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Working from home has quickly become the norm for many people, and so have the conference calls and virtual meetings that go with it. While some conference calls can be long and miserable on their own, they can also be uncomfortable without a proper headset.
If conference calls and virtual meetings are now a part of your daily routine, then getting a quality headset might be a worthwhile investment. Not only will you be able to hear coworkers better, a headset with a decent microphone will ensure that they hear you more clearly. Many headsets also include noise cancelling features that help eliminate background noise. This is a huge bonus for those who can’t always have a noise free working environment.
Choosing a headset can be a difficult decision. There’s a lot of options out there and some things you’ll want to consider first. In this article, we’ll take a look at what to consider and show you some of the best headsets for conference calls and virtual meetings.
We’ve tried to include various types of headsets so that you can make the best decision for your needs.
What to Consider when Looking for a Headset
One of the most important features of your headset is the quality of the microphone and the speakers inside of them. Coworkers need to be able to clearly understand you when speaking and you need to be able to hear them.
Comfort is arguably the second most important factor when choosing a headset. You don’t want to be stuck with a headset you can’t stand to wear, or struggle to keep from falling off. You may end up wearing your headset for hours depending on how many meetings you have and how long they are, so don’t skimp on comfort.
Do you prefer on-ear, over-ear, or earbuds? On-ear headphones usually have smaller pads that rest on your ear, over-ear headphones cover your entire ear, and earbuds sit in your ear. This one is mostly a personal preference but an important one.
Many of us don’t have the luxury of a quiet working space, sometimes even at home. It’s also nice to be able to work in public spaces like a coffee shop without being distracted by background noise. That’s why many headsets come with active noise cancellation and noise cancelling microphones. If background noise is an issue for you, then consider getting a headset with noise cancelling features.
Wired vs. Wireless
There’s a lot of pros and cons for using a wired or wireless headset. While wireless is nice and portable, it’s also more susceptible to interference and losing connection. Wireless headsets also need to be charged while wired headsets don’t. If you’re someone that likes to move around during calls, wireless might still be a better choice for you.
Most headsets will either connect via USB or an auxiliary port. This will work for most desktops and laptops. You may need an adapter with a wireless headset or one with a USB-C connection type though. If you plan on using the headset on multiple devices, like your phone and computer, make sure they both have the appropriate ports.
Best Over-ear Wired Headset: Jabra Evolve 80
Style: Over-ear | Wired / Wireless: Wired | Connection type: USB-A (Also available in USB-C), 3.5mm audio jack | Noise cancelling: Yes | Mute switch: Yes
Engineered to eliminate distracting background noise, the Jabra Evolve 80 is the perfect headset for those with busy working environments. The over-ear design and ear pad cushioning not only make for a comfortable fit, but also passively reduce background noise. This in combination with the Evolve 80’s active noise cancelling features make it easy to concentrate even in noisy office environments.
Jabra’s Evolve 80 comes with a built-in boom microphone that delivers great audio quality. Call participants should have no problem hearing you clearly with this headset. The microphone is adjustable and can tilt up or down. Tilting the microphone up will also automatically mute it.
The Evolve 80 uses a normal 3.5mm headphone jack that connects to a small controller which then connects to your computer via USB. This controller allows you to adjust volume levels, answer calls, and mute the microphone. This setup allows you to easily unhook the headset from the controller and plug it into any device that has a 3.5mm audio port. The active noise cancelling feature uses an internal battery to function, so remember to occasionally reconnect the headset to your computer to recharge it.
Best On-ear Wired Headset: Plantronics Blackwire 5220
Style: On-ear | Wired / Wireless: Wired | Connection type: USB-A (Also available in USB-C), 3.5mm audio jack | Noise cancelling: Yes | Mute switch: Yes
Built for an all-day comfortable wear, the Plantronics Blackwire 5220 is a great headset for frequent conference call users. The leatherette ear pads with memory foam cushioning create an ultra-soft comfortable wear that also passively reduces background noise.
The microphone on the Blackwire 5220 is noise cancelling and delivers excellent audio quality. It’s also adjustable and can tilt up or down.
The Blackwire 5220 is available in both USB-A and USB-C. It connects to a small controller via a 3.5mm headphone jack which converts to USB-A or USB-C. This controller allows you to adjust the volume and mute the microphone. With this setup, you’re able to unplug the headset from the controller and use it with any device that has a 3.5mm audio port.
Best Wireless Headset: Plantronics Voyager Focus UC
Style: On-ear | Wired / Wireless: Wireless | Wireless range: Up to 30m | Connection type: USB adapter / Bluetooth | Noise cancelling: Yes | Mute switch: Yes
Lightweight and portable, the wireless Plantronics Voyager Focus UC is perfect for those that hate being tied to their computer during long meetings. With a 30 meter (98 feet) roaming range, you can freely get up and grab a cup of coffee during conference calls without missing crucial information.
If background noise is a concern for you, the Voyager Focus UC has you covered with active noise cancellation and a noise cancelling microphone. This combination ensures that both you and call participants won’t be distracted by annoying background noise.
The Voyager Focus UC can connect to any Bluetooth-enabled device and comes with a USB adapter for laptops or desktops. Volume and mute controls are found on the headset itself, on the external side of the ear pads. Rotate a dial to raise or lower the volume, and tap a button to mute or un-mute the microphone. It’s also equipped with smart sensors that automatically mute your microphone when you take the headset off and alert you if you talk while muted.
Charging the Voyager Focus UC is as easy as connecting it to your computer or the charging station. The battery will last for up to 12 hours of talking time and 15 hours of listening time.
If you’re looking for an over-ear wireless headset, you might also check out the Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC.
Best Earbuds Style Headset: Jabra Elite 65e
Style: Earbuds | Wired / Wireless: Wireless | Wireless range: Up to 10m | Connection type: Bluetooth only | Noise cancelling: Yes | Mute switch: Yes
Active noise cancelling in a wireless earbud style headset, the Jabra Elite 65e is perfect for those looking to take conference calls on the go. The earbuds use Jabra’s own EarGels that create a snug fit and passively reduce background noise. These EarGels are interchangeable and the Elite 65e comes with a variety of them so you can find the best fit.
The Elite 65e uses a three-microphone system with active noise cancelling technology and excellent audio quality. This system ensures that even in the busiest environments, you’re heard clearly and background noise is kept to a minimum.
The neckband on the Elite 65e is made of flexible material that makes for a comfortable wear. Controls can be found on the neckband itself for adjusting volume levels, muting the microphone, and answering calls. The earbuds also contain a magnetic strip that holds them together when not in use.
The Elite 65e works with any device that has Bluetooth pairing capabilities and has a wireless range of up to 10m (33 feet). Laptops, smart phones, and tablets should have no problem pairing with this headset. Unfortunately it does not have a USB adapter so if you’re planning on using these with a desktop, make sure it can pair with Bluetooth devices. Alternatively, you can consider upgrading to the Jabra Evolve 75e UC model which has a slightly longer battery life and a much longer wireless range (up to 30m).
The charging port on the Elite 65e sits at the back of the neckband and fully charges in 2 hours. It holds a charge for up to 8 hours with ANC on and 13 hours without ANC.