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Headsets 101 - Understanding Computer, PC & VoIP Headset Solutions

Customers Like Yourself Often Ask Us:

“How do USB computer headsets connect”
“What headset works best for VoIP Softphones”
“Is corded or wireless best for my computer headset solution”

Last Updated – October 2020

In our HEADSETS 101 series, we’ll cover in detail everything you need to know about USB computer headsets for your PC, VoIP softphones as well as many newer desk phones that support USB headsets. Companies are subsequently moving to communicating over the internet, called VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) which bridges remote workers and allows voice and video transmission to feel as if your entire organization is working under one roof.

Single Ear USB Headset Poly Blackwire 8225 USB-A Corded Stereo Headset Dual Ear Wireless USB Headset

 

Poly (formerly Plantronics), Jabra, EPOS | Sennheiser and Bose makeup the major brands of business grade USB computer headsets. Using these brands will ensure USB computer headset solutions that:

  • Provide professional audio quality
  • Are durable to last for years
  • Comfortable for all-day wearing
  • Offer different wearing styles
  • Available in USB-A and USB-C configurations
  • Provide additional buttons/features for Microsoft Teams

Poly Sync 20+ USB Bluetooth Speakerphone


How Headsets Integrate with Computers, VoIP Softphones and Desk phones.

Most modern computer headsets simply plug into a USB port on your PC or laptop. Once you plug a computer headset in, most PC’s 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 cloud provider in order to use a 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 while newer softphones allow you to simply press the ‘Call Control’ button on the headset.

Our Softphone Compatibility Guide will assist you in determining if your softphone is ‘Call Control’ ready.

With new laptops being very thin, USB-C ports are becoming readily available and will be the preferred port moving forward. This connection works the same with drivers and is simple plug-n-play, while taking up much less space.

Bluetooth wireless connections are also very popular when connecting wireless headsets to devices. You will need to confirm your device supports Bluetooth audio profiles. (Some only use Bluetooth to transmit data). The advantage of Bluetooth is wireless freedom which gives you the freedom to roam while being hands-free with your calls.


Most common USB computer headset questions and considerations:

Headset cable for training1) Will you need training capabilities using two headsets on one call?
When using USB computer 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 corded USB adapters with quick disconnect connections (Plantronics DA70, Plantronics DA80, Plantronics DA90 or Jabra Link 260). When paired with a Y-Cord and two compatible Poly/Jabra headsets, you will now have the ability of 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 and durability?
With low-end USB computer headsets, you will typically find the sound to be tinny with poor durability, limiting their longevity to 6-12 months before you dispose of them and re-purchase. Business grade computer headsets will have a natural, more balanced sound. With the continual advancement of technology, wireless headsets now sound equal if not better than corded headsets using hi-fi and active noise-canceling speakers. Durability will be a product made to last for the next 3-5 years.

Jabra Evolve2 65 Headset

3) Is extra comfort needed for extended wearing periods?
Business grade VoIP headsets will have a wide price range that relates to how comfortable and flexible the headset will be. Examples include:

  • Speaker angles/tips up and down, also forward and backwards to fit comfortable against your ear
  • Additional foam/padding is added to the headband
  • Cushions have been upgraded to leatherette or memory foam to improve over-all comfort

Foam cushions are less expensive and provide average comfort. When compared to leatherette cushions, you will notice a significant increase in comfort and durability. Memory foam takes cushion comfort up another notch which helps to conform specifically to your ear. Many headset models will also pad the headband to provide an extra layer of comfort for heavy usage.


Microsoft Teams Users Will Enjoy Added Functionality With A Teams Button

Many of the USB computer headsets have a standard model and an identical looking version, but optimized for Microsoft. This variant for Microsoft will auto-configure your headset as your computer’s audio source. Headsets that also include the Team button have the benefit of pressing the button to pop the Teams App to the forefront of their screen. This is a great feature to easily find your Teams App and get a jump on messaging or making your next call. Click to learn more about Microsoft Teams Headsets.

Certified for Microsoft Teams


*Understanding the Choices Listed Below*

With numerous options, we wanted to simplify your best choices. We will display Good/Better/Best options for both wireless and corded options.

Solutions in the $25-50 range will not be listed as they come at a cost…your time for replacements and frustration in general usage.

To see all of our USB computer headsets options, visit our USB Computer Headset page.

 


Wireless USB Computer Headset Options:


GOOD → Wireless USB Computer Headsets

Features and benefits of specific models include:

  • Above average sound quality
  • Noise-canceling microphone
  • Reliable and durable

 


BETTER Wireless USB Computer Headsets

Features and benefits of specific models include:

  • Larger cushion for better sound separation
  • Added microphones to improve noise-canceling capabilities, further reducing background noise your caller hears
  • Some models will have Active Noise Canceling to help users hear better in loud environments
  • Some models will also connect to Bluetooth devices

 


BEST Wireless USB Computer Headsets

Features and benefits of specific models include:

  • Cushions surrounding your ears for complete isolation
  • Added microphones to improve noise-canceling capabilities, further reducing background noise your caller hears
  • Some models will have Hybrid Active Noise Canceling to help users hear better in loud environments
  • Some models will also connect to Bluetooth devices

 

 

 


Corded USB Computer Headset Options:


GOOD Corded USB Computer Headsets

Features and benefits of specific models include:

  • Average sound quality
  • Noise-canceling microphone
  • Reliable and durable

 


BETTER Corded USB Computer Headsets

Features and benefits of specific models include:

  • Larger cushion for better sound separation and sound quality
  • Higher quality cushions for improved comfort
  • Some will offer padded headbands
  • Improved noise-canceling capabilities, reducing background noise your caller hears

The following group are core models used in the office/call center environments that come with a USB connection.

  • Very durable and made to last
  • Superior noise-canceling microphone technology

 


BEST Corded USB Computer Headsets

Features and benefits of specific models include:

  • Cushions surrounding your ears for complete isolation
  • Added microphones to improve noise-canceling capabilities, further reducing background noise your caller hears
  • Some models will have Hybrid Active Noise Canceling to help users hear better in loud environments (even dogs barking)


In conclusion, you are making a long term investment in your communication with customers. If you sound distant or your voice fades in and out, your callers will become distracted which your audio, instead of intently listening to what you have to say. Comfort is also a key factor when choosing a USB computer headset as it will be in use for hours per day. With that, if you can afford wireless, you will be much happier long term because it aides in being comfortable and the ability to roam freely.

TECH TIP: Be sure to visit Plantronics Hub or Jabra Direct for the latest in firmware updates to keep your USB headset working at its best.


 

What common terms are for USB Computer Headsets?  

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

 

3.5mm = Many headsets will have a cable ending in a 3.5mm plug. This is used for mobile devices in addition to PC’s.

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 therefore, 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. Therefore, making it easier to focus on calls and less on distractions around you.

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. In addition, it’s extremely easy to connect devices that are both Bluetooth compatible.

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, in addition to allowing connectivity up to 350 feet.

Dongle
= Common name that is a small USB device that plugs into your PC or desktop phone and connects wirelessly to a compatible headset. For example, something very similar to a small thumb-drive.

DSP
= Digital Signal Processing provides natural voice sound. Therefore, improving the experience you have with clearer conversations.

Dynamic EQ
= Automatically adjusts audio settings between voice calls and music. Therefore, optimizing headset use for multiple purposes.

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

Monaural Headset
= Term used for headset that covers one ear. In other words, a headset solution that lets you talk to co-workers easily and stay in tune with your surrounding.

Noise-canceling
= Feature found in all wireless and most corded headsets. It reduces 75-80% of the ambient noise a caller may hear in a conversation, rendering the remaining percentage unintelligible. Active noise-cancelling typically has internal microphones listening for background noise. It electronically generates a reverse sound wave that is transmitted into your speaker to eliminate or cancel out the background noise. Hybrid noise-cancelling typically starts with active noise-cancelling. Then they add external microphones for a better understanding of the noise you’re trying to eliminate.

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, and therefore giving users a didn’t means of communicating.

Smart Sensors
= Smart Sensor technology lets you answer a call by simply putting on the headset. In other words, making it quicker and easier to answer calls.

SoundGuard
= Using a sophisticated 3-stage process to adjust sound. In other words, this technology is designed to detect and eliminate any large sudden increases in headset sound levels.
Microsoft Teams – A Microsoft product that lets groups of users collaborate. In short, it uses text messaging, audio and video to easily bring large groups together.

USB
= Universal Serial Bus, computer jack that allows for attachments of external devices with similar connections. Similarly, USB-A is the traditional port with USB-C becoming the standard which is smaller in size.

Wideband
= Gives you a clearer, more natural sound to your voice. Therefore, making you come across as if having a face-to-face conversation.