VoIP Headset Review
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.