TechJunkie Expert Recommendations
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Bluetooth headsets can be pretty convenient. Whether you’re driving, working out, or being active in some fashion, a wired pair of headsets can be bothersome. What’s even better is that they offer great features to enhance your productivity, as well as call and listening experience.
The problem these days, though, is that the market now has countless headsets available for sale. And in that sea of headsets, it seems harder to find the right pair without spending a lot on ones that don’t actually fit your needs and wants.
We’ve rounded up some of the best pairs of headsets for this year. Whether you need a BlueTooth headset for games, productivity, talk, or whatnot, we’re sure you’ll find the one that fits you from this list.
The C300-XT isn’t the smallest monaural (single-ear) headset, measuring 3.6 by 1.1 by 0.7 inches (HWD), but it’s incredibly light (0.9 ounces), and the fit is snug despite its relatively bulky shape. The C300-XT isn’t particularly stylish in terms of appearance; like other BlueParrott models, it prioritizes functionality over aesthetics. At the earpiece’s tip, a silicone shell with a foam grille cover houses the microphone itself.
A MEMs-style microphone with a frequency range of 150 Hz to 6.8 kHz is located behind the grille. The earpiece has an IP54 classification, which indicates that it has moderate water resistance and a comparatively good dust seal. Although you shouldn’t submerge it, the earpiece is fine if it gets a little wet (as in light rain). Although the C300-XT employs wideband audio, we’ve previously seen wideband/HD Voice headsets with a clearer mic sound. The fact that such headsets contain boom microphones, which, when combined with wideband technology, provide some of the highest Bluetooth mic clarity, is most likely the cause.
The C300-XT gives a little bit of a faraway sound to recordings because there is still some space between your lips and the microphone. The microphone is clearer than the majority of the monaural Bluetooth headsets we test, while it isn’t nearly as clear as those with booms. However, this is nitpicking. We award the C300-XT top marks for its ability to be understood in the face of loud background noise, which is the most crucial component of its performance. Although it’s not difficult to foresee some noisy surroundings offering a challenge, the audio from the in-ear driver is also crystal clear and simple to interpret. However, there is no in-canal seal in this case. A driver rests just outside the canal opening in this earbud-style arrangement.
The 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.0-inch M300-XT (HWD) is about 0.7 ounces in weight and offers a comfortable fit even when worn all day. It has an over-ear hook in black with a built-in boom microphone that can be worn on either ear and can rotate at the base to face either way from your mouth. The earpiece has a flexible portion that fits over the top of your ear; however, for those who wear glasses, the fit may be initially challenging, especially if the glasses have large frames and thicker temples. This isn’t a deal breaker, but you will need to mess with the fit at first to get everything tight. This is more or less standard in the world of monaural Bluetooth headsets.
The M300-XT delivers audio that emphasizes your speech with two MEMS microphones and background noise reduction. This type of microphone focuses on the human voice and rejects frequency ranges that obstruct intelligibility; it is not necessarily focused on the same type of clarity that a broadcast or recording studio microphone is pursuing.
However, even when there is no background noise, the transmission may not be perfect; instead, it may sound somewhat like a walkie-talkie signal but with considerably better intelligibility. Even when there is no background noise to contend with, the signal frequently sounds as though it entirely disappears when you finish speaking and in between sentences. Although initially unsettling, it’s doubtful that you will ever misunderstand a word said into this microphone.
Most of the S450-XT’s components are composed of black plastic. At 7.4 ounces, it’s sturdy yet a tad cumbersome. The large on-ear earcups are plush and slightly swivel to provide a secure fit. Even though it doesn’t grasp your head as tightly as a pair of Beats headphones, its adjustable metal band grabs your skull more firmly than many other headsets. All the controls are on the right earcup. There are large volume up and down buttons, track controls, a programmable BlueParrott button, and a play/pause/call button with the letters MFC on it.
The boom does not reverse; it swings up and tucks by the right earpad. The S450-XT doesn’t fold, like the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC, but its earcups can be folded flat for transport. A sturdy carrying case for the headset is included. The extreme low end is the focus of S450-XT tuning. When you contrast it in wired mode with an excellent set of over-the-ear headphones like the Bowers & Wilkins P7, it becomes clear quite quickly why. High-end sounds retreat, and vocals have a veil-like quality, but the snare and bass percussion thud. You’ll stay awake, but we much prefer the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC’s more well-balanced sound character.
There is no active noise reduction in the large over-ear pads, so if you’re in a car or an airplane, you’ll still hear some low background rumble. However, they do provide more passive background noise cancellation than the Focus UCs do. Similar to the UC, the S450-XT’s two-inch boom is extremely helpful for talks in noisy environments. Noise cancellation is typically absent in stereo Bluetooth headphones with microphones. But the S450-XT quickly eliminated the obtrusive traffic, wind, and train noise, allowing my voice to be heard clearly and loudly. There is no in-ear feedback of your own voice, yet we dare argue that outbound noise reduction is superior to that of the Focus UC.
The headset, which is available in black with an eggshell finish, resembles a typical pair of over-ear headphones aside from the pull-down boom mic. The underside of the headband and the earpads both employ memory foam that is covered in black cloth and has considerable padding. The inside of the cups sports a blue cloth material with large left and right demarcations. The earcups fit comfortably and are easy to adjust; you can slide each one up or down the headband to your preference.
The internal frequency range of 40mm dynamic speakers is 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The headset is Bluetooth 5.0 compliant and works with the AAC and SBC codecs but not AptX. The headset’s ability to pair with up to two devices at once is a cool feature. As a result, you won’t need to disconnect and pair your devices again every time you make a call on your phone or attend a video conference on your PC. The plus and minus buttons on the side panel of the right earcup control both the volume and track navigation.
We don’t like having these two features combined because it’s too simple to accidentally skip a track while you’re trying to change the volume. To switch between the Voice and Music EQ modes, concurrently press the up and down buttons. We advise you to switch between these modes depending on your activities because they make a noticeable difference. The dual-condenser mic array performs quite well.
We tested it on an iPhone using the Voice Memos app, and we could clearly comprehend every word we recorded. Additionally, compared to standard Bluetooth headphones, the boom arm provides a stronger signal and greater low-frequency response. As a result, voices (even deep ones) sound natural, and you don’t have to worry about Bluetooth audio artifacts affecting the sound. You shouldn’t have any issues with mobile or video calls on a strong connection.
If it weren’t for the boom mic, the Evolve2 65, which comes in black, gray, or white, would look like a set of supra-aural (on-ear) headphones. Under the perforated leather-like material that lines the earpads are 40 mm drivers with a 20 Hz–20 kHz frequency range. Overall, the fit is light and secure with soft, silicone-coated foam cushioning on the inside of the headband for improved comfort. Boom microphones can be completely muted by rotating them upward, and by rotating them downward, they can be unmuted and used to answer incoming calls.
A three-button array is situated on the side panel of the right earcup. The outside buttons change the volume and switch tracks, while the center button controls playback (paused playback immediately converts the headset to ambient listening mode so you can easily chat in person). The Microsoft Teams program will launch, a Microsoft Teams notification will open, and calls can be answered or ended by pressing the center button. The microphone system consists of a three-mic MEMs array with a frequency response of 100 Hz to 8 kHz. After connecting the USB dongle to your computer and turning on the audio output, switching between a PC and a mobile device is simple.
During testing, going from making calls on an iPhone 8 to listening to music on a MacBook Pro was a rather seamless process. The audio on the computer would abruptly cease when a call was placed or answered. However, sometimes the audio would stop playing and then start again. Additionally, if the Music app is open on both a Mac and a phone, it can cause the playback button on the headset to malfunction, preventing you from completely pausing both sources of music.
The Evolve2 75’s plush-yet-sturdy cushioning on the inside of the perforated earpads and the underside of the headband is what makes it so comfortable. You won’t have to worry about wearing it for extended periods of time because it doesn’t grow too hot or exert uncomfortable pressure. We particularly like how sophisticated and stylish the combination of semi-matte black or beige plastic and leatherette looks.
The retractable boom mic is hidden behind the side plate of the right earcup. It contains a little mute button that you can press even with the boom retracted; when you aren’t on a call, it also serves as a voice assistant button. You can also activate the app’s busy light setting, which causes an LED to turn red. The headset produces brilliant, sculpted high-mids and highs as well as tremendous bass depth for songs with heavy sub-bass content, such as The Knife’s “Silent Shout.”
The sound doesn’t even distort at the loudest, most dangerous volume levels. But remember that the headset also provides good noise cancellation. It considerably lessened the amount of powerful low-frequency noise during tests (like what you experience on a flight). Several high-mids and highs in a recording of a packed restaurant with clinking dishes and boisterous chatter snuck past the ANC circuitry, despite the fact that it easily lowered the lows and mids. The headset can guarantee exceptional intelligibility with regard to its mic. It’s able to emphasize the range of frequencies that the human voice covers and does a great job at increasing clarity and minimizing noise. Although a little pricey, this headset is a great choice for its excellent sound and comfortability.
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