Review: Plantronics Voyager Pro UC Bluetooth Headset – Part 2

Tipped off as to the availability of a new model I reached out to Plantronics US who was able to arrange an exchange for this newer version of the headset.

Plantronics-Voyager-Pro-UC-v2-Tray-600

The Voyager Pro UC v2 came packaged in a manner similar to the earlier version. However, there are two notable changes:

  • Unlike the first package I received, the Voyager Pro UC v2 does not include the BUA200 Bluetooth dongle. Instead, it includes a new model of USB dongle. When connected to my PC the Plantronics software reports this dongle as the BT300. The BT300 is about half the size of the older BUA200.
  • Instead of the simple nylon carrying case they provide a nice little faux leather holster with a belt clip. This is a very welcome enhancement to the package. It makes it very convenient to carry the headset with you, even providing a little pocket to securely hold the tiny BT300 dongle.

If you happen to have the Voyager Pro UC v1 and would still like one of the little leather holsters I’ve found that they are available for around $10 from Amazon.com.

While I don’t have access to the enterprise class UC clients from Avaya, Microsoft, IBM or their ilk, I did make use of the Voyager Pro UC v2 with various desktop SIP clients from Counterpath, LifeSize, Skype and Vidyo. It seemed to work well with all of them.

As to the performance of the new model headset, it is exactly as I had hoped. To prove this point I made a short test recording. The recording itself are not much to hear. Since I have been suffering a cold the past few days it’s not even especially indicative of my voice. That said, plot of energy vs frequency visually highlights at least the wideband capabilities of the headset.

VoyagerPro UC Direct To CEPro-600

My first test recording was made recording directing into Cool Edit Pro using the BT300 USB dongle. This recording was made using a sample rate of 48 KHz, so the vertical axis of the display extends to the related Nyquist frequency, 24 KHz. Audio content is clearly visible up to 8KHz.

Here’s another view of the same recording, but resampled to 16 KHz so that the vertical axis is easier to read.

VoyagerPro UC Direct To CEPro Resampled to16KHz-600

You might expect better high frequency response, but it seems that the headset rolls off the high-end beyond 8 KHz. This is in fact by design. TIA specification TIA-920 stipulates that “wideband” in the context of telephony means 16 KHz sampling, so the microphone output should be rolled off beyond 6.8 KHz to prevent harmful aliasing artifacts.

One can argue the merits of TIA-920, a standard defined in December 2002, in the light of more recent developments in IP telephony. Many newer codecs like CELT, Siren14, Siren22, G.719, SILK & OPUS can pass greater high frequency detail. However, given it’s application focus, adherence to the existing industry standards is the responsible approach for Plantronics to take.

Since the top-end of the headset output was designed around assumptions of a 16 KHz sample rate I did not commit further time to experimenting with recording the use of G.719, Siren22, SILK, etc.

As to the matter of two hardware versions of the device, my understanding is that the Voyager Pro UC v2 has entirely replaced the earlier version. However, as of this writing both versions remain available in the sales channel. If wideband performance matters to you be certain that you are ordering the newer hardware version.

There is in fact an even newer version of the Voyager Pro headset available, which is known as the Voyager Pro+. This model, introduced at CES2011 adds some extended functions to the headset, including voice command capability based upon integration with Plantronics’ Vocalyst service.

Don’t be alarmed if your find the various version of the Voyager Pro confusing. You’re not alone in this regard. Looking into Plantronics online user forum I found a nice thread comparing the functionality of the various models. One user even prepared a handy table, including models numbers, which I am happy to include here.

Comparing Voyager Pro Models-600

Restating my finding, and contrary to the chart, the Voyager Pro UC v1 with the BUA-200 is not able to pass wideband audio to PC based soft phones & UC clients when using the BUA-200. As that model will eventually be flushed from the current sales channels the distinction between v1 and v2 hardware will soon be moot.

In conclusion, I remain pretty happy with the Voyager Pro UC. If you want a great Bluetooth headset for use with your cell phone the Voyager Pro is a top contender. It sounds good, has good noise reduction, good battery life and is very comfortable to wear. It’s also sensibly priced, commonly available at popular retailers for around $60.

If your requirements extend to using the headset with desktop soft phones or UC clients then the Voyager Pro UC is a reasonable choice. It builds upon the strengths of the Voyager Pro, adding wideband capability. The fact that you can use the same headset in both applications is certainly handy.

You probably won’t find the Voyager Pro UC in stores, but it’s available from online retailers for around $140. While it may not have the cordless range of  the Savi Go, it’s much better suited to the mobile application, making it perhaps a better value overall.

6 thoughts on “Review: Plantronics Voyager Pro UC Bluetooth Headset – Part 2”

  1. Great review Michael. Is it necessary to always use the BT dongle, or will the Voyager Pro UC do wideband audio with embedded BT, e.g. as included in most PC and Mac laptops?

    1. Yes, it works well…in wideband…with the BT radios in my HP 8510p laptop & 5102 netbook. It also worked well with the Kingston BT dongle. I had that on-hand from a time when I wanted to use a CS55 with my desktop PC. Finally, I tried it with a Skype on Android Tablet. It worked well there also, in SILKy encoded audio, too.

      Note that I am not a Mac user so I cannot speak to their use with OSX.

  2. I’ve been trying to do some research on the availability of wideband capable bluetooth headsets that are currently available on the market.
    In the last few months there have been some announcements about the new bluetooth Hands free protocol (HFP) version 1.6 which adds support for wideband encoding among other things.

    What has me confused at the moment is that the voyager pro uc uses HFP 1.5 which does not have any specification for wideband audio. So how exactly is this thing working? Based on the fact that you have been able to use the wideband capability of this headset with non plantronics branded bluetooth modules I can assume that it’s not using some added plantronics proprietary protocol extension.

    My only explanation at the moment is that all of the bluetooth modules that you have tried are using CSR chips andnd that they all support the proprietary CSR AuriStream codec.

    You wouldn’t happen to have a good Plantronics contact person that might be able to answer this would you?

  3. Great Review, and hit on a few of my concerns and findings.  I use the Voyager Pro for phone calls and use on my Computer with Dragon Naturally Speaking.  I functions Great!  I’ve tried many Bluetooth devices, and this is the first one that is comfortable to wear for long periods of time.  Ulike many other Reviewers, I hardly tap the actual power of this device, but love it.

  4. I’ve had a bit of a hit and miss experience with mine and hoping someone you know might be able to help, Michael.  I was gifted another (yes, another!) Voyager Pro from Plantonics recently after attending their stand at Cisco Live.  This one is the Voyager Pro UC v2 with the BT300 headset. All I’m trying to do is convince it to play nice and send wideband audio and the only way I can do it is via the BT300.  I have tried so far on a Galaxy Nexus running ICS 4.0.4, a Macbook Pro (2011 model), and an iPad 3rd Gen.  I get weird behaviours from all of them. 

    If I connect the Voyager to the MBP without the BT300, I can send A2DP audio to it but as soon as the Mac tries to use it as an input it switches across to the HFP1.5 profile and everything goes narrowband. Using the BT300 it sends and recieves wideband, which is unexplainable if, as William below says, the Voyager Pro UC v2 doesn’t support HFP 1.6.

    The GNex seems to have a mind of its own and so does the iPad. They both stream A2DP audio to the headset just fine, but when I use it in an application like Skype, all kinds of random stuff happens. Usually Skype just acts like it doesn’t even know the headset’s there. Other times it might send audio via A2DP but recieve via the inbuilt Mic.  Sigh. 

    Whoever suggested Bluetooth was simple ought to be dragged out on the road and shot.  Does anyone have an idea what’s going on and how to fix it?

    1. It seems that your issues are in the Mac domain. In my case I was using the Voyager Pro UC paired to a Windows XP laptop or Win7 Pro netbook. In both cases the OS recognized the device automatically. 

      In the case of the XP system I had to installed BT support. I had not used BT on it it previously and so initially had it disabled.

      Sorry I can’t be more help. I’m just not a Mac user.

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