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Headsets 101 - Understanding Computer, PC & VoIP Headset Solutions

Plantronics Computer, PC & VoIP Headsets

Customers like yourself often ask us questions like; "What headset works best for VoIP Softphone software," "How do headsets work with a computer or PC," and "Do I need corded or wireless for my computer solution?"

In our HEADSETS 101 series, we'll cover in great detail everything you need to know about Plantronics computer headset for your PC and VoIP applications.

Last Updated -  December 2017


 

Plantronics has long been known as the leader of business headsets.  As technology advances, more companies are moving to communicating over the internet, called VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).  To help customers, we have put together a guide that will cover the following:  Transitioning away from desk phones to computers, corded and wireless headset models, and specialty applications like Microsoft Lync.

 

How Headsets Integrate With VoIP Softphones

Most newer computer headsets simply plug into a USB port on your PC or laptop.  Once you plug a computer headset in, your PC will install the appropriate drivers and configure your system to use the headset as the default device for your speakers and microphone.  Your softphone will need to be installed and configured to your network in order to use your headset.  Within the settings of your softphone, you will need to set the headset as your default audio device.  Older and more basic softphones will require you to click your mouse to accept calls where newer softphones allow you to simply press a button on the headset.  This is known and Call Control.

With Call Control, you have the benefit of pressing a button on your wireless headset or with the inline controls of corded headsets to take calls versus the need to use your mouse.  Our Softphone Compatibility Guide will assist you in determining if your softphone is Call Control ready.


What To Consider With USB/VoIP Headsets:

1) Will you ever need to train using a Y-cord and two headsets? 

When using USB headsets, you can plug more than one headset into a PC, but only one is active at a time making training impossible.  The solution is to use USB adapters with quick disconnect connections (Plantronics DA70Plantronics DA80 or Plantronics DA90).  Paired with a Y-Cord and any Plantronics H-Series headsets will allow two users on one call, with one live microphone that you toggle to the headset user of your choice.

2) How important is sound quality?

With low-end computer headsets, you will typically find the sound to be tinny and suspect durability will limit it's longevity to 6-12 months before you dispose of it and re-purchase.  Business grade computer headset will have a natural, more balanced sound.  They will also hold up for years of use before replacing.

3) Is extra comfort needed for extended wearing periods?

Business grade VoIP headsets will have a wide price range that relates to added foam, upgraded cushions enhancing over-all comfort.  Foam cushion are less expensive and provide average comfort.  When compared to leatherette cushions, which will cost more, you will notice a significant increase in comfort and durability.  Select headset models will also pad the headband to provide an extra layer of comfort for heavy usage.

 

Microsoft Lync Users Will Need -M Headset Models For Added Functionality

Many of the computer headsets have a standard model and an identical looking version, but optimized for Microsoft Lync software that's integrated into the headset circuitry.  The -M version should only be used if you are using Microsoft Lync (Formerly called Communicator) as your softphone or VoIP solution.  The -M gives you switchhook controls meaning you can initiate calls by pressing a button on the cord where the standard version requires keyboard, mouse clicking or Smart Sensor Technology to take calls.  Call us to find out more about the -M Microsoft Lync headsets and models available.  Newer Plantronics computer headsets provide Microsoft functionality within the standard model.





Section 1: Wireless Computer Headsets for Softphone/VoIP Applications

 
 Manufacturer/Series Plantronics Voyager Plantronics Voyager Plantronics Voyager  Plantronics Voyager Plantronics Savi Plantronics Savi Plantronics Savi Plantronics Savi
 Model Number 3200 UC 5200 UC 8200 UC  Focus UC W440 W430 W420 W410
                 
 Connection Type USB / Bluetooth USB / Bluetooth USB / Bluetooth USB / Bluetooth USB USB USB USB
 Wearing Style In-the-Ear Over-the-Ear Headband
Dual Ear
Headband
Dual Ear
 Convertible Over-the-Ear Headband
Dual Ear
Headband
Single Ear
                 
 Windows & Mac OS
 Microsoft Lync Compatible   Focus UC-M  W440-M W430-M W420-M W410-M
                 
 On Headset Controls:                
    Volume
    Mute
    Answer/End Calls With Supported Softphones With Supported Softphones With Supported Softphones  With Supported Softphones With Supported Softphones With Supported Softphones With Supported Softphones With Supported Softphones
                 
 Noise-Canceling Mic 
 Noise-Canceling Speakers            
 Talk Time  6 hours 7 hours 20 hours  12 hours 7 hours 6 hours  9 hours 9 hours
 Roaming Distance  98 feet 98 feet 98 feet  150 feet 300 feet  300 feet 300 feet 300 feet 
 Weight  9 grams 20 grams 289 grams  155 grams 21 grams  25 grams 72 grams 72 grams 
                 
 Warranty 1-Year 1-Year 1-Year  1-Year 1-Year 1-Year 1-Year 1-Year
 Product Page & Details 3200 UC 5200 UC 8200 UC Focus UC W440 W430 W420 W410
                 
 Price  $159.95  $179.95 $269.95 $279.95  $182.98 $182.98 $194.98 $182.98
 

   



Section 2:  

Catagorized as BEST (Professional EncorePro Digital Series)

 

Corded Computer Headsets for Softphone/VoIP Applications

 

Only catagory that allows Y-Cords and training

 

Requires DA90 Adapter providing best audio quality

                   

 
 Manufacturer/Series Plantronics EncorePro Plantronics EncorePro Plantronics EncorePro Plantronics EncorePro Plantronics EncorePro Plantronics EncorePro
 Model Number HW510D
w/ DA90
HW520D
w/ DA90
HW530D
w/ DA90
HW540D
w/ DA90
HW710D
w/ DA90
HW720D
w/ DA90
             
 Connection Type Quick Disconnect Quick Disconnect Quick Disconnect Quick Disconnect Quick Disconnect Quick Disconnect
 Wearing Style Single Ear Dual Ear Over-the-Ear Convertible Single Ear Dual Ear
 Windows & Mac OS
 Y-Cord Training Compatible  
             
 Microsoft Lync Version            
             
 In-Line Controls:            
    Volume
    Mute
    Call Control (Answer/End Calls) With Supported
Softphones
With Supported
Softphones
With Supported
Softphones
With Supported
Softphones
With Supported
Softphones
 With Supported
Softphones
             
 Noise-Canceling Microphone 
             
 Headband / Ear Piece  Metal Metal   Bendable Rubber Metal/Plastic/Rubber Metal Metal
 Ear Cushion(s) Foam   Foam Foam  Foam  Leatherette Leatherette
 Audio    Stereo     Mono Stereo
 DSP            
 Cord Length            
 Dynamic EQ            
             
 Warranty  2-Year  2-Year  2-Year 2-Year  2-Year 2-Year
 Product Page & Details  HW510D  HW520D   HW530D  HW540D  HW710D
HW720D
   DA90  DA90 DA90  DA90  DA90 DA90
             
 Price $139.75 $152.75  $142.35 $148.85 $163.15  $178.75
             

  



Section 3:  

Catagorized as BETTER (Professional EncorePro Series)

 

Corded Computer Headsets for Softphone/VoIP Applications

 

No Ability for training - One continious cord


 
 Manufacturer/Series Plantronics EncorePro Plantronics EncorePro Plantronics EncorePro Plantronics EncorePro Plantronics EncorePro Plantronics EncorePro
 Model Number HW515 USB HW525 USB HW535 USB HW545 USB HW715 USB HW725 USB
             
 Connection Type USB USB USB USB USB USB
 Wearing Style Single Ear Dual Ear Over-the-Ear Convertible Single Ear Dual Ear
 Windows, Mac OS and Lync
             
 In-Line Controls:            
    Volume
    Mute
    Call Control (Answer/End Calls) With Supported
Softphones
With Supported
Softphones
With Supported
Softphones
With Supported
Softphones
With Supported
Softphones
With Supported
Softphones
             
 Noise-Canceling Microphone 
             
 Headband / Ear Piece  Metal Metal  Bendable Rubber Metal/Plastic/Rubber Metal Metal
 Ear Cushion(s) Foam Foam Foam Foam Leatherette Leatherette
 Audio Mono Stereo Mono Mono Mono Stereo
 DSP      
 Cord Length 6.5 feet  6.5 feet  6.5 feet 6.5 feet    
 Dynamic EQ        
             
 Warranty 2-Year 2-Year 2-Year 2-Year 2-Year 2-Year
 Product Page & Details HW515 USB HW525 USB HW535 USB  HW545 USB  HW715 USB HW725 USB
             
             
 Price $96.85 $116.35  $103.35 $109.85 $122.85 $135.85
         

  



Section 4: 

Catagorized as GOOD (Blackwire Series)

 

Corded USB/Computer Headsets for Softphone/VoIP Applications:

 

No Ability for training - One continious cord

 

     
 Manufacturer/Series Plantronics
Blackwire
Plantronics
Blackwire
Plantronics
Blackwire
Plantronics
Blackwire
Plantronics
Blackwire
Plantronics
Blackwire
Plantronics
Blackwire
Plantronics
Blackwire
Plantronics
Blackwire
 Model Number C3210 C3220 C3215 C3225 C5210 C5220 C710  C720 C725
                   
 Connection Type USB USB USB &
3.5MM
USB &
3.5MM
USB &
3.5MM
USB &
3.5MM
USB &
Bluetooth
USB &
Bluetooth
USB
 Wearing Style Single Ear Dual Ear Single Ear Dual Ear Single Ear Dual Ear Single Ear Dual Ear Dual Ear
 Windows Compatible
 Mac OS Compatible
 Microsoft Lync Compatible     C710-M C720-M C725-M 
                   
 In-Line Controls:                  
    Volume
    Mute
    Call Control (Answer/End Calls)
                   
 Noise-Canceling Microphone 
 Active Noice Canceling (Speakers)                
                   
 Headband Metal  Metal Metal Metal Metal Padded  Padded Padded Padded
 Ear Cushion(s) Foam Foam Leatherette Leatherette Leatherette Leatherette Leatherette Leatherette Leatherette
 Audio Mono Hi-Fi Stereo Mono Hi-Fi Stereo Mono Hi-Fi Stereo Mono Hi-Fi Stereo Hi-Fi Stereo
 DSP  
 Cord Length 6.5 feet 6.5 feet 5 feet 5 feet 7 feet   7 feet 6.5 feet 6.5 feet 6.5 feet 
 Dynamic EQ  
 Speakers Fold Flat      
 Carrying Case      
 Smart Sensor              
 A2DP Media Streaming              
 Bluetooth Compatible               
 Talk Time             10 Hours 10 Hours  
 Stand-by Time             10 Days 10 Days  
                   
 Warranty 2-Year 2-Year 2-Year 2-Year 2-Year 2-Year 2-Year 2-Year 2-Year
 Product Page & Details C3210 C3220 C3215  C3225 C5210 C5220 C710  C720 C725
                   
 Price  $34.88 $38.75 $58.13 $62.00 $77.50 $85.25 $96.72 $111.60 $139.50
 

 


 



What does it all mean?  

We have provided, in simple terms, what the acronyms mean and how they benefit you.

 

900MHz technology = At one time the main band for voice communication. Since the introduction of DECT, now it's underused in medium to large offices. Its lower frequency range allows for greater concentration of headsets in a given area.

A2DP = Advanced Audio Distribution Profile lets you listen to music through your Bluetooth headset when connected to your mobile phone or MP3 player.

Binaural Headset = Term used for headset that covers both ears.

Bluetooth = An open wireless protocol for exchanging data over short distances, using wave radio technology over the 2.4GHz band, from fixed or mobile devices.

CAT-iq = Advanced wideband audio technology enables the user to have clearer and richer sounding conversations.

DECT = (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) Working through the 1.9GHz band, this voice dedicated wireless frequency virtually eliminates interference from other wireless devices and allows connectivity up to 350 feet.

Dongle = Common name used to designate any of the USB adapters that connect wireless or Bluetooth devices to a PC or laptop.

DSP = Digital Signal Processing provides natural voice sound.

Dynamic EQ = Automatically adjusts audio settings between voice calls and music.

EHS cable = Electronic Hook Switch cable allows for remote answer / end of calls on your wireless headset. Used on selected phones and replaces the HL10.

Inline controls = Found in most corded computer and cordless phone headsets, these controls allow you to adjust volume, mute your microphone and answer/end calls.

Microsoft Lync = Formerly called Microsoft Office Communicator, it is an instant messaging client used with Microsoft Lync.

Monaural Headset = Term used for headset that covers one ear.

Noise-canceling = Feature found in all wireless and most corded headsets that reduces 75-80% of the ambient noise a caller may hear in a conversation, rendering the remaining percentage unintelligible.

QD = Quick Disconnect, located at the end of cables for easy separation between headset and amplifier or direct connect cable.

RJ9 = Also known by RJ22, this is the modular connector size commonly used in telephone handset cords and headset amplifiers, both corded and wireless.

Server and Lync online = Some features include instant messaging and video conferencing.

Skype = One of several online services available for VoIP telephony, eliminating the need for a landline phone. Skype was one of the first to embrace the PC for use as a telephone.

Smart Sensors = Smart Sensor technology lets you answer a call by simply putting on the headset.

SoundGuard = Using a sophisticated 3-stage process, this technology is designed to detect and eliminate any large sudden increases in headset sound levels.

USB = Universal Serial Bus, computer jack that allows for attachments of external devices with similar connections, such as Plantronics Blackwire C510.

Wideband = Gives you a clearer, more natural sound to your voice.