Loud and Clear 2020: How to Pick the Right Headset
What did you say? Can you hear me? WHAT DID YOU SAY??!! Is there anything more frustrating than bad communication? I’m not talking about a poor choice of words, I’m referring to the most important piece of equipment connecting remote workers: your headset!
All of us at Virtira have been frustrated at one time or another because of background noise, microphones set too low, ill-fitting earpieces – the list is long. We can’t do our best work if we’re struggling to hear each other, right? See our recent remote work blog for great tips on how to run and attend virtual meetings the best way possible.
Sound matters. In 2019, we ranked what we considered the best of the best for headsets for remote workers. As more and more people rapidly switch to remote work and virtual teams, we're reviving our list to help you understand what you'll need for your new normal of virtual calls, conferences, and meetings.
Our virtual world at Virtira means that how we sound must overcome the fact that we’re not meeting in person. If you also work remotely then you depend on your headset to transmit your words clearly and to let you perfectly understand others, no matter if they’re in the next room or the next hemisphere. Get ready for a crash-course in headsets and kiss your communication blues away!
Gold Standard: Plantronics Voyager Focus UC B825
For the second year in a row, we’re picking Plantronics Voyager Focus as our gold standard for headsets. Both the audio and voice quality are great. It’s clear Plantronics prioritized comfort, quality, and convenience.
The Voyager Focus works well for many different professional situations, and, because of its cool look and comfortable feel, it could easily be used to listen to music or watch movies.
One note: if you’re looking for a headset to take to the gym, this might not be the best pick for you. While Voyager Focus works perfectly well for music, because of its shape, it won’t be much use during a workout.
Jabra Evolve 75e
The Jabra Evolve 75e has a unique distinction of being perhaps the most “fun” headset on our list. The Evolve checks all the boxes of active and passive noise cancelling, good audio and voice quality, and a durable form. With its comfort and fit, they’re great for meetings, fun, and physical activities.
They are also unique in their shape. A user can drop the headphones around the neck when they’re not in use. Then, a physical vibration will signal new incoming notifications.
With such a combination of useful features, is it any wonder we gave it our second highest ranking, and awarded it first runner up?
Logitech Zone Wireless
After some audio hiccups, the Logitech Zone revealed an overall good voice and sound quality, and effective active noise cancelling (ANC) to become our third highest ranking. The large ear pads add a layer of passive noise cancelling while maintaining the headset’s quality and comfort to help this headset grab Virtira's bronze medal.
Plus, the discrete mic mutes when in an upward position and the entire headset folds for user convenience.
Plantronics Voyager 6200
The Voyager 6200 scored high marks across the board, with its cool charging pad and high audio and voice quality. It can be multi-use and travels well, and is of durable quality. Though it serves its purpose as a tool, the Voyager didn't have some of the standout features of other models. Overall, this is a safe, if unremarkable, product. However, we found the similarly-styled Jabra Evolve 75e a better choice.
Jabra Elite 85H
Even if the Jabra Elite 85H might seem heavy or bulky, we ranked it high on comfort for the way it fits nicely over the ear. This headset is among our best “over-ear” style for comfort and audio quality.
You’ll want to use this headset outside office hours. The amazing audio quality makes it great for music or movies, and it’s solid and durable design means it can be used for some physical activities.
One cool feature: simply turn an ear pad to quickly pause audio.
Jabra Elite 75T
Small Bluetooth buds might not always be the best choice for a working environment, as you’ll often need a focused mic and at least some level of noise cancelling. But if you’re looking for a convenient option for only a few calls, the Jabra Elite 75T headset might serve your purpose.
Small, high quality and durable, the Jabra series fits well and comfortably with an adequate level of audio and voice quality.
Last year, we awarded Jabra our silver medal and were excited to test its improvements. Unfortunately, the Evolve 75 didn’t maintain its quality and comfort. After a few hours of meetings, this headset started to cause some pain in the top of the ears. Though voice and audio connections were clear, we felt voices sounded tinny and were distracted by the effect.
A few notable features did rank positively for the Evolve 75: a convenient magnet allows the mic to store out of the way on the top of the head, the Listen In feature is a clever and quick way to hear your surroundings by blocking the mic audio, and connection was never a problem.
We have no major complaints against the Mpow M5 Pro, but it’s nothing to write home about either. This headset is one of only two single ear devices on our list, and if that’s your preference, it will work fine for you. The voice and audio quality were good, but the small one-sided frame can make it feel fragile and cheap.
The M5 Pro is solely for professional use on calls and conferences. It also does not travel well.
Unfortunately, the Sennheiser HD 4.5 fell short in terms of comfort. Their audio and voice quality was fine, but they did not fit over the ear properly, making them inconvenient to wear, especially while wearing earrings.
The Plantronics Voyager 5200 is a single ear Bluetooth headset that is certainly more discrete than the larger products on this list. However, its form makes it difficult to fit and position properly.
Like other earbuds, the presence of background noise negatively affected our ranking for the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79. Both quality and durability were low for this headset and it should only really be used in a pinch.
Headset Comparison Chart
In the two years since we first compiled this list, we’ve seen a lot of market changes. Wired headsets are less and less common and Bluetooth connections have improved. We experienced no connection issues with any of the headsets on our list, but have a cheap wired option nearby just in case.
Active noise cancelling features are also more common than ever and the technology is improving. When battling background noise, technologies like ANC, the Listen In feature, and adjustable microphones can help keep your audio and voice quality clear.
Comfort and convenience still remain an important feature for headsets with multiple purposes. A day of meetings can be exhausting in many ways. The last thing you need is a cumbersome headset squishing your ears and sitting heavy on your head. If this is a priority for you, check out the headsets we gave notable comfort designation in the chart above.
Depending on your work situation and needs, you’re going to prioritize different headset features. Invest some time in figuring out which headset works for you. You’re going to use it more than you think!
Want more tips on working remotely? Check out our Thought Leadership base.
- Virtual Project Management
- Virtual Teams
- Learn to Work from Home
- Positive Impacts
- Virtual Working Tools