When it comes to remote working, the boundaries between work-life and home life have blurred. As video meetings replace in-person conferences, one-to-ones and team meetings, having quality visual and audio technology has never been more paramount.
Whether it’s noisy flatmates, children or a disruptive four-legged companion, video meetings can easily be interrupted by the everyday sounds of home life. That means it’s important to invest in the right technology to help minimise interruptions, stay professional and enjoy working and connecting with your colleagues and customers without distraction.
When it comes to hardware, a good quality headset can be a pivotal piece of equipment for creating the best possible conference call experience for you and your fellow meeting participants, so we’ve highlighted some of the best headsets on the market to suit every budget.
Different kinds of headsets
The main criteria for a professional-use headset are to enable users to make and receive calls from their desktop and to hear and be heard clearly by their fellow telecommuters.
However, headsets can come in many different forms depending on how they have been used and the environment they’re used in.
- Over-ear headphones cradle the entire ear and often offer better audio quality and noise isolation and cancellation.
- On-ear headphones, often used in call centres, feature a headband and rest just over or on the ear with a slightly smaller surface area ear cup.
- In-ear headphones or earbuds are placed inside the ear and often improve the stereo experience without physically covering the ear itself.
With great options for USB-wired or Bluetooth connectivity, noise-cancelling technology and extensive battery life, it’s important to identify your individual and business needs before investing in a headset.
What makes a good headset?
It’s hard to pinpoint what makes a good headset before establishing what you will use your headphones for. If you’re looking for a pair of earphones for listening to music, leisure time and exercising, a stylish, comfortable pair might be favourable. However, if you’re on conference calls all day and you’re looking for a headset that helps you minimise background sound and get in the zone, it’s worth considering noise cancellation as a key criterion.
Naturally, it’s important to look professional, especially if you need to represent your business in front of customers and clients. Many headsets are designed especially for professional use. Some will be covered by your fellow gym-goers or commuters. The style you choose really depends on how you want to use your headphones daily.
While some might overlook the importance of the weight of a headset, it’s essential to consider this when it comes to transportability. If you frequently travel overseas for work, commute by foot or bike, or want to carry your headphones with you for both work and play, choosing a headset that isn’t too bulky and weighty might be a good idea.
For many, working in a home environment means noise cancellation will be a key aspect for consideration. With headsets with noise cancellation and active noise cancellation (ANC), it’s worth looking for an ANC option if you really need to drown out the everyday background noises of your household.
Finding the best wireless or Bluetooth headset is a must if you want to listen to music and take calls on the move, with some allowing wireless range for hands-free calls even when you’re metres away from your device. Likewise, if you’re a jogger, walker, an avid gym-goer, or you’re looking for something to double up as a gaming headset, having a decent set of wireless headphones makes life much easier. If you opt for a wireless headset, be sure to consider the battery life too. Many wireless headphones will also offer a wired connection for when you run out of juice.
How to choose the best headset for your next conference call
When it comes to the best headphones, it’s really down to your personal preferences and what you’ll be using your headset for. Choosing a headset that works seamlessly with your lifestyle means your everyday calls and multimedia entertainment can be enjoyed without disruption.
The key questions to consider before searching for a new headset are as follows:
- What will you be using it for?
- Will you need a good quality microphone?
- Do you need active noise cancelling or noise reduction?
- Would you prefer a wired headset, Bluetooth connectivity or both?
- Will you need a boom microphone to pair up with your headphones?
- Do you need a headset that will be easily portable?
Whether you’re a contact centre agent looking for a comfortable headset for all-day use in a home setting, an HR professional delivering virtual training presentations daily, or you’re simply looking for an easily transportable wireless headset for exercising and the odd call, and your requirements will vary significantly. Identifying your non-negotiables is a sensible place to start.
Best headset for working from home
Covering all the bases for what you might need from your headset, we’ve highlighted some of the most popular headsets for home working below:
1. Jabra Evolve2 65
Whether you’re plugging in for a quick workout or logging into your Monday morning meeting, this handy headset is a popular choice. Compatible with over 10,000 traditional desktops and several UC platforms, including RingCentral, this headset is easy to connect wirelessly to your desktop, laptop or phone. The Jabra Evolve2 65 is popular for its crisp audio quality and vocal clarity on calls.
Although the headset doesn’t offer active noise cancellation (ANC), it is fitted with memory foam ear cushions that help to block out background sound and make the headset a good option for comfort. With Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, options for mono, and a battery life of around 37 hours, it’s an all-around reliable headset if you’re on calls for most of the day.
2. Logitech Zone Wired
Popular as a lightweight, mid-range headset with great microphone quality and noise cancellation, the Logitech Zone Wired headset is a go-to option for those conducting hands-free calls and virtual meetings.
With in-line controls and a high-quality braided cord, the headset makes it easier to mute, unmute, answer or reject calls on the go. With memory foam-lined ear cups, compatibility with Windows, Mac or Chrome, Microsoft Teams and other UC platforms, and USB cables and adapters provided, it’s a great option for professional users and works well for multimedia purposes.
3. AONIC 50
Shure’s wireless, noise-cancelling pair of headphones inevitably boasts a sound quality that makes them a great choice for conference calls. The Shure technology even reduces low-end frequencies via the mic to mitigate the proximity effect with excellent vocal quality.
The AONIC 50 boasts around 20 hours of battery life, premium, wireless studio-quality sound, adjustable noise cancellation and even an environment mode for those wanting to stay attuned to your surroundings. The headset offers Bluetooth 5.0 or wired connections. It also offers Bluetooth codec support, multipoint functionality and fingertip controls, making it ideal for streaming or conference calling from any device.
Price: $220 (Amazon)
4. Sony WH-1000XM4
The Sony WH-1000XM4 offers the clear and accurate sound quality, exceptional active noise cancellation and is generally a good option if you’re looking for a comfortable all-rounder headset for professional use.
With Up/Down arrow keys for volume control, the headset supports various high-quality Bluetooth codecs like AAC, or Sony’s LDAC, meaning you can stream audio and visual content from several devices and enjoy the great sound quality. Alternatively, for high-resolution audio, you can plug it in with the 3.5mm cable.
5. Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700
If you’re looking for the best noise-cancelling earphones, a Bose headset would be worth considering, despite the often somewhat hefty price tag. Pioneers in the noise-cancelling headphones space, Bose offer a range of headsets that offer exceptional sound quality.
The Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700, while not for the budget-conscious, are a great option if you’re looking for a stylish and luxuriously comfortable noise-cancelling experience. With Bluetooth, USB-C charging, a touch-sensitive pad with playback controls and classic Bose active noise cancellation that truly eliminates background noise, this is a great headset for those looking for sound quality in calls or multimedia entertainment.
6. Plantronics C325-M
If you’re looking for high-quality, that doesn’t break the budget, and the Plantronics C325-M might be a good option. While technically a downgrade from the C725-M, the older design offers exceptional value for money for everyday conference calls.
With features such as a noise-cancelling microphone, SoundGuard technology, digital signal processing (DSP), the headset can protect listeners from audio spikes and deliver a smoother, richer all-around audio experience. Without any plush, padded earcups, it might not be one for all-day wear, but this lightweight, the wired headset offers an excellent noise-cancelling experience for the price.
Price: £46.85 (Amazon)
7. Jabra Elite 45h
If you’re looking for a robust headset with long battery life, the Jabra Elite 45h is a strong contender. Jabra’s Elite 45h offers around 50 hours of battery life, meaning you can conduct your conference calls or listen to music uninterrupted throughout the working week.
Featuring handy tactile buttons, voice assistant compatibility with Siri or Google Assistant, users can manage their diary, have messages read to them or make and receive calls on the go. With a handy mute button on the headset, users can even mute or unmute themselves without having to grapple with apps on their devices. This stylish, comfortable wireless headset is a great option for commuters and those on the move.
What’s more, while it doesn’t come with ANC, the sound quality is strong, and it performs well with background sound, making it a great option for those looking for a quality, all-day headset with a palatable price tag.
8. Creative Sound Blaster Jam V2
The Creative Sound Blaster Jam V2 will meet your needs as a low-budget option for a great all-around headset for conference calls, music, and exercise.
Offering great value for money, the hybrid USB headset (with both Bluetooth and wired connection options) boasts around 22 hours of battery life. Also, it promises great sound quality as an over-ear, lightweight headset. While minimal cushioning makes it fall a little short in terms of comfort, with a dual microphone and noise-cancelling technology, this headset is undeniably a great option for a smooth conference call experience at a low price point.
9. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
If you don’t like the bulkiness of headphones and you’re looking for lightweight headphones for conference calls and multimedia listening, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds might be worth considering as an alternative to AirPods.
Easily transportable in a handy charging case, users will be able to charge headphones on the move, meaning you’ll rarely run out of battery. The earbuds are truly a great alternative to over-ear headphones with touch controls, voice assistance controls, excellent stereo sound, and ergonomic design for all-day wear. But naturally, without the padding or noise cancellation options, these would be best suited for those with a quiet workplace or home office for video conferencing and audio calls.
10. Plantronics Voyager Focus
The Plantronics Voyager Focus offers a more luxurious alternative to others in the Plantronics range. A wireless, Bluetooth headset with a range of up to 98 feet, the Voyager Focus is great for those wanting more mobility on conference calls.
With memory foam-lined ear pads and headbands, these headphones offer luxurious comfort. Multi-device connectivity means you can connect to your desktop and apple or android mobile device simultaneously. With features such as Smart Sensor, which means you’re muted when you take the headphones off and unmuted when you replace them, these are arguably the most intuitive headphones for professional, all-day use.
Price: £159.99 (Amazon)
Which conference call headset is best for your team?
Investing in a headset for your entire team might be a challenging endeavour. It’s important to consider the basic needs of your staff first and foremost. For example, do your team members generally live alone, with family, or share a small flat with friends?
As video conferences become increasingly commonplace as part of remote working life, addressing the needs of your team in terms of minimising background sound and aiding productivity have never been more paramount. In that sense, if your team are on calls regularly, it’s important to consider injecting a healthy hardware budget for the long-term success of your team and so as not to compromise on call quality. In addition to this, it’s important to consider the software you use and the potential synergy with your new hardware.
Whether you use Skype, Microsoft Teams or RingCentral for video conferencing, you can ensure your video conferencing participants will get the best possible audio quality by checking the compatibility of your headset.
If your team are regularly on the move and need a hands-free calling experience, a headset with Bluetooth connectivity and on-ear touch controls might be a good choice. A lightweight but comfortable headset might suffice if your team members generally take calls from a quiet home office. Still, it’s important to canvas opinions, glean requirements and perhaps send a shortlist of amazon links to your team to allow them to make the right choice for them.
Originally published Aug 18, 2021, updated Jan 16, 2023
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