What is a Headset?
A headset is a personal device that includes one or more earpieces (sometimes referred to as headphones, speakers, or audio drivers) and one or more microphones designed to be worn on or over the head.
What is a “Business” Headset?
True to its category name, a business headset is a headset designed specifically to support the needs of business users (vs. consumer users or gamers).
The above begs the question … what do business users need? Every user has different priorities, but here’s a list of common business user expectations.
- Durability and Comfort – business users often use their headsets for hours a day, so the headset must be comfortable to wear. Also, many users take their headsets off and put them back on every few minutes or hours. Business headsets are built to stand up to this punishment.
- Aesthetics / Form Factor – business users expect their headsets to look professional, not “consumer-ish.” In most cases, this means a svelte, understated design with a modern design language.
- Performance – business users expect their headsets to provide good outgoing and incoming audio performance, even in noisy environments.
- Feature-Set – business users expect their headsets to offer the features they need to get their job done. Some users might want every possible bell and whistle, while others might need only a few features.
- Ease of Use – business users expect their headsets to be easy to operate with intuitive and convenient access to commonly used controls and features (e.g., mute, volume up/down).
- Certifications – a certified headset has been tested and approved for use with a specific calling platform or vendor such as Avaya, Cisco, Microsoft, or Zoom.
Note that certification criteria vary widely. Some certification programs require specific features (e.g., a dedicated button to launch the vendor’s app, mute sync, etc.). Other programs may focus more on audio performance.
If you’re thinking that many of the above points are subjective, you’re absolutely right. The same business headset might be perfect for one user and unacceptable for another. That’s why vendors offer a wide range of headsets.
What Types of Business Headsets are Available?
Just as there are many types of users and use cases, there are many types of business headsets.
- One-Ear vs. Two-Ear vs. Configurable – some headsets include only one earpiece, while others offer two. Some headsets even have two earpieces and allow the user to remove one earpiece. These headsets are referred to as configurable or convertible.
- Wired vs. Wireless – some headsets use wired connections (typically USB or audio cables, etc.) to the phone or computer, while others connect wirelessly over Bluetooth or DECT. Wireless headsets include an internal battery.
- Form Factor / Wearing Style – business headsets are available in a wide range of form factors and wearing styles, and each option has pros and cons. For example, on-ear headsets are often more comfortable than over-ear headsets, but over-ear headsets frequently offer better incoming audio performance and isolation from local noises.
Examples of Different Types and Styles of Business Headsets
As shown above, some business headsets use a headband, some use a neckband, and some and are worn directly in the ear.
Finally, some business headsets include a boom mic (a mic on the end of a stick that positions the mic in front of the wearer’s mouth), while others incorporate the mic in the earpieces, earbuds, or neckband.
How Much Do I Need to Spend on a Business Headset?
Business headsets range from $20 or less to $500 or more, depending on the type, features, certifications, and performance. We typically divide business headsets into three groups:
Entry-Level – includes mostly wired headsets that typically offer acceptable audio performance, a basic feature set (mute / unmute, volume control, etc.), and a list price between $30 and $100.
Standard – includes wired and wireless headsets that typically offer good audio performance, a solid feature set (e.g., basic noise reduction), a wide range of form factors and wearing styles, and a list price between $100 and $250.
Premium – includes wired and wireless headsets that typically offer strong audio performance, advanced features (e.g., active noise reduction, extended battery life, multi-host connectivity), and premium build quality, fit and finish, and form factors. Some Premium business headsets cost $300 or more.
Some headsets blur the lines between entry-level, standard, and premium. For example, our hands-on testing revealed one wired business headset available for ~ $130 that offers better audio performance than headsets costing 2 to 3 times more.
Additional Noteworthy Features of Business Headsets
Noise Reduction – uses active audio processing to eliminate or reduce unwanted noise (e.g., air conditioning noises) captured by the headset’s microphone so that noise is not sent to the other meeting participants.
Noise Cancellation – isolates the wearer from local noise (e.g., the loud background noise in an airplane), reducing distraction and user stress.
Multi-Host Connectivity – allows a headset to connect to multiple host devices (e.g., a desk phone, a mobile phone, or a PC).
Device Management – some business headsets can be remotely managed using IT-friendly centralized management tools and platforms, which is extremely valuable for organizations with wide-scale deployments.
Can I Use a Consumer or Gaming Headset for Business Meetings?
Absolutely! Many consumer and gaming headsets offer the basic features and audio performance needed for a business call or meeting.
But consider this – your headset impacts how you sound and how you look during audio and video calls. Also, consumer devices may not last long when used day after day for back-to-back meetings.
Generally, consumer-grade devices are acceptable for short-term use or when nothing else is available. But for most business users, business-grade headsets are a worthy investment.
For additional content related to Business Headsets, visit the Related Content page.
For detailed feature comparisons of Business Headsets, visit the Product Comparisons page.
For objective performance rankings of Business Headsets, visit the Performance Rankings page.
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