earpiece instead of the cord like most UC headsets. This is an improvement over in-line controls because the controls never change location. If you want to change the volume or answer a call, you'll never have to search for the controls. With in-line controls, you have to search the length of the cord to find the buttons.
For comfort, the headset has large headband pads and a closed-ear design. The headband pad alleviates the vertical pressure placed on top of your head while the closed-ear design places the vertical pressure on your skull instead of your ear. In addition, the closed-ear design helps reduce ambient background noise from interfering with the audio, creating a better all-around listening experience.
There isn't a mono version of the Logitech B530 USB headset available. The only downside to this is that many offices and work environments prefer mono headsets because the job requires your attention to often transition between VoIP calls and your surroundings, a skill aided by mono headsets. However, for the best audio experience or if your office is noisy, a stereo headset is preferred.
The Logitech B530 has the audio frequency response range and the closed-ear design for all-around good audio quality and comfort. In addition, the microphone has an excellent frequency range for VoIP calling and for speech-to-text software. However, the lack of acoustic shock protection means that you're susceptible to hearing damage from sudden spikes in the decibel level.
Most VoIP headsets tether you to your computer with an eight-foot USB cord. Most of the time, this isn't an issue because you need to be at your computer for video conferencing or for typing in information as you chat to customers. However, sometimes you may need the freedom to roam from your desk. For example, a receptionist may need to direct client traffic around the office. The Logitech H820e headset gives you a 300-foot area to move. In addition, the wireless design means that the controls are on the headset, which makes them easier to access.
The audio quality for the H820e is optimized for VoIP calling. This makes it a great addition to an office or call-center but doesn't make it a headset that's great for music or most other forms of audio. The frequency response range for both the speaker and the microphone is 100 Hz to 7 kHz. This is the frequency range for wideband audio, which is the optimal audio frequency range for VoIP and mobile calling.
The battery life for this wireless UC headset is 10 hours while in the wideband mode. This gives you more hours than an average workday with optimal wideband audio for your VoIP calls. However, if you're someone who works long hours, the narrowband mode extends the battery life to up to fourteen hours. However, this diminishes the higher frequencies from 7 kHz to 3.4 kHz and the lower frequencies from 150 Hz to 300 Hz. Narrowband audio is the traditional frequency range for telephone and VoIP calls, but it lacks the natural sound and clarity of wideband audio.
A flaw in the Logitech H820e is the lack of an acoustic shock protection system. Acoustic shock occurs when there's an unexpected spike in the decibel level. These acoustic spikes can be the result of feedback, electrical surges, USB connection issues, overly excited callers after receiving good news and more. Acoustic shock can cause hearing damage, tinnitus, headaches and nausea. Acoustic shock protection is especially important in an office environment where you'll be wearing the headset for most of the workday.
One feature that sets this USB headset apart from the others is a red LED light on the back of the microphone that alerts people when you're on a call so that you aren't interrupted. The headband pads and the ear cushions are made of a soft leatherette material that's comfortable to wear for hours. In addition, the Wi-Fi charging dock gives you an easy way of storing your headset when you're not using it.
The Logitech H820e is a wireless VoIP headset for your home or office. The Wi-Fi charging dock gives you 10 hours of wideband audio and 300 feet of roaming. While the audio quality is great for VoIP calling, it lacks the frequency range for music, movies and games. It also lacks any protection from acoustic shock.
Sennheiser DW Pro 2 ML
The Sennheiser DW Pro 2 ML is a VoIP headset designed explicitly for offices and call centers. For this reason, the speaker frequency response doesn't have the range comparable to the best VoIP headsets for listening to audio applications beyond VoIP calling. This means that you'll have wideband sound, which provides a more natural sounding voice for your calls, but other audio like music won't sound as rich and full through this UC headset.
The DW series of wireless USB headsets comes in both stereo and mono versions, so you can pick the style that best suits your work environment. In addition, each model is wireless. It uses a cube base station that connects to your computer via USB port and has a range of 180 feet. This gives you plenty of room to roam around your office as you take your important calls. It's especially advantageous if you're an executive who prefers to pace while you're on a call.
The wireless technology means that the headset has an eight-hour battery lifespan, which covers the average workday. However, if you have longer workdays, a narrowband mode allows you to switch the audio to narrowband frequencies. The narrowband mode has twelve hours of battery life but constricts the frequency range from 50-6,800 Hz to 300-3,400 Hz. This change to the audio frequency will cause your caller's voice to sound tinny and flat, which can make it difficult to understand.
To protect your ears from harmful decibel spikes, the Sennheiser DW series of VoIP headsets have ActiveGard – an active internal system that detects and suppresses acoustic shock. Acoustic shock can cause hearing loss, tinnitus and symptoms like nausea and depression after prolonged exposure. If you work in an office environment where you spend most of your workday wearing a UC headset, then acoustic shock is an issue you need to take seriously. ActiveGard protects you from the effects of it.
For comfort, the Sennheiser DW has soft leatherette cushions for both the earpieces and the headband. In addition, because the headset is wireless, the controls are on the headset. This makes it easy to find the controls to increase the volume or to answer a call because controls are stationery. This is an improvement over the in-line controls of other headsets, which require you to search the cord for the controls, something that can be frustrating with an eight-foot long cord.
The Sennheiser DW series of wireless VoIP headsets are great for offices and call centers because of the emphasis on VoIP calling and all-day comfort. The ActiveGard system is great for protecting you from acoustic shock, which can cause hearing loss and other serious symptoms. However, the speaker doesn't have the frequency response for other audio applications.
Sennheiser PC 230
The average human has the ability to hear frequencies of 20Hz to 20kHz. The Sennheiser PC 230 has a frequency response that is anything but average. This VoIP headset has a speaker frequency response that begins with a low of 18Hz and peaks at 22kHz. This makes it an ideal USB headset for streaming music and playing online games because you'll hear everything that you are meant to hear. The standard VoIP headset has a frequency range optimized for VoIP calling, but the PC 230 is optimized for all the audio you listen to.
Even the microphone has an above-average frequency response with a range of 80Hz to 15kHz. This makes it ideal for capturing your voice for both VoIP calling and for speech-to-text applications. You can even use this microphone for light vocal recordings for podcasts.
Unfortunately, for a UC headset with such a wide frequency range, it lacks an acoustic shock protection system. Acoustic shock is a loud sound that occurs unexpectedly and can cause damage to your hearing and the speakers. These loud sounds can be caused by feedback from the microphone picking up the sound of the speakers, electrical overloads passing through the USB connection and other incidents. The damage to your ears can lead to tinnitus and hearing loss.
The biggest flaw of the Sennheiser PC is the lack of comfort features. All of the headsets in the PC series of multimedia headsets use the on-ear design with a foam cushion. The on-ear design can cause ear soreness after a few hours of use because it puts pressure on your ears instead of your head. While foam cushions make the headset more affordable, they can cause rashes to develop after hours of use because of their abrasive texture. In addition, none of the headsets incorporates a headband pad for comfort on top of the skull.
One consolation with the comfort features is that there are three different wearing styles available in the series. The PC 141 has a neckband style, which is ideal for avoiding hairstyles and sensitive scalps by placing the vertical pressure of the headset on the back of your neck instead of the top of your head. The PC 121 is a mono headset that uses an ear-hook style similar to Bluetooth headsets, though it uses a cord.
The Sennheiser PC is a VoIP headset with a response frequency range that gives great audio for all your multimedia needs. Even the microphone has one of the best frequency ranges, making it great for VoIP calling, speech-to-text software and vocal recording. However, despite the quality of the audio, it's not a comfortable headset for prolonged use because of the foam ear cushions and the on-ear design.
VXi Envoy UC
The best VoIP headsets have speakers that provide high-quality audio for both VoIP calling and for listening to other audio, whether it's music, movies or games. This is where the VXi Envoy UC excels. The speaker has a frequency response range of 20Hz to 20kHz. This covers the average range of human hearing, which makes it a great headset for both VoIP calling and other audio. This means you can listen to music while you're not taking a call and the audio quality will be what you'd experience with regular headphones.
The headset is available in two models – mono and stereo. For the best audio experience, the stereo option is the best. Stereo provides depth to the sound much in the same way two eyes provide depth for sight. This also makes it the better choice for noisy environments where your full attention needs to be on hearing the caller. The mono headset, which only has one earpiece, is often preferred in office settings where your attention is also required for side conversations. For example, a receptionist needs to be able to direct calls and respond to people face-to-face.
The boom microphone has a frequency range of 200Hz to 8kHz. While the top frequency is slightly over the average frequency range for USB headsets, the low frequency is worse than average. The average human voice has a frequency range of 80Hz to 14kHz. With the Envoy's bass frequencies starting at 200Hz, the microphone won't capture much of the bass in your voice. Without the lower frequencies, your voice will sound flatter than it would with a headset that can capture the lower bass frequencies.
The VXi Envoy UC has one of the best noise cancellation systems for a VoIP headset. It uses a bi-directional microphone that suppresses up to 95 percent of the ambient background noise from your call. This makes it a great headset for loud offices or call centers where there are many other voices around you. Unfortunately, it lacks acoustic shock protection, which detects and suppresses sudden decibel spikes to protect your ears from potential damage.
For headset features, the Envoy is quite simple. It comes with a plug-and-play setup that requires no software, and it's optimized to work with UC services like Lync, Cisco and Skype. However, there is not a wireless option or a headset that can connect to your mobile phone. You also can't fold the headset for travel and storage. In addition, the controls are on the cord instead of the headset, which doesn't have a clothing clip. This means that you'll have to run your hand along the cord every time you want to answer or end a VoIP call.
For comfort, the VXi Envoy UC is very light and has soft leatherette cushions, but it lacks a headband pad and the design places the cushions on the ear instead of around the ear. Even the lightest headsets can cause soreness after a full day at the office. The steel headband isn't ideal for long-term use, especially if you have a sensitive scalp or an expensive hairdo. In addition, the on-ear design puts all the horizontal pressure on the cartilage of your ear, which can get sore after several hours.
The VXi Envoy has the frequency response range in its speaker to make it a VoIP headset that you can use for all of your audio applications. The microphone frequency response can capture the highs for wideband calls, but lack of bass can cause your voice to sound flat. The noise cancellation system makes it ideal for noisy offices. The headset features are basic with the controls on the cord and plug-and-play setup. This is a good headset for a call center or for receptionist work.
Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000
The Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 is an affordable VoIP headset that has wideband audio for clear calling over UC services like Skype, Lync and Cisco. However, call quality is only one part of audio quality you should expect with a VoIP headset. You want to be able to use your VoIP headphones to listen to music when you're not on a call or for playing online games when you're not at the office. This is where the LifeChat fails to measure up with the best VoIP headsets.
With wideband speakers, the audio frequency response for the LifeChat begins at 150Hz and ends at approximately 6,800Hz. This frequency range is great for providing a rounded human voice for online chatting, especially with a stereo headset. However, for music, movies or games, you'll want speakers with a frequency response that is almost three times as wide. Otherwise, you may experience flat audio that lacks the richness of bass and the crispness of treble.
The microphone has a built-in unidirectional noise cancellation system that filters out much of the background noise so that your caller can hear you. This makes it an ideal USB headset for a noisy office environment. In addition, the microphone is also very flexible and can pivot 180 degrees, which allows you to position the microphone exactly where you want it.
One of the disappointments with the LifeChat UC headset is the control interface. The clunky box design is on the cord and lacks a clothing clip, which means that you have to run your hand down the cord if you want to turn the music up or answer a Skype call. It includes four buttons: mute call, volume up, volume down and answer/end call. There is no way of controlling your music player from the headset. If you want to skip, pause or play a song, you'll have to do so manually from your computer.
One of the best features of Microsoft's LifeChat LX-3000 is the closed-ear circumaural design. Not only does this design seal out most external noises – it's also more comfortable to wear over long periods than on-ear headphones. This is because it distributes pressure around your ears instead of pressing them down. The headband is also comfortable. Although it doesn't have a cushy headband pad to easy pressure on your head, it's wide enough that the weight is distributed over a large surface.
Microsoft's LifeChat LX-3000 has wideband speakers for great audio with VoIP calls but lacks the frequency response range that you'd want for high-quality music or gaming. Despite lacking a headband pad, the closed-ear design improves both the comfort and the quality of the audio.
Jabra Biz 2400
With a frequency response range of 80Hz to 16kHz, the Jabra Biz doesn't have the best speaker frequency range available among VoIP headsets. However, this frequency range is capable of producing higher frequencies that are more than twice as good as the wideband audio used for VoIP calling. This means that the headset isn't just for calls. It has the low frequencies and high frequencies necessary for high-quality audio in all forms. You can listen to music, watch movies and play online games with this headset.
The Jabra Biz 2400 comes with an internal noise-reduction system to filter out much of the background noise, which is great for a noisy office environment. In addition, the speakers have an acoustic spike protection EQ filter that limits acoustic shock so that you don't damage your hearing. These spikes can range from unexpected malfunctions in the USB connection to an overly excited caller congratulating you on a promotion.
The biggest flaw with the Biz 2400 USB headset is the narrowband microphone. It only has a frequency response range of 300Hz to 3.4kHz, which is the same frequency range for narrowband audio. Compared to wideband audio, narrowband audio makes your speech a lot more difficult to understand because the limited range has less than a fifth of the frequencies produced by your voice. This is why standard telephone calls sound tinny and flat. So while the Biz 2400's speaker ensures that you'll hear your caller's voice, your caller won't receive the same quality of voice.
There are two models available – mono and stereo. Stereo is the far better choice for an all-around quality listening experience for both VoIP calling and other audio because it provides depth of sound. It's also ideal for noisy offices because both of your ears are dedicated to the call. Inversely, mono headsets are preferred in office environments that are quieter and that require your attention to shift frequently between calls and the people around you. With a mono headset, you don't have to remove the headset to respond to a customer or employee.
For comfort, the Jabra Biz 2400 is light and has a comfortable earpiece cushion made of soft leatherette. However, it lacks a headband pad and the earpiece design rests on the ear instead of closing around the ear, which provides better comfort and audio. In addition, the control fob is on the wire instead of the earpiece. While this is common among UC headsets, it means that you have to search your cord for the controls every time you want to answer a call or turn up the volume.
The Jabra Biz 2400 has a speaker with above-average frequency response, which means that it's good for listening to music and other audio when you're not on a VoIP call. However, the microphone's narrowband frequency limit doesn't offer your callers the same level of audio quality.
VXi UC ProSet LUX 31
The best VoIP headsets have a speaker frequency response of approximately 20Hz to 20kHz. This matches the average range of human hearing. Unfortunately, the VXi ProSet Lux 31only has a speaker frequency response of 150Hz to 6.8kHz. This makes the speakers ideal for VoIP calls on programs like Skype and Lync. But while this wideband frequency range provides the clearest VoIP call quality, it isn't ideal for listening to music, watching movies or playing games.
One of the major downsides to this UC headset is the lack of acoustic shock protection. Acoustic shock protection limits decibel spikes in your audio so that you don't hurt your ears or damage the speakers. Acoustic spikes can be as complicated as a loud pop caused from a surge in electricity through the USB connection to as simple as an excited friend screaming "Happy Birthday!" over a Skype call.
For this reason, the ProSet Lux is ideal for an office environment or call center. It comes with a professional, minimalist design and leatherette cushions. This USB headset comes in either stereo or mono. The stereo headset offers a much better audio experience because of the depth two speakers provide. However, mono headsets are sometimes preferred or even required in many office environments because the free ear allows you to respond to coworkers or clients.
The inline control interface on the cord only controls calls and volume. The clothing clip makes it easy to stabilize the controls so you don't have to search for the controls every time you want to adjust the volume or answer a call.
The ProSet Lux 31 may be one of the lightest UC headsets we reviewed, but the metal headband isn't ideal for hours of use. Not only does it put pressure on the top of your skull, but the metal headband can dig into your scalp. In addition, the ear pads rest on the ear, which can cause ear soreness from prolonged use. In other words, this is a comfortable headset for a few hours but can become very uncomfortable if you're wearing it throughout the day.
The VXi ProSet Lux 31 has the frequency range for clear VoIP calls, but lacks the range you'd want for VoIP headphones. In addition, it lacks acoustic shock protection, which protects your ears and the speakers from harmful decibel levels. The professional design is ideal for an office, but the metal headband lacks the comfort you'd want for a device that you'll wear for hours.
VXi VoxStar UC
The VXi VoxStar UC is a VoIP headset designed for the sole purpose of providing quality audio for mobile and VoIP calling. This means that the primary focus is on the vocal audio quality for you and your caller. This is evident by the mono-only model, which suggests that the manufacturer isn't concerned about you using the product as your primary audio source for music or gaming. In addition, the name also suggests vocal quality by evoking the "rock star" ideal with "vox" – a common rock music abbreviation for vocals.
The VXi VoxStar UC succeeds in creating great wideband quality audio for all your calls. The speaker frequency response starts at 150Hz and reaches 6,800Hz. When compared to the common narrowband audio with phone calls, the voices are richer, crisper and easier to understand. However, when you're not on a call, you'll want to use your USB headset to listen to music online, watch videos or play games. The best wireless VoIP headsets aren't just for hands-free calling, though that's really the only purpose of the VoxStar.
The boom microphone features the active Xtreme Noise Suppression technology to minimize background noise. The noise cancellation is better than most UC headsets because it's the same system used in VXi's Bluetooth headsets, which can eliminate up to 93 percent of the background noise. This means that your callers will hear your voice instead of the traffic on the docks or the water cooler chatter.
The best feature is the Bluetooth technology. This allows you to connect to all your mobile devices. A Bluetooth USB adapter allows you to connect to your computer. This gives you the freedom to take your hands-free calling with your wherever you go. Most VoIP headsets keep you tethered to your computer or laptop.
Three different wearing styles come with the VoxStar UC – headband, neckband and ear hook. Each wearing style clips into the earpiece so you can change styles to match your comfort or activity. The headband style is common for office environments while the neckband style is more for active movements. The ear hook is the least stable wearing style, but it offers the most mobility because it can fit into your pocket.
The VXi VoxStar UC is a wireless VoIP headset that's ideal for hands-free mobile calling and UC calling on platforms like Skype and Lync. The Bluetooth technology makes it very versatile and lets it go wherever you go so you never miss an important VoIP call. However, the speaker frequency response lacks the range for high quality audio when listening to music, games or movies.
The VXi Tria is a VoIP headset that consists of a single earpiece with a flexible boom microphone. Its name evokes the three different wearing styles – headband, neckband and ear hook. These options give you the ability to find the most comfortable fit, which is important if you're wearing the headset for hours at a time. Even the lightest headsets can feel uncomfortable at the end of an eight-hour shift.
The headband style is the favored style for offices because it has the professional appeal of a call-center headset with three-point stability. If you don't want to mess up your hair or if you have a sensitive scalp, the neckband style wraps around the back of the head. The ear-hook style is popular for Bluetooth headsets because it's easily mobile. You can fit the ear hook in your pocket when you're not using the headset. However, the cord will keep you tethered to your computer. In addition, the entire weight of the headset, which includes the cord, pulls on one pressure point on your ear. This can become very uncomfortable after a few hours.
The biggest flaw to the VXi Tria is the audio quality. First, it only comes in a mono version. Mono headsets are used primarily for VoIP calls in offices where a free ear is required, but it isn't ideal for other audio applications because it lacks depth. Second, the speaker has one of the smallest frequency ranges of the VoIP headsets we reviewed. The speaker's frequency response starts at 200Hz, which cuts off much of the rich bass frequencies, and ends at 5kHz. This is a full 1.8kHz below the standard range for wideband audio frequencies.
The speaker clearly prioritizes VoIP calling. This is evident in the microphone frequency response, which has a range that is three times as large as the speaker's frequency. This means that it picks up your voice up better than the speaker can play it. This makes it an ideal USB headset for voice-to-text software.
The speaker comes with an active EQ filter that limits sudden acoustic spikes so that you don't risk hurting your ears or damaging the speaker. Similar EQ technology exists in the microphone to filter out background noises so that your caller hears your voice over the cacophony of your office or home.
When it comes to VoIP headsets, the VXi Tria's most notable feature is the three wearing styles – headband, neckband and ear hook. Unfortunately, audio quality is the most important feature with a VoIP headset and the frequency response range is only 200Hz to 5.8kHz. However, it does feature acoustic shock protection.