Working from home means communicating with the wider world is of supreme importance, and after your internet connection and phone, the most important communication device you have will be your headset. There are hundreds of models out there, so here’s what a work from home professional should consider when buying a headset.
Wired headsets are more affordable, offer better sound quality, don’t get as much lag or interference, and don’t require battery charging. However, they do tie you to your desk.
Wireless headsets let you stand up and walk around, which can be handy, especially if your conferences go long or you handle a lot of calls. It’s nice to move around sometimes, or even just to step away from the desk to do something like turn on the stove or open the window. However, wireless headsets tend to cost more and must be charged. Look for a headset that offers at least 20 – 30 hours of battery life to avoid constantly recharging.
Some platforms and software certify that they are compatible with specific devices or brands. It’s a good idea to speak with your IT department.
If, for example, you use Microsoft Teams, you might want to consider Teams Certified devices. These include headsets developed by Jabra. Jabra headsets and speakerphones support call control within your Teams calls and meetings using the physical buttons on your Jabra headsets or speakerphones. This means you can use controls on your Jabra devices such as mute, unmute, answer, and volume up or down.
Sound quality is the most critical element of a headset. Objective measures of sound quality, such as impedance, sensitivity, and frequency response are tough to understand for the layman and are more relevant to audiophiles anyway. You’ll have to rely on subjective measures of sound quality—which basically means testing them yourself or relying on other people’s experience.
Look for a headset that sounds clear, doesn’t clip when it gets loud, and comes with a noise-cancelling microphone. If you’d like your headset to do double duty as headphones, look for one with a detachable microphone.
You want a headset that fits, is adjustable, is padded, is relatively light, and is snug enough to stay on without being too tight. A headset that is too tight or too heavy can give you a headache, so look for something with all day comfort in mind.
Also consider the materials of your headset. Ear cup cushions can be finished with material like leather, pleather, fabric, and more.
Something else to think about: one ear cup or two? If you don’t use your headset for activities beyond work, take a lot of calls, and like keeping one ear connected to the non-digital world, you may want a headset with only one ear cup.
Noise cancelling headsets reduce the amount of ambient sound that gets transmitted, so if there’s something like background traffic, the person you’re calling won’t hear so much of it. Basically, noise-cancelling headsets detect “droning” sounds and transmit additional sound waves to cancel out the unwanted sound waves. Noise-cancelling headsets are good at filtering out sounds like cars, fans, people talking in the background, far-away construction, and more.
However, keep in mind that noise-cancellation isn’t perfect. It isn’t good at stopping short, sharp sounds, so it won’t block the sounds of screaming kids or flushing toilets.
Make sure the headset you want is compatible with the device (or devices) you have. You may have a Mac, PC, smartphone, tablet, desk phone, or other set of devices you want your headset to work with, so make sure you get one that is compatible across all of them.
Currently, sound cables are moving away from the old 3.5mm standard to USB-C, so make sure you get the right connection. It’s also worth noting that some devices have separate jacks for microphone and audio while some have a single jack. Many headsets will come with an extra cable that splits into two jacks, but you may have to buy one.
You may want to toggle your noise cancelling on or off, boost your bass, adjust volume from your headset cable, or even tinker with audio settings at a more granular level. With that in mind, you might want to look for a more highly customizable headset. We use our headsets for a range of activities including calls, watching videos, and listening to music while working. We also all have our own individual preferences, so it’s important that you can customize your headset settings to what sounds best.
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