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Review: Plantronics Voyager Pro UC Bluetooth Headset – Part 1

Plantronics has some interesting examples of the Voyager Pro UC being used in very harsh, noisy environments. While I experienced nothing like their wind tunnel example, I do feel that it was markedly better than the Savi Go at dealing with wind noise.

I reach this conclusion since I’ve been making much greater use of the Voyager Pro outdoors with my cell phone. In fact, I’m using it almost daily, even when I’m at home. The reason for this is perhaps unusual and bears explanation.

In February we acquired a new dog. Gwen (right) comes to us from Southeast Texas Labrador Rescue. She’s eighteen months old and full of playful energy. As we had hoped, she’s the ideal companion for Shadow (left), our seven year old male Labrador Retriever.

When I’m at home part of my daily routine is to take both dogs on their twice daily walkabouts. Our walks tend to run from 20 minutes to an hour. With my canine associates on leashes my hands are usually quite occupied. Cats & squirrels abound in our neighborhood, so I must be ever vigilant to keep our little team out of mischief.

It also happens that my working day can be a little on the extended side, at both ends of the day. I work for a UK based firm, so I have occasion to make and receive calls very early in the morning, which is a good time for my UK based associates. Yet our US operation, including my boss, is based on California, so I often hear from the west coast well after 6pm central time.

It has become fairly routine for my boss to call me just as I’m walking the dogs. The Voyager Pro has been helpful in allowing me to conveniently take his after hours calls while suppressing the background noise presented by the neighborhood.

My sense is that the Voyager Pro is very good at conveying intelligible voice even in some of the more common noisy situations. For example, while driving in our car. To illustrate this assertion I’ve created a couple of sample recordings. The both were recorded while driving around the Houston city streets near my home. In fact both recording were made at exactly the same time.

The first recording is a cell phone call placed from my G2 cell phone to my office line, where I am able to record the call to an uncompressed WAV file using a Polycom SoundPoint IP650 desk phone. The second recording is the exact same period of time but recorded using a Zoom H2 flash recorder.

Of course, one recording started out full-bandwidth, while the other is a narrowband cell phone call. To compensate for this fact I have processed the wideband recording, bandwidth limiting it to the same passband as a cellular call. When compared these two samples should give you some sense of the noise reduction processing employed in the headset.

Voyager Pro UC & Cell phone to IP650 Zoom H2 Down-sampled
Click on the text link above to play each sample recording.

The two recordings have been trimmed to the same point in time and level adjustments made so that they are as similar as I could manage. The high-end of the full-band recording has been rolled off through filtering and down-sampling. Both are mono MP3s sampled at 16 KHz and encoded to 64 kbps.

The certainly sound very different. The Zoom recording retains a lot more low frequency information, including the cabin and road noise. The Voyager Pro seems to have reduced this noise, although at the expense of making my voice sound a little thinner.

I admit that these few little tests that I’ve recorded are not a serious attempt at accurate measurement of the device. Nonetheless, they do give you some real-world examples upon which to build your own opinion of the Voyager Pro. They go beyond merely stating my personal opinion.

The Voyager Pro also supports the A2DP profile for Bluetooth audio. This allows the headset to be used for audio playback beyond telephony applications. For example, when listing to music from a cell phone. Using A2DP the stereo stream is collapsed into mono so that both channels are heard in one ear. I don’t see this as especially useful for music, but it has proven handy for listening to podcasts, which is something I do quite frequently.

In the months since I started using the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC I’ve recommended it to various friends, family and co-workers, all of whom report that they, like me, are happy with its performance. The Plantronics Voyager Pro UC is without a doubt the best Bluetooth headset that I have ever used for mobile applications. It’s durable, comfortable and has impressive battery life. Best of all it sounds great. For mobile use I give it my highest recommendation…that is, I use it myself almost every day.

In part 2 of this review I’ll share my experience using the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC with soft phone/UC applications on computers, including wideband telephony in office applications. This experience was a bit rockier and thus perhaps a more interesting path to follow.

This Post Has 10 Comments
  1. I can see it now:
    Wife: Who’s that woman you’re with? And why is she telling you your remaining battery life?

  2. How come your Voyager Pro tells you in a sexy female voice that amount of detail? All I get out of mine is “Mute on”, “Mute off” and “battery low”. I feel ripped off – everything else is beeps and LED flashing.

    I do have the previous version though that shipped with the BUA-200 and no A2DP support.

    1. Steve,

      There is a rumor that there may be a trade-up program. As I know a few people with the v1 device I’m making some inquiries about this and will report back what I find.

      1. Thanks – not that that alone is really a reason to upgrade (I can handle beeps instead of verbal alerts), but I like the sound of the “new” BUA-200 and the AD2P support. I’m actually hoping that the “new” BUA-200 supports OSX better than the previous one. When I had my Savi W430 its USB dongle worked flawlessly with the Mac but the Voyager has never worked without at least a Windows VM.

        1. oops, let me retract that. There’s a few more things I like about the Pro UC v2 beside the verbal responses, A2DP support and the new dongle. I’ld love to know if Plantronics can do a trade-up program.. Thanks- and thanks for part 2 of your review 😉

          1. Yes, there are some good reasons to trade-in/up. I’m hoping to find out about the possibility of a trade-in program this week.

  3. Great review! We’re a Plantronics distributor and did a little checking on a trade-in program. Per a representative at Plantronics, there is no type of “trade up” or “trade in” program at this time for the Voyager Pro UC to the Voyager Pro B230. So unfortunately, you would need to purchase a new unit for the new features.

    1. I really wonder about this. In truth the Voyager Pro UC v1 doesn’t meet spec. I would think that any customer with some gumption could/should push the matter with Plantronics customer support.

  4. Looks like the v2 is on nationwide back order. P. Nair’s Amazon review on the B230-M model suggests that a problem has been identified with the headset sensors, with Plantronics recommending to wait for “the next batch to be manufactured”. Perhaps that explains the back orders.

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