Headset Recommendations?

by Bruce Stewart

I find myself spending more and more time using a headset on my computer for voice communications, and I'm growing tired of the poor audio quality I'm getting with the standard fare of headsets on the market. I've been through a few popular models in the $30 - $60 range, and they all seem to sound and transmit audio at about the same lousy level of quality. I do realize that with many things in life you get what you pay for, and I suspect that it's my price range that needs to change here before I'll find a computer headset that works for me. I'm ready to pay more in this area for better quality, but before I drop some more serious coin on a new headset I'd like to hear what's been working well for others.

Any recommendations? I know some of our ETel readers are power users of softphone and VoIP applications and I'm sure some of you have grappled with this same question. Please leave a comment below if you have any suggestions, and I'll report back here on what I find.


2006-11-04 14:03:33
I've been happy with my Plantronics 550DSP headset, I think I paid about $80 for it. Sounds every bit as good as my telephone.
Kanti Purohit
2006-11-04 14:13:06
Are you sure it is not your PC doing too many other things thus degrading the voice quality? Or the VoIP provider?

The $30-$60 headsets sound good enough to me - or may be my hearing is impaired enough not to notice the quality!

Kanti Purohit
2006-11-04 14:23:51
Based on Jack's post, I just checked the prices on Plantronics 550DSP on Froogle. Many are between $50 and $55.
Bruce Stewart
2006-11-04 14:28:55
Thanks Jack and Kanti. I use a variety of VoIP clients and am regularly testing new products and services, but I most often use Project Gizmo and Skype. My computer is a fairly new MacBook Pro, with 2GB of RAM, and it doesn't seem to matter what else the comptuer is doing or which VoIP provider I'm using, I almost always hear flat audio, and when I occasionally get to hear how I sound using the headset mic (on answering machines, voice mail message set ups, etc), I'm always disappointed with the lack of clarity and amount of background noise.
2006-11-04 17:32:06
When possible, I prefer using the plain-old audio-jack headsets instead of the USB or, god forbid, Bluetooth flavors. Have you tried using regular headphones and your MacBook's internal microphone, see if that makes a difference? That's how I usually get best results.
Sami Dalouche
2006-11-04 23:33:03

You can take a look at http://www.lesnumeriques.com/article-281.html (french). If you don't understand french, then you can just look at the stars and have confidence in the results ;-)

Sami Dalouche

2006-11-05 02:27:06
I use a Plantronics DSP 500, a very nice model. Works realy plug and play on both my mac and windows. The noise canceling feature REALLY works fine for the mic. And the earphones are good even for listening to music. Plantronics has been doing headset for a lot of years and the more you pay the better you get, but this DSP series is very good ratio of price/quality.
BR. Miguel
Roger Weeks
2006-11-06 09:53:14
One thing you just cannot escape with real-time audio and a USB or Bluetooth headset: latency. Conversion of analog audio to digital, and transmission through the USB cable or through 2.4Ghz Bluetooth, will add latency to all your communications.

This may be part of your problem. I do recommend analog headsets where you can use them, simply to avoid the latency.

Bruce Stewart
2006-11-06 10:02:57
Great point Roger, I have come to this same conclusion. I'm definitely going to stick to an audio-port connected headset for now.
2006-11-18 11:26:14
How do you actually connect your analog headset to your Macbook pro? The Macbook pro only has a line-in, no mic-in. Which is really annoying. How do you get around that?
Dan Wing
2006-12-04 10:50:28
I was recently researching mobile headsets and a friend pointed me at TheBoom, as the top-end headset. I found some comparisons, including mp3's of ambient noise, and TheBoom was very impressive. With this, you could have music playing or other background noise while using your headset, but the remote party wouldn't hear it. That's pretty useful especially in many offices and home offices.

Good luck.

John Kalla
2006-12-30 11:29:02
I just ordered the 550DSP for about $57. I'm going to use it on my MacPro (2.66GHz) via Bootcamp and XP Pro. I'll try to remember to post a review, as I get very annoyed with delays and low sound quality. I'll also install it using OS X Leopard and Vista within the next month. I don't have a true Windows computer, but Bootcamp seems to work very similarly, so it should be a good judge of how it will work on a PC.