The ideal headset for IT professionals

Hello,

today i want to talk about he ideal headset for home office without problems.
I was just so annoyed by the search for a perfect device for this use case
and want to share my results.

The situation

Lets first summarize the situation:
I am IT professional, my business is consultings and training. Mostly with Linux operation system.
In this pandemic times, home office and virtual classroom trainings have become the standard. And that let’s me (and most of my colleagues) face some challenges.
Most of us don’t live alone and don’t have always a separate room for their work, there are people from the family around, kids, running TVs and talking people.
That can be annoying for me and my clients when you do a voice call, a webmeeting or if you deliver a training.
And maybe the service that you are delivering and that you get paid for is considered as bad because of a simply bad audio quality.
For the camera i found a solution, a foldable wall that i can put around my working space.
But what about the noise?
The easy answer is: use a headset. But here the problems start.

What do i await fro my headset?

  • First of all it must be wireless. I love to walk around a bit when i am talking (and i know a lot of colleagues that do that also 🙂 )
  • It must protect as good as possible against my surrounding noise level.
  • It must protect my communications partners from the my surrounding noise too, they should only hear my voice.
  • It must have a good and looseless sound quality, sometimes you talk with people
  • that have on their side a bad hardware or that don’t speak your language well.
  • In this case a very good sound quality can help you to still understand them.
  • It must be able to connect to my computer and to my phone.
  • I must be able to wear it for hours without feeling uncomfortable.
  • Battery capacity must be long

What kind of headset?

I tested various headsets (more then 10), with different specialisation profiles (HiFi, CallCenter, Gaming, Lifestyle). And i tested always the top models.
Most of them disappointed me (they where good in HiFi audio, they where good in phone calls, they connected to 2 bluetooth devices parallel, but no one did all of this in one device, except one).

The Bluetooth problem

Most headset that use Bluetooth might have a good HiFi quality (A2DP), but if you activate the microphone (with a call or a video conference) they switch back to a very poor audio quality Bluetooth mode (HFP).
For phone calls this does not matter because a phone call always will cut down the audio quality.
But with a web conference call you could have good audio quality, no need to accept poor phone call audio quality.
And that’s why for my case pure Bluetooth headsets lost the competition.

My winner

After a lot of tests, a lot of researching i found exactly what i need, i cannot imagine a headset that fulfils my expectations better:
The Steelseries Arctis Pro Wireless

https://steelseries.com/gaming-headsets/arctis-pro-wireless

Yes its quite expensive, but if you use professional callcenter headsets they are in the same price range and have not this feature set and quality.
Its a Gaming headset, but the features and quality it offers makes it also ideal for remote consulting and training purposes.

The headset components

Its delivered with a base station, two batteries, a headset and some connection cables.

The base station

The base station connected via USB to the computer but offers also some more connection capabilities (Optical-in, Optical-out(SPDIF) Line-in, Line-out (3.5mm) that i don’t use for now.


The Steelseries software suite for the set is for Windows but the base station is perfectly recognised and supported in Linux too without the need of special software there.
All settings (volume, balance between my voice and remote voice, equalizer usw) can be set on the base station directly with an easy to use rotary
knob and the base stations display, there is no need to interact with the Steelseries software.

Battery

The base station has a integrated charging bay. You can insert there the (easy removable) battery from the headset and charge it.
The set comes with 2 batteries, one is always working in my headset, the other one is in the charging bay in the base station.
That is great! If the headset shuts down because of low battery after 8 hours of talking (and that happens a lot of time when i do training), you just change the battery in the headset (very easy, takes just seconds) and you can go on!
That means you never run out of power any more. What an advantage!

The headset

The headset is easy to wear, even after hours not uncomfortable. The build quality is high, doesn’t feel like cheap china plastic.
The fabric ear cushions feel very comfortable, the overall weight is acceptable. The head band is adjustable to your head size.
You can buy the headset in 2 colours, a classical black and a modern white colour.
There is a USB plug on the headset that you can also use to charge the battery.
The microphone is adjustable and can be nearly completely retracted into the headset if you don’t use it.

There are two controls on the left side of the headset:
A scroll wheel thats lets you easy adjust the volume and a button that lets you mute the microphone.
If the microphone is muted, a red led that you can see at the end of the microphone lights up.
On the right side of the headset you have a power button and a separate bluetooth power button. To that point i come later 🙂

Audio quality

The headset connects to the base station wireless, it does not use The Bluetooth protocol. It uses a proprietary 2.4Ghz high quality lossless wireless protocol.
And that means even if the microphone is activated you have still high quality audio. Not the bad bluetooth quality. No delays!

Surrounding Noise:

There is no active electronic noise cancelation build in, but that’s no downside:
The headset suppresses with it’s good fitting fabric ear cushions effectively the surrounding sound, even if the TV is running on normal level i can’t hear it.
The microphone has a very good polar pattern and picks up only your voice, nothing else around.
And your communication partners get a very good voice quality from you.

Bluetooth Phone connection

That’s a really nice feature: the headset can optionally connect parallel to the base station and your phone (via bluetooth) at the same time.
So if you have a web meeting on your computer and get a phone call at the same time you can manually switch between the phone call and the web meeting.

Connection range

I can easily walk away from the base station 7m, after that range the connection gets bad.
That’s enough for me to go around in my condo, get me something to drink or eat while i am still listening or talking.
Sometimes when my students do a exercise i just go to the couch, mute my microphone with the mute button and rest a bit there.
When a student asks me for help i unmute my microphone and get active again.

Conclusion

The excellent audio quality when doing webmeetings, the bluetooth phone capability and the other features makes this headset my number
one for professional remote IT services.
Even if that is not the primary use case for what it was build 🙂

I want to mention that i get no advantages by remommending hardware here.

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